“This is a genuine miracle”

Since I am going to hit the road and head back to Kansas City tomorrow, I thought I should see if Cakes has called the mechanic to check on the status of her car.

She hadn’t…

“Well, don’t you think you ought to…since it is your car…and we are supposed to pick it up in two days?”

“OK…heard.”

She called back a few minutes later…

“I talked to Bob.”

“And what did he say?”

She recounted this conversation…

“I just finished the car and took it for a test drive. It drives good. I can’t believe that the car made it to Kansas City. The timing chain was stretched. But when I took it apart, there were several broken parts just laying inside. I’ve never seen that before. I can’t believe the engine didn’t blow up.”

“So God did hold it together.”

“No, I’m serious. I can’t believe that you were able to drive this car here. This is a genuine miracle!”

As soon as the words finished coming out of her mouth and entered my ears, I just yelled, “JEEEEESUUUUSSSSS!!! HALLELUJAH!!!”

My wife and I prayed a simple, little prayer in our kitchen and the God of the universe had answered!!!

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Not quite white knuckle, but…

Instead of heading back to Colorado from Kansas City, I decided to drive up to Rochester, Minnesota.

Why??? Because a man had some very hard to find parts for my project car up there.

Why didn’t I just have them shipped? For several reasons…

First, they are fairly heavy…and that would make the parts more expensive. And paying top dollar for a used anything is not my idea of a path to peace and happiness.

Second, if I buy a used book that isn’t in the condition that I expected, I can live with it. I don’t like it, but I can live with it. But hard to find car parts to complete a project car…that’s a different animal. If I have a choice of which type of mental and emotional anguish I must endure, I would rather do the driving and learn that the guy is trying to con me in person before I give him my money rather than paying for the item, paying to ship it and then learning it when I open up my long awaited package. (FYI, there is a third option that is worse than either of these…)

Can you tell that I have a little experience in this area? But I digress…

Third, it would be a 13 ½ hour drive each way from my house. That’s 27 hours round trip for the mathematically challenged out there. But it’s only 6 hours from Kansas City. So I can save almost 18 hours of driving!

And fourth, I am driving a new Camaro!

I made it to Rochester (did you know that it is really cold in MN???), loaded the parts (they were in great shape!!!) in the Camaro’s trunk, grabbed a bite to eat and headed off to Sioux Falls, SD. The first two hours of the 3 ½ hour drive went smoothly. I was going to arrive at around 9:00 PM. But man did that change!!!

A strong wind kicked up and started blowing snow off the open fields to the north side of the westbound lanes. I couldn’t see an-y-thing! I am not exaggerating! I couldn’t see the road. I couldn’t see the side of the road. I couldn’t see the parkway (??) between the east and westbound lanes. I could however see a bunch of dim headlights in the eastbound lanes that were not moving. My only hope that I was still on the road lied in the fact that I had not turned my steering wheel!

But the blinding snow was sporadic…for about 20 miles. And then it wasn’t!

It wasn’t too long before I was forced to come to a complete stop in the #1 lane. My fellow westbound travelers had given up a little way back. I didn’t dare pull off to the side of the road because I couldn’t see where that was! Talk about a helpless feeling!

I heard the sound of an 18 wheeler approaching me in the #2 lane.

Oh my goodness…I hope I’m still in my lane!

As he drove by me, I saw that the rear of his trailer was completely outlined with lights…

I’ve got to follow that guy! That is my only hope!

For the next 30 miles (there were a few breaks, but not many and not for very long!), that was all I could see. On more than one occasion, the snow was blowing so hard that the rectangular shape of the trailer became distorted and the lights started growing dim.

If I lose him, I’m stuck! I can not let that happen!!!

When I tried to accelerate in order to get closer, I could feel the rear tires break loose!

What???

That’s right…this Camaro is from North Carolina. It doesn’t have snow tires! I didn’t even think of that!

