Road Trip Rescue - Part 1

We were on a family trip driving north on highway #395 to Fresno with our three children in our Volkswagon Vanagon.  This was before the days of mandatory seat belts.  The children were in the back seats with one in the far back cargo area.  Suddenly, the one in the far back yelled out that there was smoke coming out of the car.  Sure enough.  We pulled over in what seemed like the middle of nowhere.  We got the kids out of the car and stood on the side of the road hoping the car would not burst into flames.

Almost immediately, an AAA (Automobile Club of CA) patrol car pulled up behind us.  The agent said he was just behind us and saw the smoke.  I have never seen this kind of AAA patrol car before.  In any case, he radioed for a tow truck.  We were 5 miles from Waco which is midway between the Interstate 5 and highway #395.  We waited for the tow truck to arrive.

When it arrived, it was driven by a chatty old man who hooked up our van, and we all (5) squeezed into the truck somehow and went for the five mile ride to Waco.  He took us to the only gas station with a mechanic on duty.  This was a Saturday, and needless to say, it was busy.  We had no choice but to wait.

The kids and I went across the street to the Kentucky Fried Chicken for some lunch while my husband waited to get the verdict on the car.  While getting lunch, we prayed.  After almost an hour, we got the word that the part needed was not available at the only auto parts store in town–after all this was VW Vanagon.  The young man, and I mean really young, said he would do the best he could to get us to at least Fresno to the VW dealer there.  It had something to do with the water cooling system which needed some kind of gasket.

After another hour, we were off, keeping our fingers crossed, and carrying a jug of water.  We stopped at every rest stop to cool the car off and check the water.  At the rest stop before Fresno, we all got out to stretch and checked the car.  While doing so, a couple in a large Cadillac drove up next to us and asked if we needed help.  We explained what we were doing and why.  The man offered to take us all to Fresno where Rich’s brother lived as he was going past there.  We declined as we did not want to leave the car at the rest stop and would just go slowly.  He then offered to follow us to Fresno to make sure we had help should be break down again.  We gratefully accepted.

We made it to the Fresno exit.  As we were getting off, Rich asked me to get the car license plates so he could write the people a thank you letter.  As the car drove past us and the people waved.  I saw that it was a new car with no plates.  Guardian angels?

To be continued…