Mechanical Things and Missed Opportunities
Cortez Travel Blog› entry 7 of 8 › view all entries
Saturday, April 15th â€“continued
Looking back, today was filled with missed opportunities. The first of which was Four Corners. There was no helping that we had to take care of the car. So about 40 minutes later, we were in
Missed opportunity number two had already presented itself, but we were too worried about the situation to notice. No more pictures. We had film, but as were not news photographers, who somehow have an instinct to film disasters, our first inclination was not to take out the camera to preserve our situation for posterity. So, from the time we went to bed on Friday, we didnâ€™t take another picture. This factored in on missed opportunity number three, US Route 666, The Devilâ€™s Highway. US 666 connects Shiprock with
The drive from Shiprock to Cortez was only about 45 minutes. The Nova, as it had all day, ran perfect, but the temp light stayed on. Back in Shiprock, in addition to the water pump, I picked up a set of gauges. One of which would tell me the actual temperature of the engine coolant. Anything over 220 degrees F was hot. Running over 250 for an extended time was risking damage. But, until I got the gauge hooked up, and we ran the car, I wouldnâ€™t know. We pulled into the KOA campground in Cortez, CO. We paid for a night, and I explained to the man the trouble I was having. He said it would be all right if I worked on the car. This was nice of him, as he really didnâ€™t have to. This leads us into missed opportunity number four, Mesa Verde. Mesa Verde is an ancient Indian dwelling, rediscovered in 1888 by a rancher looking for cattle. It had been inhabited from 600 to 1300, and then everyone disappeared. We were not going to get the opportunity to go looking for them, as I would be spending the next several hours waiting for the engine to cool, and then replacing the water pump, and installing a temp gauge. That sucks. Maybe another time. It had been here for more than a millennium, it should last awhile longer.
This sounds very impressive, doing all of this mechanical work, on the fly. But you have to remember two things. A 1973 Nova did not require a degree in computer programming or quantum mechanics to work on. They were pretty basic, and thankfully had a lot of room. Taking a water pump off was really not that big a deal. Installing the gauge amounted to removing a plug in the engine and screwing one back in. Then, attaching the gauges to the underside of the dash. Second, I didnâ€™t have much choice. I had brought a good selection of tools, just in case, and it was now â€śin caseâ€ť. I could either do it myself or hire someone to do it. As I was not unfamiliar with the basics, I didnâ€™t think I was in over my head.
I wasnâ€™t. All things considered, it went very smooth. We arrived at the campground, got the pop up set up, and we got dinner. This gave the car time to cool down. I mounted the gauge part under the dash and ran the cable to the engine compartment, to give the car more time to cool. Then about two hours later, it was done. The Nova started up, and the light did not come on. It wasnâ€™t going to come on, because it was now disconnected to allow for the gauge to be installed. It would have to wait for tomorrow, and
In the meantime I cleaned up and we wandered to the KOA office, to see what they had for sale in the vending machines and such. Jolene got whatever treat she asked for, she had more than earned it. I found a book on the old west that interested me. And that was pretty much it for the day. We went off to bed with the thought of starting as early as possible. The cooler it was outside the easier the engine would have it