There were several times when the road that I couldn’t see must have curved. I know that because I had to steer that way to keep following the truck! I felt a fear that was similar to being on a roller coaster only in very…slow…motion. Talk about praying!!!

“Jesus, please help that guy see. Help him stay on the road…because if he goes off, I am going off too. Help me (steer)… Help my tires stick…”

I made it to Sioux Falls about an hour and a half later than I planned. But, thankfully, I made it!

I checked into the hotel and hit the sack. When I woke up, I looked at the clock…

I’ve been sleeping…for 9 straight hours??? Huh…I guess I wasn’t making that up. It really was stressful!

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That worked out nicely

Well, I met my daughter in Kansas City late last night.

Before she hung we up the phone yesterday, she said, “Dad, I’m not really comfortable driving this car. I mean he’s not going to stop me but the mechanic is really concerned.”

The problem with the engine was the timing chain had stretched and slipped a tooth or two. It was only a matter of time until it slipped again and the car would become undriveable.

I was thinking, “Look, I’m already in ‘hero’ mode! So let’s go!!!”

But I said…

“Cakes, this is going to save you a bunch of money. But if you’re not comfortable, that’s fine. I’m serious.”

“OK. Well I’m going to go home and pack and then I’ll make my decision.”

As soon as I hung up the phone, I grabbed my wife’s hand…

“Let’s pray. Father, I think this idea is from you. I am asking you to hold Cake’s car together so she can make it to KC.”

About an hour later, Cakes called…

“OK, I’m going to take off.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes. I’m fine with it.”

I got in my car and headed to KC. But the whole time I wondered if her car would actually make it that far. What if it didn’t?…What would I do?

Since I didn’t know where we would end up meeting, I decided against renting a hotel room or reserving a car in advance.

Well, she made it. In fact, we arrived at the hotel of choice within 5 minutes of each other!

And, as planned, we dropped her car off at the mechanic this morning and then headed to the Enterprise in Lees Summit to rent a car.

They didn’t have any!

“You’re kidding me…Really???”

“We’ve got some coming at about 1:30.” (It was 9:00 A.M.)

“What about Raytown?”

“Not until 5:00 P.M.”

“Grandview?”

“Nothing. The airport (about an hour away) has plenty of cars but you would have to pay a higher rate…”

Yeah…no.

They called the Blue Springs location (20 minutes away)…and found…a…something…

“I’ll take it.”

“I feel bad that we didn’t have a car on the lot for you so I’m going to give you a 5% discount. Is that OK with you?”

I was just glad they found a car!

We drove over and I went in to rent the car. I mentioned the 5% discount…

“How about a free upgrade? We have a Camaro available.”

“How much is that?”

“We’ll give it to you at the same rate.”

Hmmm…is this some kind of trick???

“That sounds great!”

How cool is that???

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Honey…where is my supersuit?!?!?

My youngest daughter, Cakes, called this morning. She is having car trouble. She had gone to a reputable auto repair shop in town, and they had already diagnosed the source of the problem and had narrowed it down to two possibilities. She texted me their quote…

What???

The top number was the cost to take the top of the engine off to see what was the actual cause of the problem. The bigger number was the cost of fixing the worst (and most likely) problem.

 

She said, “Dad, I’m just going to fix it and then go get a new car.”

I had a problem with that…no…I had several problems with that!

First, she has only been in Nashville for two months. And she is leaving in another month. So she doesn’t really know anyone, least of all a trustworthy car dealer!

Second, my best guess is that this mystery used car dealer will probably give her $2,500 as a trade in. That means that she will net less than $500!

My fatherly protective instincts kicked in, and I immediately started talking her off of this financial ledge.

“Well, what else am I going to do?”

I didn’t really know…but I listened with amazement as the following came out of my mouth…

“Well, let’s meet in Kansas City. You can drop your car off with our old mechanic (who saved us SO much money while we lived there). I can loan you my car while it is being fixed.”

