Monday, 15 August 2011

Dalhart Texas, Where Everyone Drives Trucks

Today we left my family in Kansas and headed west. The completely heart wrenching part was how jovial Nathaniel was through all of it, just thinking that we were going into town like any other time, and having no idea that he'd never play with Grandma and Grandpa, his Uncles, Lydia, or especially Chester again until he was too old to remember this round. I'm crying just thinking about it. Eight miles into our second leg of our drive for today the car cut out. This was right after I'd replied to mom's "How's the car doing" text with "Perfect." Check gauges... Not gas, not oil.... Oh sweet Lord the temp is off the charts! We pulled over next to what seemed to be the largest and nearly smelliest (second to Dodge City) feedlot in the midwest. This was the high point.

With a boiling car, protesting nostrils, sunburning skin and a squadron of flies accosting us for a better dinner than the feedlot was affording them we spent an hour limping our car the eight miles back to town. First stop: Gas station. We poured water bottle after water bottle on the engine until the gauge finally went back down. Then the idling went south. It could barely keep itself going. After a 3 mile round trip drive for a fuel additive to help the idling, the temp was skyrocketing again. Second Stop: Parts store. They didn't have the right thermostat (which is what we narrowed the problem down to). We made one work and realized the water pump was leaking badly. They looked for the part, they looked to see if they had the part, they tried to think of anyone who might have the part. Nothing. Now everything in town is closed and we are in the parking lot with an car that doesn't run and no way to fix it. We've already paid for our hotel in Albuquerque. On top of it all, Jon and I only got 4 hours of sleep, Nathaniel and I have been playing in the heat for two hours while Jon's trying to fix the car, and I have a mounting headache from not wearing my retainer last night.

All of this to say. We're currently stranded in a place where you don't hang the state flag under the national one, you hang it NEXT to it on it's own flag pole. A place where everyone who stopped near to us asked if we needed help - a woman called her husband to ask his advice on our car, the gas station lady inquired about our lives, the parts store stayed open late for us. A place where a random couple saw us in the lot wondering what to do and helped us find a place to stay. And above all, a place where the obvious answer to anyone's need for a vehicle no matter their gender, race or station in life is obvious: Truck. "I'm an old man. I need a truck!" "I'm a 16 year old girl. I need a truck!" "I'm a mother of three. I need a truck!" In a parking lot of about 20 vehicles there were 15 trucks.

This is the first time ever for Jonathan or myself where NOTHING worked and we are just stuck. There was no other option other than to wait till the morning. The good part is that this has really clarified for us the kind of situation for an emergency fund to be applied to.

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