Saturday, December 21, 2002

I�ve been up since noon yesterday and I think after being up for 36 hours this would be a good time to go to sleep.

My sleep pattern has been off since I've been researching my next forum item which also has a very good chance to make it in the papers.

So what have I been doing for those 36 hours?

Well at 6 AM I decided that if I was going to make it to Yerevan and if I waited for the weather to clear, I was never going to get here. So at 6:15 AM, I got in my car and headed to Stepanagert. Not to say the weather was bad, but I can say it was not good and it took me over an hour to get to Stepanagert.

My friend that was planning on going with earlier in the week, had work to do early next week, so could not go with me.

He insisted that I don�t go alone, since the road would be icy and the more weight in the car the better it would stick to the road,

I went to the bus station, and picked up a couple of passengers, who shared in paying for the gas.

We left Stepanagsert at 10 AM and half way between Stepanagert and Sisian, my car started to act as of one of the spark plugs where not working. So at the Sisian check-point, I had someone check to see if we had a bad sparkplug.

All the sparkplugs checked out okay. I knew if it was not the sparkplugs, then it had to be the injectors. Most probably gas with water and dirt is the culprit.

Fortunately, this is not the first time and the last time I worked with the mechanic on cleaning out the system and injectors with the help of the Yerevan injector specialist, via my cell phone.

I asked the guy that checked my sparkplugs if he had access to an air compressor and if he had the wrenches to take out the injectors. The work "injectors" prompted a worried look on his face and he gave me news that he had never in his life worked on injectors and has no idea as to what they look like or even where they are found. I assured him that I could tell him how to do it.

He said that we should drive in to the city of Sisian and got to Slavic�s garage where there is a compressor.

We drive the 6 kilometers to Sisian, which was so beautiful and looked so holiday like. I wash I had taken pictures, but the road was so slick that I could not stop or else I would possibly get stuck.

We got to Slavic�s garage and in a couple of hours we cleaned the whole fuel system and also Slavic, being an auto electrician fixed an on going problem with my starter, which was caused by a loose wire.

I paid Slaivc 4,000 dram (less than $8) and he and the crew pointed me in the direction of the main road (via the short road that we didn�t come in on) and pushed my car so we could get rolling in the snow.

We took a wrong turn and were redirected but warned that the road had not been cleared since it started to snow a couple of days ago and my car world probably get stuck.

Nonsense, my car can out drive any jeep and sure enough, on the road there were a couple of stuck jeeps, but my car just kept going all the way to the main road.

We drove on and on the way we ran into a couple of people I knew who were quite concerned with the road condition and were planning on camping out until they came and cleared the road. I told them no thanks, I have a passenger that is leaving for Moscow in the morning and were continuing on.

I�ve never in my life encountered blizzard like winds like the ones I drove through. My car was totally unaffected, as if on was on a Sunday drive to the mall. I wish I could say the same for the wedding party with the decorations attached to their car.

Traffic came to a stop at one point as the Iranian trucks that travel our roads were stuck and they had done a good job of blocking the road. I got out in this blizzard to help with lighting so they could fit their chains on.

After a 20 minute delay, a Jeep belonging to the Artsakh Minister of Internal Affairs came driving by me and worked his way through the trucks with me following close behind.

We can to a second jam of Iranian trucks and after a 5 minute wait again the MIF Jeep made a trail and before I could follow, a Volga 24 with summer tires cut in front of me, slid and got stuck on the bumper of one of those big bad Iranian trucks. Well I hope the big black crease in that guys white car will serve as a reminder to not cut me off again.

We made our way to Yerevan by 8:30 and in the last hour of our trip, the exhaust pipe which I guess I hit on a rock or something, cracked and caused our car to sound like a formula one race car. It was not exactly the most pleasant sound after all we had been through.

I have to say that besides the bad gas and the injector problem, I was really impressed with my car and the supper safe ride it provided me in such hazardous conditions.

I think I�m going to be staying in Armenia for Christmas and then as soon as the weather clears, I�ll head back home.

Oh, I got a donation from an organization called HOM of one wheelchair for our aid recipient Vagif, the guy I wrote about who spends his days sitting in a wagon. I want to thank JD for the offer to purchase him one, which started my search that yielded this find.

Ps. For those loggers that are planning on being in town on the 25th, I taking invitations.

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