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When You Ask for an Adventure...
It's best to be really specific
On Friday morning, my alarm went off, and I reached down to the foot of the bed and grabbed ahold of Libby.
I scooped her up, carefully got out of bed, and took her into the living room to deposit her into her carrier. That stress was over.
There's always the chance she will squeeze herself under the couch and refuse to come out if she senses I'm going to put her into her traveling prison cell.
Lucky for her, when I got her down to the car, I transferred her into a dog crate. Actually, it was two 4’ dog crates hooked together and taking up my entire back seat.
One half had her litter box and the other a bed for her. This was so much space compared to her carrier, and it allowed her to relieve herself in her own litterbox instead of inside the carrier.
(She did use the litterbox but only under extreme protest!)
We picked up my friend Lisa and headed on down the road.
Other than Libby complaining extra hard for no discernable reason, the day of driving was smooth, and we arrived in Chattanooga around 5:00 pm.
We parked in a spot marked “Reserved" near the hotel entrance, brought a bunch of stuff up to the room, and got Libby comfortable. Then we headed down to find a place to permanently park my car. But when I started it up, I got a warning message, “Steering assist fault.” And my power steering no longer worked. What a crazy thing to happen after we'd just driven all day.
I let the hotel know that my car would have to stay in that spot while I figured out how to fix it. We tried turning the wheel, and it seemed impossible. We also re-started the car a bunch of times to no avail to see if it would fix itself.
The closest Ford dealership, Mountain View Ford, would not even diagnose my car on Saturday, even though I called them at 8 am and even went there in a Lyft. Boo!
I then called Marshal Mize Ford dealership (about 10 miles away), and they said they'd have someone call me back to see if they could diagnose it that day. No one called me back.
Around 4 pm, I called them back and spoke with someone named Kaleb. He said I could bring it in early Monday so they could diagnose it.
I then called AAA to see if I could schedule a tow for early Monday, but the earliest they could schedule for was 8:30, so I decided I'd call Monday instead.
Just to be sure, I put the dealership in Google Maps and asked for directions from the hotel. It said it was 2 hours and 49 minutes away! My heart dropped.
But then I realized I still had Google on walking directions from earlier in the day. 🤪 It was 16 minutes away by car.
Monday morning, my alarm went off at 5:30 am, and I sat up in bed. I opened up the AAA app, but then decided to call instead. This would be the first time I'd ever used my decades-old AAA membership for roadside service.
Luckily we got a tow truck to come around 7:00 am. He was a really nice guy, and we enjoyed chatting with him on the way.
We got to the dealership right on time.
Kaleb, the guy I spoke to on the phone, said he'd try to get it diagnosed right away. Their shuttle driver took us to the nearest Panera Bread for breakfast.
In the meantime…
While all of this was happening, Lisa and I were enjoying Chattanooga as originally planned. After we had taken a Lyft to the first Ford dealership, we walked home as it was only 1.5 miles. We passed a bunch of cool stuff on the way, including the famous Chattanooga train station.
It was super hot, so we cooled down a bit when we got back to the hotel and took a nap. Then the weather was iffy, so we snacked on the vast array of snacks I always bring on road trips. Later, we walked to Whitebird for an incredible dinner, followed by a walk over the cool pedestrian bridge nearby.
Later, we took a Lyft to Rock City Gardens, which is actually in Georgia. It's this magical pathway through natural rock formations that's peppered with man-made stone walls and tunnels. There's also an outstanding view of 7 states. It was really wonderful.
Back to my car…
By 1:30 pm (6 hours after dropping the vehicle off), we headed back to the dealership in a Lyft because I still hadn't heard a thing.
I was feeling really anxious because I just needed to know what the fix was.
It turns out the fix was waiting 3-4 days for parts and paying $2500. I lost it and started bawling! (I'd been waiting 3 flippin’ days just for a diagnosis.)
Lisa decided to take charge and went to see if she could drive the car. She came back and said she'd driven around the lot and felt she could do it. She asked the mechanic if it was safe, and he said yes. I was in the waiting room sniffling, and she guilted him into not charging me for the diagnosis since it took six g-d hours.
So I signed off saying I knew the diagnosis and was driving it anyway, and we headed back to the hotel.
The drive to Albany
Newer cars don't have mechanical steering anymore. It's all electrical. That's why it's so hard to fix.
Driving a car whose electrical steering is busted is tricky. On the highway, it's doable, but if you're starting up from a parked position or rolling around a corner, it's really frickin difficult. I'm glad I didn't pull anything in my shoulder!
Lisa and I shared the driving. I was super nervous initially, but then you just get used to it.
Every time we stopped for food or gas, we had to think about where we would park so we could get out. Sometimes we hogged two parking spaces or parked off to the side. You just really can't turn the wheel when you're at a standstill without an enormous amount of effort.
We stopped for the night in Winchester, VA, at a hotel, and my niece and her husband picked us up so we could all have dinner together.
The next (last) day of driving was the shortest, but we had to think about what to do if we couldn't find an appropriate parking space near my AirBNB, which required street parking.
I was driving when we pulled into Albany, but it was raining, and I was nervous about parking, so we switched seats at a stop light.
Fortunately, we found a parking space at the very end of the street, so when I pull out, there's nothing in front of me.
And that's how we got to Albany.
Needless to say, we feel like total badasses. I’m so grateful Lisa was with me to make that adventure a little less stressful.
Thankfully, I've found a dealership about 30 minutes away that would look at my car on Friday (almost a week after it broke), so I hope by the time you're reading this, it's in the process of getting fixed.
📑 Project Updates
While traveling, I wanted to spread the hug love, so I stuck some stickers (only in places that already had stickers) around town.
Then, I wore my FREE HUGS t-shirt one day, and as we were headed back to the hotel, a few blocks away was a utility vehicle with two guys in it.
As we're approaching, one of them exclaims about my shirt. I'm like, “Hey, come get a hug!” So the driver encourages the passenger to get out and hug me. He does, and then I'm like, “What about you?” He's like, “I'm all sweaty.” I'm like, “I am, too!” So he gets out and says, “I've never done anything like this before!”
It was very cute.
We saw this on the highway. Drink it in.
🌻 One Positive Thing
Maybe, just maybe, Trump will be convicted of some crimes before next year’s election.
🚗 Feeling grateful to be safely in Albany with a plan to get my car fixed.
🛋 Sitting on the couch in my first AirBNB, wondering who thought this couch was comfortable enough for people to want to sit on.
🏰 Excited to explore Albany and all its nooks and crannies.