Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Broken in Baker...

So I've decided that if I try to catch the blog up linearly it'll never get done.  So I'm going to start with the last 3 days or so, because I don't want to forget the feelings and experiences we've had this weekend. (This is now almost two weeks ago...)

About a week ago Dave and I were trying to decide which day we should drive back to Provo after spending Christmas in California.  We knew it had to be Thursday or Friday because there was going to be a storm coming and we wanted to miss it.  For some reason I was having a really hard time deciding which day we should leave.  I felt like we should leave on Thursday, but I also wanted to stay the extra day with my family and enjoy California for as long as possible.  We kept putting off the decision until Wednesday when I felt pretty strongly that we needed to leave on Thursday even though I didn't really know why.  
So much in the back!!
We were hauling a bunch of old furniture my parents were giving to the kids up here in Utah in the bed of the truck.  It was loaded to its maximum capacity without a doubt (imagine Tetris with couches, chairs, and tables).  Since we left on Thursday we weren't worried about the storm hitting us because it wasn't supposed to come to Provo until Friday night, and we were planning on getting to Provo on Thursday night.  Since we were so confident in our timetable we decided to leave the furniture mostly uncovered so we wouldn't have to deal with flapping tarps for 10 hours on the road.  

About an hour into the drive (Victorville) I heard a funny noise and asked Dave about it.  Now, you have to understand that I'm the type of person that freaks out about every little noise I ever hear in a car.  Since my mind always jumps to the worst case scenario we tend to just ignore my fears when we're in the car together.  But I kept hearing the noise and asked, "Are you sure we shouldn't be worried about that?".  Dave assured me that this was just an old car and old cars have "character" in the form of weird noises.  

One hour further into the drive (just outside of Baker, now) we heard a cyclical swooshing sound that sort of sounded like a flat tire.  We definitely payed attention to this noise.  We slowed down and moved over a couple of lanes just in case, and as we were gliding to the right we heard a huge "CLUNK!" that sounded like something metal hitting the bottom of our car.  We pulled over to the shoulder and slowed to about 25 mph.  We continued to drive at this speed until we could find an exit to get off on.  The next one was Zzyzx Road so we pulled off and tried our brakes to see if it was something going on with them.  The wooshing sound became more distinct as the brakes were engaged and we thought we were zeroing in on the problem.  We wanted to see what would happen if we tried to come to a complete stop so Dave tapped the brakes once more and the car skidded to a screeching halt right in the middle of the Zzyzx Road offramp on its own.  Awesome.

At this point we were at a loss.  Either our brakes had seized on us, our transmission had died, or something else we didn't even know about was going on...We got out (in the middle of the road, mind you) and looked at the car.  You could see the black skid marks on the road from where the brakes had kicked in of their own accord.  We called our car insurance and asked for a tow which wouldn't be there for another hour and a half, unfortunately.  We then proceeded to troubleshoot the problem.  We called my parents and my grandpa who once was a mechanic in the military.  Dave and them all had a fun time trying to find the problem while cars (and SEMI-TRUCKS!!) were squeaking by us on the shoulder since our car wouldn't move forward or backward and we were literally right in the middle of the road.  woops.

It turns out Dave had worked on the car a few months ago and removed and then replaced the front right wheel.  I don't know much about cars, but I've heard the same words thrown around all weekend so I'll try to do my best to describe what happened.  The caliper in the wheel has two bolts that hold it in place and apparently these two bolts were missing on our front right wheel when Dave looked under the car so the caliper had come loose and jammed itself in the wheel well causing our wheel to get stuck and refuse to budge.
This was taken under the car behind the wheel well...
The blue stuff is the lock-tight.
At this point Dave had to admit that his workmanship was probably the culprit...a very humbling experience indeed...The bolts had been tightened to spec, but Dave just used the same bolts that he'd removed and the lock-tight which comes on new bolts was missing.  (Lock-tight is some sort of glue/thing that makes sure the bolts won't come out?)  See the picture to the side.  Anyway, without the lock-tight, the bolts will work themselves loose over time (4,000 miles to be exact...) and it seems like that's what happened to us.  Luckily, the bolts came out clean and the threads in the holes were still perfectly intact, our rim hadn't been damaged at all minus a scratch (a miracle!), nothing else was damaged in our car, and once we replaced the bolts we would be good to go.

Just to prove I was actually there...and smiling!
Poor Dave.  Or should I say "poor Dave's pride".

Look how low the back of the truck is...so scary.
So we got towed to a mechanic (the only mechanic in about a 100 mile radius) and we nervously eyed the furniture now precariously bouncing up and down while sharply angled toward the road during the entire tow-ride.  Luckily we were just 2 miles or so outside of Baker so it didn't take long to get there. 

The mechanic was really great and stayed open pretty late.  When he looked at the truck he told us our assessment had been correct and we just needed the two caliper-retaining bolts and we'd be on our way again.  We called around to all the shops in the area ("in the area" being a 100 mile radius, of course), but these bolts were specific to a '97 Ford F150 so no one had them except a Ford dealership all the way in Victorville.  They were going to close in an hour so there wouldn't be any way to get the parts until the morning. 

