Monday, June 28, 2010

ADGA Nationals: The Trip Home

The return trip to Connecticut from Nationals started out tame enough. We stopped for gas about an hour into the ride. The girls pulled out some snacks and settled in for the trip. Our plan was to make it to a town in Pennsylvania just over the border from Ohio. We had reserved a hotel there and figured we'd be there about 9:30 PM, get a good night's rest and drive the remaining eight hours the next day.
The girls snapped a picture of Cincinnati as we headed into the city:
As we rounded the curve to leave the city limits, the whole front of the van started to shake. Violently. I took my foot off the gas and it stopped. Put my foot back on the gas and it shook. I was doing 73 mph in heavy traffic in the high sped travel lane. I glanced in my mirrors and like the Red Sea, the traffic parted so I was able to get over to the shoulder.
After talking to Sam on the phone, we called AAA. We misread the mile marker sign to read mile marker 48 after a half hour of dealing with AAA we discovered our error and realized that it was mile marker 4.8. Apparently a huge difference, like 70 miles difference. Apparently they need to make those signs bigger for us blind folk...Thankfully the tow truck driver who was looking for us at 48 called a tow truck driver in our area who arrived within fifteen minutes. This guy was awesome and refused to leave us until the police officer arrived. He even called the police to check on the status. Triple A wouldn't do that. Triple A couldn't find us a taxi. Triple A couldn't call the police for us either.
When the officer arrived we were so grateful! It was a female officer named Linda Fields. She understood our concerns for staying in the city, called a friend of hers, at home, who was a mechanic. He agreed to take the van, fix it, and come pick us up wherever we ended up after it was fixed! Officer Fields raises and trains Australian Shepherds and shows them nationally. She was very interested in what the girls had been doing in Kentucky. She squeezed all six of us in her cruiser (hopefully the only time any of us will ever be on the inside of one!) and drove us 15 miles outside the city to a hotel, after offering to take us to a grocery store for supplies. She gave us her personal cell phone number and told us to call her if we needed anything. Officer Fields was awesome and a Godsend!
Pictures of us outside the cop car waiting to check in to the hotel:

Samantha juggling her stuffed animals

Unfortunately due to the heat, poor Heather got heat exhaustion and was pretty dehydrated. We had to cross six lanes of traffic to get to the Bob Evans across the street from our hotel. We ran. Dante, our server, was wonderful. He brought us a pitcher of water and kept it coming. He let us buy a whole pie for dessert (instead of individual pieces which would have been really pricey) and gave us the pie cutter and lifter too! He made Heather laugh, which was a good thing, considering how yucky she felt. We ran across the six lanes again and rested well that night.

Monday morning, we crossed the six lanes yet again to have breakfast. While at breakfast I got the call about the van: spark had blown through the cylinder and the coil might be damaged as well. The van probably wouldn't be fixed until Tuesday afternoon. So Mrs. Tollmann and I considered our options: rent a car and drive back, rent a small car and send her, Heather and Samantha back, or stay put and wait for the van. We decided to stay put.

Mrs. Tollmann contacted the Crown Plaza hotel, which was on the same side of the highway as Bob Evans and had a pool. She sweet talked them into giving us one room with a king sized bed, fold out couch and roll-away bed for less than we were spending at the Red Roof Inn for two rooms and no pool. We crossed the highway for the last time with all of our stuff.

The night before I had remembered that I knew someone who lived in Cincinnati. A member of Homeschooling A Houseful that we had met ten years earlier on a family road trip to Kansas. I had Sam contact her through facebook telling her of our situation. Marla contacted me and she arranged to bring us pizza on Monday afternoon. Mrs. Tollmann watched all the kids as they swam in the pool, while Marla took me to an amazing bagel shop to buy Tuesday morning's breakfast.

This is only about 1/3 of the bagels that were there!

Tuesday morning Sam called the repair shop to check on the status of the van. They informed him that it would be ready within the hour!!! We quickly finished our bagel breakfast and packed up the room. True to their word the shop sent someone to pick us up and bring us back to the repair shop. The bill wasn't too bad and certainly they could have really charged us, but they didn't take advantage of the situation. Turned out our mechanic was a christian!

We were back on the road before 1PM! We decided that at the next state rest stop we would clean the van out. Before abandoning the van on Sunday, we had condensed all the coolers into one, and in the process of packing a change of clothes for everyone into one suitcase, the van looked like a disaster. At the rest stop we parked close to the trees figuring we would be dumping rotten food from the cooler into them. When we opened the cooler, everything was still super cold! Amazing after three days of 100 degree weather!

We drove straight home with minimal stops for bathrooms and gas. We arrived back in Connecticut around midnight. We are just so grateful that God kept us safe and provided for all we needed on our trip. Romans 8:28

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