Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Stuck in Podunk

"I have some bad news."

Not the words that anyone wants to hear over the phone and certainly not someone whose family is on the road and driving 10 hours home.

"Just tell me" I said quickly "are the boys OK?"

"The boys are fine. Your car is not."

Honestly, I can live with this.

So started some of the worst and some of the best luck we've had in a while.

I don't know if you remember a piece I wrote in May of 2014 about a travel fiasco Hubs and PurDude had when coming home from a campus visit to Georgia Tech. They ended up having to fly an hour past our state and stay overnight, making it home, exhausted, on college decision day.

Fast forward one year. Pretty much exactly. PurDude has just finished his freshman year and is moving. Some of his belongings are going upstairs to a different room in his frat and others are coming home with him. His electronics don't all fit in his car so I sent Hubs and Collelge Boy on the 10 hour trek in my SUV to help with the heavy lifting and to caravan home. I was actually pretty happy about this, not really wanting PurDude driving that far alone. His BMW is an older car. What if something happens to it far from home?

As the brains of the operation I would coordinate and provide support from Command Central. Aka the couch.

Good plan, right? Everything's copacetic?

Sparkling Jello Parfait | www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #dessert

 Sparkling Jello Parfait

Not so much. In fact I think it's clear that PurDude and Hubs should never be allowed to travel again. Hell, I'm not even convinced it's safe for them to be in the same room.

But at the time we had no idea what was to come. So Hubs and College Boy took the drive, got PurDude moved upstairs, packed up, walked the campus and College Boy even got dinner at his Holy Grail, White Castle. College Boy's bucket list is . . . well . . . eclectic. But that's a story for another day.

They headed home the next day, calling Control Central every time they stopped since clearly they knew what was good for them.

They were just 5 hours from home when that dreaded call came.

They had stopped for gas and when Hubs pulled up to the pumps he heard a snap and saw smoke. Even Hubs could figure out that this was not good.

Here's where we play bad news/good news.

Bad news: 5 hours from home and my car was disabled. In tiny rural Podunk.
Good news: They were off the road and someplace safe.

Bad news: It was 5:00 pm on a weekday.
Good news: The gas station attendant knew a local tow truck company. Of course he did.
 Bad news: A belt had snapped and even worse, it had snapped because the a/c unit had burned out.
Good news: The tow owner does repairs. Of course he does.
Bad news: My guys were stuck overnight (Where? Who knows? We're still not sure this town is big enough to even have a name).
Good news: Before towing the car, the repair guy was able to locate a new a/c unit. 

Bad news:  He didn't know if he could find the right belt and the nearest dealer was . . . well . . . not near.
Good news:  My guys had PurDude's car in the meantime.
 Bad news: Trying to find a motel in Podunk. Preferably nothing with the name Bates.
Good news: I got nothing.
 Bad news: Not all of PurDude's electronics would fit in his car, which is why Hubs and College Boy went to get him in the first place, so off my car went with PurDude's big screen tv in the back.
Good news: Nope, still nothing.
 Bad news: This was going to be costly. Like ramen soup for the rest of our lives costly.
Good news: Podunk does, in fact, have a motel and it's not called Bates.
Here's where the good luck kicks in. I have to tell you, if you ever get stuck far from home, Podunk is the place and this guy at Starr Towing and Repair is DA MAN. Just after 9:00 am he let us know that he had locked our car in his garage and PurDude's electronics were there and fine, he'd found a cheaper a/c unit for us, had the belt on the way and was pushing all other work aside to get our car done first. The boys should be on their way at around noon.
All good news, right?
Yeah, right up until he gave us a quote: towing, parts, labor, tax . . .
And after I was done having my mini stroke, there was just one more little piece of business.
He doesn't take credit cards.
Say what?
Yeah, you heard me. He doesn't take credit cards.
Who the hell doesn't take credit cards?
Well, this guy.
Hubs doesn't carry checks, our bank doesn't have a Podunk branch and the guy wouldn't take our kids as payment.
Control Central was on the case. I sent Hubs out to find any bank to use our debit card to get cash.
The total was higher than our daily debit limit. Hubs sat at Podunk Bank while I worked with our bank to get the limit raised. A lot. I called Hubs back and told him to try again.
A half hour later I hadn't heard anything so I called Hubs' cell:
Me: Did you get the money?
Hubs: Yes, all set.
Me: Are you walking around with a huge pile of cash? Your wallet making it look like you have a tumor on your ass?
Hubs: Pretty much.
Me: You had to check out of the motel, right? What are you and the boys doing until the car's ready?
Hubs: Touring the Trucking Museum at the World's Largest Truckstop.
Me: Very funny.
Hubs: You think I'm kidding?
Me: How are the boys?
Hubs: Let's just say they've been happier.

A half an hour later I called him again.

Me: Still looking at trucks?
Hubs: No, we've moved on.
Me: What are you doing now?
Hubs: Getting our hair cut.
Me: In Podunk?
Hubs: Hey, we've got time to waste and I'M DESPERATE HERE!
Me: Oops, gotta go. Busy day in Control Center.

It cost us a fortune. It cost us a day. It probably cost me a year or so off my lifespan but I have never been so happy to see 2 cars pull into my driveway in my life.

