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
|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).
...to be continued...