Sunday, July 29, 2012

Headed to Hays.... or are we?

So let's just face it... life with me is an adventure. It will NEVER be boring. And likely it will never be called 'frugal' or 'low-cost'. With that being said, I do try to save money and cut costs, but very often we find ourselves stretching our budget later on some other 'Stacey moment'. This is another one of those 'Stacey moments'.

This weekend I had planned out and mapped out our trip to get our son Connor baptized in Hays, Kansas where Brian and I went to college and where my good friend and priest Fr. Peter were located. I'd made a timeline, figured out our schedule, packed our bags, informed friends and family, completed necessary baptism paperwork with our church, and even made hotel and restaurant reservations for afterwards. I didn't have a spreadsheet, but I had all the details planned out so Brian would be less stressed.

We did leave a little later than planned on Friday evening (7:30pm), but due to my amazing driving skills (aka- speeding without getting stopped or caught by a police officer) we made it into Wichita a little before 2 am. The kids mostly slept along the way, Brian did homework, and the car performed fine with a few occasional stops for gas, diaper changes, and food.

After getting some sleep at my parents house and spending some of the morning with them, in which Sophie got lots of attention and spoiling, I got everything together and moving to get the car (my blue Honda Accord with the 250,000+ miles on it) loaded up and ready so we could leave for the 3 hour drive to Hays before 11am.

And the car wouldn't start.

After much deliberation, troubleshooting (aka- intellectual guesstimate) we decided the starter had gone bad. Me and my limited car mechanical knowledge decided this would be something we could easily fix ourselves within an hour. And by 'we' I meant my dad and husband. So I convinced them that I could go to O'Riley's, pick up the required part, and they could have the old one off and the new one on within an hour. I felt a bit more confident in my scheme when the employee at O'Riley's informed me that it was likely a 30-40 minute fix. So I returned with the new part and told him about what the customer service guy from O'Riley's told me.

But it didn't get fixed in 30 to 40 minutes. In fact the old starter was on there so tight (and the guys didn't have the necessary tools) that the old part didn't even come off after a couple hours of sweat, grease, and labor from Brian and my dad. And the clock was ticking. We all had a hard deadline for needing to be in Hays before 5pm.  So, by 12:30pm I started getting on the phone with mechanic shops to see if we could get the car into the shop and get it fixed today. Not before we left for Hays because that wouldn't happen, but at least by tonight so the car would be fully operational by the time we needed to return to Dallas on Sunday.

Finally, Randy at Johnson Automotive agreed to get the old starter off, our newly purchased starter on, and would get it done before he left the shop on Saturday. So with the old starter still not off the vehicle, and the new starter in the box on the passenger seat, AAA came around 1:30pm and towed my Honda off to Johnson Automotive. Then the whole family loaded up into 3 cars and we made a mad dash to Hays.

We arrived in Hays around 4:30, giving us 30 minutes to spare before the 5pm Mass.

Had I listened to my husband's advice (*Note to Brian: I will likely never admit to typing this sentence*) and just had the car towed to a shop and have them fix it, we probably could have arrived in Hays earlier and at a cheaper cost.

While I'll discuss the baptism and dinner in a later post, my dad and family picked up the Honda from Johnson Automotive late on Saturday night when they returned to Wichita. Randy (the mechanic at Johnson's Automotive) called around 5pm and told us it had taken him a long time to get the part off but that it was done and working; however, he did think the starter was not the only problem and we should look into replacing the battery soon.

And sure enough, Sunday morning the Honda would not start.... again. So while Brian, the kids, and I drove from Hays to Wichita this morning, Dad purchased a new battery and installed it on my Honda. Afterwards we had no trouble with the Honda the whole return trip to Dallas. However, this trip to Hays cost us the expected sum of a new starter, labor to get a new starter installed, and a new battery... not to mention all the unexpected mechanical labor and frustration. And, the last time I took the Honda to Kansas for a trip to Hays (May, 2012) I got a flat tire outside of Russell, KS. What is up with my car and it's propensity to break down whenever Hays is involved?

Anyway... had to document our newest adventure with these photos:

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