Wednesday, July 01, 2009

The saga continues...

Guess I need to fill you in on the rest of the story, huh?

First, let me say that we are home safe and sound. We were SO happy to sleep in our own bed! We found out on this trip that Emily no longer fits in the Pack-N-Play – she can touch all four sides at once. So, I have no doubt that she was happy to be in her crib too.

We have received a lot of questions so I am going to back up a little bit and share some of the details about our car troubles.

We left Florida on Friday morning driving on these little country roads in the middle of nowhere. We were glad that we finally reached Tallahassee where we could get on the highway and feel like we were surrounded by civilization again. Just as we were starting to leave the city, the air conditioner starting blowing warm air and the temperature gauge went all the way up. We turned around and headed to a McDonald’s parking lot. Mike checked on the car and I went in to feed Emily her breakfast. Mike realized the issue was not something he could fix so he asked a man if he knew of a garage that we could go to. The garage was only about 2 blocks away, so Mike put some water in the radiator and off we went.

The mechanic told us that our thermostat was dead and that they would have to let the car cool down before they could do anything with it. We spent the next 4 hours on the couch in the garage watching TV and reading magazines. They fixed the thermostat then we paid and went on our way. We arrived in Atlanta that night with no further troubles. The next morning we came out of McDonald’s (we ate there FAR too many times!) to find the car leaking anti-freeze. It was only a small amount, so we really didn’t give it much thought. We just kept an eye on the fluid levels and the temperature gauge. We did put some water in it, but didn’t have any major issues while we were in Atlanta.

We left Sunday morning thinking we would be back in Kentucky in about 6-8 hours. This part of the drive was highway all the way, so we thought it would be a smooth ride and it was at first. Mike drove the first leg while I slept. Then we stopped so I could take over and let him take a nap. Mike woke up from his nap and thought we needed to pull over to change Emily’s diaper. We pulled into a gas station and did a quick check. She was fine so we continued on. At that point, the air conditioner started to blow hot air and the temperature gauge was rising quickly. It felt like déjà vu! We were able to pull into a rest area. Mike put about 2 gallons of water in the car and we let it sit for a while. We thought the new thermostat was put in wrong and figured we would just have to make lots of stops to check the fluid levels. We were trying to be optimistic.

We got back on the road and I believe we made it to the next exit before it started to make this awful noise. We pulled into the parking lot of a gas station just as the car stalled out. Mike went in to get some water, but we realized at this point fluids were not going to cut it – the problems were more severe than that. He found a business card of a local truck repair place that offered 24 hour service. We called them and they were able to get the car and take a look at it. We spent the next 4 or 5 hours sitting in the store of the gas station waiting.

Around 5:30, the mechanic came to get Mike. That is when we found out we had a blown head gasket. He knew we wanted to get home so he replaced the thermostat and tried to rig the car so that it could get us home and then we could have it repaired here. So we hit the road again at 6 and we only made it 10 miles or so. The car started to make an awful noise again and eventually stalled out. So we called the truck repair place and had the car towed back there. The tow truck driver took us to a local motel and we figured they would fix it the next day and then we would be on our way (still trying to be optimistic).

The next morning, we called around 10:30 to see where things stood with the car and they hadn’t even touched it yet. Apparently the Monday staff didn’t know why it was there and didn’t feel the need to ask anyone. Well, the mechanic took the car in and started on it. We received a call a couple of hours later letting us know that the engine was dead, as well as the blown head gasket, bent pistons and multiple valve issues (I am guessing the 2nd thermostat is probably dead too). At that point, we called a friend and asked if he could come to get us and our car. The night before, he had offered to tow our Honda to us and we could drive that home while he towed our Escape. So we asked if his offer was still valid. He graciously put everything else aside and came to get us. I cannot tell you how thankful we are!

He arrived around 8:30 (after getting stuck in traffic for 2 hours and hitting rush hour in Nashville). We loaded up the Honda, picked up the Escape and hit the road for our 225 mile drive home. He told us to go on ahead of him since his truck couldn’t go as fast as our Honda and we could just call him if we needed anything. A few miles over the Kentucky border, we blew a tire on the Honda. We have no idea what we hit – we didn’t see anything in the road, didn’t hear a thud, just the sound of the rim dragging on the pavement. We pulled over and Mike started to look for the spare and jack while I called our friend. Thankfully he wasn’t far behind us. Mike put the spare tire on and we were on our way again.

Driving on the donut (as I like to call it), we had to drive considerably slower, which was frustrating for Mike because he just wanted to get home! Plus, the speedometer in our Honda is broken, so we have no clue how fast we were going. Well, as we watched cars and trucks fly by us, we had no doubt that we were driving SLOW. Things were moving along smoothly until we ran into yet another issue. About 35 miles from home, the spare tire blew. We pulled over and I called our friend yet again. He thought I was joking when I told him we were on the side of the road yet again – but at that point, I really didn’t have much of a sense of humor left. As a matter of fact, neither did Emily. She had been SO good through all of the car troubles. She really didn’t complain, she was smiley and happy. After the second tire blew, she was DONE and she let us know about it. She cried and cried the entire time we waited for the truck to catch up to us. They stopped for food and gas, so they were about 30 or 40 minutes behind us, but the wait felt like hours.

So by this time, we are 35 miles from home, it is 1:30 in the morning (or somewhere around there) and we are all exhausted. Drastic times call for drastic measures! Emily and I rode in the cab with him. Mike and our friend’s son rode in our Escape on the back of the flatbed truck. I don’t think anyone is supposed to ride back there, but we were out of options at that point. We finally made it home around 2 or 2:30. We unloaded both cars and went to bed. The next morning, our friend picked up a tire for us and took Mike back to pick up the Honda.

Side note about Emily…After her crying fit, she was laughing on the way home because we hit a bumpy patch of road. She was giggling away in her car seat. And when we got home, I put her on the couch while we carried everything in. She was smiling and laughing the whole time. Mike and I joked that she must have been excited to be at home. There were so many times in our travels that she would giggle from the back seat of the car. She really is such a joy!

So at this point, Mike and I are contemplating getting bikes and staying local for a while. Our Escape will be brought to the shop tomorrow, so we will get to find out the cost of all of the repairs. We have a Warranty on the car and we are hoping most of the work will be covered. We would appreciate your prayers on that.

I promise to post some pictures from our trip at some point. I just wanted to fill in some details for all that have been asking.


Stephanie's Mommy Brain said...

NO, SUH!!! (said with my best RI accent) Not TWO flats?!! One day you will look back on this Roadtrip from Hades and laugh. Though it might be awhile. :)

Kind of reminds me of when we moved to RI. Flat tires, non-working brake lights and a serious RA flare (though I didn't know that's what it was at the time) are just a few things that happened. We laugh now - 12 years later. :)

Praying for a generous mechanic!!

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness! It all doesn't sound real. What can I say other than "Praise the Lord you are home!" We will be praying regarding your repairs.

Glad Little Em had a good little giggly vacation.


Big brother, Little sister. said...

Hope you are enjoying being back safe and sound at home! what an adventure and so glad Emily giggled through it!

datri said...

Wow, those were some car troubles! Makes for a memorable trip, tho!