Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Lunchtime in Newton, Iowa

Reading about Sariah's husband's cross-country adventure reminded me of a similar trip I took about 4 years ago.

We were moving from Utah back to the east coast, and logistically it made sense for me to drive out, and then for Anne to fly out a few days later.

So I left in our car, the back seat providing a temporary resting place for our numerous household plants. A week or so before I had taken the car in for a mechanical once over, and had the typical routine maintenance performed.

I noticed it somewhere in Wyoming. It was rather subtle. A slight hesitation now and then, as though a cylinder wasn't firing. It resulted in a pulse in the steering wheel.

Must be my imagination. Besides, I've got to get there! The movers are coming, I have to do a walk through on the house, plus a million other things. Go, go, go!

Day 1 I stopped in Kearney, Nebraska and stayed at a weeks-old Holiday Inn Express. Day 2 I got an early start, and was half tempted to go non-stop until I reached my destination. I could do it, I was wired!

But that hesitation continued nagging me...

Finally I couldn't stand it any longer. I had just finished lunch in Newton, IA, and pulled into a service station. The friendly, grease-covered gentleman there told me he was swamped, but the Chevy dealer was right up the street.

I drove through the town. It was a warm, summer day in August. I liked the town instantly. The service people at the Chevy dealer told me that their mechanic was at lunch, he'd be back in an hour.

I tried not to look like an impatient city guy who's in a big hurry. I looked at some new cars, just in case one would be cheaper than the mechanic. I sat in the lobby, and listened to a couple of farmers chatting away. One had just stopped by, it seemed it was his usual route. He came in to shoot the breeze with his friends.

His name was Con, I suppose short for Conrad? We got to talking... harvesters, combines, and his new GPS system for monitoring crop growth and fertilizer application.

Speaking of GPS, that's when my cell rang. It was my dad, wondering why I had been in the same place for the last two hours. Thanks to a new service, my family members could sign into a website and see where I was on my journey. He figured either the thing wasn't working right, or I had run into some kind of trouble.

And there I sat, in that dealership showroom on a warm summer day, the doors propped open and a nice breeze floating through. At some point, the quiet mechanic slipped in and told me the car was ready--a spark plug cable had some cracks in it, and to replace it had taken quite a bit of time since that cable runs through the nether regions of the engine compartment.

A swipe of the credit card, and I was back on the road. It was a nice timeout while it lasted. And now when I think of cross-country journeys, I think of the time I unwillingly spent an enjoyable afternoon in Newton, IA.


At June 09, 2005 12:03 PM, Blogger Barbara said...

A lovely vignette.

A nice snapshot of small town America and a guy open to appreciate the moment.

"To truly reverence the Creator, we must appreciate his creations. Take time to sit on a hillside and feel the tranquility of the evening when the sun casts its last golden glow over the horizon. Take time to smell the roses."
—M. Russell Ballard
Ensign, May 1988

Take time to appreciate a summer day in Iowa and the friendly small town folk.

Thank you for sharing your visit to Newton.

At June 17, 2005 4:14 PM, Blogger k2h said...

I am curious about your tracking device. it seems many americans are opposed to the idea, but it seems you payed for a service! cool. I bet its in the cell phone?

I have had bad luck with mechanics and spark plug wires. I took my car in to get mandatory emissions tests done and the person administering the 24$ test broke one of my wires and it turned out to be a 100$ bill (from HIS MISTAKE).

like I said.. bad experiences, I'm glad yours worked out!


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