Our grand travel adventures………………
We had been planning a trip for a few months and I was so looking forward to getting away, even if it was to go ‘work’ at my father-in-law’s house. I really love that man and always love to help him with things that he can’t do for himself anymore. We figure if it can help him stay in his home by himself a bit longer than we will do whatever it takes to make it happen. We started off on our adventure early in the morning because we had a 10 hour drive ahead of us. Brian does all of the driving so I was all set with my laptop, newspaper, nail polish, smart phone, etc. to keep me entertained. Brian had already taken care of the music via Rhapsody and I packed the snacks, so we were set. By Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, we were ready to stop for a lunch break. We decided that for future reference this would not be a good place to stop when we are towing our camper – too many narrow turns and crazy side streets. We will be taking this route later in the summer along with our camper when we stop again to see Brian’s dad and to head on north to Michigan to do some camping. This trip we chose to take the Errand Girl van because it is easier for Brian’s dad to get in and out of and it is just more comfortable than the truck.
After lunch I decided it was time to kick back and do my nails. I’ve become quite proficient at doing them in the van while on trips. I finished my nails just as we were heading into St. Louis, MO (about 6 hours into our trip). Traffic had slowed down because we were in a construction zone that turned the 3 lane highway into two lanes. Then all of a sudden things seem to happen in ‘fast paced slow motion’. Anyone that has ever been in an accident knows what I mean. I felt Brian slam on the breaks, I looked up and saw that there was no way we were NOT going to miss the car in front of us. Of course, I screamed STOP, but that was rather silly when I look back. Brian had already had the breaks to the floor, there just wasn’t anywhere for us to go. Luckily Brian is a very contentious and observant driver and he saw the crane on the side of the road hit the power line and saw it drop two cars in front of us! All I saw was the car in front of us come to a complete stop because the car in front of him had swerved off the road into the construction zone (1/2 on the road and ½ in the construction lane). BOOM! One hit and it was over. Brian looked at me and began apologizing profusely – “I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry”. I guess he thought I was going to be mad or something. It was obvious there was nothing more we could have done. I knew the impact was not enough for anyone to get hurt so I wasn’t concerned about that. I got out of the van and went to see the damage. The guy whose car we hit had a very long trailer hitch attached to his SUV. It didn’t look so bad to me. The trailer hitch had gone through the front of the grill on the van. There wasn’t a scratch on the SUV! I was relieved at that. The first car didn’t get hit at all, he had pulled over enough to avoid the power line and the guy we hit from hitting him. Then Brian got over the shock and came out to asses the damage. I told him happily that it didn’t look too bad. He quickly burst that bubble as he pointed to the liquid pouring out of the car onto the pavement! It appeared that the trailer hitch had punctured our radiator!
By this time two of the construction crew guys wandered up and asked if anyone was hurt. “No, no one was hurt”. They quickly left the scene and went about their business. At this point I still wasn’t aware of the power line coming down. Because no one was hurt it didn’t dawn on me to call 911. I guess I wasn’t really thinking. I decided the most important thing to do was to call my insurance agent! Steve Smith, my Farmers Insurance agent, didn’t answer so I left a message and then sent him a text message. Then I could hear the guy that we hit ask Brian if we had called 911. OH, I guess I should do that! Brian told him that was what I was doing (which is probably what Brian thought I was doing seeing that I am usually pretty level-headed). I quickly called 911. Of course they wanted to know where we were! I wasn’t driving nor was I paying much attention. I told the dispatcher we were on a major highway close to St. Louis. She didn’t like that response. I told her I could see a lumber company on the other side of the highway – not what she wanted to hear either. She wanted to know what mile marker we were at. Well, if you aren’t right in front of a mile marker it is hard to determine where exactly you are. I took the phone with me and started walking towards the construction guys. I figured they would know where they were working. Well, since we were on a highway and there was lots of commotion at this point, the dispatcher couldn’t hear anything I was saying. She really wasn’t happy with me. I was doing the best that I could to find out where we were. The construction guys said they didn’t know what mile marker we were at either. GREAT! I could see an exit ahead of us but because my vision has gone down hill in the last few years I couldn’t read what it said from where I was. Finally, the guy in the first car knew exactly where we were. Glad someone knew!
