Well, actually â€¦ breaking down news
Tuesday, November 22, 2016
Today started out pretty well. I woke up to the alarm nice and early ready to leave Mackay, with the destination of Seventeen Seventy in mind.
Said my goodbyes to Kim and Anna, the most perfect, welcoming hosts, fuelled up with diesel and headed south.
After two hoursâ€™ driving, I pulled over at the Waverley Creek rest stop, where Iâ€™d had lunch on the way up north.
Just needed to stretch my legs and let the girls have a wander and a wee, and we were on the road again.
Stopping for diesel
I donâ€™t like the fuel gauge to go below halfway, as Iâ€™ve been told itâ€™s not a good thing to run out of diesel, so whenever it hovers around that mark, I start looking for a servo.
A small servo at Marlborough was the first one to catch my eye after I noted the gauge had gone below half, so I pulled over and filled up.
Grabbed a few Barista Bros iced coffees and rambled on down the road.
I was powerless â€¦
As I was going up a slight rise, I heard a small thunk and suddenly felt the vehicle decelerating. I pressed down on the accelerator and absolutely nothing happened.
Rambling Rose continued to lose momentum but we got to the top and coasted down the other side, and thankfully, there was a truck pull-out lane.
By now Iâ€™m quite familiar with the Bruce Highway and have noticed itâ€™s not big on places to pull over. Fortunately, the gods were smiling on me today.
Once Iâ€™d slowed down, the engine spluttered and then just cut out. I turned the key but it wouldnâ€™t start. This was about midday, Queensland time.
â€˜Iâ€™ll just put you on hold â€¦â€™
By my GPS calculations I was about 60km north of Rockhampton and luckily, I had mobile reception, so I phoned NRMA Premium Plus.
I have since learned the error of my ways with this, but stupidly, when given the option of pressing â€˜1â€™ for roadside assistance, I did.
Then followed half an hour of back-and-forth with the RACQ call centre operator, which it had automatically diverted to when I pressed 1.
First I had to provide my registration number or membership number. When I gave the woman my rego, she said that didnâ€™t sound quite right.
I explained it was a NSW registration plate, so she then had to put me on hold (the first of many), and ring NRMA. Why she didnâ€™t put me straight through to them then and there I donâ€™t know, but I sure wish she had.
Where else would I be?
â€˜Are you there?â€™ â€¦ she asked when she returned several minutes later.
Well, I wasnâ€™t exactly going anywhere, was I?
All up, it took about 30 minutes on the phone for her to establish my bona fides as an NRMA Premium Plus member, and my location, which I told her several times, then I had to wait for the RACQÂ patrolman.
A lengthy wait
One hour and 40 minutes after I first phoned for assistance, Colin, the patrolman arrived, and got straight down to business.
He immediately ascertained it wasnâ€™t a timing belt issue, as some of my mechanically-minded Facebook friends had feared it might be.
Then he checked the fuel, as it didnâ€™t appear to be getting through, but it came up clean as a whistle (thank you, Marlborough servo).
Fifteen minutes later Colin had ascertained it was an electrical short in the motor, which kept blowing a fuse, so there was no power getting to the solenoid.
Does that sound like I know what Iâ€™m talking about?
Well, all I know is when he put his little pointy gadget on the solenoid and I turned over the motor, it started. When he took his gadget off it, the motor stopped.
Getting my signature on his paperwork, Colin took his leave about 2.15pm, so the girls and I waited for the tow truck to arrive.
Matthewâ€™s a top towie
Matthew, the RACQ tow truck operator, from Menzies Towing Services, Rockhampton, arrived about an hour later.
By the time he got there, Iâ€™d packed a small overnight bag as NRMA Premium Plus had arranged to accommodate me and the girls in a pet-friendly motel in Rockhampton, The Ambassador.
We were having a yarn when he looked up and said: â€œOh, looks like the area manager is coming.â€
Next thing a vehicle pulls up behind us and out of the car comes this bloke, who put on a fluoro vest and came up to us, hand outstretched to Matthew – and then to me.
VIP towing service
It was Stewart Welsh, the RACQ roadside assistance contractor area manager, whose job it is to check that his contractors are all happy in the job.
Stewart immediately offered to help Matthew put Rambling Rose on the back of the tow truck, and they got to work.Â This was the best service Iâ€™d had yet from RACQ, by the way.
*Rough and Rocky travelling â€¦
By 4pm (four hours after I’d come to an abrupt halt), Rambling Rose had been tied down onto the back of the truck and we were on our way into Rockhampton to Love Auto Electrics, where the owner, Phillip Love, was expecting us.
I couldnâ€™t help think of a Willie Nelson song as we took off, the girls tied securely in Rambling Rose, and me bouncing along in the front of the tow truck next to Matthew.
*Itâ€™s been rough and rocky travelling, but Iâ€™m finally standing upright on the ground
After takinâ€™ several readings, Iâ€™m surprised to find my mindâ€™s still fairly sound
I guess Nashville was the roughest, but I know I said the same about them all
We received our education in the cities of the nation,Â Me and Paul
* Me and Paul, a song by Willie Nelson
I was being jiggled around like a thick shake in that front seat, and with three Barista Bros coffees on board, there’s every chance I could curdle.
It didnâ€™t take me long to inform Matthew that the suspension in Rambling Rose was infinitely superior to that in his truck, which he told me had travelled about 900,000km on its original motor.
I suppose after that long and faithful service, itâ€™s bound to be a bit rough and rocky going in to Rocky â€¦
It took a good hour to travel the 60km back into Rockhampton and Matthew was good company â€“ a really nice young man.
Matthewâ€™s biggest load yet
Arriving at Love Auto Electrics, we were greeted by the owner, Phillip Love, who said he would have to give Rambling Rose a thorough going over in the morning, having already got the heads-up from Colin, whom he described as a very experienced operator.
Matthew removed Rambling Rose from the tow truck, doing the best reverse park Iâ€™ve ever seen on anything so big.
He admitted she was the biggest vehicleÂ heâ€™d ever towed.Â I thanked him for his service and Matthew went on his way.
To our Rocky lodgings
After grabbing my overnight bag, a six-pack of Great Northern and a bottle of Grant Burge Tenet shiraz, I realised I then had to pack for the girls.
I tell you, Itâ€™s worse than packing to take your kids away for the weekend!Â Three dog beds, three food bowls, one water bowl, dog food â€¦ holy cow. Lucky we weren’t stuck somewhere for a month!
Graham (or Grub, as heâ€™s known), from Love Auto Electrics, drove the girls and I to the motel, which was a couple of kilometres down the road from the workshop.
He waited with the girls while I checked in and then opened the motel door for me, when I couldnâ€™t get it open (I had the key tag up the wrong way!). Lovely man.
Settling in to our pet-friendly abode
The first thing I did after putting everything into the room was grab some little plastic bags and take the girls for a walk â€“ and a much-needed toilet break.
I ordered a chicken Caesar salad and garlic bread for my dinner, which was delivered to my room.
Unfortunately, the wifi’s not operating due to a Telstra issue, so Iâ€™m using my own, which is chewing up the megabytes at a rate of knots, particularly with all the online work Iâ€™m doing for the Official Guide to the Tamworth Country Music Festival, checking the program, and researching for stories.
Mind you, two stubbies of Great Northern and a glass of shiraz and the worries of the day were almost a distant memory.