The Day of (and After) the Bull

There are times when I pause to take in the situation around me and I think, “I couldn’t create this better even if I tried.”

Alright, who am I joking — There are many many times I think this, but two of the most recent times were the day our Cortez was delivered because of our incredible efforts to get it started (unsuccessfully) . . . and this past Tuesday — one day after our Cortez’s arrival.

I woke at 7:30 a.m. to find I had just missed multiple calls from Andy, which is so rare that I knew it was emergency status.

“And?  What’s happened?  Are you okay?” I asked panicked only to realize I was greeted with an equally panicked Brit.

“L!  I tried to phone your aunt but can’t get through — You need to tell them there’s a bull at the farm!”

Maybe it was that the time was 7:30 in the morning; maybe it was because I had just woken up but I missed the part about why this was an emergency.  Of course there was a bull at the farm — There have been cows at the farm for generations upon generations.

“Yeah . . . ”  I thought it necessary to give him time to explain.

“There’s a bull!  At the farm!” he repeated, more frantic.  A tiny air of perturb was also evident, possibly because I was not on the same level of alarm as him.  “I was stopping quick at the farm — to pick up the owner’s manual and have a look at the Cortez engine to see what bits I need to pick up — when this massive seven-foot tall bull walks up to me!”

He sounded so, well, terrorized.  Surely I misunderstood him — Cows do sometimes wander close to the fence and sure, bulls are a beefy seven-feet tall.  “Wait — It was inside the fence, right?”  I was trying, but we needed to start on the same page before I calmed him down.

His words were becoming louder though, his English accent stronger: “NOOO! On MY side — on the side with Cortez!”

“It was loose?!” I suddenly realized the direction he was heading.

“YEA!  So I ran into the Cortez and closed the door and he kept circling it — I ’bout shit me pants!  You need to call your aunt right now and tell her there’s a bull loose at the farm!”

Agreeing this was urgent, I hung up and called by aunt immediately.

“Morning!  How are you?” she answered, calm and sweet.  The day had not taken a’hold yet — Andrew’s and my antics had yet to affect her.  I had the sudden realization that I was about to ruin her morning.

“Aunt Beverley, I’m so sorry to bother you this early — ”

“Don’t worry.  I’m an early riser.  I go to bed early and — ”

I cut her off — I had to!  The news was pressing!  “There’s a bull loose at the farm!”

“What?!”  I am sure I heard the actual snap of her bones as she went from relaxed to stick-straight in one second.

“There’s a bull loose at the farm!  Andy tried to call but it didn’t go through — He was there to look over the Cortez engine to determine what he needed to get it to start and he said a bull came up to him — on the other side of the fence, on the Cortez side!”

“Crap.”  The way she said this confirmed our morning conversation did not go as she had originally thought.  “I need to get Donald up there” and she hung up.

I called Andrew back.  My next effort would be in ensuring he was able to recover from the shock.

“Hey, And.  I just got off the phone with my aunt — She’s headed to the farm with my uncle. Now explain to me again what happened.”

“Right, so I went to the farm to pick up the owner’s manual — ”

I cut in: “That’s great — So you have it now, right?”

“I forgot it!  The bloody bull distracted me!”

“Right, right — It’s okay,” I apologized.  Of course the bull warranted all attention.  “I’m sorry — Keep going.”

“So I sat in the bus trying to get it started and after a couple a failed of attempts, I realized I was going to flatten the battery in the Cortez so I thought ‘I’ll get the jumper cables out of my car and hook my car up to it so that the batteries can hold charge’ so I swung the door open and swung my feet out the bus and randomly looked at the back — and there was a massive bull walking towards me!  I ’bout shit me pants!”  His entire story was essentially a one-breath sentence.

“Okay then what?”

“It looked mean so I jumped back into the bus, pulled me legs back inside, and pulled the door to and waited for it to walk past me.  It walked ’round the driver’s side then went in front of the bus — stopped and looked at me — and I thought, ‘Do not charge at the bus — do not charge at the fucking bus’ but it fucked off — walked towards the road and that’s when I called you.”

By this time I was trying to contain my laughter — My Yorkshireman, our motorhome were safe so I could let the weight of his super-English sentences settle in.