The fire trucks got there before the police. I guess we were right on the border of two towns. The fire department was from one town and the police that showed up were from another town. After interviewing everyone the whole story was finally coming out. That was the first I heard of the power line coming down and causing all of this mess. I guess it was a ‘live wire’ and it was very dangerous. I also found out that it was a major line that came down and knocked out the power all over the town. No streetlights anywhere so we were the first of MANY accidents that day.
Everyone was extremely nice to us and compassionate to the whole situation EXCEPT the guy whose car we hit. He said he was ‘feeling a lot of pain in his neck” and claimed he hit his head on the windshield. Brian pointed out to me that we weren’t even going fast enough for our air bags to deploy. Neither one of us hit anything. The guy told the police he had his seat belt on so I am not sure how he hit his head. His SUV was pretty old and absolutely trashed on the inside. He said he was concerned about damage to the car that ‘wasn’t visible’. Whatever……..
A tow truck driver appeared on the scene. Since our van was the only one that was disabled, we assumed he was there to pick us up. The “un nice” man that we hit convinced the tow truck driver that his car needed to be towed via a flat-bed because he was sure there must be some damage that couldn’t be seen and he didn’t want to take the risk of driving it until it had been checked out. That was fine. I wasn’t really in a hurry because I knew this was a snag in our trip and we were going to be delayed. Now, I am VERY thankful that we didn’t go with that tow truck driver. One of the cops called a tow for us. Joe, was his name. He was SO NICE and so helpful! Joe, called a body shop to explain our situation and what we needed. There had been a horrible hail storm in St. Louis the week before so most body shops were overbooked and very busy. They told him they would look at the van and determine what they needed to do to just get us back on the road and get the rest fixed when we got home. By this time, I had already spoken to my Farmers agent, Stephen and he got the ball rolling. It rolled FAST! The body shop was less than 5 miles from the scene of the accident but it took us over 45 minutes to get there because all of the traffic lights were out and things were a mess! Police were everywhere trying to direct traffic . On the tow truck ride to the body shop I spoke with the person handling my claim and she gave me a claim number and everything else I needed. Joe, the tow truck driver called the body shop to tell them we were on our way and that we would need a rental car – a van. The body shop called and had the rental van there 5 minutes after we arrived!!! The body shop said they could do a ‘temporary fix” to get us safely home. We could pick up the van on our way back home on Friday. Whoo hoo! Everyone was just so helpful and nice it was almost ‘too good to be true’. Maybe the cop and the tow truck driver had some kind of ‘deal’. Surely the tow truck driver had something going with the body shop???? And the body shop with the car rental place. We were from out-of-town just passing through. We didn’t have much choice except to believe what everyone told us and hope for the best.
We were back on the road headed to Decatur,Illinois. This little adventure only set us back 4 hours so it wasn’t too bad. It could have been a LOT worse. We were most thankful that nobody was hurt. We were exhausted by the time we got to Decatur so we only visited with Brian’s dad for about an hour before calling it a night.
The next two days were spent up early and outside working in the yard. Our evenings were inside doing other things around the house that needed to be done. The only breaks we took were spent on the phone answering more questions for cops, insurance companies and the body shop and meals of course. I wouldn’t miss a meal! Brian’s dad is always so grateful for all that we do that I just love doing things that are appreciated. I must say his yard looked much nicer by the time we left! We even set it up with a neighbor’s grandson to mow his yard every time he mows his grandparents yard. It is so hard for older folks to admit that they just can’t do the simple things they used to like mowing the yard. His neighbors had been offering to mow it but he kept telling them that he was going to do it, but then he never would. I figured out a long time ago, I don’t ask Chuck if he wants me to do something for him, I just do it. I know he will always say no and tell me that he will do it, but I see how much he appreciates it being done. Brian’s sister who lives nearby said that every time she asks him he tells her no. I asked Brian why his sister didn’t just go ahead and do it without asking. Ahh…… The difference in how we were raised. Their dad approved everything before it was done in their house. They would never think to do something without asking permission first.
