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Heartwarming Small-Town Romances and Thrilling Mysteries

Our carefully-orchestrated, surprise-our-daughter-for-her-birthday trip started about 10 days ago. Nothing turned out as planned. Nothing.

First of all, our daughter figured out we were coming to see her before we left. Hubby put the date on his Google calendar, not knowing that she had access to it. Oh well, her surprise came a few days early. That wasn’t so bad.

We’d planned to take Hubby’s motorhome to South Dakota where he’ll work his summer job, getting paid to ride his bicycle on the Mickelson trail (his dream retirement job). I was to drive his pickup behind him so he could use it this summer. Routine maintenance was done. Everything was packed and loaded. We started down the street when I suddenly remembered a box we were going to take and I didn’t know if it got put in. Hubby went on while I went back to the house to make sure we got it. Turned out it was in the backseat of the truck. Fine. Off I went to catch up with Hubby. I turned onto the interstate and looked down to check my speed and saw the Check Engine light was on. Phone call to hubby: take truck to car repair shop to run the code saying what’s wrong. I turned around and went to our excellent car repair guy. He ran the code and found a part needed replacing. Two hours later, I started again, thankful it happened so close to home so it could be repaired by people we knew.

After spending the night at a rest stop, we were driving up Togwotee Pass in the Absaroka mountains of Wyoming. The motorhome lost power and the Check Engine light came on. It rolled along at 25 miles per hour until we got to a place where we could stop. Hubby called our excellent repairman again who told him what he thought it was and that he should stop in the next town to have the code checked. We ate lunch, trying to decide what to do (turn around or keep going). When Hubby started out again, the motorhome acted like it was rested up and off it zoomed. Hubby found a repair shop in Dubois, where the code showed some part needed replacing but it wasn’t an emergency. The repairman said we could continue to our destination before getting it done. Our Boise repairman concurred with that. So off we went again. About 30 miles out of Dubois, the motorhome lost power again. Hubby limped it along until we found a place to park off the highway. There was no cell phone service so Hubby and I drove back toward Dubois until we had it again and made another phone call to our repairman in Boise. He said not to worry, but let it cool off before driving farther. Thankfully, afternoon thunderstorms were popping up, and the weather cooled off. The motorhome rested a bit, then roared to life as we went on down the road.

After another night at a rest stop, we finally limped into Custer and set up in the park. We had two hours to clean up and drive into Rapid City to take Hubby’s mom to lunch. We made it but barely. She wanted to take her minivan because she could get in and out of it easily, so Hubby got it and drove it to the door. We got in it and when Hubby tried to start it, but he only got clicking. The battery was dead. Heavy sigh-what next? Hubby jump-started the van, we drove around for a while, then finally went to lunch where they double charged my credit card. I dealt with that while Hubby helped his mother.

The next day, we drove his mother to Pierre to a birthday party for her dearest friend. It was cold and rainy, and the threat of snow was coming. The van worked fine (whew!) and we got there safely. It was great to see old friends, and his mother had a wonderful time. The 4-hour trip home was uneventful, and we said goodbye to his mother because we had to leave the next morning for Daughter’s house in Texas. When we got to the motorhome and checked the weather, snow was forecasted to start at midnight. Unwilling to risk the chance, we battened down the motorhome and headed south that night. A little after midnight we pulled into Chadron, Nebraska and got a motel room. It was the right decision because Custer eventually got 17 inches of snow after we left.

Thinking all our worries were behind us, we drove on to Amarillo and celebrated our daughter’s birthday with her. The sun shone and the temperatures were warm. Our luck had at last changed! Then we took Daughter’s car to get the tires rotated where she found out she needs a lot of work done on her car. I felt like a vehicle jinx, but tried not to point that out lest I be asked to go home too soon.

Hubby left for South Dakota in the truck. I left for Boise on a plane. The first flight was fine. After we got to Denver, I had time to relax and get a bite to eat before my next plane was scheduled to leave. We got onboard, pushed away from the gate, and we sat there for an hour and a half while mechanics looked at a mechanical problem. I WAS a jinx! While passengers murmured and got restless, we sat there until they decided to push us back to the gate. We deplaned and sat at the gate until they decided what to do with us. I was afraid to get on another plane but what choice did I have? It wasn’t long before they found another plane for us to use so we got on it. We sat at the gate for about half an hour while mechanics worked on another problem. At that point, I was ready to walk home. But they got it fixed and off we went. I held my breath the whole time, but we finally landed in Boise almost three hours late. When my taxi picked me up, I warned the driver that her car would probably break down. She laughed and didn’t believe me.

Now I’m home and afraid to go anywhere. If it weren’t for needing something to eat, I wouldn’t venture out at all. But I’m thankful the Lord took care of us and saw us safely to our destinations. I owe Him a big thanks for that. And we owe a big thanks to our excellent repairman who talked us through it all. If you’re ever in Boise and need repairs, go to Rod’s Auto Repair Shop.

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