What a "vacation."
We started out at 5 am on Tuesday morning, skipping classes and work because we only had one class each. Devynne and our cousin James (age 9) spent the night at our house the night before so we could leave nice and early. We stopped in Farmington and picked up my other cousin Malachi (13) and then got on our way. Wasn't it nice of my mother to volunteer us to bring two young boys with us to make a nice full car with 5 people? Anyway, we made great time through Utah, and made it to Idaho just after the sun had risen. Once we hit Idaho, the winds started picking up, blowing the snow everywhere and reduced visibility to practically nothing. Awesome. Somewhere in the middle of Wendall and Jerome, we got stuck in drop-dead traffic. For an hour. The good part was that Owen and I had plenty of time to learn how to put on the chains because by this time, the snow had definitely started to pick up. For all of you Utah Valley-ers who mocked the so-called "blizzard," well be grateful because we were stuck right in the middle of it, and it was not pretty.
We made it through eventually, and since our windshield wiper fluid wasn't working and our windshield was getting pretty nasty, we decided to stop at a rest stop about 7 miles outside of Boise to clean it off. We weren't even going to stop to use the bathroom because we were just going to stop in Boise anyway because one of our chains had broken so we were going to buy new ones before heading into the Blue Mountains. Windshield cleaned, we got back in the car to get going. Owen started in reverse and then the car just died. He tried restarting it, and the engine would turn over (whatever that means) but wouldn't actually start! I was already distressed about having waited in the snow for an hour, and started freaking out at this point. Just what we needed--to be stranded in the middle of Idaho with two kids not our own!
We tried calling family to see if someone could find an auto repair place for us, and Owen's mom got us a number of the place closest. Unfortunately it was a diesel truck repair place. But we asked the truck people if there was a repair place they recommended, we got their number, and arranged for a tow truck to come get our car. The bad news was that they could only carry 4 people in the tow truck. Owen tried to convince them to let us double buckle or ride in the car as they towed it, but no luck. We would have to decided who was going to stay behind at the (freezing) rest stop.
I went into the rest stop because I think it was warmer than the car and sat there feeling sorry for myself and looking depressed. A man came out of the restroom and asked me how I was doing. "Terrible," I replied. Taken aback, he asked me what the problem was, so I went into our whole story and how we were supposed to be in Washington in like 4 hours and how I hate snow and car problems. The man started to walk away and said, "I wish there was something I could do to help..." when Owen popped around the corner and said, "Well actually, there is something you could do." He then proceeded to ask the man if he could wait for the tow truck to come and take some of us to the auto repair place so we would only have to take one trip (the tow truck costs per mile!) Despite the interesting moustache, 80s glasses, "Geek Squad" t-shirt, and story about how he has to carry around a shovel in his car in case he gets buried in the snow, we decided to trust this man. Basically we didn't have any other choice. We sent Malachi, James, and Owen with the stranger and Devynne and I went in the tow truck. I'm not sure which was worse. But we all eventually made it to Dowdy's Automotive and no one got kidnapped--thank goodness, because we most definitely do not have enough money to pay a ransom.
So the five of us took residence in the lobby of Dowdy's Automotive for the next couple of hours, waiting around to see what the story was and reading up on People's Sexiest Man Alive (Ryan Reynolds? Really?) and eating all of their chocolate in the meantime. Two and half hours later, they still didn't know what was wrong with our car. It was a little after 4:30 at this time, and they closed at 6, and it was looking more and more like we were going to be stranded in Boise for the evening. Which I did NOT want to have happen. So we started to look at our other options, and decided that we would rent a car and drive it to Washington and let the mechanic people have lots of time to look at the car and decide what was really wrong. We drove to Baker City that evening, stayed the night at a lovely Super 8 with Pizza Hut for dinner (they didn't have a Wendy's in all of Baker City!) We tackled the Blue Mountains the next morning and made it through all of Oregon without getting a ticket and eventually made it to my beautiful Camas, Washington.
Our time in Washington was great, even though it did have a few ups and downs. Everyone at home had been hit by a crazy flu and had been throwing up all the weekend before, so we were scared of that the whole time--Devynne was fortunately the only one who came down with it (okay not fortunate for Devynne, but at least she got to lay around the whole time like she likes to do and no one yelled at her). The food on Thanksgiving was pretty good for a bunch of amateurs. Normally we let Dad handle everything on this holiday, and I have no idea how he did it. We were running around like crazy because the turkey was done fast and we still had to bake everything but it all turned out in the end and was delicious. I made some pretty awesome stuffing and my apple pie was a beautiful work to behold (pictures to come. I'm really proud of it). We had a killer Black Friday, even though both Walmart (no products in stock) and Target (SUPER huge lines) were kind of disappointing...JCPenney's actually pulled through for us, and we finally got Owen a brown coat! Yay!
The car repair place called us on Wednesday bearing bad news. Turns out the problem was our Engine Control Module (the computer that runs your car basically) and it needed to be replaced. We sort of freaked out when he gave us the estimated cost, and called a mechanic we trusted in Washington. Unfortunately the ECMs typically cost between $800 and $1200, so at least the Dowdy's people weren't trying to pull a fast one on us. So we told them begrudgingly to order the piece, and they said it should be in by Monday. Great. Another day missed of school and work. But what choice did we have?
We left Monday morning at 6 and got to Boise around 1:30. We went by Dowdy's Automotive to see what the progress was and the piece we needed had not arrived yet!! Are you kidding me. We couldn't afford to waste another day, so we debated our options and decided to extend our rental car until Saturday, and then Owen is going to drive up to Boise to pick up the car and then drive back down to Provo (hopefully) in our repaired car. Just what he needs--10 more hours of driving. But I guess that's how it is when you are poor and don't want to pay for a plane ticket up to Boise or just buy a new car.
So there is our Thanksgiving story for this year. At least we got to spend the holiday with family and our car broke down in Boise, not some tiny town in the middle of Idaho somewhere. But next time, we are definitely going to fly.