“Hey, you said ‘It looked mean’ — How did it ‘look mean’?”  I’ve always been a curious person, you know.

“Wot?!  Wot’ya mean?!”  It was clear I should have simply agreed to the demonic look of the bull.  “It looked mean that’s all!  It had mean eyes and was proper hench!”

Bless him.  I know this was a serious situation in his mind but my laughter could not be contained anymore.  Mean eyes?  Proper hench?  That’s when my aunt called me back so I told Andrew I had to go.

“Well, we’ve just had a look around the farm and we don’t see a bull — You sure Andy actually saw one?”

I didn’t know what to say except the truth: “I mean, I wasn’t there with him so no but I can say he was extremely startled — extremely startled.”  There was silence.  “He said it looked like a mean bull too.”  I felt that would help.

“Some bulls do look mean . . . ”

“Yes, he was quite adamant about his.”

“Well, we just got new fences and we’ve been over all of them — There’s no way it could have gotten out, so if it was a bull — wasn’t ours.”

Ah, that made a lot of sense.  I did remember seeing their new fences the day before — I even made a comment on how strong and great they looked.

“Why didn’t he call me again?” my aunt wanted to know.  “I looked at my phone and didn’t have a missed call.”

“He said his call didn’t go through — ”

“Well why the hell didn’t he come to the house?!”  This was a valid question — They are within walking distance from the farm.  I didn’t have an answer for her.  I also couldn’t understand why he didn’t call my uncle either but she suddenly had a different thought: “Crap — It might be in the chicken houses” and she hung up on me again.

(A note: Because they are no longer in the chicken business, these houses are sometimes open.)

I took this opportunity to re-call Andrew.

“And — I’m sorry to keep calling back but I had a few questions.  First, are you sure there was a bull?  My aunt says they cannot find one and they’ve been at the farm searchin’.”

“WOT YOU MEAN ‘WAS THERE A BULL?!'”  I had meant the question in sincerity but clearly it was not received that way.  “YEAAAAA!  Know what?!  I was even looking straight at the bull — with me phone out — and know what?  I thought, ‘It’s a fucking bull — People know what a bull looks like.  They’ll believe me.’  And I thought, ‘What if it’s not theirs?  Then they will want to know what it looks like’ but it was too late and it was gone.”  Then, as if cursing himself: “I knew I should have taken a photo of it — I knew it!  I knew people wouldn’t believe me about the bull!”

“Okay, okay — For the record, I believe you.  I was just askin’ because my aunt was askin’. But I had other questions: Why didn’t you call my uncle when you couldn’t reach my aunt?”

Clearly this was just as ridiculous based on his reaction: “I don’t have your uncle’s phone number!”

“Okay — It’s okay.  I’ll give it to you.  You know, next time you can call Josh and he can call them.”  Josh, by the way, is their son so my cousin.

“Well, I didn’t think of that at the time — You know, a bull came out of nowhere and started walking at me so — ”

“Yes, yes — I understand, it’s okay.  Just in case you need them again next time, okay?  The last question though:  Andy, why didn’t you just go to their house?  They said if this happens again, go to their house and get them.”

Above all, I would learn this was the most crazy suggestion yet.

“I DON’T KNOW WHERE THEY LIVE!!!”  His voice was booming over the phone.

“Sure you do — You’ve been there before!  It’s right down the road — ”


I was about to apologize when my aunt called back a second time.

“And, I have to go” and I hung up before answering her call.

“We found the bull,” she said.

“Oh great!  That’s great because I just asked Andy if there really was a bull and he wasn’t too happy about that.”

“Yeah, well, I found it — up in the hay field above the chicken houses — exactly where I told Donald to look and he said he went up there and didn’t see it but when I went, I found it.  Never send a man to do a job,” she followed up and this was true — definitely true for my aunt.  She’s a strong, independent female.  You don’t mess with my aunt — She gets shit accomplished.

“Was it mean?”  I had to know.  I wanted her to describe it’s ‘mean eyes’ to me, it’s ‘proper hench’ body — I knew this was a story better than I could make-up.

“He’s a nice bull — Just looks mean.  This one’s part Brahman so Brahman have that humpback and look muscly with short legs.  I don’t think he even measures six-feet though.  He’s tame and nice — Your uncle just walked it into the pin.”

