March 23, 2012
A few of us took Darius to his second to last clinical trial visit at Johns Hopkins, driving all day Sunday to arrive in Baltimore at midnight. His one-hour appointment on Monday was smooth sailing, then we headed over to Newark, DE, where DGW “13th crew member” Tracy Holmes manages the University of Delaware Marriott and always rolls out the red carpet for us. We got within 30 miles of our destination when the DGW van totally lost power. The scary thing was, we were driving over a bridge at the time and in the far left lane. Yikes! Fortunately, Amble was able to weave his way to the shoulder, we popped the hood, couldn’t find anything wrong, and the van restarted. Ten miles down the road, same thing happened again, and we were able to rest the engine and keep going. Third time…not the charm. The van would not restart, so we limped our way into a TA Truck stop, just 10 miles from where we wanted to be, and called AAA for a tow.
Our newest crew member, Mo, tried to help out using his brute strength, but his heroic efforts were not enough to save us. Hahaha.
Getting towed to the nearest Dodge dealership wasn’t a problem, but when AAA said it was against state law to tow a vehicle with passengers in it, we knew we were in trouble. What to do with a 265-pound Big Daddy Weems and his 350-pound wheelchair and his 200-pound Hoya lift???
We made an SOS call to Tracy at the Marriott, and despite that it was approaching 4:00 PM, she found an assisted living facility 40 miles away that had a bus with a lift and was willing to come to our rescue. The driver, originally from Liverpool, England, wasn’t too thrilled about making that trip in rush-hour traffic, but since his soccer team had just won, he took everything in stride.
When we all finally arrived at the Marriott, awesome welcome goody bags were waiting for us, along with hot showers, ice-cold drinks and the promise of an amazing dinner.
Meanwhile, at the Dodge dealership–and we lucked out, since Newark has one of the few Dodge dealerships that can even work on a Sprinter van (which has a Mercedes engine)–the news was not good. It was close to quitting time, and we wouldn’t hear anything till the next day.
We had a nice diversion Monday night when Tom, Aidan, and Owen Sandor (they appear in Darius Goes West) drove down from Fleetwood, PA to have dinner with us. Chef extraordinaire Jeff Brittingham truly outdid himself and made us forget our troubles…at least for a little while.
Tuesday morning, the mechanic called and said our battery looked like a balloon that was about to explode (thank goodness it didn’t!), and we needed a new one…duh. They put one in, but the battery still wasn’t getting power, and diagnostic test results were spitting out in German, so it was taking a while to “translate.” Great! By 4:30 PM, we got news that we needed a new alternator AND a new regulator. Cha Ching! And, to make matters worse, the parts were 80 miles away in Mechanicsburg, PA. Since it was late in the day, they said they’d wait and send someone the next morning to pick them up, and we would likely be on our way by end of day Wednesday. That was a problem, since the Marriott was not just booked, but overbooked for Wednesday night.
Again, Tracy Holmes to the rescue! She contacted the parts place in PA, then hopped in her car (with DGW Headquarters Manager and Logan/Ben’s mom, Barbara) and drove 3 hours round trip to pick up the parts, then delivered them to the Newark Dodge dealership at 7:30 AM the next morning. By noon, we were on our way home, and we pulled into Athens at 2:00 AM on Thursday morning.
MAJOR props to the folks at the University of Delaware Marriott (special shout-outs to Bill, Rebecca, and Donald) for treating us like royalty. We can’t imagine a better place to be stranded…or a more awesome group of folks to be rescued by.
Know about it!