Since about 8:00 p.m. last night, for some strange reason, that song -"500 Miles" has been running over and over through my mind. Guess you could say I got a massive case of "earworm" going on there, huh?
Although I used to know the lyrics to that song many moons ago, I don't remember them all now. I had thought of posting a you-tube video of Peter, Paul and Mary singing it, but for the life of me now, I can't figure out how to put a you-tube video into my blog so if anyone wants to tell me how to go about doing that -for possible future use -please feel free to do so. (Just keep the instructions extremely simple, plain English -no computerese, please -as I am a bit of a moron when it comes to translating computerese into English, ya know!)
Anyway, there is actually sort of a reason why that song kind of struck me last night and yes, thee is a story -probably a lengthy one too -that goes with it but I'll try to keep it as short and sweet as possible. (Cough, cough, I know!)
Anyway, here's the scoop!
Yesterday, my son was going to fly out of Pittsburgh Airport to Las Vegas where his Dad was to pick him up and his plan is that after spending 2, maybe 3 days visiting with the old man, he will then drive back home in an old pick-up truck his Dad has restored and according to my son, he is giving the boy the truck. (I know, my son isn't exactly a "boy" as he'll soon be 35 years old, but heck, he's still a boy to me, still "my baby boy" ya know.
The original plan too was that his girlfriend he's been seeing since early December was going to go with him. They had bought tickets -one-way -non-refundable and non-transferrable too and Mandy was supposed to drive them to Pittsburgh using one of his girlfriend's vehicles.
Well, this week, Kurtis has been having a terrible time -had a lot of issues this week with his bowels which in turn resulted in the poor little guy getting a really, really nasty diaper rash -extremely red, sore -yeah, you know that drill I'm describing. End result of that has been no one here has been sleeping very well because, well, because Kurtis has not been sleeping very well. And if he doesn't sleep, he figures we shouldn't either so he entertains us then with his own specific type of music -mostly screaming and wailing. And needless to say, Mandy has been very sleep deprived.
So Thursday night, I suggested to her that perhaps it would be easier if I drove them to the "Steel City" to catch that jet plane, ya know. She almost jumped for joy when I mentioned this.
However, Friday morning when Clate called to check in about what time to be ready to leave, etc., he sprung another surprise on us -it would just be him flying as the girlfriend had gotten ticked off at him late Thursday night and had decided then she was not going with him. Well, ok. So that ruled out taking one of her cars then too. It was decided that I would drive him down in my van - a 1996 Ford Windstar -with 144,000 plus miles on it. But the son-in-law said the minor problems the van had wouldn't be a hindrance -it would be ok. So, we were on with that plan then.
Friday morning -because I do so much enjoy the thrill of spontenaity, etc., I suggested to Mandy that Maya could go with us too. Sure, fine, she thought it would be ok -that Maya would enjoy the drive and probably provide me with enough entertainment too on the way home, with her singing all the little songs she knows now, that it would keep me awake and alert. Another good game plan too, we thought.
So, about noonish, Maya and I left to go pick up Uncle Clate and he then had to drop his girlfriend's car off at her house (Which he had been using this week since he had just sold his old caddie last weekend when he was home, ya see.) He arrived there a little ahead of me as I had to gas up and get a check cashed so I would have some cash coins with me for sodas and food maybe. When I pulled in to pick him up, he was standing by a big tree in her backyard and there, under said tree, were several clothing items, on hangers, waiting to be loaded into the van too.
As he was putting the stuff in the van, I quipped to him that it looked like the girlfriend had tossed him -and what items of his he had at her house for whatever reasons -out on his ear. He grinned at me and said, "Yeah, pretty much, that would be the case." So supposedly, this is the end of that relationship.
In the car then, on our way to Pittsburgh, he told me he figured I probably would have done the same thing as she had done to him -toss him out, that is -wouldn't I? And I said that if I had been the one ticked off at him, I would have done a few other things first -like USE that non-refundable, non-transferrable plane ticket and I definitely would have taken advantage of being able to travel -by an old but nicely running truck, cross-country -see the sights, ya know -and then, after I got home, I would have pitched his scrawny butt and his clothes out the door and told him not to let it hit him in the behind as he left too! But then I am very Scotch at times, can't stand the thought of losing that $300 investment in the plane ticket nor to give up the ride back home. Just would never have crossed my mind to cancel all that good stuff out just because of a stupid squabble.
So, we drove on to the "Burgh" -laughing, talking about all kinds of stuff, listening to Maya singing to us and just generally having a really fun trip. Got him there at the airport, safe and sound and only 5 minutes late for check-in but he was ok even at that. I just pulled up at the entrance, he hoppped out and grabbed his bag, gave Maya and I each a big hug and kiss and away he went.
As we started to pull away from the entry point, Maya started calling to him "I wanna go on de plane too!"
Next stop -McDonald's where Maya and I had a nice leisurely Happy Meal for her and a double-cheeseburger meal for me. I called a cousin of mine who lives down near Washington, PA while we sat in the van a little bit to give our food a chance to digest ya know -talked to her a little while and then away we went, heading back home.
I was coming out of Pittsburgh on Route 376, heading to Monroeville area where I figured I would pick up Route 286 and follow that back route home. I know my way on those roads fairly well as my Mom's oldest brother used to live in Monroeville and that's the route we always took to his house.
Aside from a couple of missed turns on 376 and circling around to get back on the right highway again, things were fine. I came to the intersection of 376 or route 22 and 286 and made my turn there heading towards Saltsburg, PA.
