It's Sunday evening. This morning, we woke up in Cedar City, and we are now home, safe and sound, in Cache Valley. That's been the case for about 3 hours now. We left Cedar City around 10:30 this morning, after attending Sacrament Meeting in my brother's ward. Heather has a runny nose (making it so she wouldn't be welcome in nursery), and the older I get, the more antsy I am about going through Sardine Canyon after dark, particularly in the winter months. So, we hopped in the car, choosing not to stay for Sunday School or Relief Society/Priesthood meetings.
We drove the car to Fillmore (about two hours from Cedar City, and three-to-four from Cache Valley), where we stopped to get some food and have a little bathroom break. As Eric went into the store, he left the car running, with Heather and I inside. After about 5 minutes, I smelled something burning, like plastic or rubber or fluid or something, and turned the car off. I rolled down the windows to see if the smell was coming from a car around us, but that didn't seem to be the case. When Eric got back, I told him about it, but the smell was gone by then, and everything seemed fine, so we continued on our way.
We stopped again in South Salt Lake (about one and a half hours south of Cache Valley) to fill up with gas. I took over driving at that point. As we were headed back on the freeway (which required multiple turns due to one way streets), I noticed that the engine and clutch seemed to be acting kind of weird. I chalked it up to the fact that I haven't driven a stick shift in around six months, and determined that is was a driver error (mine) rather than a mechanical problem.
I got on the freeway, and it seemed that the car was laboring more than usual. I chalked that up to the fact that we had a Christmas tree on our hood (pictures and report on that coming), and so our wind resistance must have been causing our car to slow down.
We got off the freeway at Brigham City (around 30 minutes away from home), and started on the highway through the canyon. As we climbed the mountain, the car started to rev and rev. I would take off the gas, and things would be okay, but as soon as I put my foot back on the gas, the rpms would shoot up again. People were passing us like we were standing still (we weren't--we were going 55 mph), and I was flashing back to the good old college days that I'd had in the canyon in my trusty three-cylinder Geo Metro. Finally, I started smelling that smell again, and as I looked out the back window, I seemed to be putting out some really black smoke. There "just happened" to be a perfect pull-out spot right where I was, and I pulled over to a large area of dirt, one that had plenty of room for several cars, and one that is fairly rare in the canyon. I woke up Eric and told him that I thought something was wrong.
Eric hopped out of the car and lifted the hood to take a look. There was smoke coming from under the hood. Not a whole lot, but enough. We called Eric's dad (Wayne), who told us to check the oil. Eric did, and found that it was low. (However, the smell was more along the lines of transmission fluid than oil. Not that I would know the difference, but both Eric and Wayne made that determination.) Wayne hopped in his car and drove the 30-40 miles to bring us some oil, which we put in the car. We tried to start the car then, and it started fine, but when Eric tried to put it in gear, the gearshift would go, but the car wouldn't move forward or backward or any way at all.
So, I got on the phone with our insurance company, who sent a tow truck out to us (one of the services we get for no additional cost as part of our monthly premium). Meanwhile, Eric and Wayne unloaded all our things from the back of our Subaru and packed it into the back of Wayne's Santa Fe. Then they loaded Heather there. Then they untied our Christmas tree from the top of our car and tied it to the top of Wayne's. Then they told me to get into the Santa Fe where it was warm. Eric got on the phone and told the insurance people where to tow the car (a service station close to Eric's work), and we were on our way. Thirty minutes later we were home, and Heather was throwing a sleep-deprived-I-spent-the-last-five-days-playing-with-cousins-and-am-totally-unable-to-handle-all-of-this-upheaval-tantrum over the fact that we had left her beloved pink headband in the other car and she couldn't wear it anymore. (I later found it in the parking lot outside our home. So, even that worked out.)
Tomorrow, Eric will talk with the people at the service station. The car was acting similarly a few months ago, and although I can't remember what ended up being wrong, they fixed it, and it was working fine. Apparently whatever was fixed is now broken again.
* * *
Now, no one likes car trouble. It's expensive, inconvenient, and, if you're me and you have no natural inclination towards mechanics, it brings on feelings of fear and utter helplessness. (Although, I will say that those feelings have been lessened significantly since I became eternally linked to a man with Eric's talents and attitude.)
However, I am more grateful than I can say that when we did have car trouble, that we had it a mere 25 miles away from home, in daylight, and that we were saved from even the inconvenience of waiting for a tow by Wayne's ability and willingness to come rescue us. I count that as a miracle. Remember, I smelled the beginnings of the problems 200 miles earlier in Fillmore. I really don't see that we had any business getting as far as we did without incident. I don't think for one minute that it was a coincidence that the car became basically undrive-able at first safe and convenient pull-over spot in the canyon. Nor do I think it was a coincidence that Eric's parents were at home, just waiting for us to call them. (These are busy people, and it seems that their Sunday afternoons always contain long walks, or church meetings, or other church duties. In short, oftentimes, it can be hard to find them at home.)
I count it all as a miracle, and a testimony that God is watching over me and my little family, keeping us safe and sound. As I think about it, I am reminded that if God is going to care enough about us to save us from having to figure out how to get home from Fillmore Utah, instead of 200 miles later, He is certainly not going to forget about us when it comes to the threats in our lives that carry the bigger weights and importance.
And I'm grateful. At the risk of repeating myself, I'm more grateful than I can say.