So how was I planning to get back home? I had no idea. I quickly searched for a plane flights…$140. Not great but considering the circumstances, not terrible.

But then how was I going to get my car back from her???

Forget the plane idea…I could rent a car…but how much is that going to cost?

$120-150 to rent a car for a week from Enterprise! That will work!

After I hung up, I paused…”What did I just do? I’m going to drive to Kansas City today? Am I on drugs?”

I called our old mechanic to see what he thought it would cost to fix it…$700-900!!!

I checked the NADA guides to see what her car was worth…$4,500-5,000!

So if I put on my cape and fly…I mean…drive halfway across the country to rescue this poor damsel in distress, she will come out roughly $3,000 ahead!

Hmmmmmmm…

Can I really tolerate my daughter thinking of me as her hero???

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That’s his car!

My son, Big A, called the house at 3:30 Thursday afternoon. He was intending to speak with his mother but she was out taking her walk. So he got stuck with me.

He informed me that he was planning to take money out of Schwab account to buy a hail damaged 2013 Honda Civic with 38,000 miles on it. He is also going to take money out of his Roth IRA even though he would have to pay a 10% penalty.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa! What is the hurry? Why do you have to buy a car right away?”

It turns out that buying gas for his 1997 F150 4X4 is devouring his wallet!

I then got into the financial details of how he planned on doing it.

“I am pretty certain that you can take a 90 day loan from your Roth with no penalty. And I’m pretty sure that you can also withdraw money that you originally deposited into your Roth with no penalty.”

He did not sound convinced. I mean, who am I? And what do I know? Am I a financial professional? Hardly!

“Call your financial guy and ask him.”

He called back 45 minutes later. I was right… 😎

Two hours later, he called back again! While we were on the phone, he groaned…

“The car is sold! That’s why I am in a hurry!”

Talk about “panties all in a knot”…

wait…that doesn’t quite fit…

hmmm…

Dude’s underwear is tooooo tight!

Anyway, I woke up very early the next morning. I figured that since Big A’s hair is on fire to buy a car, I should at least give him some tools to enable him make a better decision. I sent him a text with some websites that I refer to when I am in his situation.

As I was closing out of the various web pages, I noticed on a 2106 Ford Focus with 6,000 miles on it for a very reasonable price. And it was at the same dealer that he was going to buy the Honda from!

I visited the seller’s site…the car actually had 11,000 miles. I sent him another text with the link to the actual listing.

A few minutes later, he called me…

“What’s the hurry?”

“What do you mean ‘What’s the hurry?’ You called me four times in three hours last night! I’m just trying to join you!”

I told him what I had learned about the Focus. He decided to drive down to Colorado Springs to look at the car after work. He arrived too late to take a test drive but when he looked at a Focus, he didn’t think it had enough rear seat leg room.

When I woke up this morning, that Ford Focus was on my mind. I went back to the dealer’s website and looked at the AutoCheck history.

7/19/17-the car was purchased from the Ford dealer.

7/28/17-a claim was filed with the insurance company for hail damage.

8/18/17- the insurance claim was settled.

12/17/17-this used car dealer bought the car from the insurance company.

Then it dawned on me…

Those 11,000 miles were put on the car in 10 days!!! That means that they were all freeway miles! And this car has been driven a total of one month!

THIS IS HIS CAR!!!

I immediately got dressed and headed down to his house. An hour later, I knocked on his bedroom door to wake him up. Half an hour later, we were on the road heading to the dealer.

He went in and inquired about the car. It wasn’t even on the lot yet! They had to go get it!

While he was waiting, he test drove a Hyundai Accent. We smelled burning oil and turned around and took the car back.

About 10 minutes later, the Focus arrived. It drove beautifully! It still smelled new! He made an offer and put down a deposit!

Big A is getting a lightly hail damaged 2016 Ford Focus that has been driven for a total of one month with less than 12,000 miles on it!

