29 September 2010

The Adventure

Monday was a holiday and there were no open bearing shops. Matt needed to get back to work so we decided to go with the trailer as it was, and hope to find some bearings along the way. We left Santa Rosa around 1 and stopped just before Vacaville so Matt could check the bearings and other parts of the trailer. The metal on the center of the wheel should be cool. Ours was blazing hot. We let it sit and cool off while Matt checked the vans coolant and oil, the boys went to the bathroom, and we got some drinks for the road. The wheels were still hot, but we were hoping to make it to Reno that night and find bearings Tuesday morning.

My job on the road was to watch the wheel out the right side mirror. If I saw any smoke I was to tell Matt. Matt was supposed to drive and keep his eye on the wheel on the left.

We got back on the freeway, made it about a mile and Matt said "I see smoke!" We pull to the side of the freeway. There was hardly any room to pull over and I thought every car that flashed past us was going to smash us. The metal on the wheel didn't feel very hot. Matt thought maybe he was mistaken. We pulled out onto the freeway again and went about 500 feet before Matt said "Definite smoke!" Up ahead we saw a freeway exit. We took that exit and it led us onto an empty side road. It was the best place we could have stopped. It was cool and shady, no cars, and plenty of room to stop the trailer. What a blessing.

The wheels were still fairly cool - they weren't the problem. The weld holding the trailer to the axle had broken. The welded metal support was completely gone and the tire was being held up by the fender. The smoke we had seen was the rubber of the tire rubbing on the fender. We prayed that we would follow God's plan and that God would allow us to get the trailer to Wyoming. We considered our options. Abandon the thing, or buy the stuff to weld, learn to weld, and weld on a new piece of metal. About 5 feet from where we had stopped there was a bunch of discarded metal pieces, so Matt decided to follow up on the welding option. We unhitched the trailer and called our friend Dan to ask him to pray and updated him on the situation. He had a good thought. Instead of welding, use wood and screws to hold the trailer up. We liked that idea as the idea of learning to weld on the side of the road and coming up with a power inverter or using a cigarette lighter to power the thing didn't sound like a good solution. IMAGINE THAT! We called my sister, Kelly, and she found us a Lowes nearby. We headed that way.

Getting out of the van at Lowe's, Luke couldn't find his shoe. We were planning to all going to go inside the store. The boys had to go to the bathroom again (it had only been 30 minutes), it was hot, they were hungry, we were all grungy and sticky. Luke was crying and complaining and arguing about finding his shoe. Matt used the opportunity to gently teach the boys how to respond in difficult circumstances.

He told them, "I have a broken trailer, a hot, hungry family, and a job in Wyoming I need to get back to. I could be really upset and stressed and angry right now and I'm not. Luke, you are crying and panicked over a lost shoe. Your shoe is in the van, probably under the seat. Should you be crying? Or should you follow daddy's example?" Luke calmed down and found his shoe.

Matt then lined the boys up in the shade and taught them what God's Word says about hard times. He said, "This is a hard time BUT! we will trust God in it. He has a plan for us. James 1:2-4 says, 'Consider it pure joy when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect work that you may be fully complete lacking nothing.' Boys, we are going to trust God and we will be joyful in the midst of this hard time."

We went inside Lowe's and started looking at drills. Matt is the kind of shopper that never asks for help. NEVER. Several Lowe's employees walked by and asked Matt if he needed anything. "Nope" he would always say. It came down to a decision between 2 drills, but he wasn't sure which price was correct. Another employee walked past and Matt asked him (shock) which price was right. Matt told him he would be using it for deck screws and the man suggested he go up to the next voltage. Matt went with the man's suggestion and then sent me to find some scrap lumber while he took the boys to the potty.

While waiting at the restrooms for the boys, the same employee walked past. He was just getting off work and Matt asked him where to find some lumber scraps. The man asked Matt what he needed them for. Matt explained that a welded support broke on our trailer and he was going to replace the support with wood and deck screws. The man asked him where we were headed. Matt told him Wyoming. The man asked, "How far from Wheatland?" "Wheatland is about an hour from us." Matt responded. The man paused. "Here's what we are going to do. You are going to follow me to my house and I am going to weld your trailer."

: )

When I walked back to the bathrooms Matt was heading away from them. He said, "We are going to follow him, and he is going to weld our trailer." "Who is he?" I wanted to know. "I don't know, but he is going to weld the trailer." Matt and I were both a little unsure of what was going on but we both knew God was in it. And it is fun to work with God.

The man, Ben, followed us back to the trailer, loaded all our stuff into his pickup to get the weight off the trailer so the tire wouldn't rub, and we took back roads to his house in the hills outside of Vacaville. He had called ahead to his wife to let her know what he was doing.

As it turns out, they have family in Wheatland, love to hunt in Wyoming, and as Ben puts it, "There's not a liberal bone in my body, and I'm not quiet about it!" When we got to his home his wife had a movie out for the boys, crayons color sheets, AND she had dinner in the oven for our whole family!

