Vacation Crumbles With Car Trouble

First Vacation in Five Years

My life has been completely up ended, dumped, scrambled, and any other life altering adjective you can think that describes total change. In the last 2 years, I have had 2 car accidents which totaled both cars, lost my job which I held for 24 years, fallen in love with my very best friend of 20 years then found him cheating on me with a 22 year old co-worker, heartbroken.

Newly single and heart broken, I have decided that it is time for some ME TIME. My best friend from college calls me one day and offers a free trip to South Padre Island. Only needing spending money and sell a car financially strapped from becoming a one income home suddenly, I jumped at the chance for this much needed vacation.

Preparations for Vacation

Seven months have passed since the last of the traumatic experiences of the last two years. Although still heart broken, I have started to date again. A ‘blast from the past’ reconnected with me via Face Book. We have been entertaining a possible relationship and getting to know each other again after so many years. Coincidentally, he just happens to live half way between Houston where I live and Austin where my friend and I would depart for South Padre Island. Throughout the getting re-acquainted phase of our relationship, we have seen each other on three occasions. The fact that we are long distance and both workaholics have made it difficult for us to assess if there is any chemistry between us to build upon. I requested a couple of extra days off on each end of my vacation time to see him and explore the possibilities.

My plan was to finish my work week on a Tuesday night around 10pm. Go home to shower, pack last minute toiletries, load the car and drive halfway to Austin. I would spend Tuesday evening, ( or what would be left of it) and all day and night Wednesday trying to assess how much if any chemistry I may have with this old friend. On a whim, I arranged to get off work at 4pm instead of 10pm. I thought that it would be a great surprise to begin our time much earlier and arrive while he was still awake. I also felt strange letting myself into his home in the wee hours of the morning, crashing on the couch till morning. We do live in Texas after all and I didn’t want to become a statistic of the 2nd amendment. I called my sister to let her know of my plans, but purposely left my gentleman friend out of the loop for the surprise factor.

Finally, everything was ready. Maybe this is the point of the story that I should mention that in the week before, I had fairly extensive car repairs (to the tune of $450.00) on the car that was getting me from point A to B. Remember, my last car had recently been totaled in an accident. Ever diligent, I had coolant; extra quarts of oil, basically all fluids needed as back up in my trunk and had checked every fluid level before departing. Bonn Voyage toward my vacation.

Breakdown Number One

It takes about 30 minutes to drive through my northern suburb and downtown Houston. I was just in the ‘not so great part’ of town when I saw it. Again, ever diligent, I checked all of the internal gauges every 5-10 seconds as I drove, not really trusting the reliability of my car. The temperature gauge of my car went from normal to OH MY GOSH HOT before my eyes.

I will never be able to capture on these pages the hundreds of thoughts running through my mind. First and foremost, I knew that I needed to pull over and turn off the engine. I was in the fast lane at the end of rush hour traffic. By the grace of God I was able to quickly make my way to the far right lane of traffic. There was an exit off of the freeway in 500 yards. Nope, I could not do it. By this time, the temperature gauge was pegged on HOT. I pulled onto the grassy shoulder as far off of the freeway as I could and killed the ignition of the car. Steam rose from the hood. I popped the hood to allow as much air circulation as possible and waited. I quickly realized that with traffic speeding past me and the lack of adequate space to pull over, I could not safely exit the car on the driver’s side. So I waited. My coolant reservoir was not separate from the pressurized radiator cap so, I knew that it was just a waiting game until the engine was cool enough to open and fill with coolant. I waited. After about 30 minutes, I again started my hunk of junk car, slowly made my way to the exit just 500 yards away and into a parking lot of a ‘no tell motel’ just after the exit. With adequate lighting. (Oh yes, it is now starting to get dark in a bad part of town and I was stranded) As I expected, somehow, my coolant was bone dry. I refilled the reservoir with the gallon I had packed in my trunk and located the nearest Auto Zone.3 miles away. Hind sight is 20/20 but at this moment in time, I was convinced that I had done everything right and had saved my engine from certain doom. The car did not overheat on the.3 miles to the auto parts store. I begged the salesman in the Auto Zone to come assess the damages. Before I knew it there were several men all offering their opinion about the reliability of my ‘ride’. And the winner was… ‘You’re good to go young lady!’

