When I was 25, I was living in San Diego with a roommate, Debbie. Debbie did not have a car and her parents told her that she could have their old car; the catch was that she had to go to San Francisco to pick it up. She asked me to travel with her and help her drive the car back to San Diego. Since I was off work for a couple of days and she offered to pay all of the expenses, I agreed.
We left that weekend and flew to San Francisco. Debbie’s parents picked us up at the airport and we drove to their home to get the car. We stayed about an hour to visit and have lunch, but we were in a hurry to get on the road. We left San Francisco and traveled a couple of hours down the beautiful coast highway before cutting across to I-5, which would take us down the central part of California to San Diego.
About halfway home, the car started overheating. We pulled over and lifted the hood; the radiator was empty. We put water into it, but the car would not start. It was getting dark, so we decided to walk back to the closest exit and spend the night in a hotel. We hoped that the car would start once it had cooled down.
We walked a couple of miles when suddenly we heard sirens behind us. A voice told us to walk back to the police car. A gruff officer asked us what we thought we were doing, we told him our car broke down and we were walking back to the nearest hotel. He told us to get in the car. His later apologized for being so short; he had just come from a scene where a pedestrian was killed.
The next day, we caught a taxi back to the car but it still would not start. The driver called a tow truck for us. The tow truck took us to the closest mechanic’s shop, where we discovered that the head was cracked. It would cost $1,500 to fix. Debbie called her parents, but they were unable to pay. They offered to get us a bus or train ticket; we decided on a train ticket since neither of us wanted to ride a bus.
When we arrived at Amtrak, we discovered that they did not actually have train service in that area. Instead, we had to ride an Amtrak bus back to San Diego. Even though I have not seen her in more than 20 years, I never forgot my crazy summer road trip with Debbie.