Thursday, July 7th
I’d been looking forward to this year’s Monster Bash for quite some time. The fact that they were going to have guests from the film Robot Monster actually had me excited for a show. That doesn’t happen often these days. Plus, I just love the feel of this show, not to mention the killer dealer room.
But our trip to this year’s Bash started off on a very scary note. I’ve been going to conventions for over 25 years, driving to most of them. And through all of those years, I’ve never once had any car issues, not even a flat tire. Sure, there might have been some bad weather that got in the way, but that was it. But all that changed this time out. After picking up our buddy Bryan Martinez who was going to the show with us, we (myself and my wife Dawn included) left around 7pm on Thursday night, with the intention of getting to the east side of Ohio, stop for the night, and then finish the last couple of hours Friday morning. But about an hour or so into Indiana, right after stopping to get some gas, the battery light on my dash comes on. Needless to say, my mood quickly drops. As much as my wife Dawn and Bryan tried to stay positive, I wasn’t having any of that. But that is just me.
Now, I’m not a mechanic, nor do I play one on TV, but using that trusty internet thingy, we learn that it is most likely one of three things: a faulty dash light, the battery is going, or the alternator is going, which would be the worst and most expensive of the three. But from what we could find out, if the alternator is dead, the car won’t run much longer than say 30 minutes or so since the battery will drain and die. The place we got off, in South Bend, Indiana, there were literally seven service stations within one or two blocks from us, one even right next door to the gas station we were at, but of course, all closed until 7am tomorrow. It was now 10:30pm. The different plans we were coming up were a) sitting there and waiting until the next morning, b) going to the airport and getting a rental van, loading everything on that, Dawn and Bryan then driving to the show and I’d wait here until the next morning to get it fixed. Or c) we try and see if we can continue to drive and make it to the show.
I turned the van off then turned it back on. No light. So we let the engine run for about 30-45 minutes, just seeing if the lights would dim or if the car would just shut off. But it seemed to run just fine. So we made the decision to get back on the road and drive straight through to Mars, PA, where the Bash was taking place. I honestly didn’t want to chance turning the car off. It was a very long and anxiety-laden six hour drive until we pulled into the parking lot of the Double Tree Hotel in Mars, PA, just after 5am. Through the whole trip, I kept looking down at the dash waiting for the light to suddenly pop back on, but it never did.
So I go into the hotel to see if there was a way to get a room for that little part of the day left, since our reservation wasn’t until later that afternoon. But the clerk was gracious enough to let us check in early so we could at least get a few hours of sleep, since we’d been driving all night. We quickly hit the beds and pass out. Of course, I get up about 90 minutes later, close to 8am, and go down to unload our merchandise from the van into the dealer room while Dawn and Bryan sleep. After I get the van unloaded, I take the van over to the local Autozone, where I’m told the alternator is in fact going bad. So I drive a block away to a place called Monro Muffler/Brakes (and apparently alternators), where they said they could definitely check it out and replace it if that was in fact what the problem was. They gave me a ride back to the hotel and I awaited their phone call. They called later that morning and said it would be around $800 to replace it, along with the serpentine belt. Not what I really wanted to hear, but the fact that we didn’t ended up broke down and stranded somewhere along the highway, most likely missing the whole convention, is pretty freaking amazing. So since we were able to at least make it to show, it really didn’t bother me as much as I thought it would. In fact, I was in a pretty stellar mood and was really looking forward to the show. This little financial setback was not going to deter me from having a fun weekend.
So of course, I go back up to our room, somewhere around 9am, and rustle the two sleepy-heads out of bed and fill them in on what has been going on since they’ve been unconscious, before I go downstairs to start to get our table setup.
Next up….”Crestwood Books for $5?!?!?”