Monday, August 3, 2009

Crazy Husband, Crazy Adventure

*Warning: LONG STORY*

A little over two weeks ago, I received a call from my husband explaining that his company had bought a directional drill and a pick up at an auction in Chicago, Ill. He asked me if I would be interested flying out there with him and driving back with the equipment he got from the auction. I think at that moment, I reverted back to the "spontaneous, child-free" days that I occasionally long for, and quickly said "let's do it". My moms side of the family lives a few hours from Chicago and I also thought it would be a good opportunity to visit with them briefly. We don't get to see much of them, but I always thoroughly enjoy it when we do. Realistically, I did call my mother, sister, and Dan's dad to make sure they were able to watch Marissa for a few days and then with enthusiasm started packing for the next morning's 4 hour flight. Packing was much easier with just Dan and I...but that was the only easy thing about the trip.

After we got to the airport at 4am and my preggo stomach was growling very loudly and I soon realized that this was going to be anything but a breeze...even without Marissa. In fact halfway through the plane ride as my feet were swelling, I began to think "Andrea, you are 7 1/2 months pregnant, what were you thinking, flying is going to be the easy part of this trip". Well, things weren't too bad and we were still having fun with the thought that we were being "sporadic" and didn't have to worry about a child (which technically you always worry about a child, even when they are out of your care for a short time).

Once arriving at the airport we tried to rent a car, but no rental companies would give us a one-way car. So our next option was a taxi. Now, the last time I was in Chicago with my family we went on a pretty crazy ride in a taxi. I think the driver was slightly intoxicated and it scared me half to death. Being pregnant and having to take a 1 1/2 hour drive I wanted a credible company so I looked online on my phone for a taxi company with a nice looking website. After calling and inquiring about the rates and realizing they were comparable to other companies, they sent a car to pick us up. When the car got there it was actually a Lincoln Town Car. I then realized maybe it was too nice of a company for us average folk, but nonetheless we weren't going to wait another 20 minutes for a different taxi. After we loaded ourselves and our luggage in the car, the driver went to turn the key and the car wouldn't start. Dan and I just looked at each other and laughed at this point. He quickly got on the phone and assured us it would only take 10 minutes. Well, after about 30 minutes another car pulled up and tried to charge the battery. It didn't work and he again reassured us it would only be 10 more minutes. During this time Dan was constantly on the phone trying to make sure that an online transaction had gone through so we could "officially" pick up the equipment. Needless to say it didn't feel as long to Dan as it did to to me (and it was). After 2 more cars came through and a truck, and 1 1/2 hours had gone by, Dan started getting a little agitated. He asked the driver and of course he said "oh, another car is coming for you in 10 minutes". At this point we looked at each other and were baffled. What do we say? Well, it actually did come in 10 minutes and we were on the road, but almost 2 hours later than we wanted.

Our "taxi", broken down and us waiting for 2 hours for another car.

Dan on the he was 60% of the time. Trying to make sure the "online payment" went through. It did, just no verification :(

We are finally on the road in Illinois in our taxi...let the adventure begin.

Once arriving at the auction yard, we realized the entrance gate was closed to "trucks". Well, we weren't a truck...we were on foot, and just walked through the other gates. We found our way to the auction offices and made our way to the counter with all our luggage. The ladies at the front asked us how we got in, because they were just closing down. We were pretty lucky to make it though the gates. So, Dan then started taking care of business, giving them paperwork, etc. to pick up the equipment. She then asked how we wanted to pay. Dan kindly explained that he had paid online last night. The lady then mentioned that it was Saturday and the company that takes payment online wouldn't be able to confirm that it went through until Monday. We stood in shock and explained to them that we got dropped off by a taxi, had no way to get anywhere, our daughter was at home, and that I was 7 1/2 months pregnant. I think they truly felt sorry for us, but explained they really couldn't do anything. After going around and around for almost 10 minutes, partially in shock and wanting to cry, another lady behind the counter asked if we had a debit card. They explained that they would have to charge it to the debit card and we would "pay for the equipment twice". Really, at that point, I think it was worth it to us (although they would get refunded from the online payment). So, we were finally able to go pick up our equipment, bought "sight unseen". As we were walking to the pick-up, Dan and I had a discussion about all the things that could possibly go wrong with it. Once we got in it, Dan checked it out a little bit, and we said a little prayer (ok, it was a very long, desperate prayer), we were on our way to visit my grandma.

Dan wanted to stop at the nearest NAPA and get all the essential oils, etc that he might need if we did break down. While we were stopped there he also realized that the trailer lights weren't working and he would have to rewire them. At this point, I had called my grandmother and told her we would be on the way soon, when she kindly explained to me that she had called all the family and there were people there waiting for us. I told her that we would just be a few minutes, because Dan wanted to make sure we had brake lights for our trailer (kind of important at night). After getting off the phone, I proceeded to explain to Dan how he HAD to hurry, because there were people that I had only seen 4 times in my life waiting for us. At this point the laughing was over and I was getting anxious. I just wanted something to go right. Of course the fix on the lights took twice as long as we had expected and we got into a "kind" discussion on how we both needed to readjust our attitudes (this was actually the ONLY argument of sorts that we got into, and it was just because he wanted to be safe and I wanted to be at my grandma's).

