When I went to bed, I had finished telling the story of Rendy on Friday. Our plans for the weekend had been in place for quite some time and to stay home would be to lose the $69 that we spent a little over a week ago. When we made the plans to go to the cabin for the weekend, we had some extra dollars, knew we were “good” on food and that ex #1’s paycheck on Friday would sustain us through the next two weeks. Living as we do, we take our “fun” where we can and do our best with what we’ve got. What I do not want to do is lock the boys in the house for months on end, waiting until we have lots of money in the bank. The bills are slowly getting paid off and we’ll be ok in a few more months. That’s the hope. Until then, we take small bits of fun here and there as we go.
This super cheap cabin is one of those fun times. It’s only an hour away, it’s in a beautiful location on the top of a hill and we still have the permit to cut firewood until November 30th. It was our last chance to stock up for the winter and one of the last times the weather would permit us to get out and about. Once winter fully sets in – the winters I love, anyway – we will be confined to the house and/or a short trip here and there in town. Again, take our fun where we can.
We needed food, regardless of if we stayed home or not. We spent a few dollars in gas money and off we went. A friend loaned us a chainsaw when we were originally planning on purchasing one so we wouldn’t have to borrow any more. We piled into our two cars (one of them belonging to ex #1 but on extended loan to us for the time being) and took off for the mountain. I was determined to salvage the weekend and bring home an entire Rendezvous full of wood. I knew we would not get another chance this winter. With the weather moving in, driving long distances to get wood is simply fool-hardy.
We got to the base of the mountain without incident and we agreed that the Nanny would attempt to drive the Toyota as far as possible. The dirt road up the mountain was covered with snow but it wasn’t too deep. At the base of the mountain it wasn’t, anyway.
The Toyota got about two miles up the mountain and wouldn’t go any further. Jen hopped out and I took over to see if I could get it further. She is still relatively new on driving a clutch and most especially inexperienced driving a clutch in snow, so it was a safe bet that perhaps she just couldn’t get over a bump.
No dice. I couldn’t get it much more than a mile, if that, from where she stopped. We turned the Toyota around, to make it face the way out, and put everything into the Rendezvous. It was hilarious to see the two boys and the Nanny crammed into the back with all the stuffed piled around them. Her brother Matthew rode up front with me because he is quite a large young man. He’s two years younger than Jen but taller and broader than my own eldest brother (the biggest/tallest in my family).
Rendy had no problems at all driving the rest of the way up the mountain. It’s a good 7 miles or so and it’s climbing up the entire way. I slid one time but not dangerously so and the boys had a great time with it in the very back seat. Brendan was going, “Weeeeee” all the rest of the way up the mountain – much to the Nanny’s annoyance, since she was sitting right next to him. Usually, she’s in the front seat with me and it’s not as ear-splitting.
The snow at the top was, I’ll wager, two foot deep. Arriving at the cabin rather late in the evening, we immediately set to getting things together. I unpacked food and hot chocolate, got a fire going and put on water to heat. Matthew and Jen pulled everything out of Rendy and Jen made up the beds.
In the process of this, the boys were coming unglued and bouncing off the walls. Eventually, Caiden would slip and fall behind the bed he was playing around on (after my warning not to do so) and banged his nose really good. Much crying and pain until he finally passed out and slept it off. We put in a movie on our portable player for the boys and that got them settled down enough to finally sleep.
My feet were freezing. I had neglected to waterproof my boots and I could barely feel my toes so I took off the boots and socks and put on my wool socks. Because of the snow and the in and out trips unloading Rendy, there was snow everywhere. My wool socks quickly got soaking wet, not helping the frozen toe thing, so I took them off and put them over the stove to warm up while I used my toes and a towel to clean the floor.
We all went to sleep but Matthew stayed up until about midnight, feeding the fire to warm the cabin. I woke up at 230 to the sound of him fiddling with the fire, as well. He decided, on his own, to keep getting up. Jen and I had agreed to get up at 4 (me), 5 (her) and 6 (me) to make sure the fire was hot and warm when we all climbed out of bed in the morning.
