On Saturday, Bracken and I headed out just the two of us on an adventure to Portland. He was excited to meet his penpal in person for the first time and I was excited to meet my friend, who also happens to be his penpal’s mama. (I guess I could call her my penpal as well, since we’ve been e-mailing for years and you could count e-mailing as an adult form of penpal, right?) I’ve been reading Nicole’s blog since Bracken was a baby and with writing back and forth for so long, I felt in a way like I already had met her in person, but actually getting to was such a treat.
We met their sweet family at Harvest Festival at the Waldorf School in Portland. Bracken and I had only been to the Waldorf School in Eugene, so it was fun for us to get to see another Waldorf School. The penpals got to exchange gifts in person, not just through the mail, and were instant buds playing together. (Bracken received the sweetest handmade gifts, bless their hearts, including a wool acorn necklace and a wool felt bunny for his birthday to match the bunny they knew he was getting.)
At Harvest Festival Bracken carved a pumpkin (and admired the nearby towering pumpkin that resembled a snowman, but I thought carrying one pumpkin around would be plenty.) There was apple pressing, seed ball making, and so much more. Bracken dipped some beeswax leaves, but mostly he was interested in running around, exploring the new space, and playing with his friend. He loved the “climbing thing.” (I have no idea what it’s proper name was, but it was really cool.)
Bracken even got to do some selfies with his bud, and being the king of selfies these days, was pretty pleased. (Their dog Paw Paw seemed pretty pleased too because he got rewarded for coming all the way to Oregon with an abundance of belly rubs.) I ran into a new friend from the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival, what a small world! We had such a great time and I was so glad we went.
Our crazy drive home was a bit of a different story, though. I guess I should back up and say that a belt in our car has been squeaking for awhile now. It would randomly squeak and then randomly go silent. We’d bring it to the mechanic to check it out and the noise would stop. Then we’d drive back home and it would start back up again. Can you say annoying?! The mechanic (and Jeff) did check the belts, though, and they all looked good.
After Harvest Festival, I stopped to get gas and then as I was merging onto the interstate, my brake light came on. I was very confused by this, pulled over at the next exit, and called Jeff to tell him what was going on. I also noticed the steering wheel started getting a little stiff. Strange. The brakes were working just fine and I thought perhaps it was a pre-warning that we need new brake pads in the near future? I didn’t want to alarm Jeff overly much since I knew he always gets nervous when we drive far from home without him because we don’t have a second vehicle for him to come pick us up if need be. Since the car was still driving fine, I got back on the interstate.
But I had a really strong intuition to stop driving. I got off at the next exit, noticing that the steering was getting stiffer and stiffer all the time. Something definitely didn’t feel right. I went to a gas station, bought some power steering fluid and some brake fluid, just to be on the safe side, and wasn’t afraid to admit that I had no idea where in the world to put those. There was a guy at the gas station who was happy to help, and I greatly appreciated it. He saw, however, that both of those fluids were completely full up to the top. What in the world? And then, rather than closing the hood right away, he lingered for a moment longer and suddenly said “You have no alternator belt!”
Huh? And as he started explaining what was happening to me, it suddenly dawned on me why the battery light had also just popped on in the car. He told me that my car could have died at any moment while I was driving it. I told him that I was heading down I-5 with my son in the backseat, and he could have just saved our lives with the information he gave me!
There was a mechanic right next door to the gas station, but they were closed for the day. It was a Saturday afternoon and they wouldn’t be open the following day, on Sunday. I headed across the street to the auto parts store to get an alternator belt, explaining that I was in a bit of a pickle. Though I’m pretty sure it was against their policy, a kind guy there grabbed the tools in the back of his car and came and put the alternator belt on my car, and I was so grateful he made an exception. He got the car back up and running, both the brake light and battery light went off in the car, and the steering became fluid again. Bless him!
I have no idea how many times I said “Thank you” and he may have tired of hearing of it. He wouldn’t accept any money that I offered him, but I asked him to please let me give him something in return. I said “Okay, what’s your address? I’ll send you a surprise gift.” Then he told me about his daughters, that all the work he did was for them, and that if I sent them a surprise he would like that very much. We said our goodbyes and Bracken and I headed home. I learned a lot about cars that day, and was humbled in realizing how important that knowledge is, even if it’s something that has never in the least interested me.
Surely we had some angels watching over us. I was so touched by the kindness of strangers, I could have cried. It’s times like those when you truly feel there are so many good people in the world, willing to help each other. Thanks to the help of those two kind people, Bracken and I were able to get home safely that night. Jeff and the mechanic had just checked the alternator belt, so we were scratching our heads about that one. But guess what? The squeaking stopped.