"Your car is on fire... Your car is on fire!"

...Shouted the two women in the front seat of the Honda C-RV beside us as we idled at a stop light, peering back through the billowing “steam”.  I freaked out, fumbling for the window control to try and hear them better and instead opened the door by accident while Cort yelled “Pull over!”, and Mike swerved through the red intersection, turning right into a parking lot in the outskirts of Red Deer’s commercial district.  As soon as the car was stopped we jumped out and bolted ten feet before turning to investigate the source of the smoke.  We’d already been having issues with the car that evening, with the “check engine” light acting up and the traction feeling really weird, so I was fully expecting the undercarriage of the vehicle to be in flames.  Fortunately the only glow we saw came from the red-hot rear-wheel brakes.  When the smoke died down and the freshly-forged look had subsided we were left with the pungent scent of Mike’s newly installed winter tires.

Last night we played the Velvet Olive in Red Deer.  It was a neat little restaurant/bar with an alley entrance. The venue also had the tiniest stage we have ever played on.  Thank goodness we were just a three-piece. We enjoyed the room, the attentive audience, and the staff, but we probably could have timed the performance a little better.  I was under the impression that it was an earlier venue and that we should be wrapping up around 11:00.  In fact, the friends that were called by patrons who really liked us didn’t arrive until five minutes after we started packing up.  We considered setting back up to do a few more tunes but we were just too wiped from the previous night and the knowledge that we still had to drive home to Calgary.  We’re planning to be come back though. 

It seems that the whole “car on fire” thing probably had to do with the emergency brake.  In addition to all the other weird things that Mike’s car has been doing lately, the E-brake indicator light spontaneously stopped working when we left the venue.  We were so focused on the “check engine” light and the continued weird traction (as well as the random sounds from the turn-signal indicator) that we didn’t pay it as much attention.  Most likely the brake was still partially engaged and we just had no way to know that.

I do feel sorry for Mike’s dad, Chuck, who was on the phone giving car advice while we were leaving the venue and had to hear us suddenly shouting about a fire and taking drastic action.  Thanks for your advice, your patience, and your constant care.  We’re really fortunate to have families like these behind this project.  We made it home alright, and we’ll figure out transportation plans as we go along.  We may have to rent a vehicle for next weekend’s shows in Jasper and Hinton, but after that we should be trading the VW Passat for a Subaru Forester to tide us over while we sort things out.  Whatever happens, we’ll make sure this ghost train keeps rolling.

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