It begins Sunday. Damarise and I were on our way home from church when the engine light on our van turned on. Bummer, we both thought, we were planning to go to Washington D.C. on Wednesday and we didn't want anything to happen during the trip. We called a mechanic and got our car in to be checked on Monday. Tuesday afternoon the mechanic returned it to us saying that the only problem was that we may need a timing belt in the future, but we could definitely make it to D.C.. Perfect! Just what we wanted to hear.
Skip ahead to 4:00am Wednesday morning. Micah, Damarise, Grant, and I piled into our mini-van. Even though it was 4:00 in the morning and the sun wasn't even about to rise yet, we were too excited to care about the time. Summer vacation time was here!
The engine sounded a little funny when we started the car that morning, but the mechanic said it was fine and we were taking that to heart, nothing would stop this vacation.
We began our drive down the mountain.
About half way down the mountain our RPMs spiked ridiculously. All acceleration was lost and gravity was helping us get down the mountain.
The acceleration still wasn't working once we were on flat ground.
We didn't know what to think – not something wrong, not now, not on vacation! We pulled off into a gas station, filled up with gas, and took a peek at the engine to see if anything was noticeably wrong.
We were on our way to the Schreiner's house to pick up Micah's little brother, Andrew, so we decided to continue there and see if the car acted strange on the way.
We drove fifteen minutes to Micah's house with no problems. Wonderful! Maybe it was just the van having a little issue earlier. But just to make sure we googled about the problem and both the Schreiner parents took the car out for a run to see if they felt anything weird.
Around 6:00am we finally hit the road headed for Washington D.C. We got to watch the sun rise over some parts of the Smoky Mountains. Ah, God's creation is astounding.
|God's beautiful creation...|
And then it happened.
About 20 minutes outside of Knoxville (two hours away from home) our RPMs spiked twice and we lost acceleration. God kept us completely unharmed as we pulled off onto an exit ramp and put the car in park.
We couldn't believe it. We all sat there for a few minutes wondering what had just happened. We tried to start the car again to see if it would work like last time, but we got nothing.
It was now 8:00am and the mechanic in Chattanooga would be open, so we called him to see if he knew what the trouble could be. He said worse case scenario would be the transmission, but he honestly didn't know what was wrong. He said to get to a mechanic and check it out.
We looked on the GPS to see where the nearest mechanic was. It was about a mile down the road. We turned on the car again praying that we would have a least a little acceleration to get us to where we needed to go. God answered our prayers!
We were about 100 yards away from the mechanic when our car completely lost acceleration. We pulled into a parking lot and Damarise and Micah went to talk to the mechanic to see what he could do.
Turns out, the mechanic had been closed for 5+ years!
Some kind people around there told us about another mechanic located 2 miles down the road. We got back in the car praying that we would have some acceleration. God gave us a little acceleration to make it to the top of the hill we were at the bottom of, and then we lost all acceleration again.
We still had over a mile to go, but yet again, God is amazing. The mechanic's shop just happened to be located at the bottom of a hill, a hill that lasted all 2 miles. We were praising the Lord!
We got to the mechanic and he looked at our van for about 20 minutes. We anxiously waited inside to see what he would say.
|The first mechanic shop.|
And then the verdict came.
Remember what the mechanic on the phone said the worse case scenario would be?
"Your transmission is shot!" We looked at each other, speechless. Worse case scenario just happened to be the scenario we were in now. What now? This was so out of the blue, so unplanned, so not the summer vacation we had planned.
We asked him how long it would take him to fix it. He said he could have it done by Monday.
Monday!? Monday?! Our vacation would be over by Monday! We were planning on leaving Washington D.C. on Sunday. Monday just wouldn't work.
He told us about another mechanic who could work on our transmission, but we would have to be towed there.
So, two hours later we were all piled in our van again cruising down the highway... on top of a tow truck.
|On top of the tow truck... weirdest feeling ever.|
When we arrived at the mechanic's, the mechanic ran a few tests on the van while we waited once again. Sure enough, our transmission was shot and would have to be rebuilt – costing a lot of money and not being finished until Friday afternoon.
And so we sat there, not knowing quite what to do, and wondering what in the world was going on.
Micah called his parents to tell them the verdict, and through talking with his parents and talking with us we came up with another plan to get to Washington D.C.
Since our van would be in the shop until Friday afternoon, Mrs. Schreiner and the Schreiner grandparents drove up two cars to Knoxville and gave us one car so that we could continue our journey to D.C.!
We were so thankful! This meant that our trip wasn't over, this was just a little and very costly glitch, but Summer Vacation: D.C. was still happening!
After three hours of wandering around the little mall area we were next to, the Schreiners showed up. We talked for a bit and commented on how crazy the day had been, and then decided to hit the road before it got too late.
Spirits high, thankful that our plans were continuing on, and praising the Lord for a working car we hit the road at 6:00pm. There was a little bit of traffic, but we didn't care. We were on our way to D.C.! Summer vacation was still taking place!
|Excitement, relief, and joy is evident in this picture!|
9:00pm we were on the highway headed north – music playing, car running smoothly, and the sky darkening.
Then suddenly the RPMs skyrocketed.
We all froze.
It was like a cruel deja vu. This couldn't be happening again. It had to have been something else.
10 seconds later it happened again and within one second we had no acceleration at all.
Once again we were on the side of the highway sitting in a car that would not accelerate.
I can't even describe the thoughts that went running through our minds. I think we were all in shock. To have a transmission die once on a trip is one thing, but twice in the same day, that is quite another. The five of us simply sat there, too shocked to speak.
The Schreiner parents were once again called. (They were a huge help!) Mr. Schreiner called highway patrol to come sit with us until a tow truck came.
About an hour later the five of us stood in the falling rain watching again as a tow truck came to our rescue. We couldn't believe it.
We got up into the tow truck and the driver/Mechanic (whose name was Jim Dandy...) dropped us off at a hotel to spend the night. He said that he would get a chance to look at the car around 10:00am tomorrow. Since that was the only option we had, we agreed to it.
God blessed us with a good, long night's rest. We were rested and energized the next morning.
Then the mechanic called.
The verdict? Transmission on vehicle number two: dead.
We had no way of getting anywhere, we had just lost two car transmissions, and it was now time to check out of our hotel room.
|Outside the hotel.|
We felt a little dazed and confused. It all felt like a bad nightmare. Surely we weren't stranded in Virginia. Surely we hadn't just lost two transmissions. Surely, surely, surely...
Mr. and Mrs. Schreiner graciously said they would come up to Virginia (a 5 hour drive) to rescue us and bring us back down to Chattanooga.
And so, we spent Thursday hanging out in Shoney's for a few hours and a nearby visitor center for the rest of the day. Everyone was very nice to us. They all let us keep our luggage nearby and were very sympathetic to our situation.
|Eating breakfast at Shoney's|
|Hanging out in the visitor center for several hours. We played chess, talked, and read.|
|Damarise and me trying to put our thoughts into expressions: i.e. What is going on?!|
46 hours after our departure for Washington D.C. we were arriving back in Chattanooga – without a car, without having vacationed, but thankful to be safe and alive.
And so, we are back in Chattanooga. Back to working facility services. Wishing we could go on vacation to relax after this vacation, and knowing that God has a purpose for us not making it to Washington D.C. Even though it's tough we are all trusting in Him and knowing that He knows what is best for our lives. We're thankful that we are all alive and that the damage that was done was done to the cars and not to any of us.
It's a crazy tale, and even though we've told it multiple times, it's still crazy to us. People look at us like it's the most ridiculous story, but, well, I told you, it's just one of those stories.