Ahh, Day 3. We're making good time and the kids are doing great. I should've known that things were going too well.
In Benson, AZ we pulled over at a McDonald's to get some food and cold drinks. When I was waiting to get my food at the drive thru window, my A/C suddenly stopped blowing out cold air. Just as I noticed that, my "Service Engine Soon" light came on and started dinging repetitively. I grabbed our food and pulled over as quick as I could. I rolled down the windows and turned off the engine. I doubled checked to make sure I had everything shut off and then I started up the engine again. The dinging continued.
Two days before I left WA, I had my A/C checked and I was told there was a chance that I had a leak in my system. They filled my freon and assured me it would last at least until I could get to TX to get it checked out. Apparently they were wrong.
I started laughing. I couldn't help it. It just bubbled up and I couldn't hold it in. Howdy looked at me like I was a few apples shy of a bushel and wondered why on earth I would laugh when our car wasn't working. I was laughing because that was just one more thing to chalk up on our list of disasters. I was laughing because I should've seen it coming. I was laughing because the alternative was crying and I just wasn't up for anymore tears. We were in 93* Arizona heat with no air conditioning. And in case you didn't know, there are no trees in AZ so it's not like we could sit in the shade for awhile and cool off.
I called MC and he suggested I call AAA, which we were now members of, and see if they could do anything to help. Their suggestion? Get it fixed or roll down the windows. Thank you AAA for stating the obvious. Not that I blame them. I mean, what else was there to do? We didn't have a choice. I couldn't afford to take Suzy to a garage so we rolled down the windows and got back on the highway. The good news is the dinging eventually stopped so we were saved that annoyance.
When you're driving down the road at 75 miles per hour with the windows unrolled, it sounds like the ocean is rolling right past your ear drums. It's too loud to listen to music and it's too windy to read so we pretty much stared straight ahead while we drove on to New Mexico.
We got pretty hot and gross without our beloved A/C so I promised the kids ice cream. I pulled into a McDs in Las Cruces, NM for ice cream sundaes. As I was waiting for my turn at the window, I looked down at my gauges and saw that my thermostat was almost in the red. That needle had climbed up to point to H and my car was about to overheat. (Maybe this was a sign that we shouldn't keep eating at drive thrus?) I thought, if I could just get back to the freeway and get that air blowing over the engine again, it might cool down. Unfortunately, I missed my turn for the freeway and had to pull over to figure out where I was. While stopped, I called MC again and he told me to check out the coolant. It turned out I was a little low so I put some water in and then just sat and waited for awhile before trying to head out again. In an effort to cool things off, I turned on the heat blower as I wound my way back to the freeway. Turning on the heater while it's 95* outside is a great feeling, let me tell you. The good news is, once I got up to freeway speeds, Suzy's temperature dropped back down and I was able to kill the hot air.
It was a long day of filling up the gas tank and our bellies and then driving until both were empty. It was evening when we hit the TX border. While I was happy to be that much closer to the end of my trip, I have to admit that I had a minor panic attack when I crossed into Anthony, TX. I can't say this has ever happened to me before. My heart started to beat erratically and my breaths came faster. Tears welled up in my eyes as I acknowledged that this was real. We had moved to TX and there was no going back.
Let me be clear. I love my husband's family. I think of his siblings as if they were my own siblings. His brothers are the brothers I never had and I even love all the sisters-in-law. They are good people and so much fun to be around. But they are the only good thing about Texas (um, no offense to all you Texans out there). While I get sick of the rain in WA and wish we had more sunny days, I LOVE living in WA. But this was a decision months in the making. We took a lot of time to pray about it, discuss the pros and cons and basically stew over it before deciding to commit to moving halfway across country. I knew what I was getting into and fully agreed to it so I didn't let myself panic any farther than the Anthony city limits.
It was dark by the time we got through border patrol and into El Paso. We were hot, filthy and stinky. We hadn't changed our clothes in 3 days. I had changed out of the clothes I wore while carrying my dog into the vet but the kids hadn't changed at all. The car smelled of feet, dog and armpits. There was some serious funk going on. We were up to our ankles in fast food trash, books, and tossed aside pillows. My plants were wilted and suffering damage from where the cat had been gnawing on them. We only had one more day before we made it to Mesquite but my sanity had reached its limit. I needed a shower and a bed. STAT!
I called up MC and sweet-talked him into finding us a cheap hotel (which turned out to be not as cheap as we thought since we didn't book it a day in advance but was well worth the money).
There is more to this story, of course. I thought I would be finishing up the tale of our travels with this entry but I find I have a way of making a short story long so it looks like I will have a Part 5 after all. Stick with me because we're almost there.