True enough, here are pictures later taken of the sweet bull who simply craved human interaction.67183167_700204363762246_3819371230713085952_n copy67503579_2467046246870533_2452003520845447168_n-copy.jpgIn fact, the offending bull sounded so docile that I imagined my uncle petting it while it soft moo-ed next to him before he took its hoofed foot to walk it hand-in-hoof to the pin. When I got these shots, despite my best efforts, I felt more sympathetic for this lost, sweet roamer than for my terrified Yorkshireman.

Eventually, my aunt and I hung up and I (of course) had to re-tell Andy what she said.  “Well, you can tell your aunt that at 7 in the morning, it was pretty intimidating.”

I did later tell her this — in person with Andrew by my side when we went the following day to visit the Cortez again.

“Oh I’m sure!” she agreed as we all laughed.

“So did the owners come and get it yet?” I chuckled.  She had asked me to post a picture on Facebook of the predator, along with the name of the intersection near where it was found in an effort to let everyone know it was there.  Bless her heart though, I don’t think she fully understood that my Facebook account isn’t an open advertisement to the world — even if I wanted it to be.  Plus, I only know a maximum of about fifty people and hell, the only farmers I’ve ever known — in my entire life — are them; the only people I know in this county are my aunt, uncle, and cousins.  But she did truck back down to the farm — in the rain — after the incident just to take those bull pictures so that I could use them in this very post.   So of course I was going to oblige — A bull ad seemed the least I could do.  It also gave me a chance to beg for its owners to come and remove it off the premiss to ensure it did not frighten my Englishman again.

“Yes, we found the owners,” my aunt answered.  “But they are on vacation!  They had someone lookin’ after it, but apparently that person wasn’t lookin’ after it since it got loose.  We just didn’t want to be accused of stealin’ the bull, you know?  But apparently he’s gotten out before.”

The fact that the bull was going to be on their land for however long concerned me: “So are you going to feed it?!”  In my affairs with farmers, I know they live a tough life — They are not the type of pick a chicken up to cuddle or try to hand-feed and pet a cow (as I did and still do).  They are working and these animals are their means of securing income.

“Well of course we’re feeding it!  And it has water.  Can’t just let it die!”  This was so endearing to me — That they were using their own feed and water to take care of the beast.  “It’s in with the goats,” she sighed, pointing to a large fenced in area further up and I wanted to hug her.

Turns out — as I am writing this days later — that bull is still at their farm, more than likely still being pampered by my aunt and uncle, after it not only got out this time but got out a second time and wandered back!  The first time it was found though will go down in history with the super eloquent yet doomed title that Andrew gave, which was “The Day of the Bull.”

So The Day of the Bull passed and the following day — Wednesday — Andrew and I ventured to the farm together.  Despite my entertaining thoughts that I was providing moral support for him, we were there for two missions: one, to look through our owner’s manuals and vehicle documents that were sent inside the Cortez; and two, to determine why our motorhome wasn’t starting.

We began with by finding the manuals — There are two original Clark Cortez Service and Technical Information Manuals and three operating manuals for the engine alone.
IMG_0043We ruled out the Chrysler manuals because they were for a slant-six engine, which was the original; ours was replaced with a Dodge V8.  I’ll get more into engine specifics soon . . .

Meanwhile, we also read relics of a Cortez National magazine, along with tons of handwritten notes, receipts, warranties, and technical information from a Cortez Library — which apparently, yes, there is or was such a thing.
IMG_0045IMG_0047IMG_0049IMG_0053It was around here when we were reading warnings about people who should know better but don’t . . . my cousin Josh ventured to the farm.

“Got it started yet?” he asked.  He had left straight from work — his company shirt still on.

“Not yet,” Andy said.

“Mind if I help?”  Josh was polite in this matter, but he didn’t have to be.  We were on his family’s land and he is a master technician so he knows more about vehicles than both Andrew and I combined.  We welcomed any attention he wanted to provide — even silently wished he would appear so within minutes both men were climbing under the engine bay — the small amount of ground clearance working against them.
67368467_2264522060527806_4833401782254174208_n-copy.jpg“Here’s some fresh California grass for ya,” I heard Andrew say to Josh as I peered at their faces through crevices in the engine bay above.  “I dread to think what this is . . . ”

“What’s that?” Josh answered back.