Morning came and there was, at the very least, two inches of snow on Rendy and it was still snowing. It was at this moment I made the call: we would not be staying. It was a wonderful ride and a great idea but, with the snow coming down, I did not want to get stuck on the top of a mountain with Rendy unable to get down. I had plenty of food and we would have survived such an adventure but it wasn’t the wisest course of action.
I cooked breakfast of french toast and bacon while Matthew found a few logs and split them for us. We would try to get as much as we could in the Rendy around the stuff we had packed. It wouldn’t be very much but our trip would not be completely wasted.
I hopped into the Rendy to start it up and warm it up while we packed it and guess what? It wouldn’t start.
At first, I thought it was the key. Something wrong with the “holding the key to the transmitter for the security part.” Eventually, after the Nanny and I would try for quite some time, I realized: the stereo was not turning on when I turned the key. There was no power. I looked through the vehicle and found that the light all the way in the back (that the boys love to play with) was turned on. That means the battery was drained with the light on all night.
My first thought was: this is not even remotely funny. We’re at the top of a mountain, the battery in the Rendezvous is dead and there’s no way to walk all the way back to the Toyota. It’s several miles and bitterly cold. Not one of us would make it. One good thing on our side is: our phones worked at the top of the mountain.
We set the boys into warm blankets and let them lay there for a bit. We did pull out my mini-laptop and play a few things for them off Netflix to keep them relatively calm. This is the same mini-laptop that the fiduciary and ex #1 are trying to get me to cancel with Verizon to save $30/mo. If I hadn’t had it and the Verizon account, the boys would have been bouncing off the walls in the cramped quarters – unable to go outside lest they freeze – and generally driving us all insane.
While taking this picture, I saw Jen stuffing her face and zoomed in for a closer look.
Does that look like a guilty Nanny or what? By the way, yes. That is a stuffed animal in Matthew’s jacket. He snatched it from Brendan and was threatening to put it in the little wood stove. Instead, he stuffed it in his jacket. I though it was cute. Oh, and do you see how big he is? Jen is a little less than an inch taller than me and he’s much taller than her. If he stood up straight, do you see how very tall he is!? And, he’s strong enough to match his size.
I put in a call to a local semi-truck repair shop, knowing they have a tow truck and some heavy equipment. I hold a contract with this company. They call me when their computer is broke and I get a couple dollars a month for answering the phone. The mechanic there has fiddled with Rendy on occasion but he really does detest gas engines, so he does prefer I take major repairs elsewhere. I called him. He didn’t answer. I waited nearly an hour while we cleaned up the cabin and then tried again. He answered. I explained my latest fiasco and apologized for not being able to even come to him for help and he said he was one his way.
It took him nearly two hours to get to us. By then, Matthew had split all the wood he could find and we had filled Rendy with every stitch of our stuff and then some wood. The boys actually sat on a couple layers of wood covered with a blanket. When he arrived, he hooked up the battery cables and I tried to start Rendy. Again, nothing. I stopped. Sat for a few moments and just …. sat. Mostly, it was an attempt to control my emotions.
Then I tried again. Rendy tried to start and failed. I tried again and Rendy started up. We left it running and finished packing up and getting ready to roll out. We stuffed the boys in the back and put blankets and pillows around them (no seat belts, must do something to keep them safe on the way down the mountain) and Matthew got in the tow truck with my friend from the repair shop. Jen climbed in front and we tried to roll out. Rendy wouldn’t go forward. Wouldn’t go backward. Just sat there, taunting me.
I asked Jen to hop out and give it a nudge, maybe that would help. Nada. It wouldn’t budge. So, the mechanic and Matthew hopped out and looked. There was snow and ice caked into the wheel wells, refusing any motion at all. We all worked on clearing it out and Rendy finally started to go. I drove backwards through the tracks I had left the night before instead of trying to blaze a new trail and off we went.
We started off down the mountain and things were going good. The boys were enjoying being in the back on top of the wood (much to our dismay) and things looked good. Rendy was having no problems driving on the new snow and things looked like they would start going better. Just about the time this picture was taken, the Rendezvous died. The engine quit. Lights flashing, the whole nine yards. We coasted as far as we could before a level spot going down the mountain stopped us. We were going slow enough that the tow truck got a little ways ahead of us and, just as we stopped completely, it turned around a bend and disappeared.
