We planned to leave Friday morning. The kids and I sat in the car for what felt like forever, waiting for the last few things to be packed. The car was on, so it was idling, and this turned out to be a very bad thing. Before we could hit the road, we had to stop at the Post Office and the gas station. Of course the Post Office took a long time. We sat and waited in the car again. Then a light came on in the car that looked like a thermometer. I don't know much about cars, but I do know that when a light comes on, it's bad. I immediately turned the car off.
We drove down the street to the gas station. When we were ready to go, that light came on again, and Jeff turned the car off. I guess that particular light means the car is overheating. (BAD). We popped the hood and checked it out, and saw it was out of coolant. It said to make sure you put the right kind in, but since we had no idea what the right kind was, Jeff ran in and got a gallon of water and poured some of it in instead.
The light didn't come back on, but we watched the heating needle go up and down, and Jeff tried to drive gently. After a little while, we discovered that no air blowing on us made a hug difference and the temperature gauge stayed steady the rest of the trip. (Turns out Jeff should actually listen to my suggestions once in a while! :)) We drove for about 3 1/2 hours without incident, just making sure to put water in the cooling system every hour or so.
Then we were 2.5 miles away from our final destination and kaput, the engine died. I didn't realize this was what happened-- it sounded like something just fell off. But no, the engine was dead, and we were coasting. We got the car onto a side road, and got out. Jeff looked in the hood, but didn't see anything obviously wrong. I got the kids and some camp chairs out, and prepared myself for a long afternoon. We were very lucky though, since for the whole trip, it had been raining cats and dogs, but while we were stranded, it didn't rain at all. Thank goodness.
Jeffy had fun running around in puddles and Katelyn and I sat in my chair and supervised. Jeff fiddled around with it for a little while, then decided we needed help. (duh.) Across and down the street there was what looked like a towing company or something, so Jeff headed over there to see if someone could give us a jump. A nice man named Sean came over and again, we were really lucky. He was actually a car mechanic.
Jumping didn't help anything, but Sean looked around and saw that the belt had come off and gotten tangled in itself. He went back to get some tools. About half an hour later, everything was fixed (except the coolant thing) and we were ready to get back on the road. I was so grateful for Sean's help. How lucky to break down right by a mechanic's shop! We tried to give him some money, but he wouldn't take it. Nice guy.
Later Jeff told me that Sean said he had never in his career seen a belt do that. Good thing he could help us, as I'm sure there was no way we could have fixed it by ourselves. And we were lucky that they were there. Sean said usually no one was around the office, since they would be out towing people. If we had to break down, that was the right time and the right place. :)
And we finally made it to the campsite! I was so relieved-- there were many moments when I didn't think we were going to make it. We checked in, and drove to our sight. There we saw a bunch of trees and . . . mud. Everywhere. Originally, the site was dirt, but so much rain turned it into a giant mud puddle. Have you ever tried to camp with two small kids in a giant mud puddle? Life becomes all kinds of exciting.
Stay posted for Part Two: Camping in the Mud