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06:11:2006 Entry: "Ann : A Day of Firsts"

A Day of Firsts

Today would've been a great day, low 60s, overcast sky, a perfect day to go to Governor Dodge State Park, somewhere we've never been. We took a short but steep grade hike to see a very beautiful waterfall. It was that idyllic waterfall in paradise setting that you see in the movies and on tv...gently falling water off a tall mossy rock shelf with a lovely pool beneath. All that was missing was the tropical location, Kate, Sawyer and a couple drowned plane passengers still in their airline seats. Seriously, it was a Wisconsin version in miniature. Foolishly, or maybe for the better as it turns out, I forgot my camera to photograph it. There'll be a next time, however. After that, we took a look at a couple of beaches. Too cold to use this time, but after all, we will return. As we turned around in one spot to see if there was another road around one of the lakes, Stan noticed the battery light came on in the van. I started to worry, and told him we should leave now. Hardly having spent only a small time at Gov. Dodge, I know Stan wanted to stay longer. "It'll probably be ok," he said. No, I wanted to go home now. As we drove toward the park exit, the light wasn't on anymore, and Stan reassured me again, but he nonetheless checked some little indicator gizmo thingy (female non-mechanic speak) on the battery to see whether if it was indeed dead. After he shut the hood, his scowling expression was not reassuring at all. "Yeah, we should probably go home."

This wasn't good. Of course, he reassured me as we were travelling. But it wasn't Stan's usual "It'll be fine". Instead, it was "It'll probably be ok." Probably? OK? That's not good. No sooner did he say this, than we lost engine power, and we were pulled over by the side of the road, a mile outside of Barneveld, in other words, about 40 miles from home.

Shit.

Suspecting it is the alternator (and not the battery...the battery was only drained because the alternator died) Stan made a call to our mechanic, who amazingly was at the shop today. He dispatched a tow truck to us. This all happened about...2:30 in the afternoon or so. Around 3 or so the tow dispatch called us back to let us know they're running a little behind. As we were waiting for the tow, fortunately a state patrol officer pulled up behind us, wanted to know if we were waiting for a tow and if not he could call one for us. He suggested he take us up to the "Eagle Mart" a mile ahead on the highway so we wouldn't be in danger waiting on the road. We called the towing company and told them our plans, so they could get us on the way. We got to ride in the back of the squad car, something I've never done before. You know on police shows where they're putting a handcuffed person in the back of one of these cars and they always say watch your head? No kidding! First thing I do as I lean to get in is bonk my head. I hate sedans, I really hate sedans. Give me a van any day. Is it any surprise that my parents love sedans and hate vans? I swear, I am NOT their offspring. Yet I digress.

Stan and I were separated by a plastic divider, and the seats had absolutely no padding...they were just fiberglass seats. The whole thing was a bit Seinfeld. As we approached the BP/Stop and Go/Pizza Express I couldn't see where it said "Eagle Mart." I hoped this wouldn't confuse the towing guy. The state trooper let us out toward the back of the store, so that customers wouldn't get freaked out by seeing civilians emerge from a squad car. Heh heh. I am sooooo glad the tropper did this for us (it's their job, I guess, to get people out of dangerous situations) as nerves had gotten the better of me and I really had to, well, you know.

We waited, periodically calling the towing dispatcher to see where the whereabouts of our guy was. First he was on his way, then they had a shift change and they'll dispatch someone else to us as soon as they can, then they can't communicate with him because he's "out of range" (which is bogus).

Eagle Mart made money on us too. Stan first bought a bag of Cheetos. How he can eat at a time like this is beyond me. As I am typing this now after 8 in the evening, I am still not hungry after a late breakfast of two McDonald items (I ate a big breakfast because somehow I knew I'd need it...I guess I was right). Then he bought a bottle of iced tea. After we realized the towing was going to take longer than expected, we bought a deck of playing cards and played Gin. (I won two games) And after if was late and I realized the tow was taking forfrickin'ever, I bought myself a pack of Pepto Bismal tablets.

Stress and worry wreaks havoc on my digestive system. The smell of pizza in the Pizza Express makes me nauseous. The smell of cinnamon rolls cooking in the BP makes me nauseous. When my life is unstable, and I don't know what will happen to my animals (they are at home with no one to let them out) I worry myself to pieces. The only thing I could do was sip a Gatorade I brought with me from Gov. Dodge concession stand. Watching Stan eat the Cheetos made me nauseous.

