Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Day 2: In Which the Vacation Tuned Into an Adventure

Everyone slept great, in fact, I had to wake them up this morning! Eating breakfast in the hotel was a fun treat--so many choices! We hit the road ready for a stop at the Flight 93 National Memorial and getting to Ohio to see Grandma Rhoda. The Flight 93 Memorial was only an hour from Breezewood where we had spent the night. Aliza was busy telling us all the facts she knew about 9/11 from History class this year and we were enjoying the countryside off the PA turnpike.

Mom was driving and we were following a semi truck up the mountain when our van quit moving forward. The engine revved, but it did not go forward. As you can see in the picture, we didn't even make it completely off the road. Mom and I looked at each other--stunned. We were trying to figure out who to call and realized we had no idea where we were on the road we were on. I was thinking that I needed to walk back down the road to an antique store when a truck came along. There were 2 men in the truck and they stopped beside us and asked if we were ok. We both emphatically said NO! They pulled off and turned out to be a couple of the kindest, most respectful strangers I've met. (You'll quickly see here in the story that Mom and I are the kind of women who hold traditional gender roles! She and I had a good laugh over this later.) The man shook my hand and told me his name and asked us what happened and when it was time to check out the inside of the car he asked permission and made sure I was in the car with my children. Our description of what happened was along the lines of "I heard a noise and the car quit moving forward." After looking under the hood the man correctly assumed it was the transmission and decided that we needed to get the car turned around (headed down the mountain) and off the road. The second man called a nearby towing garage to pick us up. Being a real frazzled girl at this moment, I asked the first man if he would drive the car. The men then waited with us at the antique store parking lot until the guy from the towing garage came.
In the time that we sat waiting for the tow truck, the van had cooled off enough that I could drive it (downhill) to the garage. I still had brakes and reverse. Tow truck man followed me. It took him about 30 seconds to look at the transmission fluid and say it was a transmission problem. Thankfully, Mr. Tow Truck Guy could tell me which transmission shop he would recommend. I called them and Mr. Tow Truck Guy could take the van there.
The next issue to tackle was securing a rental car to take to Ohio which proved to be quite a challenge. I called the 3 closest Enterprise stores and none of them had a 7 passenger vehicle available. After that Mr. Tow Truck Guy gave me numbers out of the phone book. I called at least 6 car rental places with no success. We were down to the last number in the book and they had a Traverse--a mid size SUV--but they didn't do pick up. I told them we couldn't walk to them and hung up. I called one place back that thought they *might* have a van coming back that day. In the meantime, Mr. Tow Truck Guy decided that he could drive one of us to get the Traverse which was 30 minutes away. I think he was getting worried that we might have to camp out in his garage!

To Mom's dismay, it became clear that she needed to be the one to go to rent the car. I sent her with my insurance card and driver's license and the children and I sat. By this time it was noon. Thankfully, it was the beginning of the trip and I let them eat as many chips and snacks as they wanted. I had no appetite whatsoever. While we sat, I made a thankful list, because, truly, I was deeply grateful for how we had been taken care of so far. First and foremost, we were off the turnpike which we have never, ever done on a trip to Ohio. If we had been on the turnpike no one would have stopped, the children would have had to stay in the car and it could have taken hours just to get a tow truck to us. It wasn't raining and the temperature was cool, not hot! AAA paid for towing (I hope that hasn't changed!). 
An hour went by and I got a text from Mom that I was not going to be able to drive the rental car because my insurance card did not have collision coverage on it. To make an hour long event into a sentence--I knew this wasn't accurate. Jeremy and I texted back and forth, he did some checking and ultimately called Mom at the rental store. He texted a picture of his insurance card and the lady let me drive. I HAD to be able to drive! We were so thankful that the situation worked itself out. It took another *VERY* long time for Mom to finish up the paperwork. Meanwhile, this is the chaos that I was watching:
But honestly, the kids were amazing. After 2.5 hours Mom arrived with the Traverse.
I'll just say that a Traverse is made for a family of 4 not a family of 6 even though it seats 8. There is precious little luggage space. Mom and I were determined and we made it work. We were packed in pretty tight! By this time I knew I had to eat (it was midafternoon) and so we stopped at McDonalds before we got on the turnpike.

By the time we got back on the road, my Grandma Rhoda was looking for us to arrive at her house and we still had over 5 hours of driving ahead of us. I am very happy to say that the rest of our travel went extremely smoothly. The children continued to be amazing. Mom and I worked really well together all day. Our husbands were gracious and did not questions any of the decisions that we made. We arrived in Ohio at 9pm and my Grandma still wanted us to stop to see her first. We gladly did. The children and I only stayed a few minutes and then we went to my aunt and uncles house to unload and settle in. There was still sunlight at 9:45pm that night and I know that helped me so much psychologically. It did not feel nearly as late as it was.

Jeremy called the transmission shop and gave them his name and phone number so I didn't have to worry about interacting with them. He verified that the van had arrived, but they were not able to look at it that afternoon. It took me a LONG time to fall asleep. So many what ifs, scenarios and emotions were rolling through my head. Ohio had never seemed so far away from home.

No comments: