Monday, January 09, 2012

Travel Trouble, Christmas 2011

We’ve taken many car trips over the past 13 years. They’ve had their ups and downs. And they’ve changed a lot, especially with adding kids, one who isn’t too fond of the carseat. But we’ve never, ever, had a trip like this one.

That’s not to say that it was bad. Or that horrible things happened. But after this trip, our “new” car may have lost its road trip privileges.

The trip to Husband’s parents’ was uneventful, as far as the car was concerned. The windshield wipers had a spot that was smear-y, but other than that, things were fine. We spent two nights there, and got to spend time with Husband’s parents and grandparents. The plan for Saturday was to meet my parents and siblings at my grandparents’ house, then go over to visit the other side of the family before heading to Mom & Dad’s.

And that’s where things went downhill.

We were driving from one small town to another, about an hour and a half apart. And between them? Nothing but more small towns. Tiny. We were out in the middle of nowhere when the battery light came on in the car and it started acting weird. Not good. We kept going. Because when you’re in between two tiny towns, you keep going. And pray you can get there.

Thankfully, we had cell service, so I Googled local repair shops in the town we were nearing. It was a Saturday, and I didn’t have much hope that we’d catch anyone. But the second place I called was open. I got directions to the shop and told him I hoped we’d make it. We didn’t. The car died on the side of the road on the outskirts of town in front of someone’s long driveway. So I called him back. And a few minutes later, we met John. He was kind enough to come jump the car and follow us to his shop.

Our battery was shot. The car dealership next door had one we could buy, and when that was switched out, we discovered that (as we suspected,) the alternator was also dead. And the closest one was a good 30 minutes away. It was, however, near my Father-in-Law, so he was able to pick it up and bring it to us.

Meanwhile, the lady from the car dealership next door took the kids and me down the road to a diner while we waited. It was warm, clean, quiet (until the duck hunters started pouring in), and they had fabulous French toast and bacon. We even got to watch part of The Pioneer Woman’s Christmas Special. They were sweet to us and fussed over the kids.

My family members were all about an hour away, and everyone volunteered to help however they could. Trump was on standby to come get the kids and me. My cousin was going to be driving through that area later and was ready to pick us up if needed. If John’s shop hadn’t been open, my brother would’ve cut his deer hunting short and come to work on the car for us, and Mom and Dad would’ve arrived as soon as they could get there. But since the auto shop was open and Poppy was able to bring the part for us, the whole ordeal only took about an hour and a half to two hours out of our day. Honestly, if we had to have a breakdown in the middle of nowhere, that was the best place and time to have it. The Lord was definitely orchestrating those circumstances.

We had to miss seeing my grandparents because of the car trouble, but we made it to see my extended family. It was wonderful to see everyone, many of whom I hadn’t seen in years. When we left to head to Mom & Dad’s, we got stuck in traffic. Sitting still, bumper-to-bumper traffic. On the interstate. For an hour and a half. True, it was completely unrelated to the car trouble earlier in the day, but it didn’t help things.

After we arrived at Mom & Dad’s, we spent a fun few days with family and friends. Then, we loaded up to head back home, trusting that our trip home would be uneventful, though long. We were wrong. Sort of. It was long, but not as uneventful as we would’ve liked.

That morning, we left Mom & Dad’s at 6:40 and got out of town (after stopping for donuts and coffee) at 7:15. After we’d been on the road less than three hours, we stopped at “our” Starbucks, the one we used to stop at all the time on our way to Children’s. Husband’s windshield wipers were still smearing, and we were expecting rain most of the way home. So while the kids and I waited at Starbucks, he ran across the street to get new ones. The guy at the parts store helped him switch them out and within just a few minutes we were on our way with a clear windshield.

We continued on our way and things went well, although tedious with a baby girl who was less than thrilled with her seat, a Momma that was crammed in the back seat between the car seats, and a boy trying his best to be content with his circumstances. (The DVD player was a huge help.)


We decided to take a new, alternate route to avoid a crazy interchange with some bad traffic in a large city. As soon as we pulled off the interstate onto a two-lane highway (in the general area of a town, but really kinda in the middle of nowhere), Husband noticed something funny. It was like the car didn’t want to slow down. And it was getting dark.

Not good.

Also? Both children had JUST gone to sleep. For the first time all day.

We decided that the cruise control was stuck. Husband was able to pull over in the only place we could find – the parking lot of a Mexican Restaurant. I called my Dad, and though he was working, he was able to talk me thru what to look for.

Husband stayed in the car with the kids (who were now awake) while I got instructions from Dad and fiddled under the hood. Of course, Dad had dealt with this exact problem before and could tell me what to look for. About the time I thought I had things figured out, a guy drove up and asked if we needed help. I told him what was going on, and he knew exactly what part was messed up and how to get it to shut off. He told me that he’d seen us and thought that if his daughter was having car trouble, he hoped someone would stop and help her. And then he’d seen the kids in the car and knew that he had to see if he could help. Again, the Lord sent the right person at the right time. It was a wonderful testimony of people’s kindness and willingness to help strangers when they’re able.

We made it back to “civilization” and stopped to stretch our legs and get a bite to eat. I got back under the hood to tape the broken part back so it wouldn’t get caught since it seemed to be wiggling around. I used the electrical tape that Mom had put in Husband’s stocking. Her practical gifts come in handy in the strangest times. We were definitely thankful we had it.

After 13 1/2 hours, a gillion stops, 3 dirty diapers, 2 new windshield wipers, and 1 stuck cruise control, we arrived home. I would’ve been fine if I didn’t have to get back in the car for a month. I hadn’t even gotten all the car ick off my hands.


We let the kids stay up a little while to stretch and get some wiggles out.

This girl was super glad to be out of her seat.


I don’t know that falling into my bed has ever felt so sweet. It was time to get ready for Christmas!

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1 comment:

  1. Whew! Glad you guys made it back and forth safely and that we got to see you. I can't even imagine that trip! (: