After we saw the milking and left the farm, we stopped in the little town of Harmony, ten minutes away from the little town of Canton where the Haugen farm is situated. We wanted to get something cold to drink.
Getting back in the car, Gina was in the driver’s seat. She turned the key and there was just that sickening noise of a battery that did not have enough juice to turn the engine. So she pulled the key out of the ignition – read my lips: SHE PULLED THE KEY OUT OF THE IGNITION. And the car promptly tried to start itself! (The warning lights came on as when you turn the key and there was the same noise from the engine as it tried to turn.) Then it stopped; AND REPEATED TWICE MORE!!!
Gina kept swinging the key in the air as if to say “HELLO!!!! I have taken the key OUT!!!”
We called back to the farm and Inga said she would bring jumper cables and help us get on the road again. So we just waited for her.
We had the hood popped (American for “we had the bonnet open”) and within a few minutes a tall young man stopped in a huge truck and offered to help – Kern said he was an army mechanic with time on his hands. By now it was about ten at night and starting to turn dark.
He meticulously cleaned the corroded terminals before jump starting the car and at that point Inga arrived from the farm. Kern even gave us his jumper cables to take with in case we got stuck again. Inga recognized Kern as someone she knew and had not seen for a long time so we left them chatting away while we thought we were heading home…
It was not very long when the “low on gas” light came on even though the tank was half full. Then the seatbelt sign for no reason and then the tachometer and speedometer both died. It looked like the headlights were also fading.
And here is where the hand of God blessed us: We reached another small town, Preston, and just managed to turn into a side street, when the power steering and brakes failed. Gina was able to roll the car back into a parking spot in front of a bowling alley. And then the car was DEAD!
We called friends who knew mechanics and got confirmation that it must be the alternator that was bust. And you realize how unprepared you are for such an eventuality: our cell phones were both low on battery power and we only had a car charger with us (and no car to charge them from). Troy was willing to come and get us, but then we would just have to return the next day to come get the car in any case.
Across the road was a car mechanic and just a block away was a hotel. So we decide to just stay the night and see if they could fix the car the next day. We booked into the hotel for the night (no change of clothes, no tooth brushes, no nothing). The meat Inga had given us we packed into the hotel room’s little fridge and hoped it would stay frozen.
We slept well and was at the workshop the next morning when they opened. What a nice experience it was to have to deal with a broken car in a rural town! Don Besse, the owner, helped us himself and carefully explained everything they were doing as the cleaned the battery terminals some more, tested and replaced the battery and then tested and found the alternator to be faulty and fried. We would have to wait until two that afternoon for the part to arrive from Owatonna. So Don gave us one of the cars he had there and showed us on a map a few places where we could sight see.
We booked out of the hotel and peeked in at the small visitor’s bureau, where we chatted with the very inquiring lady who ran it. We asked at the bowling alley and they put our cooler bag with the meat in their freezer until the afternoon.
So we spent most of the day walking around the little town of Lanesboro, where most things only function from Thursday to Saturday, and of course we were there on a Monday!
The Root River runs through Lanesboro.
We had lunch at the Pedal Pushers’ Cafe.
Our car was fixed and we could leave Preston about four that afternoon, tired but very grateful that everything had gone so well and that the repair bill for the car was not as huge as we think it would have been in the Cities.
We both agreed that God meant for us just to be quiet and to relax for one unplanned day!