Saturday, April 04, 2009

And What Did You Do During The Flood Of 2009?

Unless you've been living under a (dry) rock, you've probably heard about the flood situation here in Fargo; now we wait to see what the melting snow (so beautiful as it fell; see photos below) will mean for a second crest this month.

But what you don't know, is what that week was like for us.

Aside from the worries about the house & basement, the closed roads (oh, and the limited stock on grocery store shelves -- hello, expensive bread!), lost pay for hubby as non-essential businesses were closed , schools closed for about 10 days (which means momma isn't just home with kids who perform the usual work distractions, but are asking you all sorts of flood and science related questions -- yup, including "what causes global warming" and "will the earth crash into the sun) -- and then the additional struggle of snow-filled streets which would have to wait to be plowed because city workers were busy with the flood situation -- we had special troubles of our own.

The week before the historical crest of the Red River, we went to Wisconsin to get my son. His spring break does not line up with the local school break, so we took one of the days the girls were off school to drive to Milwaukee, spend a day with my parents, then drive back with Hunter who would then spend his week of vacation with us here in Fargo. That part went rather well, considering.

On Sunday, we all packed into "my van", named Plum Luck, and were to follow my parents in their van out of their driveway to a local restaurant for breakfast before we left for our 10 hour drive back to Fargo. Plum Luck backed up, but as hubby threw her into drive, she jerked three times and then refused to move. Not forwards, not backwards; no movement at all.

I got out, walked to the driver's side of my folks' van, shaking my head in that near-hysterical- sort of confidence that shock mixed with "this is my life" brings, and told my dad that we weren't moving. Dad & hubby played a bit with the van until my mom, hungry, said, "Let's all go get breakfast and talk about the options."

So we all piled into their van & went to eat.

But neither our van, nor our situation, was mentioned.

When we returned to my folks' house, there was more poking about in Plum Luck's engine etc., and then discussion of the options.

There were few of them. Mainly because we were down to one working van to begin with. Ookla, the big 70's porno conversion van, had been stuck for weeks with what was deemed to be a small repair -- but due to so much snow, cold temps, and no garage (let alone a heated one), hubby obviously could not get under it to see much of anything. So it sat while we operated our lives with one vehicle.

So while we could have taken a bus back to Fargo, or, as my folks' offered, have them drive us back, we would have been stuck once there. Hubby thought maybe we could borrow his dad's car and get Ookla fixed -- but I knew better. No disrespect to hubby's abilities, but "car repairs" are not in the easzy-peazy slam-dunk-fix category. Plus, if my life has taught me anything, it's that when it rains it pours. I wasn't going to bank on a repaired Ookla.

My parents loaned us my mom's van -- very nice of them. Especially as when, during the wacky week of flood-watching, hubby was able to get under Ookla, it (so far) has proved to be anything but an eazy-peazy diagnosis, let alone fix. So at least we had one reliable vehicle for the week and for the return to trip to Wisconsin to return Hunter.

Now Plum Luck, as it turns out, needed a new transmission; that price tag was way more than the van was worth. So while we had a van to get to Wisconsin, we would be stuck there. Or we'd have to make the trip by bus, have my folks drive us home, or get a rental. Once at home, we'd be without a vehicle.

Unless we drove two vehicles to Wisconsin. We thought about borrowing hubby's dad's car, but that would be a short term solution to a long(er) term problem. So we figured we'd need to buy a new (to us) vehicle.

So there we were, in the middle of both a flood and a blizzard, looking for a car -- make that a used van that would hack the road trips. And one that we can afford. And get financed post-bankruptcy.

Options were few, but the solution was Big Lot. We got a new-to-us van (dubbed "Star").

Because our drive was full (the not-moving Ookla and my mom's van) and due to the snow emergency (no parking on the street), we left the van there, intending to pick it up the next evening and park it at my father-in-law's house for 36 hours until we would leave for Wisconsin (Grandpa Dave watches our dogs at his house, so we'd be going there anyway).

