Where the inside of my mind leaks onto the screen.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Trouble with the Law

The red and blue lights flashed as Adam climbed into the backseat of the police car.  "Mom, are we getting arrested?"

--------- 2 1/2 HOURS EARLIER ---------

The kids and I had been on the road since 5:00 pm, on our way back home from Garden Valley, Idaho.  The kids had slept until about 7:00.  It had seemed perfect at the time, but in reality just gave them the energy to still be awake and crazy at 10:00 p.m.  I passed a sign that said "Salt Lake, 182 miles."  Quick calculation: at 90 mph, that meant we'd be home in 2 hours.  I can do this.

I continued to drive as the backseat noise level continued to escalate.  Thankfully, they weren't arguing... just playing very loudly.  Once or twice, I had to play mediator and solve the minor disputes.  I tried to focus on putting each mile behind us, intent on our destination.  I noticed a change in the mile markers.  Weird.  I focused harder and noted the upcoming green sign.  "Massacre Rocks State Park."  I remembered once commenting on this horrible name for a state park to my brother during a different road trip and felt assured that despite the strange mile markers, I was still on the way home.

I glanced at my odometer.  Driving with a broken gas gauge meant dutifully minding the odometer and filling up according to schedule.  Something had strangely been affecting my gas mileage lately, so I'd decided to play it safe and fill up at 200 instead of waiting for 300 as we usually do.  It was getting close, so I figured I'd take the next exit and fill up.

Next exit: Pocatello.  Crap.  Amidst the backseat noise, I'd missed the split in the freeway at which point I could have chosen to go the right way home.  I'd always heard tales of going the wrong way and ending up in Pocatello, but I'd never actually taken it.  Not knowing I could just continue on this longer, alternate route, I figured I'd better turn around.  The gas gauge said 200, but I was too frustrated to stop.  I'll just get back to the right road before I stop for gas.  

I call Kirk to express my frustration about having cost myself time in getting home.  I again passed the "Massacre Rocks" sign and realized that while I had indeed seen that sign before, it had been on a trip from Boise to Lava Hot Springs, a drive that requires going through Pocatello.  With my frustration doubled, I just couldn't wait to be on the right road home. 

I had the cruise control set on 90 mph.  The car shuddered and the cruise kicked off.  Weird.  "It's like I'm running out of gas!" I told Kirk.  Then everything smoothed out again for a mile or so, and I thought I was in the clear.  I knew as soon as the car started to shudder again that I was indeed running out of gas.  I looked for a mile marker and pulled over just as the engine shut off for good.  Mile marker 3/23.  I checked my cell phone battery, because I knew it had been dying.  It was flashing the extremely low battery alert.  Nice

It was now 10:39 p.m.  I explained to Kirk that he'd have to handle roadside assistance for me because I doubted my phone would last.  I turned on the hazards and locked the doors, a little wary of being in the middle of nowhere with absolutely no street lighting and with my 3 small kids in the car.  "Mom, I have to pee."  Of course.  Both boys and I stepped out into the wind and I was again grateful that it is so easy for boys to pee anywhere.

Back in the car, we waited for Daddy to call back.  We said a prayer and asked that Heavenly Father find someone to help us quickly, that the boys would not be scared, and that Dylan would not cry too much.  Adam announced that the prayer was working because he was not scared.  5 minutes later, though, when Dylan started to cry, Adam said, "Oh, Mom, I guess the prayer isn't really working."  I cried.

After a series of phone calls and a lot of tears, it was decided that I would wait an hour for roadside assistance and pay $80 for them to bring me a couple gallons of gas.  Kirk would try to find someone to drive out with to meet me halfway so I wouldn't have to drive the whole way home, because at this point, I was exhausted.  I hung up the phone and continued to wait.  The dome light I had on in the car started to flicker and I realized the car battery was dying.  I double checked my cell phone, and it was now completely dead, too.  Kirk and I had never finalized where to meet, and I didn't know the latest updates about the roadside assistance.  I cried again.

I heard a sweet little 3-year-old voice from the backseat say, "Mommy, calm down.  It will be okay.  Just calm down."  So cute!  I arranged all the boys with blankets and amazingly got everyone to go to sleep.  I even caught a few z's until someone knocked on my window.  I woke up to see the red and blue flashing lights of a police car. 

I stepped outside to speak with him, trying not to wake the kids.  I explained what was going on and he said, "I know.  Your husband sent me."  Thank you, honey!  We discussed the options and decided to call off the roadside assistance.  He would give me a few gallons of gas, I'd head back to American Falls to fill up, then head to Snowville, where Kirk would meet me.  I spoke to Kirk on the officer's cell phone, and I finally felt hope that this ordeal was over.  As the officer poured the gas into our tank, I told the kids we'd be on our way soon.

I turned the key.  Nothing.  I really wasn't that surprised.  It was now 12:40.  I'd been on the side of the road for 2 hours.  I just had a dead battery.  I told the officer so, but he noted that my hazard lights and my clock were still working.  "Can't be a dead battery," he informed me.  I explained that I'd been in the car when the battery started to go.  The lights had started to flicker and fade.  I knew it was a dead battery.  He assured me again that it wasn't.  I backed down, because I really don't know much about cars.  Resigned that something more serious was wrong, I resisted the urge to ask him one more time to try jumping the car.  The kids and I climbed into his vehicle, and we headed to the American Falls Police Station to wait to be rescued.

I called Kirk who had recruited my mom for my rescue mission.  I informed him they'd have to come the whole way to American Falls.  I plugged my cell phone in at the station and decided to call my dad to talk to him about the car.  I described the situation and symptoms and he said without hesitation, "Dead battery."  Lame!  He called my mom to make sure she had jumper cables, and while the kids and I tried to get some sleep, Kirk and my mom drove up to the car, jumped it with no problems, and drove to American Falls to rescue us.

It was 3:30 a.m. when my knight in shining armor drove up.  The kids were out cold on the floor of the police station, and I had actually managed about 45 minutes of sleep.  We loaded up and headed home, careful to fill up at 200 miles.  We pulled into our driveway at 7:00 a.m.  Adam woke up and said, "Mommy, it's morning.  You said when we got home it would be bedtime." 

I was exhausted from my 14 hour trip home from Boise and from my trouble with the law... Murphy's law.


Phil and Alicia Hall said...

Oh Andrea.....I am so sorry! That completely stinks and i would've cried too! You're a great story teller just by-the-way!

Rebecca and Nick said...

Oh my gosh, car trouble with kids is the worst thing ever. And so far from anywhere in the middle of the night, I am so sorry. I am afraid of that daily, living in the hot desert.

Evette Mendisabal said...

That seriously BITES!!! I would have been a mess Andrea. I'm sorry you had to endure that.

The Doutre Family said...

That's sad! I live not far from Snowville. Next time call me and I'll come get you!!

Kris said...

What a crazy ordeal! I am so sorry you had to go through all of that and with three kids none the less. I'm so glad you were all safe and nothing terrible happened to all of you. Whew!

Sarah said...

Oh, That is awful! What a terrible night and a lemon of a car. That makes me feel awful. Glad you made it home eventually, thanks to wonderful family stepping in to help...

Anonymous said...

These adventures always provide the best stories. At least there's always that :) I have to admit, though, I lost focus from the moment you typed "at 90 mph." What in the WORLD?? Geez lead foot. :)

Case Family said...

Holly Crap that must have been so scary. I would have cried too!! Just reading it made me want to cry for you. Glad it all turned out okay.