“This is no longer a vacation, this is a quest!” And the quest was almost over and I was looking forward to a quiet ride home. We hooked up the trailer, loaded the horses, cleaned the stalls, and left the Fort at exactly 8:22 AM MT. We have a car game that we play where we all guess our ETA. I guessed that we would pull into our yard at 5:08 PM CT. The kid’s guesses were in that neighborhood because they know I have an uncanny knack for always being either right on my guess or within minutes. John wasn’t quite as optimistic and said 7:00 PM. With the 2-way radio on for frequent chit chat with Kathy & Rich, we turned south down Hwy 71 heading for Hwy 2.
We knew the first hill would be hard. But with our newly repaired truck, were not anticipating any problems. But John found it strange that we were not picking up any speed to attempt the hill and we were on the flat. I radioed to our friends that we were pulling over before we hit that hill. The hood was popped open, John and Rich in deep conversation. Some adjustments made and we were on the rode again.
Remember that children’s story about the little engine that could? “I think I can, I think I can!”…. I kept that it mind as we chugged up the hill, the long hill, the never ending hill. The hill from hell. Dear God, let there be no other hills like this! We made it. But this was just the start of our journey. With 50 MPH as our max speed and dropping to 35 MPH on hills, the 5:08 ETA looked harrowing.
What was wrong on the truck and wasn’t it fixed? Listening to Rich & John talk about engine stuff is like listening to Charlie Brown’s teacher. But evidently the dump thing-a-ma-jigger on the turbo wasn’t working right. As we chugged along, we reviewed our options – and not in any particular order:
1) Continue as we were, knowing we will get home late
2) Call the truck dealership in Weston to see if they would rent us a truck & send one of John’s workers out to meet us and pull the trailer home or call (a list of many) friends or neighbors to head out to meet us with their truck & pull our trailer home.
3) Drop trailer and horses at John’s cousins in Arthur.
4) Drop trailer and horses at a place offered by some good samaritans near Hyannis who had stopped to offer assistance
The lack of cell coverage made most of these options unavailable at the time, so we kept on going. Deryle and Nadine came up behind us and at the next fuel stop, offered to take Blue to help us lesson our load. Although thankful, John declined; he didn’t think the weight of one horse (though he does have a fat arse) would made that much difference. I truly think Nadine just wanted to steal Blue! (I’m kidding!) We truly appreciated their support but told them to continue home; we were going to continue to do the same. Nadine left us with a big bag of popcorn which came in so handy when John started to tire at the wheel. When the popcorn didn’t help, John and I did something we haven’t done since high school. Switched drivers while driving.
We headed down Hwy 2. The GPS recorded one stretch at an average of 39.2 MPH -- it was very hilly. Kathy and Rich had taken Case with them, so we didn’t have children bickering to add to the stress. McCain laid down on the back seat and slept. As we neared Broken Bow, we told Kathy & Rich to go on ahead so they had time to get something to eat and we would catch up with them.
At Broken Bow, I pulled into the diesel lane but had to go through and turn around due to the position of the pumps. I made a big circle, did a little backing to position myself and just as I was ready to head in, some little SOB in a ½ ton red truck with 20 county plates zoomed in front of me and took that pump. We had been driving close to 200 miles at non-warp speed and my nerves were shot. Although my friends can attest that I have a bit of the rage when driving, I have never acted on it. I jumped out of the truck and chewed on that man’s arse for being so inconsiderate. I am pretty sure John wanted to disappear from my little road rage episode, but I felt damn good about it! I only wish Case had been with us – he loves when I get fired up at telemarketers – he would have had a heyday with this one!
After fueling (5.45 MPG average), we begged our good friends, Rich and Kathy, to go on home. That we would be fine. That we were close enough to home that if anything happened; we have people we could call. Again, they would not leave us. Rich’s mantra was “we came together, we go home together”. They went above and beyond the call of duty! And I love them for it.
After the detour by Clarks, John took over the wheel again. About 70 miles and we would be home. Our new ETA was about 8:30 PM. When we hit the flat area, John even shifted into overdrive and the truck moved out at 55 MPH! We were elated.
“Oh $#!^”, I hear John say exactly 4 miles west of David City on Hwy. 92. "What!?" (He has a tendency to draw out the drama and leave me hanging. He is shutting the truck down and coasting over. The oil gauge has went crazy; it shows 0 for oil pressure! We are 25 miles from home.
Rich and John are once again in Charlie Brown teacher language mode checking dip sticks and discussing quarts…. Its not good. There is no oil. It’s gone. From what I can gather, its just worked to hard and drank it – again, I am sooo not mechanically inclined and sooo bored with the conversation. Does the truck run? No. That’s all I need to know. I start making phone calls.
The first call was to our neighbor a couple miles away. His wife answered and Dave was home but out to the barn. I told her what was wrong and to just check to see if Dave had a gooseneck hitch in his truck before calling him in. She looked and said “no”, just the bumper hitch. I told her not to worry him & if I needed him to come with his bumper pull stock trailer, I would call them back.
My second call was to Kragh Johnson – those on the Platte River Riders may know Kragh and his wife, Shirley, as they ride mules. Yes, Kragh would come and pull our trailer home. John called a buddy in David City and had him bring oil.
We had it under control and I really wanted Kathy and Rich to continue on. They took our boys and we parted ways as the sun was setting. All I can say is what an incredible couple they are and dedicated friends. They went above and beyond the call of duty and I will never forget that. (And they will probably NEVER vacation with us again! LOL!)
At about 10:30 PM, Kragh pulled our trailer into the yard, unloaded our horses to the delight of the “B” team herd! We were home. We were singing Zippity Do Da out our a$$ because we are so blessed! I am so blessed.
I am so blessed because despite the inconvenience of mechanical failures of truck, electrocution of the trailer, missing horseshoes, flat tires, hail storms and lightning… I had an awesome vacation with my husband (who worked harder than he vacationed), our boys and our friends. My horses were tested and true as were friendships. We came back healthy and our horses came back healthy and we have great memories of our nine-day quest. I can’t wait to do it again!
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