I turned off Rendy and tried again. After a couple tries, it fired up again. Realizing the battery just might not be charged enough, we turned off everything. The defrost, the heated seats and the heater were cut off so we could preserve power until the battery was charged better. It got really cold, really fast. Rendy reported a temperature of about 11 degrees outside, at the time. The boys had blankets, so I wasn’t worried about them. Jen and I are adults. We can handle a little shivering and cold for a bit.
The rest of the trip down the mountain was uneventful. We did watch with merriment the bouncing and jostling of the tow truck in front of us through some of the really fun bumps on the road. Apparently, the bigger the vehicle, the harder the bump.
We got to the Toyota and there was about 3 to 4 inches of snow on him. It was relatively easy to brush him off and get going from where we had parked him.
The tow truck stayed with us until we got to the highway and then waved off, putting Matthew back in Rendy with me and the boys in car seats with Jen, and head off back to his own home and warmth. We went left into Island Park instead of turning right and heading home by way of Ashton. We got snacks and then started heading down the final hill into Ashton and onwards to home. The last major hill was covered in snow and ice for nearly half of it. We took it slow and easy and I think that Jen did an amazing job with the Toyota through the snow and ice on the highway. Others wanted to drive the speed limit of 65 but we stuck to around 40 or 45. Since I’m always slow and cautious on snow and ice anyway, it didn’t make a bit of difference to me to go slower while following Jen.
At one point, I told her brother that, if she makes it down the hill without accident, I will be severely impressed. It’s a 6% downgrade and, with snow and ice, extremely dangerous. She did wonderfully and I’ll post it here – she did great. I was impressed. I was terrified for us and her the entire time. Halfway down, the roads cleared and we emerged in Ashton in two pieces (two cars), not many.
We drove through Ashton, hoping to stop at Mesa Falls on the way. Matthew had never seen it and we decided to try the road and see how far we got. We were nearly there when Jen made the call that she was uncomfortable, so we turned around and had lunch in Ashton before heading home. It was an uneventful ride all the way home and we all arrived safely.
After unpacking, Matthew made a smart comment about being able to split all the wood we had at the house in an hour, so I took him up on it. I offered him whatever he wanted for dinner in exchange for his splitting the wood for us. He got massive quantities done – and even kept going when it started to snow – but did not finish it all. I don’t care. The part he did do was awesome. It saved us a lot of trouble and pain later on and we’ve got plenty of split wood to last into December, if we’re cautious with how many fires we light. I wanted to get a bunch of wood in the mountains to bring home to last much longer into the winter but it was not possible. The vehicle I love (yes, I do love Rendy) just wouldn’t let it happen.
We were home, a fire roaring in the fireplace, Matthew splitting wood and me cooking dinner when the snow finally caught up to us. Originally, I left Rendy outside for the snow and ice to melt off him but, when he started getting covered with snow, it was time to put him safe and warm in the garage.
A wonderful 36 hours and yes, that was sarcasm. As I reflect on it this morning, while I finish my tale, I have to say a few things. First, as much problems as Rendy gives us, we have to be grateful we have a vehicle that will safely get to and from where ever we decide to go next. And, with all the room it has available for whatever we do, it’s a perfect vehicle for us. I just wish we could get past the problems it has and have it one piece for longer than a couple weeks.
I am grateful for the Nanny, who picks up the slack when I am unable to. I am thankful she has family members willing to do tough jobs in crappy weather to help out another family member. I love nearly her entire family, here in our town, and am very happy to have met them and gotten to know them. With family, it’s a give and take. I try to give when I can and family does the same. This weekend sure proved that – with Matthew and Jen both pitching in to try and make sure that the boys, at the very least, had a fun time. We might have been under stress but they didn’t need to see it and they did great and helping move that direction.
So, as Matthew leaves to go home, I want to say: “Thank you for your help, Matthew and I look forward to you joining us for another adventure. Perhaps you’ll finally get to see Mesa Falls with us. There may have been many problems but this weekend goes straight to the permanent memory banks as a GOOD weekend.”