A family vacation. A family adventure. 3 1/2 weeks of on the road, having fun, sightseeing, and relaxation. That is what our trip was supposed to be. And in a way, it still was. But it was so much more than that too.
Patience. Frustration. Growth. Desperation. Endurance.
Fun. Family bonding. Working together. Love.
Two sets of words that don't seem to go together.
It started after co-op on September 15. We left for our adventure with smiles and hopes of a great time!
We took our time and spent 5 days getting to our eventual first destination: California!
We made it to California!
Woke up in the morning to a truck that wouldn't start. We tried several things..still nothing. My husband stayed remarkably calm, which he would admit is not usually the case. We eventually called a local Ford dealer and they instructed us to call Roadside Assistance. We did, and the truck was towed away. Which left us with an empty parking spot at our campground and heavy hearts as we had been headed to Disney. We picked ourselves up and salvaged the day by taking an Uber to Disney. Tried to have a good time even though we had the truck on our minds.
Got a call from the dealer. Not what we expected. Once the truck arrived there, it started just fine for them and they were unable to find anything wrong with it. They kept it another few days searching it over, while we Ubered again to Disney the next day. The Rise of the Resistance Star Wars ride is seriously jaw dropping.
And Colin randomly got to meet Pluto, which he said was "literally the best day of my life!"
We got the truck back with no diagnosis and it was working fine, so we thought it was a fluke. No charge from the dealer for looking at it due to our extended warranty. The kids (and my husband) even thought it was God's way of keeping something bad from happening to it if we had driven it and parked it at Disney. Problem solved. Time to move to our next stop, Las Vegas. This seems like a weird camping spot, but my husband has family there and we wanted to visit. First full day after arriving, truck sputtered, but started. We trustingly (worriedly) drove it to Hoover Dam to explore.
Thankfully, the truck started right up when it was time to drive back. It was HOT that day and we would have been stranded in heat!
For the next few days it sat still, as my husband had to fly to San Fransisco for a conference for work, and the rest of us did 3 weeks of co-op work in 3 days. (Or tried to...we didn't finish!). Don't worry, we also took breaks and walked over to Sam's Town Hotel to visit the indoor park with waterfall show, bowling alley, and our campground's pool quite a bit too!
Hubby back from conference...wanted to visit Allegiant Stadium where the Las Vegas Raiders play... truck wouldn't start. We're starting to feel deflated. This is a Friday. We're supposed to be leaving Vegas for the next stop on our trip in two days. We call the Ford dealer in the area, and they aren't able to look at if for 3 WEEKS! We call a truck shop, they can start looking at it on Wednesday. Way after we were supposed to be leaving, but what choice to we have? We have it towed to them. Wednesday comes. Guess what? It starts for them and they can't find anything wrong. We are beyond frustrated.
We make the tough call to cancel all our future trip stops as we really don't know what to expect. This was hard for me as I had done most of the planning and it took me a while to come to grips with the fact that the rest of our trip was not going to happen. Arches N.P., Canyonlands N.P, Colorado's Grand Valley Wine Country, and Nebraska's Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum. All stops we had already booked and paid for, few of which we were able to get our money back for. Major frustration and sadness.
They really took their time and wanted to find something wrong with the truck for us, as my hubby explained how we needed it to get us home to Illinois and we didn't trust it to. On Friday, they called and let us know they wanted to let it sit over the weekend and try starting it on Monday. It seemed to us that it was happening after sitting, and they wanted to recreate that scenario. Ugh...we said ok, and paid for several more days at our current campground.
The kids were doing great, and fairly oblivious to what was going on, which we were grateful for. We now knew that the rest of our vacation would be in Vegas and tried to find things to do to make the best of it. We took the kids to their first (except for Dylan) Blue Man Group show, which they loved! ($60 per ticket means our pocketbook didn't share the same enthusiasm, but we said heck with it!)
We rented a car ($$$ in Vegas) for a day and went hiking with my hubby's Uncle and Aunt at Red Rock Canyon.
