Our first day of our mini-vacation was Sunday. We drove through Fort Caswell and saw the grounds but weren’t allowed to explore them. We made the decision to go back and get a better look on Wednesday, our last full day there.
Nana decided she’d catch some rays on the beach while we went to Caswell, and on our way to the fort, my oil light came on again. I pulled over, let the car cool down, and prayed the van wouldn’t leave us stranded. I was concerned because Mom and Dad were going to be watching my boys for the weekend while Matt and I stole away to attend (orchestrate and officiate) the wedding of one of our precious former students… she had planned to take my car. More on the van drama later. For now, I’ll show you some of the fun moments the boys and I had at Caswell:
View of South Port from Fort Caswell. (They have filmed several movies there, including I Know What You Did Last Summer and A Walk to Remember.) Soccer. Always soccer… This is not safe. I was very proud of America for letting us walk around this dangerous site on, taking the risk! A dark tunnel… instead of walking down it, they threw rocks into it. Parker “Madison” in front of Battery Madison. Bailey, the KING! The Oak Island Lighthouse as seen from Fort Caswell. Yes, I was nervous. Yes, I still let them climb. I just think the following two pictures are funny!
And one of the more precious moments of the day was when Carson was carrying Parker and the two burst into laughter. It lasted all of thirty seconds but Carson soaked it all in. I snapped away and later Carson looked through these pictures thrilled that I had captured the moment. After exploring the fort for about 90 minutes, we headed back to meet up with Nana. They needed to get on the road because she had to be at church by 6:30. Because of my car issues, I was not comfortable sending her home in my car, so we loaded hers up to the brim and sent them off. I closed up Grandaddy’s place, getting it all set for the next guests to arrive, loaded up the remainder of our things, and headed out. On my way to return a movie to the RedBox down the street, my oil light came on again and the meter read HOT. I prayed I could make it the mile I needed to go to where I had seen a car repair shop.
I did. I told them my story and they had mercy on me. They did a quick check of the fans to determine they were working just fine. They checked a few other things and noticed that I was about out of radiator fluid. One of them filled it with water and then put a pressure cap on it, forcing air into the pipes (forgive my lack of knowledge of the correct words, here). Water bubbled out of a crack in the pipes and down onto the ground. That’s not supposed to happen.
Prognosis: cracked radiator. Cause: normal wear and tear.
I needed a new radiator.
They didn’t have one in stock but could get one in about two hours. It was almost three o’clock at this time. I asked if they thought they could get me on the road by sometime the next morning, reminding them that I had to be in Asheville by 5:00 the next night for the dress rehearsal of the wedding I was directing. I also told them I needed to pick Matt up in Columbia on the way, as he was officiating the wedding. Neither of us could miss the rehearsal!
They were not sure but promised to do their best. I had no choice but to let them try.
I drove back to Grandaddy’s house (just over a half-mile away), unloaded my van into the already closed-up house, turned everything back on, and changed into running clothes. I returned my van to the awesome Yaupon Service Center, gave them the keys, and went for a run along the beach. It’s been some time since I last ran on the beach. And probably over 12 years since I last spent a night all by myself. I’ve either had Matt with me or a kid or four.
Not a situation I would have created but I was determined to enjoy it! I ran 2.5 miles down the beach, enjoying the view as a local would. This picture is looking back toward the pier right where I had started, and it is so far in the distance that you can’t even see it any more. That was definitely my first run ever at that beach. (I’ve only been running since 2008.)
Then I turned inland for a half a mile, and then ran back along the main road until I hit Food Lion (which happens to have the Red Box). I rented two movies I had been wanting to see, and ran the two miles back home. (I sort of felt like a thief running away from Food Lion with the movies in hand. It felt weird.) I got home, showered, and ate dinner. Oh, this mama was prepared! I had purchased plenty of food for our vacation to eat in as often as possible and I happened to have a few frozen sausage biscuits that hadn’t been consumed by the boys just yet. I ate a biscuit and banana for dinner, and had carrots and dip-dip (that would be Ranch dressing for those of you who don’t know toddler-ease) for a late-night snack.
I watched two movies and read. All alone. By myself. In the quiet. It was great! The only bad part was wondering whether or not I’d make it to the rehearsal in time! (By the way, the bride didn’t know anything about this at this point. I had a back up plan in place in case I didn’t get there… she had some great bridesmaids! Oh, and I know you’re itching to know what I watched: Les Mis and The Odd Life of Timothy Green. I really enjoyed both of them, especially Timothy Green.)
The next morning I prepared everything to be ready to walk out the door as soon as they called to say the van was ready. As I waited I got the last of the rehearsal plans typed out and I read. When they called they told me they could come pick me up, which was over and above what they were required to do! I started walking, watching closely for my van to turn down our street. I ended up getting to the car shop before they left. It wasn’t far away!
My car was fixed and ready to go, and I was on my way by 10:30.
After I loaded my car back up and re-closed Grandaddy’s place, I plugged Columbia in to my GPS. I worried I wouldn’t make it in time if I stopped to get Matt so I called him and told him that he needed to drive separately. That way there was no chance of him being late and only a slight chance of me being late.
After I had driven for 20 miles or so I zoomed way out on my GPS. No idea what made me do this, other than to see the state of NC in its entirety. As it turned out, the fastest route to Asheville was through Columbia!! I pulled over and double checked this on my iPhone. Sure enough, three of four routes from Oak Island to Asheville go right through Columbia, SC! Crazy! And the route straight through NC was the longest route by thirty minutes!
However, if I were to go straight to Asheville and not stop to use the restroom or get gas (which I was going to have to do at some point), I would arrive at the wedding location at exactly 5:00 pm. I really didn’t have time to pull off, go on post, get Matt, drive back off post and get to the rehearsal on time. It would add 20-30 minutes to the drive time, putting us both late.
My brain was working overtime and I came up with a good solution. I asked Matt to get a friend to bring him to an exit near Fort Jackson where I could get gas and pick him up, with as little delay as possible. He tweaked it a bit by calling the car dealership at that exit, which happened to be the one we bought his Jeep from, and asked permission to park his car there. They were happy to let him do this! I pulled over, grabbed Matt and we took off! We drove a few miles over the speed limit and our ETA never changed from 4:58. I hit traffic six miles away but the ETA never really reflected it. I arrived at the location and changed from my shorts and t-shirt to a dress, using the back of my minivan as a changing room. I walked up to the party just a couple minutes past five and even beat a few members of the wedding party!
I’m stressed just recalling how close I cut it, but ultimately I’m thankful that the Lord kept me safe, got us there on time, and that my car was fixed. Oh, and thankful for my emergency fund that turned my emergency into an inconvenience.
And with that, I’m done with our beach adventures! I’m glad you read along!