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Does everything have to be difficult?

I started the day by ducking my head in to say hello to Kimba, her husband, Feeky and our new grandson, Giddy.

I then grabbed a quick bite as I hit the road to pick my wife up at the Denver airport.

Her plane was supposed to arrive at 10:30. I got on the freeway at 9:30 and arrived right on time. She texted me that she had landed and was heading to baggage claim.

No problem…

I took my time and looped around again. I didn’t see her so I pulled as far forward as I could and parked at the curb for the arriving passengers. After about 10 minutes, I could see the airport police walking toward my car, so I headed out to loop around again.

As I pulled in to the pickup area, I drove as slowly as I could. Again, no sight of Bunch. I did my parking trick a second time and texted her…no response.

At about the 10 minute mark, I saw the policeman heading my way again. Back out and around the loop again and back in to my personal parking spot.

After watching what seemed like half of the state come out and leave, I sent another text.

No response…

I called…no answer.

As I was looping around for the fourth time, she called me and said that she had her luggage and was standing outside in the sun.

At the Denver International Airport, there are only two ways you can go. One road, which I had taken the three previous times, was down into the bottom of the parking structure to pick up the arrivals. The other road takes you up to the top level for the Departures. You can see the sky from the top level. That is where the sun usually resides.

I was smiling in anticipation as I drove up the ramp. I brought the car to a stop right under the Southwest sign and waited…and waited…and waited!

My phone rang…

“Lord, where are you?”

“I am sitting right underneath the Southwest sign! Where are you?”

“I’m standing outside in the sun waiting for you!”

“Honey, I am on the top floor. I can see the sun. I can’t see you. Where are you?”

Eventually, we figured out that there is another level that is specifically for buses and taxis that the general driving public cannot access. However, if you are not familiar with the airport, the signs from the baggage claim direct the passengers to that level! Whoever designed this airport ought to pay reparations to people of Colorado!

“A policeman is coming. I’m going to have to go around again! Go up to the top level…the Departures level.”

After an hour and five trips around the airport loop, I finally got to kiss my wife!

On the way back to the hotel, I called ABF. I gave them my card number and paid the bill.

I told them that I was on the road heading back to Fort Collins. We agreed to meet at the storage facility at 12:30 so they could drop the trailer off.

The manager of the storage facility was already talking to the driver when we pulled up. It turns out that they already knew each other pretty well. The manager then told the driver exactly where he wanted the trailer parked. He pulled in, backed up to our storage unit and, after the manager approved his location, unhooked it.

By now, it was 1:30 and my wife was eager to get to the hotel to see her grandson. Since I was still pretty tired from the last three days, I didn’t put up much of a fight.

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Dodging bullets in the Wild West

I am a tired puppy!

Is it possible to make a 10 hour drive without a little blog-worthy adventure?

Naah…

After about six hours of driving, I was filling up the truck at a gas station in the middle of nowhere in the plains of western Kansas when my phone rang. ABF was calling to say that the trailer had arrived at their Loveland facility. They said that they would need payment before they delivered it to the storage facility.

“We can take a credit card over the phone.”

My mind started racing…

If I do that, my bank might put a hold on my card! Talk about a purchase in an unusual area! And if I have to call them, I could be on hold forever…my cell phone might die…I won’t be able to buy gas! I am not getting stuck out here!

“No, I can’t take that risk. Can I call you tomorrow after I arrive in town?”

“Sure.”

Whew…bullet dodged!

At 5:30, I was about an hour east of Denver and it was raining very hard. Fort Collins is an hour north of Denver. The storage facility closes at 7:00. I called to them that there was no way that I was going to make it.

“Well, we will be open tomorrow at 7:00 A.M.”

“That won’t work. My daughter, son-in-law and grandson will be at the Denver airport at 10:00 tonight.  (Remember, the ABF fiasco caused me to leave a day later than planned!) I have to unload my car so I can pick them up ”

The woman put me on hold. When she came back, she said that she would put the keys and a card with my code to get into the gate in an envelope and leave it in their mailbox.