The days went by.. Monday came, WE called for an update towards the end of the day and got "An emergency came in and we weren't able to work on it today..we will first thing in the morning." I'm crying, hubby trying to stay calm....small miracles happening there. We pray for the truck not to start the next morning so that they can find something and fix it. Do they? No. Truck still starting and nothing wrong found. We are out of time and need to start heading home, so say we will come pick it up. Hubby Ubers there. $900!!! What?? The last dealer didn't charge us! "We didn't find anything wrong, so it's not covered with your warranty and we're charging you the labor time." Calls back and forth with Ford. Yes, diagnostic fees are not covered but they are usually $170, not $900. We talked to the service manager and talked him down to $500. Still.
One last walk to Sam's Town to spend $150 on one last "we will have fun on this vacation!" dinner, walk through the indoor park, and one last dip in the pool.
We decide the only safe way to drive home is to never shut the truck's engine off. Then we won't have to worry about it not starting again. Vegas is 24 hours from here. That's without stopping which is obviously impossible with needing restroom and diesel breaks. We start packing up our camper. It's ready to go, and I'm sitting outside trying to process things...very tired, depressed, ready to be home. You guys, the top part of our fifth wheel that hooks on over the top of our truck starts leaking water like a waterfall all over the ground where I am sitting!!! This area is where our bedroom is and we have a combo laundry machine in our closet. I had been running one last load. I still don't know/understand what happened, and I'm getting shaky just typing this and reliving the feelings that went through me at that moment. Again, hubby stays calm (huge miracle at this point) and fixes the problem. We go to sleep that Tuesday night (now 10/10, the day we were supposed to be arriving home.) preparing for a looong test of endurance. Wake up Wednesday...truck starts! Thank you, Jesus!
When it rains it pours. We get into the mountains of Utah and it starts HAILING! Snow/hail collects on our fifth wheel. No damage, thank you, Jesus.
We get into the mountains of Colorado by dark, it's snowing.
We get through it... a rainbow, thank you, Jesus.
Sorry for the profanity, if you can even see it, but God gave us something we belly laughed over. A bus/truck from Heavy Metal Church. It said "Pissing Satan off since 2011." Found their website: https://www.heavymetalchurch.com/ Interesting stuff.
Hubby drove through the night without too much trouble...he's a night owl. Kids sleep off and on. I don't. I'm always too worried about the driver falling asleep. We finally pulled off at a rest area around 7:30 am Thursday. Left the truck running, and all fell asleep for an hour. If you could have only seen us laying all over each other.. 6 of us in a truck. Wish I would have gotten a picture, but I was too out of it. We wake up and keep moving. For another few hours. Hubby gets tired...is done driving. I offer to try, but I've never done it and really don't want to. And I'm tired too. I find a campground nearby and say...let's just stop for today and hope truck starts tomorrow. Hubby sleeps for 20 min and wants to keep going. We find a big truck stop in another hour or so that has a Wendy's. We really haven't eaten real food in a while. Hubby fills truck, tells us to get food. We eat in truck while he sleeps in camper....all while truck still running. Sorry if TMI, but Wendy's (or anything greasy) goes right through me, and I feel like the story wouldn't be complete without mentioning it. So there's that.
Hubby is rested and we drive the last 5 1/2 hours home. Arrived at 7pm. Dark outside, backing the camper in the driveway. That's all I'll say about that.
Rushing around to get ready for co-op ensues. We go to bed.....and sleeeeep.....right through our alarms! After talking to Naomi on the phone, I layed back down and didn't wake (nor did anyone else in the house) until noon.
Please let the story be over.
Where was God in all this? I feel like he was everywhere and nowhere at the same time. We prayed so often for the workers to find something to fix with the truck. We prayed for it to start. The kids learned that God isn't magic, like a genie that does everything you ask for. But He is still good, and is still with us. There were so many ways we felt that he protected and provided for us in the midst of chaos, yet he didn't answer our ultimate prayer the way we desired. We may never know why, but I know there was a purpose. God always has one. We did grow closer as a family and come together to make it home, so even if that was the purpose I'll take it! Seems a bit extreme, God, but I'll take it!