I spoke with the adjuster and the body shop often just to check on things. In addition to the trailer hitch going through the radiator it also went through the air conditioner. The body shop said it was not a problem to replace both of them and still have it ready for us to go home on Friday. I called the body shop on Friday morning just to make sure. It is so hard not having ‘control’ over everything and leaving it in someone else’s hands. The woman who answered the phone checked with the guys in the shop and they assured her that they would have it ready for us by 4:30 that day. GREAT! I explained that we had a 4 hour drive to get to them so we wanted to be sure.
Now that we had the go ahead we decided to grab some lunch and then pack the rental van. This may sound simple because we were there for such a short time. Guess again! Going to my father-in-laws always entails bringing back a car load of groceries!! We had three ice chests packed full with meat and about 20 bags of dry groceries! Just as the last cooler got put in the van, the phone rang. It was the body shop………………… My heart sunk! There was a problem. Upon replacing the radiator and the air conditioner they discovered that the alternator was also out! Great! I’m thinking it sounds like something simple to fix. It would be if anyone had an alternator for a 2010 Honda Odyssey! I couldn’t believe she told me they couldn’t find one in all of St. Louis. I told her I would call her back. Brian and his father both said that you can buy alternators at any local auto parts store. We started calling around to no avail . We called the Honda dealerships in the St. Louis area. They all said they did not have one in stock but could get it there overnight. We thought we might be able to bring one from Illinois with us. No one we called had one today. Everyone said they could get it tomorrow. No, Wimpy, I don’t want a hamburger today that I can pay for tomorrow!!! I want an alternator today!
Staying one more day in Illinois would not be bad, but we had just loaded the car. The REAL problem was the body shop is not open on Saturdays!!! That means they would not get the alternator delivered until sometime Monday and then it would be Tuesday before we could pick up the van!! We weighed our options and opted for the one scenario we had dreaded the most. Drive the rental van back to Fayetteville, Arkansas, (a 10 hour drive from where we were) and drive it until the van is done and we can get back to St. Louis (4 hour trip from Fayetteville) to pick it up. YUCK! This is really not what I was hoping for. We knew we couldn’t stay in Illinois until Tuesday. The car was already loaded with all the coolers and groceries so this was our best option. I called the body shop and let them know our plan and to go ahead and do the complete fix rather than just the temporary one. They said the van would be ready on Tuesday. We knew we couldn’t come back until that weekend. Oh, yea, they aren’t open on weekends! So we will come and get it on Friday. What a pain in the rear this has been!
On the trip home we didn’t talk much. I worked on the computer and Brian drove. Then I looked at my calendar and was trying to figure out how to rearrange my schedule again. Ahh, what if we made this trip to St. Louis a nice weekend get-a-way! That made the whole thing seem much better. I discovered that the St. Louis Renaissance Festival was opening for the season on Saturday! Brian loves Renaissance Festivals and is always talking about Scarborough Faire in Texas. I have never been so I thought it would be a fun thing to do.
On Friday, we headed out on our not-so-dreaded trip. We got to the body shop at 4:00 just like I told them we would. The van was ready and looked as good as new! They even did a super job of cleaning the inside of the van and scrubbing the floor mats. It sure looked pretty. Because of my Farmers Insurance being on top of everything I didn’t have to pay anything at the body shop except my deductible and nothing at the rental car place. We may even get the deductible back because there is “an ongoing investigation” regarding the construction company and the fault of the accident. One thing I forgot to mention is that we did NOT get a ticket for following too close, which is pretty much unheard of when you rear end someone. We were very thankful because in addition to the ticket we would have also gotten fined extra for being in a construction zone.
I loved the Renaissance Faire! We spent the entire day there and had a grand time. I have never had the desire to get a tattoo or anything of the sort. When we first got there and I saw that they were doing henna tattoo’s I knew that was what I wanted to do. I’ve never even had the desire to get a henna tattoo before, it just seemed like that was the one souvenir I wanted from the Faire. I don’t like normal mementos because they usually just sit around and collect dust. What a lovely weekend we had! Thank you, Stephen Smith and Farmer’s Insurance for taking such good care of us!
Here is the finished product.