Friday, September 20, 2013

Break-down and out in Weirdsville, MO

No amount of careful planning can prevent unexpected troubles while on the road. Black Cloud and Worse Luck took their vehicle that was only about three years old (less than 50,000 miles on it) cross country for the second time. They had no problems on their first trip and the car had been reliable up to this point. Prior to leaving, they had a trip-check done by a trusted mechanic consisting of: an overall assessment, an oil-change, fuel filter change, new brakes, new tires, and some other minor repairs. They thought they had all their bases covered in the car maintenance department... WRONG!!

Not a great welcome to Missouri!
Shortly after stopping at the Welcome Center near the Missouri Border, on an unseasonably warm day, their car began to run hotter than normal. Unsure if it was the temperature outside or idling in traffic, the two decided to pull off at the next exit and check things out, but... within seconds in St. Louis, during rush hour, in bumper-to-bumper traffic, with no break-down lanes, the car decided it was done. Smoke billowed from the radiator and the engine shut off. The two were forced to pull off on the grass divider as tractor-trailers slammed by.
Gateway Arch in St. Louis, 630 feet of stainless steel, located at the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial.
Thank goodness for AAA Roadside Service and the kindness of tow truck drivers. If you are planning a cross country trip, AAA and a cell-phone are invaluable. While this situation sucked, it could have been a whole lot worse. Saint Louis is a major junction of several interstates and traffic is notoriously bad around 5PM. With the absence of break-down lanes, it would have been dangerous to stand on the side of the road and attempt any kind of repairs. Additionally this was the first time that Black Cloud was pulled over and nobody offered to help (including several police cars that sped by). Good thing help was already on the way... 90 minutes later...
Stuck in the Twilight Zone? I think so. Black Cloud and Worse Luck ended up in a small town outside of St. Louis that we will refer to as Weirdsville. The tow-truck driver assisted the dynamic duo to transfer all of their luggage from their SUV and bring the vehicle to a garage. He dropped them off at the local Super 8... ah, luxury. Home of the stale donut breakfast, complimetary burned coffee, not-so-clean rooms with decor circa 1975, and the aroma of smoke.

The location was a bizarre highway overpass next to an Enterprise Rent-a-car with no available cars, a greasy BBQ restaurant, and a Farm Supply Store. Nothing else was within walking distance... three days the couple impatiently waited, stranded and wasting their vacation in the middle of nowhere eating horrible food. Car repairs would take aproximately 8 days due to a cracked block. They telephoned every car rental place in the vicinity, there were no cars. Finally on Day 3 an Enterprise employee took pity on the two... he found a van that wasn't being used and worked out a price deal (they usually charge by the mile)... and miracle of all miracles they were able to get back on the road again. Goodbye Weirdsville! Hello $150.00 speeding ticket in Kansas... but it feels so good to get back on the open road.


  1. One day I'm gonna come to USA and see places you are talking about :) Greetings from Sweden :)

  2. Thank you, I hope one day I will see Sweden. I think you would enjoy a trip to the US, there is so much to see! Especially the National Parks.