• Guest Romantics

    August 2012
    11 - Nancy Martin
    13 - JL Hilton

  • *WINNER RT's 2011 Reviewers Choice Award!!* Amazon
  • New Releases

  • .99 at Amazon | B&N
  • $4.79 at Amazon | B&N | Carina
  • Prior Releases

  • Re-Release 9-11-12 |Amazon | B&N
  • October 4, 2011
  • $5.39 at Amazon | B&N | Carina

  • .99 at Amazon | B&N |
  • $5.50 at HQN | Amazon | B&N
  • $1.99 at ARe | Amazon | TMP
  • $1.99 at ARe | Amazon | B&N
  • $5.50 at Amazon | B&N
  • AppleTrail, Arkansas Vol 1. Print & Digital Bundle

  • Available for $2.99 at

    Amazon | B&N | ARe

  • To the folks at the FTC (and anybody else who wants to know): All books featured or reviewed on this site were purchased by the reviewer unless otherwise noted. Books may be supplied by the author or publisher for review. Reviewers are not compensated for their reviews. We do not sell ad space nor advertise any book or author for compensation.

  • Meta

  • Advertisements

Christmas Tripping

I would have to say that one of the best parts about moving back to your home town is no longer having to travel at Christmas. For almost twenty years I skidded across ice, through blizzards and down a runway or two to spend the holidays at home.

One of the more memorable was the year I was pregnant. With the new member of the family due in the spring we had decided it might be necessary to invest in a family friendly vehicle. As luck would have it, a girl from Sweden had been working for my parents as part of a farm worker exchange program and she left behind the cute little 1985 Jeep Cherokee she’d bought for transportation while in the States. Dad had driven it a few times and figured it would be a dandy car for us.

Plus it was cheap.

We rode out to the ranch from Oregon with my sister for Christmas so we could take the Jeep home. After all, it was only five hundred and ninety five miles across three mountains passes in the dead of winter. What fifteen hundred dollar used car couldn’t handle that? It seemed to run fine. I did mention to my husband that the overpowering stench of gasoline fumes might not be the best thing for our unborn child, but he was sure it was just a leaky fitting and it would fade once we got out on the highway. Probably.

Off we went, with my brother riding shotgun. When we hit cruising speed, we realized two things. First, the gas fumes, if anything, were getting stronger. Second, the fabric on the ceiling was coming unglued. The warmer it got in the interior of the car, the farther it sagged. This was especially annoying to my brother who, at six three, didn’t have a whole lot of clearance to begin with.

But on we went, over Marias Pass, only slightly dizzy from the gas fumes when we rolled into Columbia Falls. The car ran great…right up until it overheated ten miles from Kalispell.

Steam rolled from under the hood as we pulled off on the side of the highway. When it cleared we discovered the radiator was half empty. My brother fought free of the saggy ceiling, hiked to the nearest house and came back with two plastic milk jugs of water. We scrutinized the hoses, the water pump, the radiator. Not a leak in sight. We checked the fluid level. Hadn’t dropped a millimeter. Either the leak had repaired itself or there wasn’t any water in the stupid radiator when we started.

We refilled the milk jugs, stashed them in the back seat and set off again. The sun came out and the day warmed to the point where I could crack a window for fresh air without risking frost bite, which diminished the fumes significantly. Now if I could just get rid of my backache.

My pregnancy had been disgustingly easy to that point. No morning sickness, no weird food cravings. Then came the backache. The pain started on the trip out. By the time we got to the ranch, it felt like someone had stuck a hot poker under my right shoulder blade, but I quickly figured out that it only bothered me when I sat for long periods of time.

Like in a car on a twelve hour road trip.

The longer we drove, the worse the pain got, until it radiated clear around to my sternum like a thousand miniature ice picks jabbing between my ribs. When we stopped in Hot Springs to refuel and switch drivers, I bought a pack of frozen peas, stuffed it down the back of my shirt and climbed behind the wheel. Then I pointed the Jeep down the road.

It headed for the ditch.

“Steering’s a little loose,” my husband said from the back seat.