Ben works at Lowes as a hobby to keep him busy. He has a beautiful home, gardens, lovely landscaped yard. There was plenty of cool shady space for the boys to get their energy out, swings, play equipment, and a tetherball pole. While Matt and Ben, the Lowe's employee, worked on the trailer, Lynn, his wife, fed us pizza, pasta, salad, and cookies. The boys played outside until it got dark and then came in and watched a movie. Lynn and I had a while to talk. She has also put her trust in Jesus, and is a Bible Study Fellowship leader. I shared with her what God was doing in our lives and how thankful I was that they brought us into their home and how Very BRAVE! to invite strangers in with 8 children! I love the way God works.

Matt wanted me to include a picture of the problem. There are 2 red circles. One with a welded support. And one circle without - bad. The green circles are where the u-joints were welded on. I don't think the welds and supports are supposed to be there at all. The suspension is supposed to be used somehow. But Matt is not writing this, and I'm doing my best. : ) I even used paint to draw the circles so pat on the back to me. ; )

Matt and Ben finished up pretty late that night. They went the wood and deck screw route. Lynn and Ben even offered to let us spend the night as it was so late already. Matt and I prayed about it and decided we needed to get on our way. We stayed and talked awhile longer and headed out. Lynn and I both felt that we shouldn't let the relationship end there. I was so glad to get to know them and they were a wonderful example of hospitality, graciousness, and help in the time of need. For sure the relationship didn't end there, because Sam left his shoe by their front door and she had to mail it back to me. : )

We spent the night in a hotel that night. There wasn't an adjoining room, so I put the older boys in one room and went back to get the little guys and Matt situated in the other. By the time I was done and headed back to sleep with the older boys, I realized they had both keys to their room with them. I called them on the phone repeatedly and no answer. AGHH. I spent the night in Matt's room with the little boys, mostly wide awake wondering if the older boys were ok by themselves. Of course they were fine and answered the phone in the morning. They sort of laughed that I was worried. I got no sleep.

Matt used Tuesday morning to call his boss and tell her he needed another vacation day, and also called bearing shops. The boys and I finally got the van organized and situated. It was a big job. We got to the bearing place in Sacramento around 9. They were very confident they could find what we needed or find something similar.

We were in the middle of downtown. There was 1 parking place, so we didn't want to drive away and lose it. We sat in the van and we were not confident. 2 hours into waiting at the bearing place shop, the bearing shop guys decided they needed help finding it. They called in someone else who would drive around town and look for the right bearing or something similar. We waited and waited. The guy couldn't find anything. We told him we were told it was an old boat trailer axle. He decided to try and find out exactly what type of axle it was.

Matt walked away to find food for the boys. We sat in the van. Matt came back with food and some magazines, crayons, and games for the boys. We sat in the van. Around 1:00 we saw the someone else drive up. Matt and I went inside to see if he had found anything. He had found the right bearings! Our axle wasn't a boat trailer axle it was a 1956 Volvo axle. That was good news! But, as we looked around all the bearing employees were eating lunch. Our bearings were there and daylight was burning.

I decided it was time to bring all 8 children into the waiting room. The bearing guys deserved a lunch break but maybe they could eat a little faster. I paraded the children in. The guys got back to work. : )

We were back on the road at 2 pm. With nice cool bearings.

That night was one of my favorite moments of the whole trip. I took a shower. Ahh. Sweet bliss. We pulled into Elko around 2:30 in the morning. I took a shower and woke up early for some sweet time with my savior. The boys and I packed up and let Matt sleep in till 8:30.

and the next adventure began...

23 September 2010

Day 6, 7, 8

Saturday our plan was to head to Lake County for several reasons. One we wanted to give a final goodbye to Uncle Don, Uncle John and Grama Betty. Also Uncle Don wanted to grease the trailer bearings to make sure we had a safe drive back to Wyoming. We also needed to pick up the items we had stored under the home we own in Hidden Valley Lake. We told the renter we would be there Saturday afternoon to get the stuff.

Michelle Laffan decided after our joyous Friday that she didn't see the need for us to separate that quickly. I agreed. Plus she was so near her due date a bumpy drive over the mountain to Lake County might send her into labor and then I would be there for the birth and the baby. We loved the idea. Her husband Dan had the day off so Dan and Michelle and the boys came with us.

When we got to Grama Bettys, Uncle Don looks at the bent axle, bypassed suspension, various welds and his's first words were something like, "Jeez, that is one terrible looking trailer!" Hmmm. Our suspicions that the trailer was not good were confirmed.

Matt backed the trailer up to Uncle Don's workshop and Uncle Don went to work on the bearings. Michelle, my mom, the kids and I parked ourselves in the air conditioned living room with my grama.

Just a few minutes into the bearing project, Matt and Dan came in and said, "The trailer bearings are totally shot we don't even know how we made it here. We are going shopping for new bearings."

