Today I have a story to tell. See this picture? I took it at a rest stop in Wyoming.
But this is more than just a picture. It is a visual representation of the first twelve hours of my road trip.
See, my husband needed to study for a big test, so my three kids and I (ages 9, 6, and 4) headed off on a 16-hour drive. On our own.
I did all the packing, and I thought of everything. I pretty much packed the kitchen sink AND the bathroom sink. Alas, about four hours into the trip, I realized the one thing I forgot . . .
Yup. It would have been better to have forgotten ANYTHING else. I couldn’t just drive back because I had less than a half tank by then. My husband couldn’t just wire me some money to the closest town because you have to have picture ID to pick it up. He could mail my wallet to my destination, but what good would that do me when I had no way to drive the remaining 700 miles of my trip?
I was pretty much a mess, but I had kids in the car, so I had to pretend like I was calm and in control. (Which lasted . . . oh, not very long: “STOP WHINING! I have no money, no way to go home, I need to THINK!! And I can’t do that with you kids fighting over who touched who!”)
To give him credit, my awesome husband was ready to jump in the car and drive the 4 hours to meet us (EIGHT HOURS ROUND TRIP!!!). I just didn’t like that option.*
I called my credit card company and they said they couldn’t do anything from there. BUT, if I could convince a cashier to call them, they could approve a card-less transaction because I could prove my identity over the phone. I stopped at four different gas stations. At each one I politely explained my plight and asked if they could help, but they all refused. By the fifth gas station I was in tears. Funny how they were suddenly willing to at least try.
Hurray! I filled the tank, but it was not enough to get to my destination. So next, I called home to tell them the situation. Amazingly, my sister was leaving that minute on a work trip heading my direction. She would pass me some time in Wyoming and wanted to meet in Laramie. I calculated distances, and realized gas-wise, it would be pretty tight, BUT, from Laramie, one tank of gas could get me to my destination. Maybe. Barely.
At Cheyenne, I debated. I was low on gas. But my car told me I could go 70 miles and Laramie was only 50 miles away . . .
ALL. UP. HILL.
Yeah. So I bit my nails, white-knuckled the steering wheel, and ignored that sick feeling in my stomach until I finally got to the top of the mountain pass. Which is when my car said I could go ZERO miles. But I was at the top of a mountain pass! It was downhill the whole way! And don’t those mileage counters have a little padding built in?
Well, if my kids hadn’t been with me, I might have tried it. Instead, I stopped at the Lincoln-head rest stop right there at the top:
Happily, my sister knew right where it was because of good old Mr. Lincoln there. She brought me a gas can and loaned me enough money to get me to my destination. It was like the picture. The moment the dark stormy clouds start to disperse and the sunshine breaks through, bringing with it a rainbow and a promise of better times.
It’s kind of a good analogy for all sorts of things. Life. Writing. Overcoming obstacles. Alas, we have to face hard things all the time. Things that seem impossible to overcome . . . when the easiest or most obvious solutions aren’t acceptable and you have to really FIGHT for something better. Keep trying even when you’ve been rejected how many ever times, and feel like it’s hopeless.
This trip will forever after be remembered as “The Time I Drove Across Country Without Any Money.” And when I think of it, I will smile. Because despite the odds, despite the stress, I did it. It took a lot of help, and a hero (my sister) had to swoop in to save me, but I did it.
And I can do it again. Next time I face insurmountable odds.**
Have you ever overcome insurmountable odds? Tell me about it!
And P.S. If you haven’t already, don’t forget to enter my giveaway!
*The whole point of the trip was to GIVE HIM TIME, not waste it!!
**Which will not be forgetting my wallet on a cross-country trip, because I will NEVER, EVER do that again. 😉