Friday, June 20, 2008

The Brandin' Iron Saloon

As I sat belly-up to the bar at the Brandin’ Iron Saloon, I gazed up through the Smokey haze at a portrait of John Wayne. He looked down at me with a bit of a grin, as if he knew what kind of a day it had been.

I took a swig of my drink and glanced at my companion.

“Well,” I said, “I suppose our husbands aren’t going to let us out of the house for another 20 years after this.”

She nodded in agreement.

I went over the events of the day in my head. We had been looking forward to this trip for years. We each had two small children at the time, and a trip to the city without them sounded like sheer bliss. Although our plan would entail six hours on the road, we were excited as we embarked on our shopping excursion that morning.

The day went as planned. After a leisurely lunch at a restaurant that does not serve Happy Meals, we set off for the stores. We completed our shopping with efficiency and were poised to make it home by our kids’ bedtimes.

When the vehicle began to lose power at the top of a hill, we laughingly attributed it to the large amount of merchandise we had purchased that day. We became more concerned as we continued down the road, but the temperature gauge indicated no problems. It was suddenly apparent, however, that something was drastically wrong.

We pulled off the road into the parking lot of a log cabin-style bar. My friend popped the hood and looked for any obvious issues. Something smelled hot, but beyond that, everything looked normal. We were 150 miles from home and several miles away from a town, and of course we had no cellular service.

I took a deep breath and started for the bar. All heads turned my way as I looked around for the pay phone. Seeing none, I walked up to the bar. Explaining my circumstances, I brandished my calling card and asked to use the phone.

Since my husband was combining wheat and my friend’s husband was on a horse gathering cattle in the middle of the Missouri River Breaks, I considered my other options. It was past business hours, so calling a nearby service station would not yield any results.

I dialed my brother-in-law, who happens to live about half an hour from the site of our distress and also happens to be a mechanic. I attempted to describe our problem to him, and he told me to try to make it to the next town.

We started up the vehicle and had made it 100 yards down the highway when a terrible scraping noise attracted our attention. I looked in the mirror and observed smoke pouring from the rear of the vehicle. Recalling the time our grain truck had caught fire with my mother, sister, and I in it, I flew out the door and down into the ditch.

My friend, laughing at my reaction, ascertained that the smoke was coming from the brake drum. We left the vehicle where it was and walked back to the bar.

My brother-in-law graciously agreed to drive over and investigate the problem. Meanwhile, we called our babysitters to explain our situation and sat down at the bar. My friend ordered a Sprite, while I went for the hard stuff: root beer.

The locals were quite accommodating, letting us use the phone a number of times and offering to help any way that they could.

My brother-in-law arrived to rescue us. After taking out the bits and pieces that were left of the rear brake, he gave us a can of brake fluid and sent us on our way. We grabbed a cold drink at a gas station a few miles down the road and were all set to complete our journey home. Just then my friend looked as if she were afflicted by a terrible illness.

“I think I locked the keys in the vehicle,” she said, slapping herself in the forehead.

A man in the convenience store gave us the name and number of a tow truck operator, so we called and then sat on the ground next to the vehicle and ate the bag of candy I had purchased.
When the tow truck operator arrived, he must have thought we were quite a sight. He asked if we were okay, and I hastily explained that we had spent the past few hours at the Brandin’ Iron. He raised one eyebrow and looked as if that explained a lot, so I hurriedly clarified that we had been drinking root beer. I don’t think he believed me.

We eventually made it home that night, and I am quite sure that we had some guidance from above. The helpful and friendly folks at the Brandin’ Iron; breaking down in the vicinity of my brother-in-law; the person at the gas station who just happened to have memorized the number for the tow truck operator; the many, many deer that just stood by the side of the road and watched us rather than dart in front of us on the way home – despite our bad luck with the breakdown, the fortunate happenings that night are just too many to be coincidental.

Unfortunately, I think our children will be grown before our husbands turn these country girls loose on a trip to the city again.


Mum-me said...

Ha ha! That was a good story.

Reminds me of the time I was driving home from my first night out with friends since becoming a mother, and halfway home along the narrow country road my headlights died ....

Frazzled Farm Wife said...

Cute.....sounds like something that would happen to me!

Treasia said...

What a good story that was.

Jenn said...

Cute, great story!

Dawn said...

I've had similar trips. My advice, just get a hotel room in the city and stay the night! If you're not gonna be allowed out again for 20 years, you might as well make it worth it! Ha!

Happy for your blessings of protection and a safe trip! Don't you just love it when God arranges all those little "coincidences" for us???

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