“That spider-looking egg-sack thing?”

There was a moment of silence.

“Man, this is going to be a learning experience for all of us,” Josh told him.

Andy’s glee was hard to miss: “I’m glad you said ‘us,’ mate.”

I was too.

“You know, I have my multimeter,” I heard Josh say.  “I can check the starter motor now if you want.”

“Oh yea — That’d be great, mate.  I left mine at work.”

Andrew came out from under the engine, Josh climbing out a few seconds later only to grab his multimeter before dipping back under.
67234322_335743344042719_7028859197043245056_n copy“First though — ” Josh started but stopped then I heard a hammer hitting metal.

“What are you doing?!” I cried, peering down at him through the engine bay spaces again.
67502997_383029325900165_8100305550002094080_n copyThat would be our luck — We bought a Cortez that wouldn’t start and now my cousin was breaking it.

“This is the unofficial way to get your starter to work,” he responded before hitting it several times more with a massive hammer.  I pictured this starter motor dented and caving in — like an empty tin can if hit with a mallet.

But I have to trust him, just as I have to trust all males that are patient enough to teach me vehicle mechanics.

And patience is the keyword here, too, because to say there is a massive learning curve for me is a dramatic understatement.

I feel like I’m talking with my Spanish friend once more . . .

“Teach me how to say, “I’m so happy to see you again!” I’d tell her.

“Estoy muy feliz de verte de nuevo!” she would respond rapidly.  Her sentence was definitely only one word.

Not gonna happen.  “Okay — How about ‘I missed you!'”  Surely that had to mean the same but was more simple to pronounce.

“Yo tengo te extrano!”  Nope.  Too complex too.

“What’s ‘Miss you’, Usua?  Just ‘Miss you’,” I’d ask again.  We needed to take this to a kindergarten level.

“Pierda tú,” she would answer and give a cheeky smile that sort of taunted me like, ‘Try that — It’s just as hard though.’

And that’s how I feel learning about vehicle mechanics.

“Andy, why do people unofficially beat a starter motor?” I asked him later when we were home.

“To unofficially get it started,” he answered, which didn’t actually answer anything.  “Do you know how though?”  He was testing me — the same as when I was with my Spanish friend.

“Actually, yes I do — It is so that the spinning wheel mechanism becomes unstuck.  It becomes stuck after it hasn’t been used in awhile.”

“That’ll do,” he said, which means I probably got a D on my knowledge test.  I can tell when he is impressed and unimpressed.

“Okay, what do you call the ‘spinning wheel mechanism’ then?”  Truly, I want to learn.  I think there’s something badass about a female that knows vehicle mechanics.  And I’m going to get on that level.

“It’s called a ‘starter motor spindle.’  There might be another name for it but honestly I don’t know.”

Of course.  Of course it is called a ‘starter motor spindle’ and of course there is another name.  Because of course this is just as confusing as my Spanish lessons.

And this is only one example: There are numerous others . . .

“How do you spell cil-a-noid?” I asked my cousin while he was beating our starter motor and talking about the cil-a-noid’s corroded wires.

“S-o-l-e-n– ”

“Wait, wait — It’s not cil-ah-noid?  It’s sole-ah-noid?  You guys are going to have me saying cil-a-noid — because that’s how you say it — when it’s actually pronounce sole-ah-noid?!  I’m trying to learn and I’m gonna be sayin’ it the wrong way!”

They told me either pronunciation was fine.  But it’s not.  I know it’s not.

Just as I’m also aware that I’m dabbling in writing about vehicle mechanics when I have no idea what I’m talking about.  Here is one of the many conversations I’ve had with Andrew once we get back from working on the Cortez and I’m sitting down to write . . .





I truly feel like I’m talking like a kindergartner.  “Car good.  I happy!”  That’s how I feel.

But there are times — very very rarely — when it’s not just me.

“Do you have any wire dikes?” Josh asked Andy.

“A wot?”  His face was full of confusion.  So was mine.

“Is he being offensive?” I whispered to Andy.

“Maybe.  Surely he doesn’t mean I think he means?”  We were stuck in a mess of uncertainty and insults.

