Milepost 102, Christmas and more Christmas

While Brad, Woody and the boys were in Minnesota a few days ahead, Doug and I departed on the 22nd. Our roadtrip was an easy going one...we had Woody's roomy Audi S6, equipped with heated seats and XM Radio. Day one, Doug drove a lot, I napped a lot and we watched movies courtesy of the Doug Hummel DVD collection. Our uneventful day (no one fell asleep at the wheel and there were few weather issues) ended in Miles City, Montana at the Motel 6. Day two, 12.23.06, started out great...the sun had not yet risen, but you could tell it was bound to be a beautiful day, even if cold. Into North Dakota, the sun began to rise as we started to watch Click. Eastbound on I-94 at Milepost 102 in North Dakota, Click was nearing its ending scenes and the car began to jerk as if out of gas. There we were at the side of the road in the middle of nowhere on a beautiful and cold day. Fortunately, we weren't in a pass, we weren't in a blizzard and actually, there wasn't an ounce of snow anywhere in sight. Neither of us knew what to do, but we got resourceful at some point and called AAA, who told us to call our insurance company. We called USAA who arranged for us to get gas through AAA. In about an hour a nice lady, whose name escapes me now, brought us 3 gallons of gas...I told Doug not to let her leave until the car started up. Good thing...the car did not start up. She waited patiently as Doug brainstormed and checked a few things. We figured we needed to be towed. She left saying that she would expect a call from our insurance company after we talked with them and said that it would be a couple of hours likely before the fella showed, given he was the only one working that day. Working with USAA, we arranged the towing. As we waited for another three hours, we snacked on SuperChick cookies (ask Doug) as Doug worked with Brad and Woody via phone to troubleshoot and also with Max, the Audi guy, in Washington. They all figured it was the fuel pump. Calling around, the nearest Audi dealership was in Fargo, ND (on the eastern edge of ND) and their parts department was closed. However, the Minneapolis dealership's parts department was open and had a fuel pump available. This meant that Brad, Woody and the boys would need to drive down to Minneapolis, that's about 2 hours from Long Prairie, get the part and drive back to drop Woody and the boys off. Total driving 4 hours. Concurrently, Doug and I were towed 70 miles east to Bismarck, ND in the parking lot of the Fairfield Marriott. I got us a room (covered by USAA!!) and Doug and I planned on dining at Crapplebee's and drinking heavily since we had nothing else to do until Brad arrived. Meanwhile, Brad needed to drive six more hours to rescue us in Bismarck. That's a lot of time to kill. So besides beers for Doug and margaritas for me, we figured we could go see a movie. With a good amount of alcohol in us we walked to the movie theater which was in a mall, kiddie corner to Crapplebee's. We saw Stranger than Fiction...we both fought our drowsiness, but Doug eventually succumbed to the point of snoring. It woke me up. I shook him and we managed to stay awake for the remaining half. While the beginning was slow and put us to sleep, I wouldn't say it was boring...I actually really liked the movie and everyone in it did a great job. Back to the hotel...it was colder this time (the alcohol wore off). Brad eventually showed up and was surprisingly not grumpy ;-). In fact, he was energetic enough to want to get the fuel pump installed right then. Doug reluctantly headed out with him. They managed to get it done and the car started up! We slept a restful night and woke to another beautiful day. We began our caravan with gas, Starbucks and McDonalds, and then discovered the best rest area ever in Moorhead, MN...I mean it was stellar. So that is the story of our Christmas Eve Eve, 2006. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day was chock full of naps, visits and seeing a lot of family that we really miss. Grandma Gladys is well and continues to be blessed with new great grandbabies...a boy in November and a girl on December 30th. The girl was Jack and Una Hasser's first grandchild and the boy was Matt and Laura's third child. The cousins played really well for not knowing each other all that well. We got to see Annie Hummel that night in her new house and really enjoyed our visit. It was a wonderful Christmas Day. The day after Christmas we had an opportunity to meet my friend Lisa in St. Cloud for breakfast. She was great and I am hoping that I'll have as many opportunities to see her in 2007, as I have in 2006. We lunched with Annie Hummel and her kids (all grown up). On the way back we saw friends in Little Falls and saw that our house was for sale. Our last visit was with the Zinter's. It was really nice to see everyone that we could before we hit the road that evening. Doug, Woody and I departed together to get back to our commitments sooner. Brad and the boys stayed an extra couple of days to get some additional visiting in and also to embark on a road trip to Mt. Rushmore and Yellowstone. Apparently, Brad's research did not reveal that Yellowstone is closed for the winter...he had some backtracking to do at one point. They made it home on Saturday night so that we could still have somewhat of a weekend together. This meant a second Christmas for the boys. Sunday morning, the boys woke to gifts from Santa (new bikes!) and a dog named Lucky from our friends Kate and Greg. It's battery operated. So, we hope that 2007 is exciting and chock full of adventure of some kind or another for us and the same goes for all of you. We are so glad that we had an opportunity this year to see many of our friends and family that we miss so much. We wish you all a wonderful and prosperous year ahead and to those folks that are near, we are planning on there being even more opportunities to connect and enjoy your nearness. Much love-- Zo