Crash and burn!
May 15 had finally arrived. This was the first day of our continent-crisscrossing trip,
which marked the end of the exchange experience. Barbara D'Anna, our exchange coordinator
and chaperone, had received a rough itinerary so she had an idea where to find us.
That morning we met at Dave's house and loaded the remaining luggage. The CB-radios were
checked, and the police detector was installed. Everything was set. We were ready to go.
After a rainy start to the day, the sun appeared once in a while as we moved westwards.
The CBs were used extensively. Chitchat and nonsense filled the airwaves. Every time a car
overtook the other, four fingers were displayed forming a 'W', Wezz Coazz't, or
even a middle finger in a friendly salute. The spirit was high - even downright ecstatic.
Nothing but open road stood between the Pacific and us.
The traffic on I-40 was moderate and soon Greensboro popped up in the horizon. We drove
onto I-85 and continued towards Charlotte. The initial radio frenzy had died down a
little; the novelty of the CBs was replaced by normal conversation in the two cars. Marco
and Manuel in the Mustang were taking the lead when suddenly a strange oily smell appeared
in the trailing Camaro. Dave and Niels looked at each other hoping the smell didn't
emanate from their car. It wasn't. Ahead of them the Mustang seemed to lose momentum and
Manuel appeared on the CB. Trouble! The leading car drove onto the shoulder of the road
and the Camaro followed suit. Marco soon declared that he had lost the gears. The gearbox
was one big mess. In an act of frustration the hood was popped, naturally, to no avail.
This was a mild setback to say the least. Less than 60 miles had been traveled. The entire
trip now seemed to be over before it even began.
Dave and Niels drove off the Interstate at the nearest exit and found a gas station where
Dave managed to organize a tow truck. Meanwhile, back at the Mustang a state trooper had
pulled up to see what was going down.
Some time passed before the tow truck arrived. In a matter of minutes the Mustang was
loaded onto the bed of the truck and we all drove to a Chevron station outside Lexington.
Marooned in Lexington
Two friendly mechanics had a quick look at the damage. The diagnosis was disappointing.
Marco phoned his host family who promised to come and pick him up. The wait was spent in
quiet contemplation. Dave McCusker arrived in his Ford LTD and had a brief conversation
with the mechanics. It would be at least 24 hours before the Mustang could be driven again
so we headed back to Burlington. Needless to say our host families were quite surprised to
see us return so soon.
See more photos from May 15.
Go to the next page in the Diary (May 16).