Thursday, July 19, 2012

Stuck in Basin

Our vacation started with a bang on Sunday...or rather a bang, clunk, rattle, gasp, and dead silence!

First of all, it started with Lloyd having to send Emily, Allan and I on ahead from Lethbridge while he drove 5 hours north to Edmonton to tend to a work-related emergency.  So the three of us set out in our 2004 Ford Expedition, fresh from the dealership's repair shop and ready to go. 

We crossed into the US uneventfully, stopped for gas an hour later, and enjoyed our drive south, stopping in Helena, Montana 5 hours later for lunch.  Half an hour later we were driving up and down low mountain roads with a terrible noise coming from the engine.  We decided to turn off at the next possible spot and see if we could find a mechanic to check out the rumble, thump, diminishing power, etc. that the vehicle was throwing at us.  We stopped to make a turn off the highway and lost all power.  We got it going again and crept in - making a terrible noise - to the little town  village  hamlet two street place called Basin, Montana.  It was a former mining town, now practically deserted since the mines closed.  There the Expedition breathed her last gasp and died...not to be started again until we deposited large amounts of cash into her system.

This is where we came to a shuddering stop...very appropriate

Not much hope for help in Basin.

Thank goodness we are members of AAA.  Even out in what seemed to be the middle of nowhere,  but luckily with good reception for our cell phone, one call and we were rescued.

The trusty AAA card - never leave home without it!

While we were waiting for help to arrive, in the form of a large wrecker big enough to piggy-back our vehicle, the three of us walked back along the town's only road (that we could see).  Not a very prosperous town any more, although the one place we actually saw people was in the Leaning Tower of Pizza pizza shop, which catered to the campers in the area.  There was a dog in every trailer yard and broken down house yard.  We didn't wander too far, not knowing how safe it was to leave the vehicle unattended, although it wouldn't have been worth anyone's while to try to steal it.

Main Street, Basin, Montana

Rickety looking barn - there were two beautiful horses in the side yard

The old stone house

Finally the wrecker arrived, hooked up the Expedition and the three of us crowded into the truck cab with the driver, Kevin, and headed back to Helena for servicing.  This was the fun part of the trip - riding in a tow truck!!! Surely everybody's dream.  It actually was fun though.  Our driver, Kevin, had to be in his seventies and kept us entertained with stories as we drove along.  We saw 4 dead deer along the way and Kevin told us how long they had been there, what kind of vehicle had hit each one, what happened to the vehicles involved, and finally reported that the county would be along overnight and remove the carcasses. 

Kevin, our rescuer, loading the Expedition

When we got to Helena, Kevin deposited the vehicle at the repair shop and then insisted on driving us to a motel where we could spend the night - being Sunday night, the repair shop was closed so there was nothing we could do about the car.  So when we got to the motel, Kevin gave us a coupon for a 20% discount and the nearby Perkins restaurant, a business card for 'the best mechanic in the area', and headed off for steak at his daughter's place.

It's nice to be welcomed! There sits the Expedition behind the sign at the repair shop.

In the meantime, I texted Lloyd to let him know our situation and to tell him that we were handling it.  He had just arrived in Edmonton but immediately turned around and drove five hours back to Lethbridge and then another five hours to find us.  What a guy!  He's sure not one to leave his wife and daughter stranded in a 'foreign' country with a wrecked vehicle.  He got to the motel just before 4am and slept for a couple hours before dealing with our immediate problem.

We decided to take Kevin's advice and had the car towed five miles down the road to Mike's Auto Repair in Montana City, Montana.  There we arranged to have a rebuilt engine ($$$) put into the Expedition and we'd arrange to pick it up on our return trip. 

And with that our Montana adventure ended.  Lloyd and I, Emily and Allan, got into the 2012 Mazda 6 to finish our trip, knowing there'd be no more car breakdown adventures on this trip (knock wood). be continued...


Magpie said...

What a way to start things out! And what a husband to rush to your rescue though I think you all were bearing up quite well. Yes, Welcome Canadians! Eh! :) Looking forward to further FUN adventures on your trip.

RoeH said...

Wow. I think I've been to Basin at one time in my life. Sounds familiar. So glad everything turned out for the $$$good$$$. Don't you just hate car trouble?? That's what scares me to death when I head out into nowhere with nobody to fix anything but me and I know nothing. So are you in AZ now?

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

That was an expensive trip for sure. You are fortunate you have AAA I never leave home without it either. they have rescued me and towed me lots of times. I've been a member since I started driving and that's a long time now. I do hope the rest of the trip wasn't as exciting. Take care !

Michael MacKenzie said...

Sounds like the beginning of a crappy horror movie.

Ellie said...

Cars are great - when they are working!!!
That's something that always worries me, breaking down somewhere I don't know.
Your husband is a hero doing all of that driving to come and rescue you.
Hope the rest of your journey is peaceful and enjoyable. :))


Thank goodness you are all safe and sound. What an adventure. I used to have a car that left me on the side of the road like that. And in some pretty seedy places. It is a bit scary for sure. Glad you are headed on your way. Hope no other unforseen incidents occur. Take care.

Granny Sue said...

Wow, what a bummer! But you managed to make it into a story, with bits of humor and good human compassion thrown in. Glad it's fixed but sorry about the $$$ to do it. I had a similar thing--transmission went out--and similar $$$ so I know the pain. I hope the rest of your vacation is much better than the beginning.

Mickey said...

I like Michaels comment- it just needed to happen in the middle of the night! Scarey thought!
Glad you're there safe and sound. Now to enjoy the holiday.
Waiting for future blogs about site seeing,shopping and food! xo

Granny Annie said...

My kind of adventure. Loving the tale and photographs. Coasting in at the Dead End sign...too funny. Of course your husband turned around and came after you because you were bragging on Kevin too much! LOL

Kath said...

Stranded in foreign country, eh? (Well with our politics lately I sometimes agree!LOL)
Glad you had cell tower so you could be rescued!
Enjoy AZ!