Casey is home for a couple more weeks and we wanted to take a day trip together while he was here. So, Friday morning, we jumped in the van and headed for Silver Creek Falls. We hoped to reach Aumsville for an early lunch at my friends restaurant, Neufeldt's. Judy and I first met Jerry and Ester Neufeldt back in 1994 and we see each other either there or at Jake's every now and then.
We were cruising along past Detroit when the van shifted down and just stayed there. At first I thought I was having transmission problems but when I looked at the dash, I saw the battery light. The further down the road, the more lights came on the dash. We were coming up on the Maples rest area, so we pulled in there. After shutting off the key, I could no longer start the car. The click, click, click told me that I had no battery left.
I called my friend, Ken Mays, who is the automotive instructor up at COCC and he told me that it looked like it was just an alternator problem. He said that could mess with the gear changing also. He wished me luck and I called AAA for assistance. I felt that I had the towing coverage for 100 miles so I felt that I was in pretty good shape. The informed me that I only had four miles and that any thing over that was to be billed for $3.75 per hour. They told me the best place to tow would be Stayton which was around 25 miles away. They asked me if I would like to upgrade and it would only cost $2.50 per mile so I agreed to it.
While we waited, what seemed like a line of people from Bend stopped by to give us their regards or point at the van and say, "Hey look, the Jake's van broke down!". Shortly thereafter, Santiam Towing showed up to save us and give us a ride to Stayton.
The Santiam Towing driver was a very nice guy and we enjoyed our conversation with him as he drove us to our hopeful repair. I asked him to take us to whoever he felt the best place for our repair would be. He spoke very high of a man named Corey at Stayton Tire. I figured that was as good as any so that is where we headed. He asked his dispatcher if they could give us ten miles and they agreed but let him know that AAA had not adjusted to $2.50 per mile for the remainder. I called AAA and the lady on the other end of the phone was very nice also. She apologised and offered us twelve more miles. So...the trip to Stayton only cost us $22.50.
We drove into a very busy lot at Stayton Tire and I began to wonder if we had made the right decision. We jumped out of the rig and our driver introduced us to the owner, Corey. Our driver spoke for us and asked if Corey could help us out. Corey said, "Sure", and while the driver unloaded the van, we went inside to get the paperwork started. Before we had paid for the tow, Corey had located a alternator and had it ordered to arrive in about an hour. I asked him how close they were to Aumsville. He said around three miles. I told him about my friend Jerry Neufeldt and he threw me his keys. "I have your car, so you take mine.". The key was to a beautiful baby blue chopped Chevy pickup.
So, Casey and I drove to lunch. We arrived that the restaurant that wasn't that busy and as we walked in to sit down, I asked the waitress if Jerry was in. The very cold waitress curtly said, "No". I asked her if he would be back and she said, "No, he is gone for the day.". She placed the menus on our table and just walked away. As she walked away, I asked her for his number so I could call him. "Nope", she said, "We can't give that out.". "Could you call him for me?", I asked but she was by then too far away to hear me.
She came back in a few minutes and asked us if we were ready to order. I said, yes we were and that I needed her to call Jerry for me and give him my number so he could call me. Casey leaned over the table and said, "Dad, don't tick off the waitress.". She walked over to the phone and motioned me over. She dialed Jerry and handed me the phone. It was only then that she started to soften, realizing that I wasn't just some salesman or something. After chatting with Jerry for a few minutes and then returning to my table, I found a waitress that was so much more friendly. She saw my Jake's hat and said that she used to live in Bend and just loved Jake's. She asked me if I would try and talk Jerry into purchasing the same chicken fry as ours.
A good meal under our belt and we returned to Stayton Tire. Corey was waiting out front for us as we drove up. "I got some bad news for you.", he said. "Your serpentine belt is cracked and after we took it off, we found that your water pump is going also. You really should fix it while we have it apart.". He asked us if we intended on spending the night and I said no that I needed to be back in Bend on Saturday. He knew that we had hoped to drive up to the falls before heading home. "It looks like we are going to knock around here for a while.", I said. Throwing the keys that I had just returned back to me, Corey smiled and said, "Go see Silver Creek falls. I close at five so if get back by then and your van will be ready.".
So, Casey and I jumped back into our baby blue ride and visited the falls. We drove to the middle area where I had not been to before and walked into at least five falls in a mile long stretch. It was truly a beautiful place and I only wished that we had more time to soak up the beauty. The trip back to the car was a little brutal with the path being pretty much up hill but this old man kept up pretty good, if I do say so myself.
On the trip back to the shop, I commented to Casey that our trip had turned into a real adventure and that lead to reminisces of previous vacations and trips and what he remembered of them. I remember wondering if twenty years from now, we would think back of this one also.
We arrived back at the shop with the van still up in the air so we walked over to the store across the street and bought some ice cream and soda. We realized that Boise State/Hawaii game should be on so we sat in the tire shop, eating our ice cream and then drinking our sodas while we watched the game. Shortly thereafter, Corey called me over to finalize everything and we were shortly on our way back to Bend.
The trip back seemed to fly by for me as we talked of quite a variety of things. We pulled into the house, still talking and sat there as we finished the mini debate that we had going on at the time.
All in All, it was a day that I am sure that I will remember for quite some time. A real adventure, meeting a new friend in Corey, and spending much quality time with Casey. A Friday to remember.