FOUR HOURS! later, Michelle, Uncle Don and I got concerned that the guys either got lost, got in an accident, or forgot what the goal was. So we called them up. They had driven to every store in Lake County and couldn't find the bearings. They came back empty handed.

We had no choice but to back the bearings as they were, pick up our stuff, and head back to Santa Rosa.

Michelle and I enjoyed our day. We were happily enjoying Grama Betty's company, her refreshments and her air conditioning. The guys were somewhat discouraged that the day was gone and the trailer bearings were so bad.

Here are 4 generations.

Grama Betty and Gideon are best buds.

The goodbye was really hard. We miss them so much.

We drove over to our house. Our renter is keeping things clean and tidy. She also signed another year lease while we were there. We are very thankful God provided her to rent our house. We packed all of our stuff in the trailer and as a last thought I cut ropes holding the boys basketball hoop to our tree and tossed it in the trailer as well.

Our plan was to see if we could find the bearing in Santa Rosa the next morning Sunday. Then get to Santa Rosa Bible Church, go to Sunday school, and have a picnic with our friends from church. We were going to leave from there to go home to Wyoming. Also it was Josiah's birthday that day. He was turning 9.

Sunday morning brought no luck on the trailer bearings. Matt ordered some online and had them shipped one day air to hopefully get them there Monday and we could stay an extra night and leave Monday.

We didn't make it to Sunday school that morning, but we did make it to the picnic and had a wonderful wonderful time catching up with old friends. All their kids had grown so much in 1 year. They all looked great and our time with them was too too short.

After the picnic we went to Chris and Sarah Kuhners for dinner and fellowship. My mom sent us with some rootbeer float supplies and we made Joe a rootbeer float birthday treat and candle.

The bearings - We never got a return email saying the bearings had shipped so we assumed the bearing place was closed on the weekend and most likely the Monday holiday (Labor Day). They wouldn't ship our bearings until Tuesday and we needed to be back to Wyoming by then. We decided to leave without them and hopefully find some in Reno or Sacramento on the way home.

We spent Sunday night in Santa Rosa and packed up and headed out Monday.

We didn't make it far....

20 September 2010

Day 5

This was a pamper day for Matt and Dan. They stayed home an barbecued and Michelle and I graciously left them with their favorites... their children. We decided to kill time by going to Hair Focus and get are nails done and me a haircut.

Michelle and I couldn't get enough of each other. It was so fun to talk and do laundry. A great great great day. Luke and Abbey were so cute together. Luke looked so large and boyish next to teeny tiny Abbey. Luke was the perfect gentleman. He help her, wooed her, and cuddled with her.

Dan made a Delicious BBQ chicken. mmmm. mmmm
Michelle dazzled us with one of her kitchen pasta miracles.
A very happy day.

and then the trouble began....

18 September 2010

Day 4


This is the trailer we bought to haul our stuff back in. In the Craigslist picture it looked fine. The owners told us all it needed was paint. We drove 2 hours to get to the trailer. When we got there, it was obvious to even the untrained eye that there were problems. The axle looked bent, the suspension had been bypassed, and the axle was welded right onto the frame using a 7in tall metal support on the left and right axle, the U-joints had also been welded on. The owner assured us it worked well, they had driven it around the country with never problems. We had little faith in the owners assurances, but time was running out and we needed something to bring our stuff home in. So we bought it.

From there we drove 2 hours back to Santa Rosa. The trailer pulled well down the freeway and it was a good size. Matt liked that he could see it out of his side mirrors.

We met my dad and Kay Thompson at Doyle Park. The boys had a great time burying each other.

This is Josiah getting buried.

All that was left showing was Josiah's nostrils. We would ask him, Joe if you want to get up wiggle your toes. And he wouldn't wiggle his toes. When sand ran back into his nostrils he would blow out his nose to make the sand specks blow out.

These two are ready to be buried as well.

Here we all are

I did make the boys wash up before they got in the car. : )
We headed back home to my moms to spend the night.
Whew a big day!

17 September 2010

Day 3

Day 3 was spent with Jen in Hidden Valley Lake.  The boys had great fun and we got to see all the changes Jen had made to her house.  We had a wonderful time with Jen, but not enough. : (  It was much much too short. 

Matt bonded with baby Eden.
We took all the boys to the pool.
Jen got the girls together.
We went to frozen yogurt.  Eden was a dream come true for the yogurt owner.  They couldn't get over how beautiful she was. We all LOVED the yogurt and the toppings.
Gideon found a danger - following the true boy spirit.
The boys played around in the yard.
We both have girls now.  Who would have guessed?

Matt and I were in Hidden Valley and had left some things under the house when we moved.  There were ladders, some furniture, childrens toys and we thought while we were visiting we should take them back to Wyoming.  The problem was we needed something to bring them back with.  The van wouldn't fit it all.  We decided to shop around for a cheap used trailer to tow behind the van.

and then the adventure began...