But the evening we went to pick up the van was not only blizzard conditions, but due to the flood there were only two bridges open into Moorhead -- and few ways to get there. We sat in the van for over an hour and didn't even get to close to the bridge. So we called, said we'd be there the next morning.

Late that night hubby & decided that we'd leave to get the van -- and keep driving. We'd get the hell out of Dodge and go to Wisconsin a day early.

We got up early that still-snowing-morning. Each of us had less than six hours of sleep, but by 8:30 AM hubby had called Des' mom (to change her weekend visitation), I had updated my folks that four of us would be coming a day early, and we had dropped the dogs off at Grandpa's.

We magically got to and over the bridge quickly & easily and picked up "Star."

I was driving with Hunter and Des was with her father in grandma's van. I pulled out of the Big Lot lot, following hubby, and "ding" went the gas gage. I phoned hubby and we agreed to meet at the gas station a few blocks away.

We each filled our tanks, went inside to pay. I returned to Star and Hunter told me my cell had rung. I picked up the phone and looked at the missed call info. I didn't recognize the number, so I dialed it. While it rang, I looked out the front windshield. I saw hubby driving toward the road to I-94 -- and I saw a huge crack on the windshield.

Now when we test drove the van (something which excited both Des & Hunter to the point you'd think they never been on the 10-12 hour drives to and from Wisconsin), I noticed the "ding" on the windshield, on the passenger's side, near the center. I hadn't complained because prior to the test drive, we'd been informed of repairs they'd made on the van and among them was "filled windshield repair," so I just noted, "Ah, that's where it was."

But now, it had spread -- to this freakish long-horn, bicycle-handlebars, thing.

My jaw dropped just as the phone was answered.

It was Tammy, Allie's case manager for her apartment staff, would we pick her up? They were evacuating the apartment while they could control an evacuation -- and while the building was (likely) safe, there would be no staffing. I explained that we were leaving town, they could contact Grandpa Dave. But when I hung up...

Oh well, no time to reconsider, my phone was ringing again. It was hubby, where was I?

I babbled about a windshield and Tammy's call. He said to stay put, he'd drive back to meet me.

When he arrived back at the gas station, he took one look at the windshield and said, "What did you do?" ARG!

It was a normal enough question -- an automatic one, actually. The next thing out of his mouth was something about the fill not working. We stared at each other in silence for a second.

The he suggested he'd drive and get Allie while I went back to Big Lot and had them look at the windshield.

So off he went, back over one bridge (and then facing a potential problem getting back over again on the other) while I franticly called Allie, to have her be packed and ready. But Allie didn't answer. I called home & cell, repeatedly. Soon I was back at Big Lot, where upon being greeted at the door, I began to verbally vomit The Windshield Story in a rush of adrenaline.

"No problem," they said, they'd take care of it, replace the windshield when we returned.

I was stupefied. It couldn't be that simple; God was playing dodgeball with me -- the proof was on my windshield. But it was that simple.

Now Hunter & I just had to wait for the rest of the family to get here with Allie -- Allie! Oh my God, I had to get a hold of Allie! I called. I kept calling until I got her. She was barely awake and here I was barking her to pack her bags for a trip to Wisconsin. This Auspie doesn't do "unplanned" very well -- but she did very well.

Now the car salesman knocked at the window -- were we OK? So I had to tell him the story of the windshield and why we were waiting for hubby... Oh my God, hubby! I'd better tell him that Allie had just been told, that she likely wasn't going to be ready when he got there. But when I reached him, he was already there and things were going well because she was excited to see Grandma & Grandpa and tell them all about her trip to New York City. Oh my God, I had to tell my folks the latest plan -- there would be five of us now, and I'd call when we officially were on the road with an ETA.

Now it was just sit and wait.

Soon hubby & the girls met us back at Big Lot. Then, because I had the "new van," one with a magical space-age door that opens at the push of a button, all the kids piled into Star to ride with me.

And we drove off to Wisconsin. It was 10 AM and we had 10 hours of driving to do.

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