eleven hours to alexandria

I've thought about a few different ways to tell this story. I could tell it by the numbers:
One Jeep
Two Tow Trucks
Three Hours: estimated time to get to camp
Four Groves Trying to Get to Bible Camp
Eleven Hours: actual time it took to get to camp

I could tell it hour by hour:
10:30- first attempt to depart
12:15- second attempt to depart
12:45- first tow truck
4:00- actual time of departure
7:00- second tow truck
9:30- arrival at Bible camp

Or I could tell you the whole shebang...

Saturday morning we got up, got the car loaded up, set the animals up for a few nights of neighbor care, and were in the car, seat belts on at 10:30. I said to Rory, "I am so proud of us! I can't believe we're making such good time!" We said a prayer for safety as we traveled up to Mount Carmel Family Bible Camp, and then Rory put the key in the ignition and nothing happened. No sound, no movement, no nothing.

It appeared the battery was dead, so we all got out, Rory took the old battery out, went to Menards to buy a new battery (with our truck) and came back to put it in. It was a little hairy because a screw had broken that held the battery in, but with the help of a C-clamp I found in the junk drawer, the battery was secured and at 12:15 he went to start the car again. And again, no sound, no movement, no nothing. Rory called for a tow truck.
I did the thing any good wife would do in this moment. I told him I was going to town to buy a pair of shoes I had meant to get before we left for camp. And I'd pick up lunch on my way home. Unfortunately they didn't have my shoes in my size, but I did come home with Happy Meals and my favorite Nacho Supremo's from a new taco joint in town my friend Ali just introduced me to.

On the way home I thought a lot about choosing our attitude, choosing our story, choosing to not let all this car stuff ruin our first day of vacation. And somehow it really didn't. We had a fun picnic and then spent three hours waiting for our car to be fixed. The kids had quiet play time and Rory and I read books. The shop called and told us it was the starter. And around 4:00 we were finally pulling out of our lane with a running vehicle.
Even while driving through the cities we started to feel the car shift out of gear. The engine would rev for no reason, the gear would feel like it was slipping. It was a little disconcerting. We made it two hours to Clearwater for dinner, and it was only then that all positive mojo finally took a nose dive. I had bought the kids strawberry sundaes and myself a chocolate shake for being such good sports about our unexpected day and commented to Rory that the ice cream treats cost more than the meal we had just eaten. 

And I should have kept that money detail to myself. Because it sent Rory off into budget land, suddenly feeling the expense of the barn coupled with the new reality that we would likely be buying a minivan in the next few days. Not to mention the money I had just spent on sundaes. 

We got back into the car and Rory turned on a polka station that the kids found hilarious and then a country station that made them want to dance:

roadtrip from Becca Groves on Vimeo.

And then the car began to really give us trouble. To compensate, Rory continued to slow down, hoping to get us closer to Alexandria. Eventually we were going 45 miles an hour on Interstate 94, where cars and trucks flew past us at 75 miles per hour. We were between exits when it got that bad, and it was six miles before we could exit. There was no polka music playing then. Just a lot of silence and once in a while I'd here Rory whisper, "Help us, Jesus." It was a sincere prayer and even the kids seemed to catch on that they should keep quiet too.

Eventually we came to the West Union exit, an exit we had never really noticed before and now we will be forever grateful for its existence. We drove the car to the on ramp, and pulled off to the side to call another tow truck. The kids and I pulled out our camping chairs and sat on the side of the road, yelling "Semi!" every time we saw a semi-truck go past on 94. We called my dad who was already at camp and he set out to pick us up with all of our camp gear. 

The tow truck showed up at the same time Dad, and we were so grateful to see both of them. 
And then we drove to Mount Carmel. It was 9:30 when we arrived, eleven hours after we had set out, eight hours later than we had intended. But we were so glad to be there. And as it turned out, it ended up being one of my very favorite times at Mount Carmel. The next 2 1/2 days flew by (tomorrow I'll post pictures) and were so rich and full of family time. So glad we kept persevering to get there!

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