Since Justin had flown back to Boston for class and work, Mom drove home with Robbie, Barkley, and me. We left Lexington at 7:45 Thursday morning and, according to the GPS, would arrive at home by 11:35 that night. At least, that was the plan...
After our first stop, Mom discovered that she had lost her watch. A watch she had, actually, just found after several months of being lost. So, we turned around, drove back to the gas station, and, miraculously, found the watch. Despite my knocking an hour off our arrival time before the stop, we were back to 11:35.
A few hours later, the check engine light came on. Before you panic, let me tell you it was user error. I had the car on cruise control and hit the decelerate button too quickly. We pulled over at the next exit and managed to find a gas station. Full service. With a mechanic on duty. At 3:30 on a Saturday afternoon. $6.36 later, we were on the road with a new quart of oil and a cleared car.
The good vibes from our easy car repair lasted a while. We were able to find a McDonald's with a play place (despite entering the wrong street in the GPS, which my mom patiently accepted). Robbie went crazy! And, I'll admit, it was pretty awesome. The slide (piano keys, of course) played as he slid down. There was a guitar that played when climbed on and computer stations. It was pretty impressive. And, after an hour of running around like a mad man, Robbie was willing to get into his car seat, refuse to eat his hamburger, scarf his apple slices, and watch more Elmo. As a side note, how is this possibly my kid? Refuse the burger and scarf the apple? Really?
We drove through Newark as the sun set, and, much to Robbie's delight, dozens of planes were taking off and landing. There was a full moon over New York City as we passed, a sight I have never seen before that trip. It was breath-taking. And none of my cameras were able to capture a good picture. Of course.
Things were going so well. Too well. Just as we'd made our way across the George Washington Bridge, Mom commented on how smoothly the trip had been. You know, Robbie behaving, getting lucky with finding her watch and a mechanic, no traffic. And then it happened. We hit a bump. And all of a sudden, all we heard was "bum-bum-bum". It sounded like a flat tire.
Fortunately, there was an exit up ahead. But, really, what were the chances there would be a gas station? Or a service station? At 9:45 at night? Apparently, pretty good. There was a full-service gas station. With someone willing to get on the ground and look at our car. Amazing!
He said it looked like we had a frayed cable and something was leaking, which did not bode well for the 200 miles we still had to drive. What's a girl to do in a situation like that, you ask? Well, luck continued to be on our side. Justin's aunt and uncle lived off the next exit. I know, I know. Incredible luck!
We pulled into Tom and Chris' house around 10:30 that night and received a warm welcome. Mom got to meet Chris for the first time. We enjoyed the full moon over Long Island Sound. We got a good night's rest. Barkley got to play with another dog. And, even though we got home 17 hours later than anticipated, it was well worth it.
Oh, about the car repairs... We went to the mechanic early the next morning. Ironically, he had worked as a mechanic for Jeep for 20 years. It turns out the bump knocked my emergency brake cable loose and it was hitting against the rear axle. The liquid? Well, that was more of a problem... Turns out the seal in the rear differential was bad and needed to be replaced. I still feel like we got off pretty easy with a bill of $225 (I needed all my fluids flushed, too. Apparently something that should be done every 15,000 miles. Shockingly, I'd put it off for almost 90,000.).
I have to tell you. Pulling into that driveway never felt so good.