Just a few days into the new year, Rhonda needed some more TLC. We thought we had just gotten a bad battery but it turned out to be the alternator. Did you know that when your alternator isn’t running your battery will run out in just two days? We found out as much.
We bought a battery charger at Kmart and basically charged it whenever it was parked in the driveway. We also had a different battery from another car adventure that was sitting in our laundry closet, so we got that one charged up too and hauled that around for a week while we waited for the alternator we ordered to arrive on island (why would they have one at the auto parts store? Silly statesiders.).
I noticed that the engine was slow to turn over when I left the house to pick Dan up from work one day. I made it to his office just fine, and while I was waiting for him thought I should save some time and go get gas. As I started the car, the engine ba r e l y turned over, so I kept it running.
“Get in, we’ve got to get this puppy home and plugged in!!” I told Dan as he came outside. The ride home started out as normal, but my adrenaline started to rise as I saw the battery gauge slowly dip into the red zone. As we went up Mafolie hill and started coming down the other side, the radio went out. Dan didn’t notice.
“What happens with the battery totally dies?” I asked Dan.
“What do you mean?” Dan asked.
WHAT DOES IT SOUND LIKE I MEANT!? I thought. He figured I had just casually turned off the radio to better hear my own panicky thoughts, apparently.
As we’re coming down the hill, Rhonda’s sad little headlights start to slowly dim, to the point of barely winking any light into the road ahead. All of the gauges are now flashing at me with what little life they have left, as if I weren’t aware that we were nearing the end. The battery is very nearly completely dead, and there isn’t a good place to pull over. Even if we did get to the side of the road, we’d be hoofing it home because A & M are still stateside for the holiday (we usually call them the Reinhardt Rescue team, for obvious reasons). Dan is trying to soothe my frayed nerves that are firing a million miles a second.
“Do you still have power steering?” he asks.
“What does it feel like to not have power steering?!” I reply nervously.
Down the hill we glide. I swear it feels like we are the Grinch’s sleigh, loaded with thousands of pounds of presents. Later, I kind of wished there was a camera in the car catching our facial expressions and conversation. At that moment I was very glad there was no camera. And the lights go dark. I’m basically letting gravity pull me down a mountain in a giant black box.
Did I mention our gas light had come on at one point?
“Just get as close to the house as you can,” pleads Dan. Sure thing.
We get over the last hill we have to climb and are on the last stretch down the mountain to the beach. I was never so glad to see the pathetic little Hull Bay sign. We get to Hideaway, and are barely able to coax Rhonda past the bar over the two speed bumps that have magically turned themselves into volcanic mountains. Despite this, I actually start to believe we’ll make it all the way home. We are slithering past the beach, following the slowest car on the planet. I just. Need. To make it up the hill, car!! GET OUT OF THE WAY!!!!
Nope. I press on the gas and go next to nowhere. Then all of a sudden it was very hard to steer. So NOW I know what it feels like to lose power steering. Dan helps me shift to the right of the slowest car on the planet and pull just off the road next to the beach. And we’re parked.
I’m quite confident the Sara of a few years ago could not have done this. We get out of the car, gather our things (including what was left of my nerves), and begin the five-minute trek up the hill to hour house. Dan took our fully-charged battery back down to Hull Bay, got a beer and changed it out (with a helping hand from the headlamp he got for Christmas).
Living on an island is such a learning experience in itself, but this moment with Rhonda was particularly eye-opening. I feel really lucky to have what we do. We have a running car (that starts! Consistently!), we have a roof over our heads and food on our table. This place has a way of showing you what really matters and for that I’m grateful.
I’m also grateful for the opportunity to spend time in such a beautiful place. The first weekend of the new year was spent on Salomon Beach, St. John. We learned from friends about this beach, which is the only beach within walking distance of the ferry. We were treated to this beautiful place, with a spot of warm sand to relax just waiting for us. I have a feeling we’ll be back to this beach a lot in 2015!