Trip to Branson…a Rough Start


Well, our great family expedition to beautiful Branson, MO got off to a horrible start.  Luckily, we were able to get things back on track, but oh what a mess!  Our trip started out as most family trips do.  The kids were whining about having to spend an entire 5 hours in our Land Rover…these kids have it so rough.  Teenagers are a unique breed.  Anyway, we got the car all packed up with our suitcases and a cooler full of tasty road snacks.  I actually packed some new spices that I wanted to bring to one of my friends who runs a food store in a town close to Branson.  We hit the road promptly at 8am.  Things were looking good.

Earlier in the week, I had taken the Land Rover into my mechanic to just make sure everything was working properly and that it could handle the 5 hours there and back.  Standard procedure.  My mechanic had it for 3 hours and handed me the keys assuring me that everything was good to go.  I have been using the same mechanic for several years and I have never had any issues with him.  Needless to say, I was not concerned about the condition of my vehicle on this trip.

The first hour of the drive was completely uneventful, other than my wife having to stop to use the bathroom…twice.  What are you gonna do!?  We stopped at a big gas station off of one of the main exits.  I bought the kids some candy to keep them happy and I bought a big coffee for myself to stay sharp on the road.  We were listening to the new John Mayer CD and everyone seemed to be content.  About twenty minutes after we left the gas station is when the problems began to occur.

My wife, Hazel, started to notice a slight odor of burning in the vehicle.  I shrugged it off and assured her that it must have been my coffee, which was not very good, but what do you expect from a gas stations.  Then, my daughter,  Amid, also mentioned the smell.  I started to think I was crazy, because I did not notice anything.  All of the temperature gauges seemed to be at normal levels.  I was not concerned.  Then, a sure sign of overheating presented itself.  There was smoke coming from the hood of the Land Rover.  I smelled it now!!  My wife gave me one of those looks…you know.  I quickly pulled over to the side of the road and got my family out of the vehicle as fast as they could move.

I popped the hood and couldn’t believe what I saw.  It was the most disgusting thing I think I have ever seen or smelled for that matter.  There was a dead squirrel on the engine block and he was on fire!!  I ran to the back of the Land Rover and grabbed the portable fire extinguisher.  I bravely returned to the front of the vehicle and discharged the extinguisher putting out the flames.  What an awful smell.  Anyway, the fire had done enough damage to the engine compartment that there was no way we were going to be able to continue our journey in this vehicle.  I reluctantly called a tow truck, and they showed up in an hour and gave us a tow.  Luckily we were all able to fit inside the tow truck.

The tow truck driver took us to the nearest service station.  The mechanic there said I was going to have to call my insurance company, because the car was most likely a total loss!  What a bummer.  Stranded.  Luckily, my insurance company provides a free rental car in situations such as these and they were able to actually send the car to us at the service station.  What a relief.  The rental car showed up two hours later.  It was a really nice Ford Explorer.  Luckily, none of our belongings were damaged in the smoke.  We loaded up the Explorer and continued our journey.  What a mess!  I’m going to miss the Land Rover.  It was the first “luxury” item I bought when Viva Pablo started to make it big.

Hopefully, this is the last setback on our journey to Branson.  Stay tuned for more details…

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