Sunday, April 24, 2011

Roadtrip Near Fail

A few months ago Cam decided that he wanted to go down to BYU's graduation to support/hang out with his BFF and former roommate Dusty. It just so happens that graduation fell during Cam's last week of classes, so he talked to his professors about missing class Friday, but he couldn't get out of Thursday. The gameplan was: Cam flies down Thursday night, and drives back with his brother Saturday morning. 

Hopefully by now you can see the glaring error in this gameplan: I'm not in it. And you know how I love adventures.

So when I discovered that my family was driving down Wed-Thurs and would have an extra seat one way (picking up my sister) I jumped right in. New gameplan: Kim drives down with fam on Wed-Thurs, Cam flies in on Thurs night, both drive back with Chad. 

We left as scheduled Wednesday afternoon. Dad, as painful as it probably was for him, stopped at a rest stop after only 2.5 hours for his daughter who is now 7 months pregnant. We were making great time until we hit the mountains, at which point this happened:
The car overheated. So we pulled over and waited for it to cool down, then Dad noticed the coolant was low, so we used our two water bottles to help us get the next 30 miles to La Grande to get some coolant. No such luck. Only 4 miles and the car overheated again. The car was so hot the water pretty much evaporated instantly. Luckily that extra 4 miles put us back in cell phone reception, so Mom called her handy AT&T roadside assistance.

It turns out that AT&T roadside assistance actually can't do anything helpful like bring coolant. The only thing they can do is call a tow-truck or the police (we could have done either without them now that we had phone service). A tow truck wouldn't work because it could only take 2 people and the rest of us would be left on the side of the road in the rain, so we decided on the police option. Mom asked if she could let them know that we really just need coolant, but apparently AT&T is only allowed to say where we are and that we need assistance. 

The officer showed up and asked what the problem was and what the plan is. Dad's plan was that if we could make it 5 more miles to the rest stop for more water, we could probably get the last 20 miles to La Grande for coolant. The officer agreed that was a good plan, contributed the contents of his 1-quart nalgene bottle to the cause, and promptly drove off. 

The officer's water got us about another 4 miles, so from there we coasted to the rest stop. Dad opened the hood and started to unscrew the cap which allowed all the steam and boiling hot water to come pouring out to the astonishment of travelers in nearby cars.
I know this is a long story but hopefully by now you're at least somewhat invested in my dilemma. I promise the best part is still ahead of you, so don't give up!

We gave the poor car a break, filled up with water, and carried on our merry way... until 1 mile short of La Grande the car stopped again. Out of gas. You see, my dad had done his calculations, and in a perfect world we would have made it with at least 3 miles to spare. However, our less than perfect drive had used more gas than anticipated. Fortunately, this scenario is nothing new to my family. Dad began the walk to La Grande, some kind soul picked him up, waited for him to buy a gas can and gas, and drove him back. 

All together this time, we drove into La Grande... only 2.5 hours behind schedule. We grabbed dinner, gas, and topped off the coolant in record time, then hopped back on the road. 7 miles this time before the car overheats and Dad discovers that we're leaking coolant. At this point we have no choice but to turn around. 4 miles, a stop, and finally we slide back into the station. 

Dad got ahold of the bishop there in La Grande, who directed us to the Cadillac dealership which was closed for the night, but conveniently next door to the Royal Motor Inn. We called it a night.

In the morning, we discovered the car was going to take a while to fix, but unwilling to miss their son's graduation they rented the only car available. So we traded the unhappy caddy in for this baby:
Which, made the remaining 9 hours considerably more enjoyable (and less eventful).

When I picked up Cam from the Salt Lake airport at 9 that night, he happily shared the story of the best flight he's ever had: great conversation, no turbulence, and it even arrived 20 minutes early.

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