Monday, October 11, 2010

The Night the Engine Fell Out of Our Car

We were coming back from Saratoga Springs on Sunday evening, driving our Jeep Cherokee. The Jeep Cherokee with 140,000 miles on it. The Jeep Cherokee that was loaded with plants and a big piano because Lucy started taking piano lessons.

We were just below Albany when it happened. The car started revving for no reason and then, it stopped revving and started with a more ominous clicking sound. That's when the engine lights bounced on like a Vegas slot machine. There was also the strange burning smell, like burnt hair and freshly grated metal shavings. I tried to convince myself it was an animal carcass on the side of the road, but as we drove on, it was clear, the dead carcass was our car.

David decided to pull over and see if we could cool down the engine and drive on later. He got us off the Thruway and pulled into a Sunoco. That's where the car sputtered and then, without warning, died, a large heap of scrap metal that made for an excellent, but useless, industrial sculpture.

Edie had fallen asleep, but Lucy was still awake. At first she was scared. But when we noticed the lights of a hotel across the street, and David saw there were vacancies, she was thrilled. She was downright giddy to be out of the car and into a strange hotel. You would've thought it was freakin' Disneyland.

Now, I'm grateful to David for getting us off the highway and near civilization and happy that the car happened to die near a hotel and I'm thrilled this didn't turn into one of David's stories that starts like, "I was out in the bush alone, and the car was running out of gas and I hit a kangaroo..." Seriously, that's one of his stories. And it wasn't like that, so I was grateful, but the hotel was a near perfect replica of the Bates hotel...but less cared for and with an abandoned Howard Johnson's next door.

To get to our room, we had to cross the River Styx - you know, the river to hell? A pipe burst outside our room. No one cleaned it up until morning. We had to run through a pool of water settling on the rug.

This is the wall of the lobby, splattered with tomato sauce. Well, that's what David says. I think it was blood. People were bludgeoned here, I think.

Is that Sunny D? Or a big bottle of Clorox on the breakfast buffet? Just askin'.

Lucy and Edie got to watch multiple hours of mindless cartoons while we arranged garages, tow trucks and transportation home.

Someone in comments last week wondered if my kids ever ate processed food or a can of Campbells' soup once in awhile. Well, this is proof. My kids ate stale Freihoffer's Donuts and Frosted Flakes for breakfast. Not a single organic, free-range egg to be seen. Just cartoons, a bed that smelled like vacuum salesmen, and high fructose corn syrup.

It was a party.

Hey! That's me! I'm taking a picture of the crooked lamp shade and the humungous semen stain, er I mean, stain on the side. Dear hotel people, your lampshades are being used as target practice by lonely business men. Might want to put up a sign or somethin'.

Did I mention we didn't have any toothbrushes, or soap or water pressure, or any basic hygiene supplies? Or access to caffeine that wasn't really bad watered-down coffee?

...But Lucy did bring a feather, so that came in handy.

Finally, we left the hotel. I gave the guy at the front desk all my plants. It killed me, but he was so excited to have plants in his lobby - probably to off-set the signs of murder in the hallway- he practically kissed me. A tow truck took the car. A cab took us to the train station. We went a mile and a half and the guy charged us 20 bucks.

On the train, we saw former Governor Pataki in our car, and although he smiled kindly at me, I could tell he didn't want to sit next to us because we looked like trouble. And not one of us had brushed our teeth. Save yourself, Governor.

By the time the train started, the kids were dying for food. We bought lots of crap to add to the crap we had for breakfast. Lucy had frozen/microwaved pizza. Edie had Cup O Noodles.

I spilled Edie's Cup O Noodles all over the floor. She was so hungry, she was sobbing...there's a possibility that some of the noodles from the floor of the train ended up on her plate. I'm not committing to that in writing or anything. I'm just saying it might have happened. In theory.

Oh yeah. That's the face that says it all.

