Albuquerque, NM: The past few days have been a whirlwind. It all started at 11:30PM on Friday night while we were driving to the airport to pick up Jeremy’s sister, Emma, and her husband, George. We eagerly anticipated hosting our first guests in Glenda; the sheets were washed, car cleaned, and stocked with food.
Two miles from the airport, Glenda let out a volley of bangs as if a machine gun were going off under the hood. We first thought our stereo had shorted, but when exhaust started spewing into the cabin, we knew we had a problem. We pulled off the freeway into a large parking lot and popped the hood. Jeremy tried to start the car again and sparks shot out from under the intake manifold. We were stuck. Elise texted Emma and George to let them know of our situation and asked them to rent a car. They thought we were joking.
Lesson #1: Power
It was so cold outside that both of our cell phones died within five minutes. We plugged one into our jump starter and the other into a laptop and kept working the problem. Had we not had backup batteries, we would have been in a much tougher position.
Lesson #2: Hide your stuff
While waiting for the tow truck and our family to arrive in the freezing New Mexico night, a hooded figure (let's call him Mr. Sketchy) emerged from the darkness. He saw our hood up and a laptop on the curb and began walking our way. We tensed up and our minds began racing in flight or fight response. The disheveled Mr. Sketchy said, “Hey. Looks like you’re broken down. I’m not gonna rob you.” We never found out if he was true to his word, because seconds later, Emma and George swooped into the parking lot in their rental car. Mr. Sketchy took one look at the new arrivals and walked off. The tow truck arrived shortly thereafter and we piled all of our stuff into the SUV (thanks George for upgrading!). If we did it all again, we would have waited with a closed hood and everything, including ourselves, back in Glenda to make us look like nothing more than a parked car.
Lesson #3: The kindness of strangers
Glenda was towed to the local Mercedes dealership where we met her the following morning. We quickly realized that the dealership wasn’t the best place to get her repaired. Due to her age, they had a hard time even entering her into their computer. So, we started calling the local G Wagen community. Thankfully, Russ (the owner of Europa International, the first G importer in the US), picked up his phone. Russ had established his business in Santa Fe and began listing all the folks who could lend us a hand - yes, we feel extremely fortunate to have broken down in New Mexico. Within 20 minutes, we connected with a master G Wagen technician who offered to open his shop on a Saturday, had two offers to help move Glenda, and a guest house to stay in while repairs took place. So many calls and texts poured in that Jeremy couldn't answer the phone fast enough!
We met Marc, one of the most experienced G Wagen mechanics at his shop, OCD Custom Cycles and Auto Repair, a few hours later. In Marc's words, yes, OCD stands for exactly what you think. His two-story shop is pristine, like a surgeon’s operating theater. Every tool, G Wagen, and racing motorcycle was spotless and in its place. It took Marc 20 minutes to figure out that glow plug #6 had blown out, thus causing all the noise. We had new plugs arrive two days later and the repair took all of 90 minutes. In the meantime, Marc was kind enough to help with some deferred maintenance on Glenda.
Despite being broken down, our extra time in New Mexico turned out to be fantastic. We explored the wilderness with Emma and George, chatted G Wagens with William, and discovered Albuquerque with James, Jessie, Abi, Hannah, and their Unimog "the Peach."
We feel so blessed and thankful for the kindness of strangers and are blown away by the support from the G Wagen community!
We're back on the road and as we write this on Thanksgiving, we have so much to be thankful for.