I am going to reply to my own post. After months of frustation over the engine light, I came across this forum hoping to find an answer, or a way to proceed without getting ripped off. There were no replies. However, my engine light went off, my car passed inspection for another year, and my engine light and 'trac off' light are now on again.
This is what happened. On a very hot day I filled the gas tank, which had been under a quarter, turned the gas cap 7 or 8 times, and drove for over a half hour. The engine light went off. Within half an hour I drove to an inspection station and the car passed inspection with no problem. $21.00, not hundreds! The next day, the light was back on along with the 'trac off' light.
I now have another year to figure out the problem. My 1997 Avalon runs great, and has about 43,000 on it. I am sure some mechanics love to see some stupid airhead woman come in with the engline light on. Eureka! When I went to Autozone, they tested for the problem and p1705 came up. They said it was a transmission problem and it was not one of the better codes. Sounded expensive. I decided I wanted to be informed rather than be ripped off even if I can't do the work myself. However, maybe I can. Who knows.
I will be making a new post in an effort to find out what kind of OBD gadget I should buy to tell me more about these lights from hell. TBC........