After driving on that road for several miles, I started to notice the car didn't seem to be running quite right - seemed to not have any power, no pick-up, kind of surging. The closer I got to Saltsburg, the more drastic the sounds and motions of the car became -making some strange noises too it was. I made it through Saltsburg but as I made the turn in the middle of town and started out of Saltsburg, I was afraid the van wasn't going to even make it up the first hill but thankfully it did. But I decided to find a place where I could pull over and call Mandy -and Bill -to try to figure out what was happening with the van.
At that point, I saw a Dollar General Store on the left side of the road and pulled into their parking lot and called home.
Sitting there, talking to Mandy on the cellphone, trying to explain to her what was happening with the car, I mentioned to her that though I'd never driven a car before that was having transmission problems, I was thinking it might be acting up along those lines. As I said that to her on the phone, a very nice looking young man was walking past us in the car and he stopped to tell me it looked like the van was leaking transmission fluid then.
Oh brother! My worst fears seemed to be confirmed then ya know. He talked to me and I relayed to Mandy and Bill what he was saying and then as he left to walk away, he turned to me saying, "If you need any help, I just live right next door here and I'll be out working around the house and cleaning my truck. Just come get me!"
The SIL told me to go buy as many quarts of transmission fluid as I could, and see if this guy would put the transmission fluid in for me -and show me how to put more in if the van acted up further down the road. So, that's what I did then -went and got this nice man, purchased 10 quarts of transmission fluid and a funnel and he put two quarts of fluid in for me and I took off again heading, hopefully, for home.
I don't know how far we got -cause I'm a terrible judge of distance -could have been a mile, or two-maybe even five -but I could hear the same sounds starting up again and then, when I tried to accelerate, the car sound like it was just revving up but the speedomoter wasn't moving -just staying in one place.
So, guess who found another place then to pull over? Yep, I did! Right in front (luckily) of the Conemaugh Township Borough Building who just happened to have this nice big, very convenient parking lot there -just waiting for goofy old grammies, with a four-year-old granddaughter in tow -to pull their very sick little van off the road and call home to tell Mandy and Bill of this revolting development!
One blessing that came up throughout this whole process was that Mandy's best friend, since kindergarten, her husband and 15-year-old son just happen to live in good old Saltsburg so Mandy called Missy and she then called me to tell me she and her son were on their way to pick Maya and I up -that we would be spending the night then at their house.
So -at least I knew we wouldn't be stranded there, out in the boondocks, in the dark, alone, ya know. Within about 10 minutes, Missy and Cody pulled up and we loaded my stuff -and Clate's into her suv and away we went to their house!
Now, let me tell you this too -Missy and her husband just moved into this house a year ago -it's the first time I've ever been to their NEW house and WOW! What a gorgeous place it is too! Drop-dead beautiful as houses go! So Maya and I spent the night there and today, Mandy, Bill and Kurtis came to pick us up and bring us home.
They did that by hooking up the car dolly to the back of Bill's truck, loaded Mandy's car onto the dolly and towed that down to save a little gas that way plus provide enough room for all five of us to be able to ride back home that way.
Bill unloaded Mandy's car at Missy's house and she, Kurtis and I rode in the car while Maya got the honor of sitting in her car seat up in the cab of Daddy's pickup truck and rode the whole way home with him then!
We didn't bring the van home to the house though, rather Bill took it straight to the garage where he works now, unloaded it there and put it up on the rack to try to see if he could get a better idea of what was really wrong with the car.
He's thinking right now it may just be a leaky seal though and if so, he'll fix that and then, see in the meantime if we can find another decent transmission -that won't necessitate me having to take out a small business loan, ya know -and then replace that part of the car later -if that's going to be feasbile, that is.
So there you go -the reason that started that song, running through my head for the past 24 plus hours now.
Not that I had drive 500 miles, not that I was 500 miles from my home, but boy, there were times last night when I felt like I was that far away from home. Might as well have been 500 miles if I hadn't decided to come home on the route I did take too. If I'd gone home by going up Rte 79 and across 80 then, I'd really have been sunk on a four-lane highway and no one, no way, to get rescued without involving a motel and towing fees and still having to have Mandy and Bill come pick us up too! Just providence there that made me decide to come home the back roads, I guess.
But even more things than that -providence again here -was that when we finally got to the garage this evening, when Bill unloaded the van from the dolly, guess what he discovered then?
Would you believe that one of the tires on the dolly had thrown off a big patch of tread? And not only that, Bill has no idea when that happened either. How lucky we were the it didn't all peel off and cause a major accident, that could have upended not just the dolly and my van but also the pickup truck with my son-in-law and sweet little granddaughter in there with him!
When I think of what could have happened there and think of the words to that song "500 Miles" it just makes me think of what a terrible journey we could have ended up being on today and that one would have seemed like it was 500 miles times who knows how much in grief, pain, misery.
Counting my blessings, yet again tonight, as well as thinking how fortunate I was to have met the nice young man in the Dollar General Store in Saltsburg -Terry is his name -and for his assistance in helping Maya and me through the first phase of our dilemma! He wouldn't accept a penny for helping me but I told him -after asking his name -that I would definitely give him a shout out on my blog when I got home so if anyone from Saltsburg is reading this and knows Terry, who lives in the little brown house by the Dollar General Store on the east side of Saltsburg on Route 286, please tell him for me that my granddaughter and I did finally arrive home, safe and sound, and that he is one very nice guy -my hero, for darned sure, ya know!
And, here's a look at Maya's and my other three heros of the day -Missy, her husband Matt, and son, Cody! After all, if they hadn't come and picked Maya and me up, we'd have had one really long, hot, sweaty and scary night alone in the van I'm afraid!
Maybe I should have titled this post "All's well that ends well!" You be the judge of that.