We thought of a plan, that if the towing guy forgot to pick us up, or they decided not to dispatch a truck out to Barneveld because there were more immediate problems right in Madison proper, and we'd have to take a cab back home (horrors) or spend the night in Barneveld, we could get Tim to take a cab to our house (he doesn't drive). I wouldn't trust Plato with anyone except Tim, and also, I wouldn't bother our neighbors because they're leaving for Ireland tomorrow morning!

I paced around and became good friends with the women's restroom, and as much as I hated being stuck at a Stop and Go/BP/Pizza Express, I was forever thankful that the State Patrol Officer took us there so that I didn't have to be shitting in bags in the van. I felt abandonned, scared, and worried sick about our dogs who were probably worried (if dogs can worry) about their people. It started to rain, now around 6 pm, and Stan called the dispatch again. "He's been driving around and can't find the Eagle Mart" the dispatcher told Stan. We explained it was a BP, that it used to be an Eagle Mart, it's a green and yellow truck stop, right outside of Barneveld. Well, at least he was on his way. Then I saw a tow truck with our van in back. "It's here! It's here!" I think my voice squeaked like Marge Gunderson in Fargo when she saw "her" tan Sierra as she drove around the lake.

I was so relieved. The towing guy, Jason was nice, and he was in his 12th hour of his shift. I think he enjoyed the little pastoral ride in the country after all he'd been through today. He started his day off with someone threatening to kill him because the guy didn't want to pay for the tow. He then told us some gory details about accident sites that he was called to in the past. "Stop me now if this is getting too graphic" he said. It didn't even occur to me to even think that it was too gory to listen to. See, I can get nauseous from the smell of pizza and cinnamon rolls when I'm stressed about finding my way home, but once I feel safe tell me a gory story and I'm just fine.

Oh, and that was my first ride in a tow truck. Although the squad car was much more eventful. And we got a free loaner car from our mechanic. That's a first. A Toyota Corolla. Sedan. I hate sedans. But I'm not complaining. It has a permanent "check engine" light on. I don't think we'll drive it too much.

----

The Way if Happened if Our Life was Seinfeld (the 10th Season)

As we were enroute to the Eagle Mart/BP in the Police Cruiser, the Officer would get a call to go catch a suspected serial killer. He'd take off, head to his destination, capture the suspect, and he'd have to leave us there, and we'd have no way to get to the Eagle Mart, where the actually very speedy tow truck is waiting for us.

Thieves would see our abandonned car by the side of the road, look inside and see keys (we had to leave them there for the towing guy), and try to drive off with it, but it wouldn't budge because it's dead. They feel obliged to take something so they see an air conditioner in the rear (yes, there is an air conditioner in the rear, one Tim gave us because he hated it, turns out we hated it, so we were going to return it to him on a day when he's not sick and he can make room for it in storage. It's like an albatross right now.) and they steal that instead. We get the van back without the air conditioner, Tim decides he wants it back when the weather is in the 100s, and in my very best Costanza voice, I say to Tim, "About the Air Conditioner..."

3 Comments

It was a very beautiful morning and unfortunately we spent the afternoon in the BP - Eagle Mart, which was very gloopy. Now, after the stressful afternoon I'm not sure I feel much like sleeeping tonight, but I'll eventually get tired of feeling jaded too.

I was more worried about our pets at home than I was the car or us having to spend time in an uncomfortable place.

Everyone was really super good to us, the State Trooper, the employees in the store and the tow truck driver, and I'm glad those kinds of things worked out well.

For a car break down this will be inexpensive compaired to many other reasons cars stop running. I wish we would have had the alternator tested a few weeks ago when we smelled the burning electrical ozone smell. That was probably when the alternator was beginning to fail, but because the car seemed fine and the battery still had it's green test spot, at that time we just I thought everything was fine - it wasn't

I do kind of wish someone took the air conditioner though - I don't think even Tim realizes what a piece of junk that is... and it would have made a funny story too.

I'm very happy to be home with our dogs, cats and Monarch caterpillars with everyone healthy and safe.

Hope to return to the park again soon.

Posted by stanley @ 06:11:2006:09:27 PM CST

Yes, everyone WAS super good to us. That was amazing. Not one bad seed.

Being home is is the best.

Posted by Ann (NOT Coulter) @ 06:11:2006:09:31 PM CST

Hate to be away from my cats too, for the same reasons, always concerned, even if I have someone to look after them, I don't know if I can trust that they really look after them.

Posted by Nikolas @ 06:12:2006:08:01 AM CST

By Ann @ 08:54 PM CST:06:11:06 ..::Link::..

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