The man who went up a hill and came down without a car

My wife and I went away for a few days this past weekend. My parents were in town and willing  to watch the kid so we jumped at the chance.   Been quite awhile since we’d had a chance to sleep in and not have any responsibility (at least to another another person).

20130615_090038We found a nice cabin out in the Texas Hill Country. Looked like a nice little place; patio with a view from the top of a hill, hot tub, grill and kitchen, wifi, far away from anyone else. A great place to get away from it all.

As we’re approaching the little town of WImberly where the rental company is located, warning lights suddenly light up on my Prius. The indication is a problem with the hybrid system. This happened just a few weeks ago. Then it turned out we needed to replace the auxiliary battery (the standard one every car has rather than the big hybrid battery).

When the warning came on, since the car was acting normal beyond the warning light, I assumed it was probably something similar. Defective battery or something. We were close to the rental company and they closed at 6 so I decided we’d get our cabin keys and then decide what to do about the car. You know whats coming.

After picking up our keys we go back to the car and it won’t start. There we are, in a small little town, 15miles from the nearest town with things like taxi’s, tow companies and car repair shops. It’s just about 6pm on a Friday, which is apparently when everything closes. The cabin we’re staying in is still about 10mi away from where we are.

We make some hasty phone calls, learning that all of the car rental places in the nearest town are out of cars for the weekend and about to close so we’re not their problem.  The Toyota dealer can have a tow company out to pick the car up the next morning and take a look at what the problem might be. They even have car’s we can rent. But that will all have to wait for Sat.

At this point, its looking like we have a cabin but no way to get to it or, if we did, no way to get back. Fortunately, a wonderful lady named Liz who worked at the rental agency stepped up to save us. She offered to drive us up to the cabin and then to the Toyota dealership the next morning. And she wasn’t even technically working that night.

Thanks to Liz going out of her way, twice, we were able to spend the rest of Fri evening relaxing in the cabin and then get a rental car the next morning, so we were no longer stranded. This proved extra important as it turned out that the cabin had terrible cell coverage and the internet was not working. Had we gotten up there Fri night, we would have been stranded with no phone, no internet, no transportation and miles from the nearest person.

It’s nice to learn that there are still genuinely nice people out there willing to help a total stranger. And not just help but go out of their way to help. I’m not sure how we can ever replay her.

As it turned out, the transaxle on the car had failed and now needs to be replaced. For $5000 making this the most expensive vacation we’ve ever been on.  We toyed around with the idea of just selling it (the Toyota dealer would have given us a few $k) but its only 7yrs old and has less than 90k miles on it. As much as I like new shiny things, we weren’t ready to go car shopping yet.

Maybe it will be dumb dropping $5k on a 7yr old car. Maybe it will just start to have some more problem. Or maybe it will be fine. Until the aux battery a few weeks ago, I’d never had a problem with it. Oil changes, new tires, light bulbs were the extent of the cost put into maintenance. Overall, it’s been a nice car.

Despite the car trouble, we had a pretty nice weekend. Once we secured our own transportation, we were able to go back to the cabin and relax for the remainder of our time. Played some games for two, sat on the patio admiring the view, slept in and just relaxed.  Things we really hadn’t gotten to do in quite awhile.

I get to make another trip out to San Marcos next weekend to pick up the car.  That will be a long 7hr round trip. But if we had sold the car I would get to make that same trip today in order to turn in the rental.  A few days in between long car rides is nice.


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