We fueled up near LAX and hit the road. We stopped at Flying J in Frasier Park for restroom use and snacks. On the way out, I noticed the battery light came on, but then it went off again right away, so I figured it was probably nothing.
Around Kettleman City, the light came on again. I unplugged my phone charger. Just before Coalinga, the stereo turned itself off. We made it about 20 miles further, with only the lights on, and they were dim. Then finally it refused to go any further. We coasted to a stop with a good view of the sign that tells you you're 53 miles from highway 152.
Thankfully I had recently upgraded my AAA service from Plus to Premiere: Of the three possible free tows per year, one can be up to 200 miles, and the other two can be up to 100 miles. I looked it up, and Coalinga to Sunnyvale is about 160 miles. Score.
I called my good friend cheeseboy and asked about borrowing a car. He and cheesybunny are in Portland, but his friend Ken had a key to a truck I could borrow. Ken in fact dropped off the truck and hid the key, so it was there and ready to go when we got there! cheeseboy also warned me that the registration is overdue, but said he had sent the check in and just hadn't gotten the stickers back yet.
The tow truck took about a half hour to get there. In that time, all four of us relieved our bladders by the side of interstate 5. Sadly, that tow truck could only take us as far as 152, and the next truck would take us to Sunnyvale.
Somehow the communication among towing companies and AAA wasn't as excellent as it should have been. We had to wait 35 minutes at a gas station in Gustine, just 3 miles down 152. Dipak and I hung out in the store, while Larry and Panda walked around outside, Panda wearing a red sweater with hood and looking a bit like Santa Claus. Finally the nice store clerk had to close the store, so we went out into the cold, but then there was the tow truck within a few minutes.
The first tow truck had a nice big cab, as I'd requested from AAA, that could hold us all. The second tow truck was standard sized, meaning someone would have to ride in my car, which would be cold. Larry sat back there, with Panda in his jacket. We checked on him in Gilroy, but he was fine.
It was well after midnight when we got to the mechanic's place. I dropped off the car, and we dug out some space for Dipak, put their stuff in the truck bed, and headed off. Dipak's place wasn't far away. However, Larry had planned on taking BART to El Cerrito Plaza, a station I know well. BART had stopped running. I texted cheesybunny and asked if I could stay at her place in Berkeley (much closer to El Cerrito than San Jose), and she said yes! :D I also grabbed my other keychain so I could get in.
On the way out of Mountain View, we got pulled over on 85 just before 101, for the expired registration. Thankfully, I explained that I was borrowing the car, and explained briefly why when the officer asked, and that the registration check had been sent, and he believed us and let us go.
I took Larry to El Cerrito, down a narrow street that felt really small in the truck. He gave me a little extra gas money, which was nice. I got to cheesybunny's house, and the bottom lock, the non-deadbolt, was mysteriously locked. It was at this point where I became a bit dejected. I called a motel in San Mateo, and they charged $60 plus tax. Ugh. I finally used my Marriott hotel key on the lesser lock. Win.
I set my alarm on my phone for 7am without taking it out of vibrate mode and slept from about 3am to 9am. Oops. I called work, then remembered I needed cat food. I picked up the right cat food in Berkeley on my way out, took side streets to avoid 80 which looked horrible, and then got stuck in a nasty traffic jam with no apparent accident on 880. I got to work at 10:45am.
I remember I told the second tow truck driver it's the first time I've made it home from LA on one tank of gas. Actually though, I did have to fill up the truck. :)
Thanks to Tim and Jerry, the tow truck drivers, cheeseboy, cheesybunny, Ken, Panda, Larry, Dipak, and Kuldip the store clerk.