Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Trip Home, Part 1

This post is by a very special guest blogger. My mom wrote up an account of our return journey to send out to all the people we saw on our trip, and I, being the opportunistic person that I am, saw a golden opportunity to get done with the California trip saga before I had to leave for my special weekend vacation.

Plus, it was really funny.

The only drawback is that I won't be able to fit quite all my pictures into her account, so when I return from my weekend I will do a couple of posts using the extras. A photo is a terrible thing to waste, you know.


We left Sunday night as it got dark, wanting to drive through the Nevada desert, in our air-conditionless car, during the cool dark hours. I took the night shift drive, and it was kind of fun to stay up again when everybody was asleep, just like in the good old times of working night shift. I switched with Tina about 5AM and slept until the sun shone directly in my eyes at 6:30. The car was making such a racket I thought we were driving on bad roads, so I made her pull off the freeway, wake up the juvenile males and make them check fluids, which which surprised us by being OK. Less than a minute after we pulled back on the highway, I said, "Tina, pull off the road." She replied, "But, Mom, it's only 13 miles to Wells (NV); I'm just trying to make it there." I said, "Tina, pull off the road! The van is filling with smoke." And so it was, hazy-like, which turned into a black cloud as soon as we stopped. 

How lucky that I had renewed my AAA, even though I almost didn't because the first year I never used it at all. How nice of them to send a tow truck. How much nicer it would have been if they hadn't sent him east towards Salt Lake City when we were  west, towards Elko. This was especially critical since no one had gone to the bathroom all night, and now everybody was awake and needed to "rest"...but there was no "room" anywhere in sight. Everything that was in sight was, well, in PLAIN sight! There was plenty of space, covered with scrubby bushes so scrawny you could see right through them. There wasn't a tree for miles, either, so everybody suffered, not necessarily in silence, for the 1-1/2 hrs. it took to get the directions straightened out and the tow truck to arrive. I don't know that he'd ever before been so popular.

He loaded the van, with the 6 of us strapped IN the van, up onto his tow truck and we headed for town. Caleb amused himself by waving to drivers as we passed by considerably higher than their heads. The rest of us amused ourselves by laughing at Tina, sitting in the driver's seat and clutching the steering wheel with sincerity and a death grip...just in case!
We ended up at the shop of a very nice, very honest Christian mechanic from Stockton CA, born in Dameron Hospital (but before my time), who used to live on the street where I drove during part of my daily commute. He knew Calaveras County, too, and was there at the opening ceremonies for Lake Cammanche, back in the day. His mother was from Walla Walla, so we had Old Home Week briefly while he analyzed the car and told us what we already knew. It was dead, the differential having departed this vale of tears  to wherever dead differentials go, in a spray of grease all over everything near it. He only charged us $40 to pronounce its demise, mostly for fluids put in to it to see if they would help. Then they very kindly said we could leave our derelict outside their shop until the next day, when Jack would arrive with a trailer and a tow, and his office girl took 2 trips to get us all to the other side of town, where we infested two rooms of the local Motel6. 

The kids were largely pacified by the fact that the motel had a pool. I did not find this nearly as comforting to MY soul as they did to theirs, having by now been up for well over 24 hrs. Fatigue and youthful exuberance do NOT go trippingly through life, hand in hand, surrounded by heavenly harmony. Everyone else swam. I stayed in the room, locked the door, and took a much-too-brief nap.

 We ate a regular meal at the casino restaurant, and gave the waitress a nice tip and a GLOW tract. I felt she'd earned both by the time we were done. Tina took them on a ambulatory tour of some of the town before we left, pointing out various sights. This did NOT include the brothel right around the corner from our motel. Let's just say that Wells NV is not the most happening place in the world to be stuck for any length of, say, anything over  5 minutes. Still we were happy and optimistic. Jack was on his way and we would soon be home. (You may cue in the ominous music from here on out, at any point.)

We left Wells after lunch on Tuesday and made decentish progress that day. The SUV tended to overheat if pressed, and Jack had to refill the radiator reservoir several times, but we rolled into Rexburg ID late at night, admired the lights on the Mormon Temple, and took the first motel we found that would let us have the dog in the room. For some reason, Tina felt that having him howl outside all night would be a bad idea. It turned out to cost twice as much as Motel 6, but Jack was tired. I was tired. I didn't want to listen to the bottom of Don's trailer scrape any more times as we went in and out of parking lots, so I made the executive decision to stay. 

This was before I found out how much it would cost, but by then, everybody was out of the car and in the motel lobby...and it was the last night, right? So why not get a good night's rest before our last day of travel instead of the embarrassment and effort of hustling everybody back out to the car and scraping our way out of another driveway in search of economy lodging. Bed--it was an idea whose time had come; I will admit that paying double the money also meant we also got double the comfort!

To be continued.......

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