Come to find out ‘wire dikes’ are a real tool — It’s electrical jargon for ‘diagonal pliers that cut through wire.’  Because of course — vehicle mechanics make so much sense.

Back to story: Josh, like us, had no luck with the starter motor, which meant the problem needed to be addressed a different way: what I’m calling ‘mini jumper cables.’

“What are you checking?” I asked Josh, eager to continue my education.

“Voltage to the starter — I should have voltage here.”  I watched as his alligator clips moved over the engine — the tip touching various places on the starter motor then solenoid.  I felt like I was watching an open-heart surgery.  My anxiety was increasing, I couldn’t wait — I needed to know what was happening to our Cortez.  Would it make it?  Would it be okay?

“Well!” I shouted a bit too loud.  “Is there voltage?!”

“I mean . . . ” waiting, waiting, waiting “you’re getting around a one-point-four.”

This is good, I thought.  That is something.  “Out of how much?”  I asked only to find I would have been more happy in my naive state of mind.

“Out of twelve to fourteen volts.”

Horrible news then.

“Remember — The main power wires are corroded.  I’d replace those too.”

In that matter of time, we went from purchasing a motorhome we were told ran . . . to having a dead starter . . . to having corroded engine wires.

But we expected this — and will continue to expect this as we work on our fifty-four-year-old motorhome.  That’s why no, we didn’t want to get a new trailer for the less money; and no, we didn’t want to buy a current RV for the same price; no, we aren’t starting with or doing cheap repairs; and no, we certainly are not interested in a crate motor.  Here’s what we do want: To celebrate a rare motorhome where only 3,221 were made, and we want to take our time in restoring it, using much of its classic parts.  We don’t want easy.  We want different.

By this time, Josh had left the engine bay, his face and hair covered in that California grass Andy mentioned earlier.

“And — Get the grass off my cousin’s face.”  He was standing next to Josh and I couldn’t keep talking to him without removing the blades of green.

“Get the grass off of his face?!  I’m not getting the grass off his face — Why don’t you tell him to get it off ‘is own face?”  Apparently affection with my male cousin was not at the Andy’s top of his list.

What was at the top of his list though was starting back at the beginning: We knew our starter was dead so we needed to replace it.  In order to do that, we needed to identify our engine, which was easier said that done because our engine is not factory and there’s no paperwork to prove what it is.

“Let’s find the casting number,” Andy said and went back under our steel beast in search of its ID.  Meanwhile, Josh took to one of our five owner’s manuals to investigate the wiring from the starter motor to the battery.
67219692_844341212632353_708212112513564672_n copy67821966_484930132316962_4385883765017149440_n copy

“Ow!”  we heard Andrew holler moments later.

“What?” both of us asked in unison, pausing in our work.

“I hit my elbow.”

“Why’d you do that?”  Josh can be smartass sometimes.

“Because I’m a knob,” Andy joked.

“What’s a knob?” Josh whispered to me and I became extraordinarily excited for this moment — a moment I could explain an English word to an unsuspecting American and not only that — but a male American.

“Actually,” I sat straighter — a large amount of pride entering my body.  “A ‘knob’ refers to a penis.”

“Why is he saying there’s a knob then?”

“No, no — He is saying he is a penis, you know — for hitting his elbow.”

Guys, it took awhile but we got there and I had the sudden realization of how hard Andrew’s life is — He lives with an American who doesn’t understand his jokes.  I experienced only a taste of this in that moment, but this is his life and I feel bad for him.

Andrew though is used to this and he disregarded our conversation entirely.  “Right, so I got the casting number so we can identify what type of engine we have” and here he showed us a picture.
67299405_378478369537554_1634255289718931456_n copy
There are a few problems though:

  1. We’ve read conflicting reports that engines are identified by the beginning casting numbers; yet other articles say the last numbers are the ID.
  2. Regardless, our numbers are hard to read.
  3. Looking at the beginning numbers though — Is it a 3418498 or 3418496?  Luckily the 8 and the 6 both mean a Dodge small block 360 V8.
  4. But wait, there’s more — Analyzing the last three numbers, it says 361 so does this mean our engine is instead a Dodge big block 361 V8?