The train had caffeine I can live with. God bless you, Diet Pepsi.

After we ate our crappy food, we passed the time by seeing how fast we could run through the aisles of the train, so that we made ourselves a blur on camera. We did that about 30 times. Pataki loved that.

Lucy made 53 minutes of video on my iphone of the scenery going by while she narrated a TV show.

Edie took 64 pictures of the back of her seat.

Oh and did I mention we were carrying a piano? Yeah, we were. That was awesome.

On the subway, the girls showed me some stuff hidden in their pockets. An entire sleeve of cups they stole from the train. They decorated them on the way home with markers. Everyone was happy, it was worth every cup we stole.

And now we're home. Although our car is three hours away and apparently we need either a new car or a new engine. Which is awesome.

xo YM



Paula said...

OMG! What a nightmare of a trip and hotel stay. Got the willies just reading about it and can't imagine how you got any sleep. Glad that your family and the piano made it home in one piece. Sorry about the plants having to be left behind at the *red-rum* *red-rum* hotel. Did the desk clerk look like Jack Nicholson by any chance!

Unknown said...

Thank God for that feather otherwise your trip would have been pure hell! :) Talk about an honest post. Thanks for sharing. I was mesmerized all the way through.

Grace R. Freedman, Ph.D. said...

So funny. So sorry for you, but so funny. Sometimes a mom's gotta do what a mom's got do, junk food and all. Thanks for great post!

Lauren said...

while your husband's face says it all - I bet that trip will be a great memory for the girls. And when they're 25 and ask if you remember that cool hotel when the jeep broke down that had doughnuts and sunny D - don't tell them it was a dump. They'll never believe you.

Karen said...

OMG, so funny! thanks for the laugh...

Barbara | VinoLuciStyle said...

I mean I know this was hell for you but you managed to make it fun for us to read and more for your girls; processed food be damned and thank goodness for that feather!

I am driving a car with 150,000 miles on it. Body is in great shape, interior too and I get regular maintenance to elongate it's life as much as possible but still...your story is why I don't make trips with it to the mountains! Thanks for the reminder.

Maria at Fresh Eats said...

Ah, the stuff of lovely family memories... : ) I smiled all the way through your post. Sigh. That happened to me once, except I was the daughter and not nearly as well behaved as your sweet little ones!

Carolina Matthews said...

I love your wit and humor! Laughed a lot and shared with my husband, who agreed "She writes well!"
Thanks for turning tragic into comic with your brilliance!

Christina @ Spoonfed said...

So sorry, but I found this hilarious. And hopefully you will, too, with a little sleep and soap.

Loved the idea of the girls running the train aisles while Pataki tried to chill nearby. We took a seven-hour Amtrak trip from Rochester to NYC a couple weeks ago (seven hours *each way*), and bless our fellow passengers for not hoisting the three of us overboard. Because seven hours is a looooong trip with a 6-year-old.

Sorry about your plants. But good karma to you for making that guy's day.

Unknown said...

Too funny -- sorry to laugh at your pain, but still it is a great story that you will laugh at too one day!

Sarah said...

I'll take semen stained crooked lamp shades over bloody sheets any day. Oh yeah...that happened. I don't stay in hotels without my own linens anymore.

Anne Stesney said...

You are awesome. Keep writing and I can keep reading.

Cheryl - mama to two itty bitty foodies said...

Maaate! Classic! At least you've got proof when you're telling the story next time. Glad you're all home in one piece! :)

Christina said...

Love this post. I just started reading your blog. im glad you aren't quitting blogging (are you??!!). its a rough road but your stories are filled with humor and, honesty and love and for that, you should keep on writing forever. I;m still searching to find my way in this crazy blogging world. Its nice to have a blog like yours to read and learn from.

Cheryl Arkison said...

I hope you don't mind, but I'm laughing so hard I'm crying here. With you, not at you. (That so could have happened to us, right down to David's face and then not actually picking up the noodles.)