We started our return trip from Iowa in the evening of a Tuesday, hoping to do some driving with sleeping kids since we aimed to be at the family reunion in Northern California on Friday morning. As we drove through the Black Hills the station wagon died on us a couple times. We have had problems with our crankshaft position sensor before, and this seemed as if it was the same thing. The dashboard would read “reduced engine performance” and would slow to under 20 mph, no power steering, etc or just die completely. But after restarting the car the problem would go away and be fine. Our mechanic did a simple fix on it, but said it may cause problems in the future. Well, the future arrived.
We enjoyed our cabin in Deadwood, SD and checked out a creek nearby.
We drove out of that tourist town to a little town only about a half an hour away to refill our gas tank. There was a mechanic next door, so Josh asked him about our check engine light that had come on with the “reduced engine performance” reading. This was a new issue, so we thought it wise to have to looked at before continuing on. The mechanic said it was safe to drive on, concerning ruining the engine. So we drove to the entrance to the road where we stopped for traffic and the station wagon died yet again. But this time it did not start back up. The mechanic we just spoke with was busy so Josh did a search of nearby mechanics and then tow trucks since we couldn’t get it to start. The kids and I walked down the block to a fast food restaurant to get some food. A nice local overheard our problem and offered help, so she directed me and the kids to the city park. So the kids and I walked to the park while Josh waited for the tow truck and then rented a car, since it seemed this would not be a quick fix. Thankfully the problem was located right away and the part was in Denver, so we paid for overnight shipping and prayed it would come the next day, Thursday, since the family reunion was Friday.
After the car stuff was settled, we rented a room at a local hotel that had a nice pool. We dropped off our stuff in our room and searched for our supper meal. We saw a storm come in and during our supper the kids witnessed their first hail storm. Thankfully it was only pea sized hail and our rental car was not damaged. The next day we went to Bridal Veil Falls and found another little trail to enjoy.
When we returned to town, our new sensor had been put in! The mechanic took a test drive and also found a split in our coolant hose, so that had to be fixed yet. The kids and I spent the rest of the time perusing the local Kmart as rainstorms kept us from enjoying the park. This was definitely a test of my patience. Have you gone shopping with small children? How they touch everything? Pick up everything? Ask to buy everything? And we were only there because we had no where else to go. We bought some drinks and a snack and sat at a nice patio set display by the door to the Kmart. We saw the storm come in and a middle-aged couple joined us. They were quite funny, pretending we were grilling some supper up and just sitting around waiting for it to be done. They talked to the kids and helped us pass some time.
We spent a lot of time in the toys section, checking out all the noisy toys that would occupy them for a while. And we took several bathroom breaks, which was located at the opposite end of the store. I got a good work out! Eventually I felt at my wits end, feeling my frustration rise. Thankfully, the Lord impressed upon me the realization that relief to these frustrations would only add to the chaos about to errupt. And the idea of letting the kids literally run free descended upon me. So I found the back isles, the least occupied and told the kids they could run to such and such a point. The older two kids were much more obedient to the rules than the little one. So I had to keep up. So I got more exercise. When Isaac found some other kids and began roaring at them, my feelings cannot quite be described – a combination of horror, anger, frustration. And God rescued: Josh had arrived with the station wagon ready to go. Well almost – we had to put the luggage rack back on, re-pack the vehicle, put the carseats back in, etc. But at least there were now two of us again.
At around 5:30 that evening on Thursday we left Spearfish, SD and headed on our way. We ran into a rather large storm with crazy swirling winds, yet we safely found a motel in Wyoming at 3:00am on Friday. We started out a mere 6 hours later and drove 11 more hours to reach the reunion. The last 30 miles were the hardest for me – not because it was the last miles, but because we drove curvy roads up into the mountains on roads that had no guard rails. Imagine 3000 feet drop out your window with nothing in between except some trees. Rather terrifying for me.
We had made it to the family reunion, yet our adventures did not end there. Isaac developed large blisters on his feet. Really, I mean large. One nearly went 360 around his toe, and the toe next to it developed an almost equally large one. Another one spanned nearly the entire width of his foot.
That particular one burst, resealed, became infected, and the infection started to climb his foot. So we drove the treacherous 30 miles back down the mountain to the ER. I was so worried about his foot the drive didn’t even bother me. The blister was drained, antibiotics prescribed. Providentially the hospital was small but efficient. The doctor saw Isaac while still in the waiting room since they were so busy, and after we were put in a room to drain his blister the doctor personally saw the prescription called into the pharmacy that closed in 20 minutes. Our discharge papers were speedily given to us, and as I walked out the doors a nurse was giving me directions to the pharmacy. What a blessing that it was a small town hospital that gave us such service rather than a large hospital where we would have been just another number. After this our adventures finally came to an end. We spent a great time camping and an uneventful last day of travel.
I think any road trip after this will be delightfully boring.