Traveling with Robb’s family has a tendency to be a time consuming project. Don’t get me wrong, I love them to pieces, and I don’t mean to blame any one person, but those are the facts. So when we planned another 4th of July trip to Idaho, I was prepared for the process, or so I thought. It turned out to be a much longer process than any of us could have imagined.
We finally pulled out of Salt Lake at around 10:45 p.m. for our 3-hour trip to the Lava Hot Springs area. Right about midnight, our car bit the dust. Our poor,
cheap inexpensive Jeep which we have now owned for one entire year, dumped us gently on the side of I-15 right by the “Port of Entry” exit. A quick glance with the flashlight we were super grateful Ryan brought with him told us two things:
1. The serpentine belt had come off.
2. There was a layer of antifreeze over everything, and it continued to drip onto the highway for several minutes.
Or, in terms I personally understand better:
1. The car is not driveable.
2. The car is even dirtier and stickier than usual.
I guess I was glad we were not traveling alone, because being stranded on the side of the road at midnight on a Friday night on a holiday weekend is not my favorite thing. Glenn (our brother-in-law) kindly drove to the nearest Walmart (which was only 3.9 miles away, according to Suze’s phone) and bought some tools to try to help us get going again.
It was about this time the kids started crying. Or, more honestly, the oldest kid started crying because he wanted to sleep and the younger kids were busy keeping him awake by laughing and talking. The younger kids clearly did not care about this dilemma at all. Quinn made his feelings known by farting in the car, which prompted Brooklyn to laugh hysterically, which caused her to let one of her own fly, which prompted more hysterical laughter. (Who said fart jokes are a boy thing?) We heard the car door open and close a couple times. Ryan continued crying and yelling at his siblings. I continued crying and yelling expletives at the car.
After a couple failed attempts at midnight car repair, and couple hours at the side of the freeway, Glenn finally dropped the tent trailer in the Walmart parking lot and then towed us there. We all slept in our clothes in the trailer in the Walmart lot that night, and were grateful as anyone could be for the Walmart bathrooms with their flush toilets and running water and soap.
Photographic evidence of the event:
Never let it be said that I made this story up.
(sidebar: I have long loved Walmart, and love them even more for allowing people to camp in the parking lot. Robb’s cousin Dave and his 37 kids once spent a night at Walmart. He said he went in NINE separate times that night to make purchases. I guess Walmart’s benevolence is not entirely altruistic.)
Saturday morning was spent with Robb and Glenn diagnosing the exact problem (water pump met with an untimely death), searching for the problem, the tools, the necessary parts, the nearest auto parts store, and so forth. We argued for a while about the best course of action to take, and finally left the car in the care of the ONE auto repair shop we could find open on Saturday of a holiday weekend, and hoped for the best.
Robb and Glenn drove back to SLC to retrieve Glenn’s truck for us to use. Suze and Cheryl and I waited in the shade and made sandwiches on hard rolls. Caleb fell (or jumped, accounts vary) in the drainage ditch full of trash and got soaking wet. The girls entertained themselves with multiple trips to the aforementioned Walmart bathrooms. We were happy to see Robb and Glenn when they finally arrived back at the Walmart parking lot to meet us. We though we could be on our way inside of 10 minutes. Wrong again.
Because of a glitch which would take a long time to explain and even worse, would be deathly boring, (as opposed to the rest of this post, which is fascinating) the trailer was without battery power. This is not such a problem, except when you have to close it all down. Glenn started hand cranking it but the crank kept bending further & further until it was practically useless. So he solved that problem by taking a hammer to the crank. Problem solved. Trailer down.
The same crank is used to put up the stabilizing feet, but now that the crank had been banged up, it didn’t fit the pegs for the feet. *sigh* I shook an angry fist at the heavens and shouted, “Will this day never end?” After several unsuccessful creative problem solving attempts by Suze, Ryan, and I, Glenn finally fixed it, cranked up the feet, hooked up the trailer to the pickup, and we were on our way. It was, what? 2:00? Somewhere in that area anyway.
We were so happy when we finally arrived at our destination at the beautiful little farm in Southern Idaho. And we were all so tired and frustrated, none of us wanted to make dinner. Fortunately, hunger is a stronger feeling than frustration.
We picked up the Jeep on Tuesday, on our way home. It has a fresh new water pump, and drives great. Which is super fortunate for me, because (as I learned just hours before our trip began) my drivers license is seriously expired. My insurance agent tells me there is a big fat fine for that offense.
I’ll be putting the actual fun parts of the trip in the next post. It’s my way of compartmentalizing.