Uh, yeah. Just a little. Keeping the thing on the road required constant correction. Veer right, veer left, veer right, veer left. The gas fumes seemed to have tripled in intensity with the fill-up. I hunched over the wheel to duck the sagging ceiling–knuckles white, shoulder frozen, melting pea juice trickling down the back of my pants–and tried not to inhale.

Oh, and did I mention the radio didn’t work? Argh.

We reached the interstate at dusk. The sun had melted the snowpack and a semi drenched my windows with mud splatter as I merged onto I-90. Imagine my surprise when the windshield wiper left a wide opaque streak directly in my line of vision. I hunched lower and flipped on the headlights.

The left headlight shone straight down on the yellow center line. The right one did a fantastic job of illuminating the tops of the fifty foot pine trees on my right side. The road in front of me remained dark–what I could see of it through the muddy windshield.

Somehow, we got to Spokane in one piece. At first available exit my husband bought a screwdriver and adjusted the headlights while my brother worked on the windshield wipers. I tossed my soggy bag of smushed peas into the nearest trash can, crawled in the back seat and stretched out flat. I could practically see the gasoline vapors near the floor, but I had reached the point where I was willing to sacrifice consciousness for comfort.

Getting horizontal did the trick. Or maybe it was the fumes.  Either way, I was feeling no pain by the time we got to Hermiston.

So for my son’s kindergarten teacher and all of those people at the Christmas program last week who wondered, “What the heck is up with that kid?”

Well, now you know.

Kari Lynn Dell

Montana For Real


8 Responses

  1. Wow. a $1500 used Jeep. What a deal…HA! Love the cockeyed headlights! Very funny post.

  2. Wow, what a nightmare! I’ve had my share of travel woes, mostly trying to get home from college—a 14-hour trip, but not over mountains! It sounds like it was completely awful, but I laughed through your entire retelling. 🙂

  3. Wow, and I thought I had some interesting travel stories. Is there anything worse than gasoline fumes? Ick. Too funny. At least now, right?

    I took my husband to a Jimmy Page/Robert Plant concert when I was pregnant with my youngest. The ticket agent assured me the place was nonsmoking. Too bad she didn’t tell me they didn’t enforce it. Or that most people would be smoking pot. Yes, I was a bit naive… Still, Taz seems to have turned out all right. 😉

  4. BTW, did I ever mention the time my battery died and then my a/c went out on the way home from San Diego to Tucson? In July? That was supposed to be our honeymoon…

  5. Hey, all. Yeah, cheap comes at its own cost. And Gwen, I had one whole summer of driving around the Oregon desert in a pickup with no air conditioning. Wanna know which women’s deodorant REALLY does the job? Just ask.

    Also….the Jeep, it got worse. A month after we dragged it home I was driving a back road over to Walla Walla and it quit. Dead. Like BAM!, right as I was zipping down the highway. I wrestled it off into the ditch, called my husband, he towed it home and the only place we ever drove it again was to the used car lot to trade it in.

    On a CADILLAC. Yeah, baby.

    • Ha, yeah, I know not having a/c. My first car was a little truck with aftermarket a/c that overheated the engine when the temp got above 90 degrees. Spent all summer in Tucson with the windows down and spare antiperspirant in my purse. 😉

      And don’t get me started on car break down stories…

  6. Oh boy, that sounds like fun. : / The gasoline fumes would have done me in. I loved my first car but it could be ornery too. The radiator leaked, no matter how many times we patched it, and the car would overheat. Sometimes in the not-so-nice part of town where I worked. At night. Then came the time when the engine decided it was a race car and would rev to the point I had to use the brakes and the emergency brake just to stop the car. I felt like Fred Flintstone, standing on the brake pedal. Ah, cars. Gotta love ’em. PS: my car had 4-60 air conditioning too. Roll all 4 windows down, go 60 mph. ; )

  7. oh man. I’m with Shawna. the gas fumes would have finished me off. We rented a softtop Jeep on our honeymoon. 2miles off the lot and the husband and I both agreed what a POS it was and that we would NEVER buy one of those.

Show us some love and leave a comment!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: