With just a little more than an hour to spare we were able to drop Aaron and his friends off at Ft. Sam Houston in San Antonio TX to begin their in-processing. Patt and I breathed a deep sigh of relief and with Aaron's car still in tow we headed north on I-35. We would attempt another long distance drive to try to get home, or at least get as far as we could. The possibility of snow the next morning in Dallas played into this decision, as well as our desire to just get home after 48 hours on the road in this mad dash around the mid south.
February 10, 2010 6:30 PM
We made it just a little more than 30 minutes up the road and as we entered Universal City TX Patt's cell phone rang. It was Ronny our 17 year old.
"Mom. The house burned down"
Back in Perryville AR, snow and ice had set in soon after we had left. Snow still covered the ground and Ronny was standing out in it, barefoot, watching his home burn down. The Pastor and his wife, from Antioch Missionary Baptist Church across the street, had come to take Ronny home with them until Ronny's grandparents could get by to pick him up.
Meanwhile, on the road, I stopped for fuel and Patt made calls to our friends and family. Tears and anger and angst and the obligitory question "Why us?" started popping up. We still had a long way to go. So refueled, we headed north trying desperately to get back "home".
9:00 PM - knowing we needed to make a long drive we decided to stop to get coffee. By this time Patt and I started feeling a general peace with the situation. What could we do otherwise? Keep Calm Carry On. It turns out that the little red notebook was invaluable in our taking notes, jotting down claim numbers and phone numbers, making lists of things to do, etc. Now back to getting coffee. Not just any coffee would do and if you know Patt, you can guess where we had to stop. We stopped at the first Starbucks we came to. I pulled Patt's big truck towing Aaron's car into the miniscule parking lot of this establishment, obviously made for yuppies driving Mini Coopers or Prius, pulled around the alley in the back after dropping her off at the door. As I was pulling around the building Patt's Big Black Dodge hesitated a little (Dodge's with HEMIs don't hesitate as a general rule). Feeling the tug towards the back of our rig I stopped. I tried backing up-went no where. I tried going forward - no go. Upon inspection, I found that the passenger side fender of the car dolly was hung up on the concrete post protecting the corner of the building for just such an occasion. I've learned, when in the midst of a situation where standing still is not an option, going backward can't be done, yet going forward will be messy and painful, there's not much choice. I hopped back into the truck and for better or worse, I stepped on the gas pedal. The raw power of the 5.7 Litre Hemi slowly and surely yanked the trailer up onto one wheel, scraping along the posts, and set it down quietly in the middle of the driveway. Thinking the worst was over, I attempted to straighten the rig out and get it positioned to enter the access road to I-35. Once again stepping on the gas I noticed a hesitation and the smell of burning rubber. Turns out, the fender of the car dolly had been bent onto the tire. We were dead in the water. We weren't going anywhere.