Sputter, sputter, bleh.
My mom’s 2013 Subaru Forester said no at the red light leaving Hot springs national park. We stared at the dash, trying to restart the vehicle, but nothing. Traffic flowed haltingly around us.
The ride to Asheville, NC was uneventful. As we exited the interstate to our home for the night, an enormous motorcycle brigade passed before us. After about 600 bikes (no joke) roared by, it was our turn to go right. We came upon a Harley Davidson dealership filled with all the biker people. It looked like a military/veteran bike rally. Driving 5 more minutes put us climbing into a beautiful neighborhood with large forested yards. Our friends of friends for our first night of our adventure were incredibly gracious. We unpacked what we needed for the evening, joined our hosts for some leftovers, cooked chicken alfredo, and sorted through the vast movie collection. Travis hasn’t seen The Sound of Music and I haven’t seen Les Miserables. I put it to Facebook but didn’t come to a consensus quickly so we went with Tangled.
Up early, we continued our voyage down I-40. The rain came down in sheets at times and then periods of bright sun. I was super glad I wasn’t driving because I’d be the driver that slowed to 20mph in the rain. We crossed the Mississippi River, ogling at the fact that it was way flooded. The next few hours gave way to much of the same, flooded out farms, with tree tops as bushes. The phones gps routed us away from a backup which brought out both of our cheerleader sides. GPS said our first freecampsites.net site was only 2 miles off the interstate. It was my first find in our country’s free camping land and I was anxious to see if what the internet had said was true. We declined the first grass/dirt road but found an alternate road that was fully paved and voila! A designated campsite sign! There were gravel pullouts big enough for trailers to circle on both sides of the road with a water spigot. We set up our tents in the grass, ate our leftover chicken alfredo with garlic Ritz crackers and relaxed on our buckets. We laughed, God is so good! This site turned out perfect. It was setting the standard high though I knew we would come across much less savory sleeping places. The rain had brought the temperature down, way down so I got a little chilly overnight. A van pulled in just before nightfall, parking on the other side of the road.
The sun rose, illuminating the rising steam from the field across the way. I had a no sugar added chocolate breakfast essentials drink and a chocolate banana bread oatmeal square. Travis had French vanilla breakfast essentials with chocolate chip oatmeal bars. In less than 5minutes in the car, we were cruising to Hot Springs National Park. I’d been been to it before with my family and enjoyed the architecture and history. We found free parking and free restrooms (high priority there) and meandered along bathhouse row. We decided hiking first before it got too hot would be our best plan of action. We followed an assortment of trails to the Watchtower which unfortunately, cost $8/person to go up. My attitude turned sassy because the guy at the visitor center that we’d asked about all the trails and sights hadn’t mentioned that fact after suggesting this trail. Travis turned my attention to finding our first patch, what we’d decided on collecting from all the national parks on our trip. We purchased a cute bear in a bathtub patch and found the free pagoda with a view. After taking pictures, we skipped back to bathhouse row and took the free self guided tour or the main bathhouse. It was neat seeing the immense amount of marble they used for their baths. By this time we were hungry and we walked out the front doors which was conveniently right in front of a sweets shop. Never go in a candy store when you’re hungry…just…don’t. After salivating over every baked good, we settled on a cookie sandwich. There was a hideaway space to eat our treasure, tucked among the shops that had plenty of benches and a small waterfall. We hurried back to the car, not wanting to depart with any more of our money in this town, especially because we had lunch in the car. We plugged in my friend’s address in Plano (yay!) and left the park.
Sputter, sputter, bleh.
A cop showed up to help us get our car safely out of the road and into a gas station parking lot. Cue the process of calling my mom (car owner) and the insurance company to figure out what to do. My parents and I discussed car part, car parts, car parted. I don’t know what thise words are. After Travis spent some time on the phone with insurance, we had a wait time of 40minutes for a local company to tow us to the Subaru dealership as the car is still under warranty. I wasn’t too stressed, even as we were sitting in front of a sketchy gas station. Sketchy people offered help in way of a jump, but we didn’t think that was the issue. Slowly, our tiny piece of shade disappeared, leaving us to stand in the 80degree sun. I was trying not to get frustrated that we were stranded at a sketchy place with a bathroom with no toilet paper and poo splash on the toilet seat. The tow truck finally arrives, almost an hour past our wait estimate of 40minutes. The guy is affable and him and Travis chat about life as we very bouncily return to Little Rock. Subaru doesn’t quite know where to put our car because they are backed up, but they make me and Travis feel confident in their ability to help us. We’ve both been to less than helpful dealerships and this place was fantastic. They immediately offered us a loaner car and assure us they will look at it first thing in the morning. We start loading what we think we need for the night into a 2017 Subaru Forester. I’m stressing, trying not to be sad that I’m not with my dallas friends and not wanting to find a place to spend the night. We debate about going back to the place we slept last night which was great but an hour away. I text a friend from home that’s from Arkansas that might know somebody. This might be tmi, but I was on my period. Long car rides, hiking and camping aren’t the best experience. I wanted to sleep in air conditioning and I wanted a shower. I was practically in tears as Travis suggested we cool off with some ice cream. As we drove off to Sonic, we discovered the loaner had an excellent sound system. We were the thump thump car sitting at Sonic eating our milkshakes. Our friend had success finding friends that could offer us a couch or floor space. 5minutes away! My jaw dropped, Travis laughed, my eyes moistened, God is so good! He was providing a way when I thought we were heading into a stressful and unfun situation. We cranked up the music and felt the beat in our chests. I put my toes on my door speaker and they bounced.
“Oh no, you never let go, through the calm and through the storm. oh no, You never let go, every high and every low!”
Our hosts were amazingly hospitable. They were inviting a couple of their friends over to learn how to cook pot stickers. We set our tents out to dry and sat and mostly watched this process. There’s no way I would ever put that much time into making a food. They ground up carrots and spinach to add to the flour for coloring. Next was rolling out the dough into miniature circles to put a dollup in of pork, cabbage, shrimp or mushrooms. Soup was simmering on the stove as I tried not to fall asleep at the kitchen table. At 9pm, dinner was set spectacularly on the table, the colorful pot stickers arranged in patterns on their serving platters. Such amazing flavors! Then shower and bed. As I stretched out across the bed, clean and refreshed, I recounted the day’s events.
Jehovah Jireh! God will provide, God has provided. God is good y’all. He cares for me! The simplest of details, a shower complete with soap and shampoo! A soft bed with soft sheets and a memory foam pillow. (I really like really soft things). A car with a sound system to belt out His praises. Wonderful people to encourage us on our journey. These aren’t coincidences or lucky right place in the right time happenings. This is God, caring for us.
Our hosts departed for work, Subaru called and said everything would be done by noon. Travis found an adorable little park, Old Mill Park, to explore. It was charming, something I’ve only seen in all the puzzles I’ve put together. At noon, we completed paperwork and got back on he road to Dallas by one!