The day before I was to hit the road for Washington the weather monsters predicted snow for my departure. I figured I’d just wait and see. Decided when I woke at 5:30 that I’d wait awhile. Good thing because I hadn’t yet fully loaded the van and I decided to completely rearrange what was already in there. We smooshed my gigantic mattress back in and I proceeded to stuff every last inch of the van with my things. My sister thought Dickinson, ND was a reasonable distance for our shortened day and at 1pm we finally rolled westward.
The drive to Dickinson was mostly uneventful. The van was a champ and held 70mph just fine. North Dakota gave us a gorgeous gift in the form of a beautiful sun dog framed sunset. We made it safely to Dickinson and stayed in a nearly brand new HomStay. It was pretty nice and this morning’s breakfast included Lucky Charms which makes it the best place I’ve ever stayed.
Westward again at 8:30. The day was brisk and bright and seemed perfect for continuing our journey.
The van started stuttering. Then it’d recover and stutter again. And then it completely died. All the “I told you so”s were echoing in my head. We called AAA and the most familiar voice took my call. It took a few minutes to place it but I realized that Steven sounded just like Phil Robertson. Even called me Miss Amy! But he couldn’t find me a truck and had to assign the call to some specialist that would call me back in 20 minutes. When she did, it was only to tell me she was working on it. When she called again she found a guy who’d arrive in 15. I was really needing a restroom and wasn’t sure I’d make it. So I propped my self up against the van ditch side, sprayed the shoulder and maybe my boots a little. As much as I’ve used nature for a restroom you’d think I’d have this down by now. I don’t. While we were waiting/spraying my trusty travel companion thought maybe we should ask if the tow truck could take us to Glendive, the next large town. The driver was just a young guy and said he was pretty sure he had to take us to the nearest shop.
And what a shop it was. Before the van was off the truck the owner said he wasn’t sure he could do anything for us. He did try though. Calling all over to find this alternator that was only in Iowa according to one resource. Shortly after arriving I had to use the restroom again, having stopped mid-stream on the shoulder to avoid being spied by passers by. I asked him about a restroom and he directed me to the back, mentioning it wasn’t a nice one. Not a nice one? It was the dirtiest room I’ve ever been in. The seat was up and the rim was covered in dirt/scum along with the bowl, sink and floor. Once again squatting, I’m pretty sure I hit more floor than bowl. And tp? None. There were some crumpled up paper towels so I wiped up my legs and then used my foot to dry up the floor. Ish!
The mechanic confirmed he could get us an alternator on Monday. Not really an option considering my sister is flying out of Seattle at 6am Sunday. (Not anymore.) And, the idea of staying at a motel in Beach, ND was not the most pleasant one. (Sounds like it should be nice though, right?) We called some shops in Glendive and I found a Napa that could have the part tomorrow morn. He recommended a shop. I spoke with a nice guy named Robert, who when I met him later referred to me as a lady and called me Miss Amy (that is growing on me!), and he said they could get me in at 10.
It was time for another call to AAA. Same story, different agents. And an hour wait for the tow this time.
This guy was a chatter! From Toronto, lived in Florida, Vegas, now Glendive. Told us all about no one wanting to tow for AAA as they don’t pay much. So good to know! He recommended a hotel his wife manages, where we had already decided to stay, dropped the van off and brought us to the hotel. Even got us a luggage cart!
They mentioned fresh baked cookies would be coming when we checked in so we ordered pizza and went back to the lobby. Once, twice, three times, no cookies. Fourth time was the charm! Of course we had already picked up candy as an excuse to walk through the lobby. But we hadn’t eaten since breakfast so don’t judge!
Now we sit all night long (we got here around 4:30) and hope for a better tomorrow.