It was a simple quest.
Andrew and I were going to take a relatively quick 5 1/2 hour road trip to the Capital District so we could get India from college for the summer.
But someone had decided her van wouldn't make the 30° grade of the Driveway From Hell over the winter and parked it. Not in the barn on the hill, where it would be protected. Nooo. I parked her in the driveway and let her sit - under 3 feet of snow - untouched. Now we were facing the consequences.
India's last class was on May 7th and so we were going to head out on the 8th and spend the night in Amsterdam but the van needed a front brake rebuild. So, off she went for repairs. Then I took her for inspection and she failed!! The back brakes needed a rebuild too. The mechanic who did the inspection offered to fix it for merely the cost of my first-born son.
I took her back to the mechanic who did the front brakes. They told me it should make the trip but turned my rotors and returned her to me on the new departure date, promising to repair the back brakes when I returned from the trip. Next I went back to a different, non-shady, garage for a new inspection.
One week and two hours late, we headed out on our great adventure. Braving Buffalo's rush hour traffic, singing happily to the stereo with my beloved Bose speakers and amazing bass - so the van vibrates as she rolls down the road.
She started making noises. Quiet at first. I had to roll down the window to hear it. But we kept rolling.
I pulled over and was almost instantly followed by a state trooper. He checked her out but we saw nothing wrong so he told me to drive on the shoulder slowly. He followed me as I did. Once I pulled back into traffic, he did a u-turn on the thruway and headed back to Syracuse.
And she clunked again!
I called the number given me by the trooper and the state police sent me a flatbed. They took my van to a shop in Mattydale and dropped us off at a hotel under the over-pass to Route 81. So much for sleep.
The next day at around noon, they finished the rear brake rebuild (for half what I was quoted by the local mechanic). Andrew and I headed back out on the road. Once we relaxed, we went back to singing and laughing.
We finally got to India, where she almost knocked me off my feet when she jumped into my arms. I took India, Andrew and India's friend Samara to the mall in Rotterdam while I popped into an old friend's office in Albany to say "hi!". I had lost touch with him for 30 years and it was so good to see him again!
Back to the hill they call Amsterdam and we went to meet up with Samara's family and loaded the van with India's futon and other items before heading to the hotel.
The next day we headed back home.