I'm finally typing up and posting the adventure of the last three days, after three days without turning on my computer! I'll post pictures later... right now I'm just too exhausted to look for the camera and cord and load them!
The adventure began, as adventures tend to do, in an unexpected way (I should have known better than to call it an adventure when I described our cross country trip to Sadie). We packed carefully and loaded the car on Friday night after Paul got off of work. I woke up early, showered and got dressed, made sure everyone else was ready, and loaded the last few bags into the car. It was packed full. Then we said goodbye to Nini and Gigi and Nani and Grumpa and piled into the van and turned the ignition.
And nothing happened. They key simply would not turn. After a few minutes of trying Pau yielded the drivers seat, and I gave it a try. You see, all summer our car had been doing this and it had always worked out the same way. Paul would try to turn the key and it wouldn’t budge. My dad might even give it a try. At one point one the law enforcement officers at the courthouse even tried. And then I would drive to wherever the car was, fiddle with the steering wheel for thirty seconds, and give the key a turn and it would start up right away.
It’s a security feature, I would say to Paul. You have to turn the wheel and step on the break and it works every time. Or almost every time at least, because up until Saturday morning it had never taken me more than five minutes to get the key to turn. On the morning of our expected departure, however, the key just wouldn’t budge. Even for me.
"Security feature," Paul would later scoff during the following seventy two hours of rubbing in how wrong I had been (It's come up quite a few times, you may not be surprised to know...). "I thought the key was the security feature."
Fast forward two hours and the van was being loaded onto a flat bed while I watched tearfully, trying to figure out how we were going to get to Michigan to find a place to live, and then to Florida to get our stuff and then back to Michigan, all before Paul’s classes started.
I drove with my dad to pick up Paul from the shop where the van was being dropped. Paul had already called every repair shop he could find in an hour radius and no one could help until Monday morning, which was still forty eight hours away. We were quoted prices in the $400 range. Some of the places, that were over an hour away, had the part in the parts shop which was open, but their service department was closed, while others had open service departments with parts shops that wouldn’t be open until Monday, and no one would agree to installing a part from another (open) parts department.
At the local mechanics I sat on a wooden chair outside, gigantically pregnant and teary eyed behind my sunglasses, and prayed as I waited that something would happen, or that I would at least no go crazy thinking about all the things that needed to be done immediately, so we don’t end up homeless in Michigan with classes starting and no place to live. And I hoped that maybe the mechanic would pity the gigantic pregnant woman hanging around and try extra hard to fix her car and save the day.
The mechanic promised to take a look, but his voice was less than optimistic, and we headed home, resigned to wait until Monday morning.
Less then a mile out of town the phone rang. It was my mom. The mechanic had called the house and, with the help of ample graphite (which we had already tried) had gotten the key to turn. The car was on and, if we really wanted to give it a try, we could.
Back at the repair shop he explained that we couldn’t remove the key from the ignition. We could turn it back one click, so the engine stopped running, and lock the car. Then at least we could get on the road two days earlier.
I was willing to take a chance. After all, anywhere we broke down would be closer to where we were going then where we were at the moment.
A little after noon (four hours after we’d initially all been buckled in) we all piled into the car and began the long drive east.
We stopped outside of Reno for dinner at Taco Bell and the girls were both in good spirits. Then it was back on the road where they finally began to doze shortly before we reached Elko, Nevada. We’d driven 500 miles, and were short of our goal, but glad to be on the road.
Paul had purchased a club (steering wheel lock) and I draped a blanket over it to hide the key, before we piled into an inexpensive motel for the night that was surprisingly nice (we’d been turned away at two other motels that were full by then… and hadn’t even gone it at motel 6, where there was no parking in the parking lot…).
Our first night on the road was ended and the key was still safely in the ignition. I was feeling pretty optimistic about how things were working out... but still wondered... would the car make it to Michigan? Could we find someone to fix it quickly once we were there?