The drill we went back to pick up. I didn't get a picture of the pick-up though.

We were finally on the road, however anyone that has visited this part of Illinois, knows that small towns in Illinois are really "small towns". My grandma (and the majority of my mom's family) lives in a town of 300 called Cissna Park. As Dan and I typed it into the GPS system we brought along, and began taking weird turns. We soon started doubting our trusted GPS, aka: Gabby (we named her Gabby Payton Schacher...GPS). Every time we would re-type in Cissna Park, she would take us a different route. After calling my mother a million times and listening to some of what Gabby said, we finally arrived in Cissna Park 2 hours later than we wanted (yeah, that 2 hours of waiting for a taxi would have put us there on time).

This is when the trip took an amazing turn. I have only visited with my grandmother and this side of the family a handful of times, but enjoyed it each visit. This one was no different if not more enjoyable than. My grandma is such a hospitable lady and I was shocked at the lengths my aunts, uncles and cousins went to to come out and see us on less than 24 hours notice. My aunt Jill and uncle Tom actually insisted that we spend the night with them (instead of driving an hour to find a hotel, without brake lights :). We ended up spending the night at their house, and they woke up with us in the morning and insisted that we stay for breakfast. I just love how family is so connected even when they are so far apart in distance.

Oregon, Illinois. We're almost there right? Little did we know...not even close :)

Our next plan was to drive up to the suburbs of Chicago to visit my cousin and her family. They recently had a child and Spencer (our up and coming child) and Carson will only be 7 months apart. But before seeing them, Dan wanted to make sure that the brake lights were fixed. We found a full service truck stop and asked them to fix the wiring. Again, noting takes quite the amount of time that you think it will, and we were there for 4 hours. I got a little frustrated toward the end, but at the same time wanted to make sure we were going to be safe driving home 2,000 miles. Once we got done at the truck stop we headed North to visit Alysia and Erich (and Carson). Erich owns a shop and works on restoring old cars. He also has done quite a bit of mechanic work, so Dan asked if he wouldn't mind looking through the pick-up before we began driving. While the boys looked through the pick-up, Alysia and I were able to catch up and talk about our children. After looking through the pick-up and giving it a stamp of approval (actually he said it was quite the pick up for what they paid for it), we were on our a hotel in the area. We needed to get new tires for the trailer and 2 for the pick-up to make sure we were safe on our drive home and there were no tire companies open on a Sunday evening.

So, to make an even longer story short, we were able to get all new tires and head out on Sunday. But everyday along the way (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday) we found ourselves in some mechanic shop trying to fix something...a fuel filter, a fuel pump, our AC (yes, that did go out right as we made it to the northwest where there was a heat wave), etc. By the end we just wanted to be home with our beautiful daughter.

The closest we could find to Wisconsin Cheese, in Wisconsin...really. We found some Wisconsin Cheese at a gas station in Washington...WHAT? Oh, and in Minnesota...the "Land of 10,000 lakes", we didn't even see 1 lake.

We stopped in the South Dakota Badlands in Wall, SD. It was a pretty cool western town. Dan and I met this old man and he shared his cigar with Dan.

This old western guy and I really hit it off.

All in all we did have a great time just the two of us. We had MANY hours to chat and we forgot what it was to be with each other 24 hours a day on a vacation (granted this was no vacation, but it reminded us we needed to take one...just not soon...Spencer is coming :). We were able to take a morning and go see Mt. Rushmore. It is a pretty amazing sight. We would have liked to sight see a little more, but most of our sight seeing time was different mechanic shops.

Dan and I at Mt. Rushmore (yes, I do look and feel big...and definitely did on this little "trip" :).

Mt. Rushmore is pretty amazing in person. The detail is incredible.

Dan picking Abraham Lincoln's nose.

I guess I learned through this trip to appreciate all my husband does. As we drove throughout the day, I don't think there was ever an hour (or minutes sometimes) that went by without him getting a phone call about the business...and some were definitely not good calls. He works so hard every minute he is gone from us and comes home with a loving, positive attitude. I don't know how he does it, because after talking with him about some of those phone calls, I know I would have been WAY meaner and been even more grumpy afterward. He has become quite the husband, dad, business owner, and hard worker in the last few years. Even though that has meant less time with us, his heart still shows through in different ways. I love, respect, and appreciate my husband so much.

Yeah, our AC went out on one of the hottest days in Montana...oh, and did I mention I was 7 1/2 months pregnant. What an adventure :)

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