Oh, my goodness... first I want to say how much we enjoyed the visit to Tenn. once we actually got there... which means there is a story I need to rant on about:
So, We're just on the far outskirts of Dayton, OH when the 'check battery' light goes on - freaking me out. We look in the owner's manual, and all it had to say is 'take to service as soon as possible'. Okay - thanks.
First, I thought 'well, the battery probably needs replacing and we can do that when we get there', but soon the 'battery' warning light was joined by the 'check engine' light. So, here we are hauling ass down I-75 and I have warning lights going off. I start looking for the nearest exit to find a service garage and find out what the hell is going on with the car. As I'm pulling up on the exit to Franklin, the 'battery' light goes off, but the passenger seat belt warning light goes on - which should only happen when the car first starts up. Now, I'm really scared because I have no idea where we are, or where the nearest station is going to be. I managed to get to Franklin, OH when all hell broke loose.
I suddenly get the warning light for the battery back on, the engine warning is still lit up and the passenger seat belt light is still on. I pull up to a stop light and go to accelerate and notice that the speedometer is stuck on 40mph, even though I'm practically sitting still. I point this out to the honey, and he points back that even though I'm pushing the gas pedel we're not accelerating. So, now I'm thinking we're really fucked - this feeling of doom turns into an abyss of doom when I realize that the power steering is gone as well.
We managed to make it to a McD's parking lot. Thankfully, I have Allstate Motor Club coverage, so we were able to walk about a block to a store whose existence I curse, so won't name here. We use their payphone and the truck arrives in pretty good time. Naturally, we're embarrassed as we block people in to get the car up on the bed of the truck. I'm seeing the bad sort of $ signs dancing in my head.
The driver takes us back to the Saturn dealership in Dayton - but being a Sunday, naturally no one is there (shout out to Saturn in Dayton - they were really terrific). So, the tow driver offers to take us to a close by motel for the night - an Econo-Lodge which -
oh my God - ....
So, we're stuck for the night in Dayton, OH. As we check in at the front desk, the clerk informs me that she doesn't know how to turn on the long distance for the room phone. But, to back track just a bit, on the way out of home we stopped at a CVS and grabbed this cheap $10 cell phone that you buy minutes for as you go, because I'm just not a cell phone person and can't afford yet another monthly bill. All the way down toward Tennessee, the honey was trying to read through the directions to see how to activate it. We made a stop at one of Michigan's lovely rest stop areas to use the pay phone there to try to activate this cell phone, but couldn't because we had to call the number from a residential address for the computer responder to accept our activation attempt.
Tom called the folks we were travelling to visit and gave his ex-wife all of the phone details so she could activate it for us. The whole point of the phone, now, was to have a way to call for help if we got into trouble on the highway... which we've now had, but the cell isn't up and running. *Groan* And, now we are unable to call Tennessee from the hotel because daffy-girl can't activate the long distance (which explains why the hotel was a ghost town - I think we counted 3 cars in the whole three building lot).
Once settled, we have to find a phone to call Tennessee and update them on the fact we won't be in that night as planned. We have to walk about half a mile in the FREEZING weather to the Dayton Mall and use their pay phone. In the meanwhile, there are more problems on their end with getting the stupid cell activated so we can call from the room. We go back to the room - and it is hard little snowflakes now and really windy.
Tom goes to turn on the TV until we're ready to walk somewhere to eat and discovers no remote, which really bugs him. Also, the table lamp doesn't work. Ordinarily, this would be no biggie, but it was really feeling like we were being piled on at this point. All of these expenses were extras that weren't planned on, remember, and it's not like I'm well off. Anyway, by the time we braved the cold - again - to go to Friday's, I was more than a little extra in need of alcohol. We blow $100 on dinner and drinks and it was easily the BEST part of being stranded. When we get back to the room, the phone is ringing, so we figured it was our Lorraine calling us back - hopefully with news that our cell has been activated. Tom answers, but all he gets is a dial tone - he hangs up and it rings again - same result when he goes to answer. He calls the front desk to tell them that someone is trying to get in touch with us, but the phone just gives a dial tone when we answer. The clerk tells us that no one is trying to call us and instructs us to just disconnect the phone - nice, right?
The next morning I'm up early so decide to just wash away the misery of the night before and start fresh. I go to take a shower and all I get is the saddest little trickle ever - NO SHOWER EITHER. At 0930, we take a walk up to the lobby for our free continental breakfast and are informed by the clerk that we are too late and breakfast is over. Check out is at 11 and breakfast is over, wrapped up and gone by 0930!?!
We trudge back to our room (all of this is outside, we're in a room farthest from the lobby) and I call Saturn. Thankfully, the woman on the phone tells me that because we're from out of state, they are pushing us up in line to get us back on the road. They tell us to call them when we're ready to leave the hotel and they'll send out a courtesy van to bring us to the dealership. As I hang up the phone, it starts ringing again but only a dial tone is on the other end - I unplug it. We walk the half mile to Panera Bread for breakfast, which was hot and delicious and so what we needed.
We get back to the hotel. I plug in the phone again for another call to Saturn to request they come pick us up. We are standing in the entryway to the lobby waiting for the Saturn van to come for us, when the fire alarm starts blaring and the clerk, her boss/father, and a repair guy go running for a room somewhere around the side of the building. There was no fire.
Finally, we get the hell out of there and go to the dealership. As I'm dealing with that, Tom goes for a short walk for cigarettes and to find another phone to call Lorraine and let her know where we are and see if the cell is working - it's not. I'm unclear on what the issue was.
Anyway, we find out the alternator went out and took the battery with it. In addition, there was a hose or belt or something that was pretty much falling apart, so they're going to replace that while they're in there. But, we have a problem: with Saturn's imminent shut down, they don't have an alternator for it. I see visions of us being trapped in Dayton for the entire vacation. Saturn says that absolutely won't happen. Our customer care rep goes to the site manager and gets permission to steal an alternator from one of the used cars on display and they'll replace that one later after they order a new one from corporate. I'm grateful. We sit and wait and wait and wait. Then, we're told instead of getting a used alternator, they're going down to Pep Boys to buy a new one because they have it in stock. I'm grateful - but bored - I just want them to get this done so we can get out on the road.
Tom and I are trapped in the Saturn showroom, watching soap operas all afternoon. We FINALLY get out of there and on the road at 4pm. It's midnight on day two of the vacation before we actually get to where we're going. I'm out $700 (plus that overindulgence at Friday's). We go through the whole story and Lorraine tells us that she did in fact try to call us several times at the hotel and the lying clerk there told her that we weren't in the room - even after we were - and she wouldn't know whether we were there or not in any case, and she didn't take a message - bitch.
The week itself was great. We had a lot of fun, went to Gatlinburg and enjoyed the Smokies (pics forthcoming after we get the camera unpacked).
We enjoyed seeing our extended family down there and got to visit with Tom's daughter - so all was really good.
The drive back was another nightmare. We ran into bad road conditions and snow throughout northern Kentucky that didn't let up until we got about halfway through Detroit. I'm sure we saw two dozen cars in ditches on the way and there were three times when I felt the car swerve. About half of the trip back I had the car in 1st gear to help with traction on the road. We were SO happy to make it home, hours later than planned, but alive and well.
And, we did get the cell phone activated from Oak Ridge, TN.