Apparently there’s a big difference in the 360 and 361.  To add to the confusion (as if we needed more), our casting number is entirely different from any we’ve read about or seen.

Therefore, all of this leads up to the crux of the problem: the starter.  After learning our starter was dead, we need to replace it; but without identifying what engine we have, we cannot get the correct starter.

“It’s only a couple of bolts — Let’s pull it off.”  This was the men’s suggestion and I agreed — There’s no sense in leaving the starter motor on.  They also determined to tug off the power wire, which was fit in tight spots, making it harder to remove.  Soon though both were off, which allowed us to take them into an auto parts store when we left the farm.  There, we hoped someone could identify our starter without engine information.  If they could, our job was easy — We simply purchase the identical replacement.

“The last thing we need to fix is the vent,” Andy told me and I was ready.

On The Day of the Bull, he said he noticed rainwater running into the Cortez in one area — the bathroom.  This was due to a missing bathroom vent cover.
67208602_622676098253470_8098904381346283520_n copyIn truth, the news wasn’t too alarming though as the bathroom is a wetroom (meaning it is a bathroom with an open shower so the entire space can get wet).  Still, rainwater leaking in is not preferred.  Our quick-fix, short-term solution: plastic and duct tape.

And and I had discussed our plan earlier, which entailed me finding a way to climb onto the roof to preform the task of laying the plastic over the vent and taping it down.  Without a ladder on our Cortez though, this operation would no doubt be a bit harder but I was up for the challenge!

Gripping the spare tire holder, I hoisted myself up while Andy gave me many a strong push from the bottom until soon, I was on top of the roof.  Tape in hand, I began my job, which took a large amount of time ripping and placing each tape section.

“You know, it would go faster if you pulled one big section of tape!” Josh yelled up at me.

“Is she doing little sections?” I heard Andy ask him.

“Yep,” Josh answered back and I imagined Andrew slapping his forehead while rolling his eyes.

“Yes — I am doing little sections because” and here I yelled louder “a large section is harder to place so this makes sure rainwater doesn’t get in!”

“Actually, it creates more seams, which means rainwater has a better chance of getting in.”  That sound was my cousin.  And also the sound of my smart-handiwork bubble popping because my efforts were appeared to be not that smart after all.
67121754_365186814167264_7425375946519085056_n-copy.jpgAfter hearing this, the men abandoned me on top of the roof and I could hear them mumbling inside the Cortez.

“Hey!” Andy shouted.  “Can you tape this vent too?”  He was referring to the kitchen vent this time, claiming it had a large crack.  Sliding towards that one, I worked to correct the issue — This time using longer single pieces of tape.

“Hey!” I hollered back after my work was done.  “This roof actually looks pretty good — There’s not that much rust up here!”
67238108_347488719254065_8409610007825350656_n copyThis had been a concern of ours throughout, though I suppose it shouldn’t have been too large of a worry — We were told this Cortez was stored in a garage all its life.  Still, it’s nice to know you can trust people — that people are true to their word.

“Great,” they called.  “So are you done yet?”

“Done!” I announced, pleased with myself as the men looked quite pitiful below.  Stand back, men!  I wanted to exclaim.  Let a woman handle this task!
67240924_2290274481092034_6988951181267566592_n-copy-993332193-1564278280274.jpg67476979_2363611973856212_4580752856507744256_n-copy.jpg“You have duct tape on your leg,” they said pointing and laughing at me.

Men, I know I have duct tape on my leg — I put it there.  “This is my workman’s look!” I declared, sliding down as they watched half laughing-half fretting that I would fall.

“Men!  I can do it on my own!” I told them, refusing their help and know what?  I did.  I did all the shit on my own!  And know what else?  I even saw my mechanical dirt on my arm to prove it!

“What do you call all of this?” I asked them, pointing to my arm and hands where smudged dirt-grease marks could be seen.

“Uh . . . ” one said.

“Er um . . . ” the other said.

I mean really?  We can have a ‘starter motor spindle’ instead of a ‘wheel’ and we can have a ‘flywheel’ instead of — well, who the hell still knows what a flywheel is.  But a word to describe the dirty residue left behind from working on vehicles?  Nothing.

