The sun beats in through the windshield, giving me that scorching ant-under-a-magnifying-glass feeling.

The windows are down, blowing a violent, torrid wind into the truck, which keeps the temperature barely tolerable. Our truck didn't come with A/C, given the fact that we bought it in the glacial state of Alaska.

Headed west toward California, it dawns on me that I get to be in this sun-beaten position for the next 10 plus hours. Oh joy, oh bliss.

At least three of our five children are sleeping, always a plus, and enough motivation for me to endure - it means we can drive without the inevitable "Are we there yet?" or "Is this California?" (no, it's only Delta, Utah)

But unavoidably, we do have to stop. The veggie tank is on 1/2 full, the diesel tank is on empty (it's always good to have some in the tank, just in case), and it's 150 miles to the next smallish town.

We try two restaurants before finding some good stuff at a little Mexican place. I sit in the cab with baby Atlas, while the two older kids help daddy filter the veggie from the bin into our tank with the electric pump.

The veggie bin


That's my hubby's swear word, so I know something unpleasant has happened.

Slipping on the flip flops, I mosey toward the back to check it out.

"They splashed veggie on my new shirt," he calmly explains. It was a nice Patagonia brand that he just scored at the thrift store.

"And now the veggie pump isn't working."

Hmmm, that could be inconvenient.

Greg checks the fuse. It's blown.

"I had another box of fuses. What happened to them?"

Now begins one of our ongoing 'differences of opinion'- I go on 'cleaning rampages' in which I would be willing to throw away money that got in my way, and then he can't find anything when he needs it.

OR He doesn't put his things 'away' in a place where he will know where they are, but leaves them in various locations around the truck. Then after I straighten up the inevitable mess, how am I supposed to remember what I did with it?

A few moments of huffing and puffing and frustration occur while he searches in vain for the fuses in a haystack.

But then it's over, and we're playful and teasing, a reminder of the 'long-term' perspective - our relationship is more important, despite the irritations.

"What do we do now?" is the question.

Hopping over to the gas station two doors down, we put in some diesel, and buy a box of fuses.

We try them in the pump, fully expecting to fix the problem, pump some veggie, and get on our way to our beach vacation.

We plug it in, turn it on, it sparks then…nothing.

As he fiddles with it. I entertain baby, hide from the blistering desert sun, and think about 'going with the flow.' Who cares if I wanted to get someplace by a certain time?

He blows two more fuses, while I walk Ki to the gas station for a potty break. At least it's a break from the sweltering heat, and I fill up a refreshing cup of ice cold water.

Hubby decides that we should search out some help. We visit the car part store with no luck, before searching out a phone to call Charlie for some real help. This is one of those times we could really use a cell phone.

Thinking we could buy a prepaid sim card for our inactive Blackberry, we stop at Verizon. They don't have any, but discovering that Greg just really wants to make a phone call, the customer service rep generously lends him a phone.

Getting expert repair advice from Charlie, we drive over to the Delta park, to lounge in the grass, climb on the playground and eat some watermelon while daddy goes to work fixing our pump.

The grass is cool and revitalizing, and it's nice to just sit and enjoy being with the kids. I'm honestly appreciating our traveling detour and 'enjoying the journey'.

Greg fidgets and tinkers some more. Still nothing. The motor must be burnt out.

"Ahhh, the adventures of traveling," he comments.

"I was thinking that we better get used to it again. There will be plenty of things like this, only worse, once we cross the border."

There's always those inescapable hiccups in plans, detours, diversions, obstacles and impediments. Learn to expect and accept them, and they won't ruffle your feathers.

We could of been very put out by this 'travel lemon', but instead we focused on what we could do to pass the time agreeably. Eating watermelon is always a favorite past time.

Weighing our options, we decide pumping veggie the 'old-fashioned' way would still be worth our time.

So we head back to the veggie bin, and Greg fills up our tank with a gallon scooper. Each ladleful is worth $3 +, so it's a fair exchange rate.

Three fingers mean $3+ a gallon

That's what we call 'liquid gold'

Now haul it back to the truck

Greg pours it through this funnel into our tank

Regardless of the whole 'enjoy the journey' thing, I'm glad when we're finally back on the road. It's still a long way to Cali.

Atlas, who'd been fussing, drifts into a peaceful slumber, and I settle in for a nice long drive.

"Mom! Kimball needs to pee!!"

"Pee in a bottle! And make sure it gets in there."

Ah, the joys of travel.

Headed west

Miles to go before we sleep




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9 Responses

  1. Cindi

    An excellent post with such an important message. I’m leaving for 5 weeks of travel with 5 kids (on my own for most of the time) in about a week. We’ve experienced this kind of thing before and the best way to deal is in an upbeat and problem solving mind-frame. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. Jonathan

    I was quite enjoying this vicarious journey until you got to the part about no A/C. I like to think I’ve learned to embrace just about every challenge the open roads presents. But if my A/C goes out the fun is all over. Please install some A/C or I don’t think I will be able to continue! 🙂

  3. Colin Burns

    Your kids are just so gorgeous!

    Looks like you were able to take it all in your stride which makes for a much more pleasant delay 🙂

    Been meaning to ask, when you go to a restaurant do you get the old frying vegetable oil? Is that how you power the truck?


  4. Jacob

    “The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
    But I have promises to keep,
    and miles to go before I sleep,
    and miles to go before I sleep.”

    I love Frost. Safe travels and better luck on the morrow!

  5. Jon

    Reminds me of Greg and I’s road trip back in 96′ from Lake Placid NY to Dallas with no money. Western Union stop, rubber bands from the dollar store to try and repair broken spark plug wires, no a/c, and lets not forget falling asleep at the wheel at 3 am. Good times wiht Greg were abundant. Most of my teenage memories include your “Hubby”. You are lucky to get to spend eternity with such an Awesome Guy.


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