Our vacation didn't start off well at all. Nope. Nathan and Rebekah left a little while before us...and Nathan got sick. Throwing up sick. Throwing up a lot sick. Too sick to drive - so Rebekah did. They were heading straight to Rexburg via Ontario/Boise...the rest of us were heading to Wyoming via Spokane/Missoula...by the time we knew how sick Nathan was our paths had diverged and we were hours away from each other. The best we could do was to tell Rebekah to drive as far as she could and find a motel...
...in the meantime...we were having troubles of our own. Our battery light was going on and off at random. We took a long lunch in Spokane and Steve had the battery and alternator tested. They were fine...or so we thought. As soon as we crossed into Montana, Steve handed over the driving to me. The van kept flashing the battery light for increasingly longer periods of time - but I didn't worry about it much - we'd just checked them, right? A little while past Missoula we started to have other, more worrying symptoms. The turn signals stopped working. Then the windows...in fact the whole electrical system was acting weird - on again, off again. And then we started to loose engine power...on again, off again. The speedometer was flatlining, then would come back with a burst...I finally pulled into a tiny little town (Drummond). There was a nice gas station/mini mart and not much else. Steve and Andrew experimented on the van - and removed all the non-essential fuses they could find. We couldn't really stay in Drummond - if there was a problem with the van, which there was, there was no place to get it fixed...so off we went. We took it as a good sign that the van started right up - yeah, that was great for a few minutes, then all the problems came back with a vengeance. The van died right at the exit for a rest stop - the boys all hopped out and pushed us to the parking lot.
Let's go back to that morning, before we left the house. Steve was on the phone, making us late...he was talking to a AAA representative. He signed us up - with the extended towing package - which covered towing up to 100 miles.
Now, back to the rest stop. Steve calls up AAA and they arrange to tow us into Butte - 60 some miles away. That is wonderful - it's getting on towards dark and the rest stop we're at is not a busy one - very few people stop at it. Which is a problem. Why? The tow truck driver can only take two passengers. That leaves three left over. We eye every car that stops...hoping for someone with room for 3 passengers - but it seems that it's all families on vacation - with full cars. Aargh. Finally - just before the tow truck shows up, a man stops by to use the facilities...and he's got a king cab pickup truck...and he's alone...and he's going to Butte. Alex, Danny and I ride to Butte with the nice stranger while Andrew and Steve go on the tow truck. The van gets towed to an auto repair place - and we get dropped off at a hotel. Now we have another dilemma. It's Friday night and the repair shop doesn't open until Monday.
We managed to rent the last available car from Enterprise - it was a red Chevy HHR (think PT Cruiser). We dubbed it the Clown Car. We were able to get nearly all of our luggage stowed in it - which was a minor miracle. None of us could move an inch - except Steve, who was driving...the rest of us had stuff tucked under us, around us and on top. Not comfortable at all...but we did it.