“Mechanical dirt!” I proclaimed and felt full of power — I had just named something that had yet to have a name!  I had just carved out a little piece of automotive history!  I — a learning-mechanics female!

“Mechanical dirt?” they said before laughing.  “Sure.  We’ll call it mechanical dirt” and so they turned around and walked back inside the Cortez.

I followed, and in the end asked them to celebrate starting our motorhome’s renovations with a picture of us together.  That’s when my uncle appeared.

“What the hell y’all doin’?  Takin’ a selfie?!  You’re supposed to be workin’!”

Elated to have a new male about, I thrust my arm forward: “Uncle Don!  Look at this!  My first mechanical dirt!” and here the two of us looked at it and awed — truly awed in a mystified type of way.

“Well I’ll be damned,” he told me then gave me a look that said he was sure as heck proud of me.

“So what ‘cha think?” I asked him, waving to the innards of our Cortez.  After all, this was the first time he had been inside and it was also the first time he had shown any interest since it arrived.  And you may remember that day — That was when he called our motorhome a “hippy mobile” before he darted off and left us.

“So you sit on the toilet while you take a shower,” was what he said back and judging by his facial reaction, he was disgusted at this thought.  I refrained from telling him the other option was sneaking away to bathe in streams or simply putting a shower head outside and showing off your nude body to anyone or anything around.  Therefore, heck — Showering over a toilet seemed a posh alternative.

“Yep, you do” was all I could get out because he interjected — big teeth-showing-smile on his face: “Actually, it looks great.  Looks real cool” and right when I thought he had a newfound appreciation of our Cortez, he followed up with this: “If you decide you don’t want it anymore — I’ll pay ya $3,000.  I’m gonna camouflage it, cover the windows, and turn it into a huntin’ stand!”

Yep.  That’s my uncle for ya.

“Need to test the AC though,” he said as the temperature rose with the setting sun.

“Why?” Josh wanted to know.  He had picked back up one of the original Cortez owner’s manuals and was leafing through it.  “They need to replace the AC.”

“Need to see if it works first,” my uncle suggested back.

“It was made in the 60s — How do you think it will work?” Josh retorted.

“Well . . . ” my uncle was about to add more to his sentence when my cousin stepped in.

“How did your AC run in the 60s?”  Leave it to him to put things into perspective.

“Well . . . ” my uncle said again.

“Did you even have AC?” he asked and Andrew and I turned to see his answer.  All eyes were on my uncle.

“Well . . . I was trying to remember if we did,” he said and we all laughed.

“Hey,” Josh said, pointing to a page in the manual.  “Read this: It says ‘Suppose you could move it — talking about a wall — forward a mite.  Then you would have to lengthen out your left leg, like the cows on those Appalachian pastures‘ . . . Whhhat the?!”

I didn’t believe him but sure enough here it is: Information on Appalachian-pasture-grazing cows with “Automotive — Clutch.”  Again, vehicle mechanics makes so much sense.
“You ready to go?” Andy asked me as I continued to look at the manual with confusion, a plethora of questions on the tip of my tongue.

“Definitely,” I said instead and so — as the sun illuminated in faint pastels — Andrew and I packed to leave then said goodbye to my family and goodbye to our Cortez.

Overall, here’s what I learned:

There are official and unofficial ways to get a starter motor, well, started and when it is going, that means your engine can run.  This means next up, we will attempt to replace the starter.  And that starter motor will get installed somewhere under or next to this massive bundle of who-knows-what who-knows-where.
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But today, I also sealed a vent.  Two vents actually.

And I got my first bit of mechanical dirt.
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In the end, I’m looking forward to what our next Cortez day will bring . . .

Author: L

Hi there! I am the impulsive do-er, the jumper, the one tugging to move past comfort zones to embrace a life of sheer surprise. I am a writer -- a pursuer of stories -- because I believe in the destination over the journey. I am a chaser of sunrises and sunsets and cherisher of the moments between. I have an overwhelming curiosity, an insatiable desire travel, and an obsessive yearn to turn dreams into realities. For all of these reasons, the word that best summarizes who I am is "seeker" -- I am forever a seeker.

3 thoughts

    1. Hi, Laureen! What an amazing compliment — Thank you so much for reading and messaging. Now I’m the one grinning!

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