We pulled up to the storage facility at 7:15. I hopped out of the truck and opened up the mailbox. There was that beautiful envelope! There’s the key to open the lock…and there are the codes to get in. Perfect!

I hopped back in the truck, drove over to the keypad, entered the code…

The gate didn’t move.

I read the directions a second time…

That’s what I did.

I entered the codes again…a little slower, making sure that I mashed every button thoroughly…

The gate still didn’t move!

At this point, I was so tired that my mind couldn’t race anywhere. But the reality of the situation was slowly starting to form…

That means that I will have to take the stuff from the car and put it into the hotel room…

Before despair could set in, a man walked up to the gate from the inside and said, “You must be our late arrival.”

“I am.”

“Well, we’re glad to have you. Just punch in the codes and come on in.”

“I did…They’re not working.”

“Are you sure?”

He came over and I entered them again while he watched.

“Hmmm. You did it right…Oh, she probably forgot to…”

I can’t tell you what he said because I was too tired to listen. All I know is that he brought out the forms that they needed me to sign and let me in the gate. We found our unit, unloaded the car as fast as we could and then headed for the hotel.

As we were checking in to the hotel, my son volunteered to go pick them up.

I was too tired to argue but still managed to squeeze out a VERY weak, “Are you sure?”

We entered the room at 8:00 P.M. He took an hour nap and then hopped in the car and headed back down to Denver.

As tired as I am, I have the satisfaction that I accomplished my goal. I felt like I needed to get to Fort Collins by July 1 and I made it!

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Escape from KC

I have had this feeling before…several times in fact!

I have put in 16 hours each of the last two days and had to wake up at 5:00 to finish loading the truck. As soon as I lifted up the back door, it began lightly raining.

That thing is packed so tight that I can barely close the door. But it is not because things are falling out of the back. The door is getting stuck at the top!

I have to say that I am proud of the fact that I was able to manage to make room for the fan palm tree and two English Ivy plants that I have managed to keep alive for the past year.

Anyway, I need to get on the road so I don’t have any problems with the landlord.

It’s Fort Collins or bust!

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Will I ever get on the road?

Today is D-Day. The lease on the apartment, the large storage unit, the small storage unit and the garage expire at midnight…

We finished loading everything from the garage at about 10:00.

We finished loading everything from the large storage unit at about 1:00

We finished loading everything from the small storage unit at about 2:00 and I was feeling good.

“We should be able to finish in time to get a good night’s sleep before hitting the road early tomorrow morning.”

We got to the apartment at about 2:30. My son started bringing things out of the apartment while I packed the truck. I told you yesterday that I would have to pack every nook and cranny in order to fit everything into the U-Haul. Well, I did just that. After about an hour and a half of non-stop work, Big A came out, looked at the truck, furrowed his brow and asked, “This looks the same as when we started. Where are you putting all of this stuff?”

He was perplexed but I was feeling good. We should be getting close to finishing and have plenty of room in the truck…

I went inside to take a short congratulatory break and see how much more remained to be done. As I walked through the apartment, I muttered to myself, “You have got to be kidding me! This is a furnished apartment…how is there all of this stuff?!”

We worked all evening and into the night…

Box after box… after box… after box… after box… after box!

…and didn’t finish.

But I can’t do any more. I’ll have to get up early and finish tomorrow morning. Sheesh!

I hate moving!

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Hey, I’m 5 feet short!

I picked the truck up at 5:00 P.M., drove over to the storage unit and began packing.

And that’s when I noticed something that might be a real problem…

The 15 foot truck that I rented…isn’t really 15 feet! It’s more like 12!

It turns out that they count that area above the cab in their measurement. So, I have gone from planning on a 17 foot truck to actually having 12 feet!

I am going have to pack this sucker so tight…

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