Music to my ears!!! My surprise was now about two hours later than planned but still six hours before expected… I called my sister, updated her on my progress and Bonn Voyage.

Breakdown Number Two
The Final Breakdown and End of My Vacation Dreams

One eye glued to the temperature gauge and the other one to the road ahead of me, I began my journey once again. Any guesses how many miles down the road before breakdown number two? I know that the suspense is killing you so I will not make you wait. TEN MILES! Difference in surroundings was monumental.

This time around, the car did not over heat. This time the car just quit. The gas pedal did not accelerate, there was no power steering, and there were no power brakes, the car just quit. The nearest exit was immediate which I managed to exit. The exit was downhill so I was able to pick up enough speed to coast into a strip shopping center and park almost perfectly in a parking space. The biggest difference in my surroundings for this second breakdown was the complete absence of people. Darkness as far as I could see. Not a human in sight.

I had no desire to try to start the car again; I had no desire to do anything but cry in this empty parking lot for about 2.2 minutes. I had to pull it together. I had to figure out a way home, a way to tow the car to my mechanic, a way off of the frontage road to Interstate 45.

I had to fess up to my surprise and called my gentleman friend first. Answering machine. My second call was to my mechanic, who incidentally is my gentleman friend’s big brother. (it is now 10pm) Big Brother, Brian answered and although it took him 45 minutes to drive to where I was, he came to my rescue. On the side of the road and in the dark, a diagnostic of my engine problems was not possible. Meanwhile, my friend Eric had gotten my message and although still in the dark about my location, (he thought I was just getting off of work and on my way home to finish packing) was concerned and brainstorming possible alternatives which would allow me to still enjoy my vacation. Big brother, Brian, got me and my entire luggage back home by midnight.

The honest to goodness truth, I had already thrown in the towel. The only thing that was going through my mind at this point in time was how many shifts could I pick up at work to make me forget about my almost vacation. But, how was I going to get to work? I could not allow myself to think about that.

Knight in Shining Armor

My gentleman friend, Eric, had promised to call me after enough time had passed for me to get back home. I had become very accustomed to being able to trust him to always be true to his word… when he said he would do something, he always did. I had just said goodbye to Brian after finalizing plans to have my hunk of junk towed to his shop first thing in the morning. That is as far in the future as my mind could fathom. I began to regale my story to my puppy/house sitter when my phone rang. It was Eric.

His first questions were about what his brother had said about the situation. Then he said to me ‘Amy, what is your plan B?’ I answered, ‘I have no Plan B’

Here is where Eric became my Knight in Shining Armor! Eric, as I mentioned near the beginning was as much a workaholic as I, but had taken the whole day off to spend with me. He then said to me, ‘Amy, this is Plan B. I have the day off tomorrow and I will drive to Houston, pick you up, and drive you to Austin so that you can have this vacation that you really need and want.’ True to his word, that is exactly what he did. All of our plans to test for chemistry between us, all of the time that we had set aside to spend with each other were gone. Eric became the one that put all of that behind him unselfishly to save my vacation.

He even went one step further by hauling a trailer to pick up my car in the lonely shopping center and take it to his brother’s shop so that I could get some rest before beginning my beach vacation.

The Best Vacation EVER
Total Relaxation

I chose to ignore any and all things that could cause stress while on beautiful South Padre Island. I basked in the sun, took long walks on the beach each and every evening, danced to live music each night, and soaked in the hot tub before bed.

Although my vacation dreams crumbled after car trouble, girls, don’t ever forget that there are still great men in the world that will step in to become a Knight in Shining Armor and save the day.

Eric and I did get one whole day to spend together on my return trip to Houston. I can report that there is chemistry but am willing to take things slow to allow romance to blossom if it is meant to be.

By the way, the head gaskets were blown and the heads cracked in my hunk of junk car. The positive side is that it does have LOTS of new parts and Brian is going to part it out piece by piece and I may actually make a little money back. He has also giving me a loaner car to drive while I look for a great car that will not only be a point A to point B automobile. This duo of brothers is the kindest, true Southern Gentlemen I have encountered since I left my small southern home town.

 

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