When You’re Stuck in a Griswold Family Vacay Nightmare…

Our trip to the Nantahala has not gone quite as we’d planned so far. It began as it usually does with our trips – Denise frantically running around to make sure that the house is in “perfect” order (with two dogs who shed enough black hair to make sweaters for the entire state of Alabama) while obsessing about the animals, and Dan calmly checking lighting and loading the car. It works for us somehow, and we hit the road after kissing the critters goodbye. They are in excellent care with our wonderful house sitter, with lots of spoiling in store.   

The difference this time? Instead of taking Dan’s wonderful Mini Cooper, we loaded up my VW Bug convertible. The same 2006 Bug that we have spent almost $5,000 on in the past few months ($1,400 just a few days ago). The same Bug that I swore we would never take on another trip…except that we were headed to the mountains of western North Carolina, and we really wanted to take our mountain bikes….and the Bug is the car with the hitch for the bike rack. 

As we approached Chattanooga, there was a loud sustained ringing sound. The engine was overheating. We stopped for our traditional travel lunch, Mexican, and then to gas up the car and let the engine cool down. Dan checked under the hood, not looking happy….the radiator fan was not running. If we kept on going, we could blow up the engine….not the way we want to spend our short vacation. We asked Siri for the closest VW place, and she led us to Chattanooga’s Village VW…this was after getting stuck behind a bad accident on the interstate for over thirty minutes- not what an already overheating engine needs. I could feel my own temperature rising. 

Maybe they’ll let me switch Bugs?

The dealership was slammed, but they kindly agreed to at least look at our car and diagnose the problem. Bikes are on the back, and it is packed to the gills….including a very special package containing Mom’s ashes. I’ve decided that Mom is upset because her last ride wasn’t in the Mini Cooper. She loved Dan’s car and told him that if she was young, that was just the car she’d get. I’m sort of wishing we’d thought of that sooner…

 And so now we wait. My sweet Dan is calmly journaling, telling me that we’re not going to let this spoil our adventure. If it’s the worst (which they said would take days), we will rent an SUV, load up our stuff, and head to the mountains. We’ll turn this into a positive some how, some way. All I know is those mountains on the horizon are calling me. My blood starts to sing whenever I get close to them.  Our waterfall is waiting, too…and I have a promise to fulfill. 

We have so many things to be grateful for- this could have happened in the middle of nowhere instead of in a city with a good repair shop. We are waiting in comfort, rather than on the side of the road. Most importantly, we are together. We can face anything together, and we usually end up with good stories and lots of laughter in the end. I’ll take it.   

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