Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Trip Home, Part 2

The continuation of my mom's guest blog detailing our trip home from California...


The next morning we at the breakfast supplied by the motel and started out, happy in the knowledge that we would be home before bedtime. This would rank as one of the world's all-time magnificently lousy predictions. 

Stopped at the Museum of the Rockies, which has a really great fossil collection. I spent a lot of time there, mocking the evolutionary explanations of how all these dinosaurs were buried (some of whom were standing in mud up to their KNEES when they died in groups) without a flood to account for the burial and subsequent fossilization of the animals. Tina was strangely reluctant to let me tag along with any actual tour guide, so I had to content myself to being snarky to a more receptive, smaller, and less argumentative audience. 

And then we were on our way for that Last Straight Shot to Home. (Please insert hollow laughter here.) In Montana, fuel stops can be few and far between. Unfortunately, as night drew on, Jack was on the phone with his brother when we passed the last good one before Glendive, 3 hours from home. He didn't notice the gauge was low, or hear the single warning "ding" that goes off as a warning. (Please note that if a woman had done this she would have been foolish beyond permission and careless beyond excuse.) I noticed that it was low; I just didn't know that we had passed The Last Gas Station. It was an interesting book, OK? 

Jack had only been able to partially fill the tank at the last stop because he forgot to notify the bank that his card would be traveling, so it shut it down when we tried to refill--10 minutes after the bank closed, with no chance of changing things till the next day. I was in the process of getting $96 of change from a $100 bill when Jack came in and told me. The money didn't even stay in my hand long enough to get warm before I had to hand it back and tell them to put it on the pump. This is why we had started with only about half a tank for this "last" leg of the journey. Frankly, by this point, vacation (in my mind, at least) was losing a bit of its gloss!

So, by the time Jack noticed that the gauge was on empty, he said we were WAY past the fuel stops behind and about 70 miles from the gas stations ahead. He elected to go forward, and find out how far you can go with a big diesel tank when the gauge reads "empty." As it turns out, about 57 miles, which is why we ended up, about midnight, marooned by the roadside for the for 2nd time in 2-1/2 days, 13 miles short of our goal, and once again chatting with the lovely people at AAA. Some hapless contractor with AAA was dispatched to bring us 5 gallons of diesel fuel. This time, they sent him in the right direction, cutting our waiting time in half...not that, in the end, it made the slightest bit of difference.

 When we got into Glendive, we pulled into a closed service station to fill up. Tina's bank card was the lucky benefactor this time, and as we sat waiting, Jack said, "I wonder what else could possibly go wrong..." But although I IMMEDIATELY told him NOT to say that, it was too late. The damage was done. God mercifully kept him in suspense for only about 30 seconds after we pulled away from the station before he saw steam billowing up behind the car. He immediately stopped, and we were enveloped in clouds of vapor from the cracked radiator, which had finally joined the van differential in Dead Vehicle Heaven. May they RIP.

We were a mile away from the Glendive SDA church--also pastored by our pastor--so we limped to a spot behind their church and settled in for what was left of the night. In case anybody cares, don't share blankets with Damon. It's as quick a ticket to freezing anyone could possibly find. In the morning, it was now a job for Don (just diagnosed with Lyme Disease--all our Kahrs were failing at the same time!) to find and borrow another truck and drive down to tow something home. Nobody seemed interesting in towing the SUV towing the trailer and van. Men--I just don't understand them. 

Church members came and unlocked the church, so we had a place to hang out while awaiting our 2nd rescue.  Noni came first, in Tina's car, one of the few vehicles left that isn't scary to drive. She took the 2 kids missing school, Tina, and Devon (homeschool). I had nothing left to give to Mr. Fidget at that point, so HE left in the first wave, too. I mostly sat around and did my best imitation of a vegetable, while Damon and Jack puttered on the patients. I mean, I like fun as well as the next guy, but sometimes you just hit your limit!

Breakfast, anyone? Food supplies were running low at this point...
 Finally, Don arrived with a pickup truck owned by the local NAPA store guy, and they did guy fussy things, deciding to haul the first derelict home first, and get Jack's SUV later that evening. We all piled in and I thankfully vegetated again for the last few hours home. Thursday night, after dark, Jack and Don headed out for Glendive again, only to discover--about 45 minutes down the pike, at 9PM--that Jack didn't have the SUV keys. At this point, the retrievers decided that this hunt was over. They decided to wait until Sunday before making another trip. I mean, what could happen right outside the church, right? Sunday they found out, when they got there, and that last $110 worth of gas had been siphoned off over the weekend. One assumes not on Sabbath morning during church.

So the end of the trip was not quite so resoundingly-wonderful as the parts preceding it, and yet I can't really be sad that we went. The vacation itself, the reunions, the memorial--everything was absolutely wonderful. And even when the troubles started, God helped us out. The first breakdown was in a place where the mechanic was honest and helpful. If we'd been able to buy a full tank of gas, instead of that partial one, or if Jack had seen the gauge in time to fill up the gas at The Last Gas Station, we would've broken down somewhere out in the wilds and the dark of a Montana night...which can be VERY isolated and VERY dark. As it was, we were right outside a town where there was an SDA church to give us shelter, in a part of the road where there was a good shoulder to pull off, on a flat part of the road with good visibility. We didn't end up out in the middle of nowhere, with an SUV, a loaded trailer, and 7 people, with no shoulder, in a dip, or just over a hill, where the rapid traffic passing us by could've hit us as easily as not. We were "covered" in each of our difficulties, so I'm willing to accept, however confusing it seems to me, that God's hand was there in our difficulties as fully as it was in our pleasures. I haven't been able to come up with a good philosophical attitude towards the stolen gas, but when I put it in the list of things I don't understand in life, it still ranks WAY down towards the bottom.

Home at last..........

1 comment:

  1. Wow, that is some trip home! I am so happy you all made it safely home in one piece.