Last Friday Russ drove out to the Sea Base Scout Camp in Pamlico Sound to pick up one of the scouts that needed to come back early.
He called me about 6 and said, “This is not good.”
“What,” I asked.
Then he told me. He was 10 minutes from the camp and had stopped to go to the bathroom. When he was done, the van wouldn’t start. At all.
We’ve been having starter problems for a couple of months. First we thought it was the battery, but a new battery didn’t improve the situation at all. We should have been smart and just had it fixed, but we just never got around to it.
And now it was dead, 150 miles from home.
Russ said that he was going to try to find someone to fix the car, but the fact that he was in a tiny town and it was 6:30 on a Friday night did not bode well for his chances of success.
I told him that I would get a starter motor and start driving towards the coast. If he managed to get the car fixed, I’d have only lost my evening. If he couldn’t find someone to fix the car, or if a starter wasn’t available locally, I would help.
I happened to be in Raleigh at the time, which was fortunate. (An hour closer to the coast.) I bought the starter motor, got a quick tutorial on how to install it, and then I bought a coke and started driving.
It was not how I expected to spend my evening. And my cell phone battery was dying, so I couldn’t even pass the time talking on the phone!
It was actually a lovely drive.
The sky was filled with beautiful clouds.
As I drove along the tree-lined highway I remembered my first experience with these tree-lined roads.
We rented a car in Atlanta and started driving to our family home in Western North Carolina. We drove and drove and drove. I was so exhausted and couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me; it was only a 3.5 hour drive, why was I having such a problem?
I finally figured out that the problem was the trees. I was used to the wide-open spaces of Utah and Idaho. The tall trees on either side of the interstate made the drive monotonous to me, and made me feel like we were never getting anywhere. It was a relief to finish that trip.
Fast forward to today. We’ve lived in North Carolina for 15 years this month, and I love my tree-lined roads. Instead of finding them monotonous I think they’re beautiful, and I appreciate all of the less-beautiful things they hide. (When I drive in Utah now I actually feel a little anxiety at the number of houses I can see!)
Later in my drive, after watching a lovely sunset in my rearview mirror, I learned something of interest to all of my facebook friends. I may not play the game, but now I’ve been there in real life!
By the time it was dark my cell phone low-battery light was blinking furiously. I texted Russ that I would check my messages every 10 minutes, and then I turned off the phone. Every 10 minutes I would turn it back on, wait for it to get a network signal, and then turn it off again. Finally, at 9:10, there was a message from Russ.
“Van running now. Turn around and go home.”
Instead of swooping into coastal NC a starter-motor-carrying hero, I made an unglamorous U-turn and started the long drive home.
I spent my time working through some things that have been frustrating me lately, praying, for the last hour listening to the one cd that was in the car, at last arriving home at 11:30. Exhausted.
It took poor Russ another hour to find the camp in the dark. He didn’t get home until almost 2am. Poor guy…
I think this year’s scout camp was one that Russ & I will never forget!