Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Mess with Your Kids and Your Car Will Explode

ED: There's still a bit of a "tick" in the engine, so we won't be getting our car back anytime soon.  It's stuck at the beach awaiting official diagnosis and repair, and we are stuck praying that this won't cost us an arm and a leg.  Sheesh.

Holiday weekends are the WORST time to travel: it’s a billion degrees outside, traffic is bumper-to-bumper, and all you want to do is get where you’re going (rather than enjoying the journey) because there’s usually a barbeque or family or something fun on the other end of the drive.

I honestly dream of a time when we’ll do road trips, rather than destination trips.  We drive to visit family, but we don’t ever drive just to see the world.  Someday, someday, I’ll force my boys to take trips south or east or north (probably not west, as I get horribly seasick) with only vague destinations in mind, stopping at every roadside lookout and viewpoint and attraction along the way.  Every time we drive home I think, I wonder if that restaurant is any good or I hear that there is an amazing park in this town.  Someday…

Until that day, though, we are destination travelers.  We drive to get places.  We have three small children and a dog and THANK GOD they are all male because of THE PEEING.  When we left on Thursday to head to Ilwaco for Independence Day, I made sure that every seat had a water bottle within reach.  Charles sits alone in the way back (the way-way back is the trunk space, creative namers that we are), so I put a 24-ounce sports bottle of cold water there with him.  When we got close to the rest area outside of Arlington (20 minutes from home), I asked if anyone needed to go potty.  Charles did, so we stopped.  And then he had to go again in Everett (another 20 minutes down the road); luckily, we were very close to the Everett rest area.  Then, as we were tooling along I-405 (yet another 20 minutes later), he had to go AGAIN.  We managed to pull off the freeway just in time for him to water some bushes and I scrambled to the back of the car to check.  Yep.  He drank his entire water bottle in the first hour on the road.

Traffic really wasn’t horrible on Thursday, and we made decent time, but the weather was excruciating.  Our van registered 97 degrees in Olympia.  We had to get Taco Time drive-thru so we could go to a park because there was no way the dog could stay in the car while we ate lunch.  The van’s air conditioner, which is rarely used, was on nearly constantly for five hours.  The heat and long drive clearly took a big toll on the vehicle when a problematic oil hose burst, spewing engine oil EVERYWHERE.

We had made it almost to Raymond and were driving up and down the twisty hills just south of the Pacific County border.  I was in the drivers seat and we were entertaining the kids the best way we knew how: messing with them.  Jamie had asked me to “look, mommy! I have ten fingers!”  To which I replied, “Do you know how many fingers I have, Jamie?” 

Charles, from the back, “She has the same as you, Jamie.”

Tony, sensing the mischief in my voice: *Sideways glance, like “what kind of bullshit are you going to feed them now?”*

Jamie: “Ten?”

Me: “Nope.  I have fifteen.  Want to see?”

At this point, I held up my right hand for him to see, palm facing the windshield while Jamie counted, “one, two, free, four, five.”  Then, I put my right hand on the wheel and reached across my body with my left hand.  “Six, seven, eight, nine, ten!”  Then, I grabbed the wheel with my left hand and put my right hand up again, palm facing the back of the car this time. “Eleven, telve, fourteen, fourteen, fifteen!”

Cue the mad giggling.

Then I told them that Tony had twelve fingers, so Tony was forced to participate in my game, holding up an extra finger for each hand so he had six each time Jamie counted.  Charles couldn’t stand it and was yelling at us that we were lying, LYING!, from the way back.

And then, all of a sudden, into the chaos of a happy family in remarkably good spirits for being hour five into a six-hour trip, the engine started making a VERY funny noise, like when you accidentally suck a shoelace into a vacuum cleaner and the aglet hits the side with every turn of the beater or like a baseball card in the spokes of a bicycle, but louder.  I turned everything off and then pulled over.

There was oil dripping from the passenger’s side front wheel well and oil all down the side of the van.  We were toast.  The boys peed in the woods, we thanked our lucky stars that we were in a shaded area and that it was now only 85 degrees, and I called AAA.  Not for the first time, and probably not for the last, I was happy that I pay the $130 annual fee for this great service (plus, I like the AAA magazine) (I know that sounds boring, but it’s really good, I swear).

car trouble 2

We read to the boys and kept the dog out of the sun while we waited for the tow truck and my dad and Tony’s mom to come rescue us (five people and a dog and our stuff are too much for conventional vehicles).  Upwards of 10 cars stopped within that hour to ask us if we were okay or needed water or anything – people are fundamentally good and want to help others, I think.  See how I just turned this into a feel-good story?

car trouble

Fortunately, my dad has a lift in his garage and he, Tony, and my father-in-law were able to quickly identify the problem.  We had a new oil hose shipped and dad made the part swap last night.  For now, I am driving my parents’ hulking 2001 Chevy Suburban around town.  For years I have fought against driving big cars, and now I am driving the biggest.  How thankful I am that they had a vehicle that would fit three car seats across the back to loan to us.  Pedestrians and small vehicles beware, however.

And you know what?  The trip home was completely uneventful.  It probably had something to do with the fact that we left at 9 AM.  From now on, we will ALWAYS leave early to avoid the headache.  That is, until we’re in a position to take the scenic route home and stop at all the attractions.

1 comment:

Tony Cook said...

You just HAD to use the term "aglet" didn't you?