Aside:  At this point it had become crystal clear why I'd felt like we needed to leave on Thursday instead of Friday, and we were grateful we had.  

Good 'ole Will's Fargo Motel :)

So we looked around for a hotel (who are we kidding? Motel) and there was just one still in business.  The mechanic was really nice and drove us there since it was dark, cold, and we had to bring our big suitcases since we didn't have overnight bags or anything convenient like that.  The motel was incredibly creepy and sketchy, but it had a king bed (win!), so it could have been worse.  It was relatively clean and had a heater so I was happy.  And as a cherry on top, March of the Penguins was on CNN on the TV in the room!

We spent the evening eating dinner at Denny's forever to use up time, trying to get my hot spot to work in the motel so we could check the weather to make sure we'd still beat the storm the following day, calling my parents and convincing them that there was no need for them to drive up and come rescue us, and watching March of the Penguins.  It was actually pretty relaxing knowing that there was literally nothing we could do except rest until the next morning.


Come next morning I was not feeling as relaxed as the night before.  I was a little more anxious to get out of Baker and get on the road.  I was worried about the storm and didn't want to have to worry about stopping mid-drive to tarp all the furniture because the snow might ruin it.  I was also having bad feelings about how early the mechanic had told us we'd get the part that morning.  His son was supposed to be coming up from Victorville with it around 11:00am so we would be on the road by 11:15 hopefully.  

All this happened at Denny's the next
morning, mind you...
We called the Ford dealership like 5 times that morning to ask whether or not the parts had been picked up and when they hadn't been picked up by 10:30 (remember it's an hour and a half drive from the dealership to Baker still) we decided we needed to figure something else out.  Dave had the thought to ask the dealership if they might directly deliver the parts for us and so we called them yet again to ask, but they said no.  Baker was too far for it to be worth their time.  We pushed a little and told them we'd pay them for the time and gas if they could get it to us and they said, "Well, I'm not really doing anything around here, so let me ask a manager if it's okay."  He came back and told us if we'd pay $20 for the delivery he'd be on the road as soon as we hung up!  We were ecstatic!!

Turns out our motel was right across from the
famous thermometer, we couldn't see it the night
before in the dark.  
We called our mechanic and told him we were having the parts delivered directly and he didn't believe us.  He said they had never delivered before so there's no way they'd deliver 2 $10 bolts all the way to Baker.  But we had faith in the dealership :)  We headed back to our motel for a quick rest before we had to check out and then walked the mile with our suitcases and backpacks in hand down to the mechanic shop.  The parts were delivered within about 5 minutes of us getting there and our mechanic's jaw dropped as he uttered a curse word under his breath.  He actually didn't believe they were going to come until he saw it himself.  

Once we got the part, the job took a total of 5 minutes.  That was what we waited all night in Baker for.  $20 worth of parts, and 5 minutes of labor.  We checked the tire pressure, made sure our straps were secure, and we were on our way!  And only and hour and a half later than we were hoping.  If we hurried, we'd still beat the storm!

I don't know if I've ever made that drive with so few pit stops.  Who knew my bladder was so capable?!  We were very go-go-go as we were racing the storm, but we made it in time to get home and unload all the furniture into the garage before we saw any weather.  It was an absolute miracle.

On the road again, finally!! 

Throughout the whole experience with our stay in Baker, both Dave and I couldn't help but comment on how certain we were that Heavenly Father had been watching over us.

 We were so grateful we'd left a day early so we didn't feel overly stressed about the timing of everything.  Looking back at the series of events, it makes no sense how we made it all the way to Zzyzx road if we'd been missing that bolt for 2 miles already.  We should have come to a skid in the middle of the freeway and been in a much more dangerous situation.

It doesn't even make sense that both bolts both came out so cleanly leaving the threads in perfect shape in the holes.

Our mechanic told us that we were so lucky the bolt hadn't torn a hole in our rim and we were grateful that we could drive home with just a $20 dollar fix plus labor.

The Ford dealership that would never even deliver from Barstow to Baker was willing to drop everything to deliver our parts to us from Victorville as soon as we asked them to.

Somehow we didn't hit any bad weather during the entire drive up from California to Provo.

Miraculously; none of the furniture was damaged or even scratched during the entire ordeal.  We could not believe that after all of that it was all in perfect condition.

Overall, it was yet another testament to me of Heavenly Father's love for us and how much he truly does care about each and every one of our pains and struggles.  It's been a year of a lot of physical pain and emotional struggle for me and sometimes it's easy to feel forgotten, but how could I ever deny such an explicit example of his watching over us?

Overall, we were pretty grateful to be home safe and sound after the entire ordeal, but we knew we'd been blessed with a little (a lot of) extra help :)


  1. You're a champ! Way to go you and Dave!

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  3. This is one of those "stuck in the middle of nowhere" stories that ended happily! To think that the problem wasn't that big: just two missing bolts. The issue was that how those missing pieces were to be delivered. I think your husband could have done the labor by himself. I'm glad you guys didn't encounter any more car trouble, considering it could have been much worse. Happy driving!

    Terry Comly @ Brandon AAMCO