Sunday, August 22, 2010

Stranded in Sparta

Saturday night's road trip story:

It was a damp, dark night. Fourteen of us were riding in a motor home. We were going home from a Three Dog Night concert at an outdoor pavilion in Kentucky. We were laughing and talking and listening to Joe Cocker on the the sound system.

The motor home slowed, then slowed some more. Finally, it came to a stop. The driver stood up. "We have a problem" he said. A warning light was on. The transmission wasn't working. There must be a leak in the fluid. Turns out we needed a hard-to-find form of transmission fluid that is used in this particular diesel-powered RV. Okay, no problem... we had pulled off into a truck stop. It looked a lot like this:

There was a cafe on one side and a karaoke bar on the other side (with a strip club in the back, we later found out).

But it was 10:45 at night and it was dark. We were an hour and a half from home, out in the "boonies". So it felt a little more like this:

A couple of our men walked over to the truck stop to see about some transmission fluid. Seems they didn't carry that kind at this particular truck stop. But there was another truck stop about two miles down the road.... why don't we check there? So, out came the cell phones. The truck stop down the road didn't carry that kind of transmission fluid either. More cell phones came out. Everyone started calling every truck stop they could think of along this stretch of road.

We decided to pinpoint exactly where we were. Exactly where is exit 57 along I-71 anyway? Turns out we were in Sparta, Kentucky. Or, rather, the countryside surrounding Sparta, Kentucky.

The town itself was off in the distance. Here's the post office in Sparta; it gives you some idea of how small a town it is.

By 11:30 the guys had run out of truck stops to call. No one had the right transmission fluid! What kind of RV was this?! By this time, half the fourteen passengers were outside milling around in the parking lot. There really wasn't enough room in the RV for fourteen people to remain sitting for a long period of time. Most of the women stayed inside, watching a movie on the TV screen. If we had been a younger group, we might have just kept on drinking and had a party, but we were too tired for that. Some even began falling asleep.

Someone came up with the idea that Walmart might carry this rare, precious transmission fluid. Was Walmart open 24 hours? No one was sure. Calling Walmart wasn't too successful. The person on the other line went to look and never came back. Finally, everyone started thinking who they could call at midnight to get out of bed, drive to the nearest Walmart, then drive an hour and a half to find us at exit 57.

A couple of the guys went over to the karaoke bar. One of them kept calling his wife on the cell phone to fill her in on what was going on over there. Of course, the guys joked about going to the strip club, but we talked them out of it, telling them there was probably a $25 cover charge and a drink minimum for watered down drinks. My own husband went over to the cafe and sat in a rocking chair outside (like at Cracker Barrel). He fell asleep in the rocking chair.

How did all this end? Well, my husband turned out to be the hero. He talked to a man, a limo driver, who was waiting to pick up some people when the bar closed and take them back to the casino where they were staying. Since it was another half hour till the bar closed (it was now 1:30 a.m.) he said he could take us to our cars an hour away. So four of us went with him, then headed in our cars to rescue the other ten people from exit 57. By the time we got to our cars, we got a message that a AAA-type service for motor homes had finally shown up with the fluid and they were on the road again.

We waited in our cars to see if the RV was going to make it. If they stopped again, we would just have to drive down the interstate southbound until we saw a northbound RV stuck at the side of the road, then somehow cross to the northbound side to rescue them. Fortunately, they signaled to us that they were going to make it, so the four of us went home. We got to bed at 2:30 in he morning.

A night to remember...


Catherine said...

Oh my goodness ~ what a night ~ you must have been exhausted! Glad you made it home safe and sound.

Hope you have a good week Judy!
xo Catherine

rachel said...

A great story - these are the incidents that make you appreciate your own home and bed!

judy in ky said...

Yes, I was SO happy to finally be home!!