And when it was over, like any good mom does, I made my family a vacation photo album.

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You know, in case we ever forget the time we brought PurDude home and left the contents of our bank account in Podunk.

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Sparkling Jello Parfait
Printable Recipe
NOTE: If you choose to use the alcohol in this recipe, it is not appropriate for children. You can easily use ginger ale in the jello and not marinate the fresh fruits to make it child friendly. 
Ingredients (makes 4-6 depending on the size of your bowls):
1 box (3 oz) berry blue jello
1 box (3 oz) strawberry jello
1 1/2 cups sparkling wine or ginger ale
½ # strawberries
OPT: 2 TBSP Chambord liqueur
1 pint blueberries
OPT: 1 TBSP white wine
½ cup heavy cream
1 TBSP powdered sugar
½ tsp vanilla
*Place the sparkling wine or ginger ale, open, on the counter to allow as much fizz as possible to escape.
*Boil ¾ cup of water. Dissolve the strawberry jello in the water, then carefully add ¾ cup of the ginger ale. Pour into 8 X 8 bowl or baking dish. Pop the bubbles with a toothpick and refrigerate.
*Repeat with the berry blue jello, place in a second 8 X 8 bowl or dish and refrigerate.
*Leave the jello in the fridge approximately an hour or until completely set.
*While the jello is in the fridge, clean your berries. Slice the strawberries and mix with the Chambord (if using). Place in fridge. Separately mix the blueberries with the white wine (if using) and place in fridge.
*Beat the heavy cream until soft peaks form. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla and beat until stiff peaks hold. Cover and place in fridge.
*When the jello is set, divide the red jello amongst your serving dishes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the blueberries from the liquid and divide over the jello. Cover with a layer of the whipped cream, followed by the blue jello, the drained strawberries and a final layer of whipped cream.


  1. Oh my gosh! What a nightmare! There's nothing worse than having a disaster go down when you are too far away to handle it! I'm glad you got all your boys back where they're supposed to be!

    1. Actually, it was lucky I was here to do some of the background work while they were there to get it all taken care of. But this was a nightmare for sure.

  2. That was an adventure. I'm glad everyone finally made it home. And I guess you can consider yourself a major patron of Podunk USA. Bless you for paying it (through your nose) forward.

    1. I was never so happy to see those cars in my life. And I'm very grateful to all the people in Podunk who helped us out on this not-so-excellent adventure.

  3. Few people realize that I'm a control freak so I probably would have found someway to get there. Glad you had the strength of character not to and loved the pictures.
    Also love the desert. Might make it this weekend--the adult version

    1. Yeah, Pia, I'm a bit of a control freak too. I definitely could have jumped in Hubs' car and gotten there at around 11pm, but I couldn't have done anything once I was there so there was nothing to gain. Had to just sit here, help with the logistics and wait.

  4. Wow...that really was good news bad news. And pshawww on the alcohol. Kids will sleep well. Especially the little one.

    1. Yes, good news, bad news, expensive news. But it could really have gone so much worse.

  5. Yikes! Nothing worse than car trouble on the road. Glad it mostly worked out okay.

    1. They got home safely and although it was a nightmare it could have been worse. I was just so glad to finally get them home again.

  6. Cars seem to know the worst possible time to Snap don't they? Glad everyone got home safely.

    1. Yes they do. And they sure do cost a fortune to fix. If only I could just transport myself. . .

  7. Hope the podunk haircuts weren't TOO horrible...

    1. Actually, they weren't bad at all, but then they're boys, their haircuts aren't really that involved.

  8. Wow, I am glad that your guys made it home. It sounds like it was quite the adventure and a costly one too.

  9. I love a story with a happy ending! Expensive and time consuming, but happy!

  10. great day after all that I'm surprised you didn't come up with some new cocktail!!! Glad they broke down OFF the road and safe. Hey at least they were creative with their down time. LOL

    1. Well, it is possible that I came up with a few new cocktail recipes but when I went to write them down I couldn't remember them.

  11. holy crap...everything that could have went wrong, did. At least they were safe and no one was harmed. It's a blessing you were at command central...imagine if you were there too!

    1. Yeah, I was able to get a lot accomplished at home, but I was definitely not a happy mama.

  12. Why is it that cars never break at home? My transmission died last summer - four hours from where I live. I was fortunate that I also had some really wonderful service people helping me. And that it waited till I (barely) exited the interstate to conk out.

    1. I think that's how we get through the bad luck times, by realizing that as bad as it is, it could have been worse.

  13. I'm sorry, I am dying laughing now, but I remember that night because you and I were talking. I was wondering if it cost you a kidney. That sucks had your car been at home it probably would have cost you a 1/3 of what you had to pay! I'm with College Boy on this one. Every time I take mom to her sisters my first stop in KY is the exit with the White Castles every single time and then again on the way home. I love some White Castles (they are for people like me who can't cook. I hear you can even make stuffin' out of them haha!). Tried to make frozen dinner rolls the other night with my beef pasta hamburger helper and burned my arm and my thumb. I'm telling you this thing is out to get me!

    1. Well, I don't know if White Castle is better than home made, but for you I'm guessing it's safer.


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