Ready or Not #103: Car Trip Preparation

When my aunt passed away, we went to her funeral in Mesa, Arizona.  Before we left, we stocked the car with healthy snack foods (and unhealthy ones too) and lots of bottled water.  My husband checked all of the fluids in the van. He said that we needed some window washing fluid and a quart of oil. So I went to the store to pick some up.  Since we hadn’t had the van for too long, I thought that I would pick up some new wiper blades too.  Fortunately I was taught to keep the old ones as spares.

For the most part, our 10 hour drive was a pretty comfortable, uneventful trip — except for the part when the woman talking on her cell phone ran a not yellow-red light but a red-red light and just about changed the course of events.  After my husband and son screamed for me to stop, I slammed on the brakes just in time.  I found that adrenaline stays in your system for quite some time.

Our trip back was a little more exciting.  It started to rain. I was feeling pretty cocky and I mentioned to my family how happy I was that I had gotten the new wiper blades.  And then I turned them on.  The passenger side window was fantastic – not a streak anywhere!  There wasn’t a streak on the driver’s side either, but that was because the windshield wiper didn’t actually touch the window at all!  Two inches at the top and two inches at the bottom, but nothing in between.  I’m not one to panic quickly. It wasn’t really raining that hard.  After all, I could technically see my parent’s car in front of me.  I thought that at the next gas station we would pull over and fix the wiper.

That is when the hard rain hit.  I was hunching low in the seat so that I could peer out of the two-inch bottom – and then it happened. The windshield wiper blade and arm flew off of the windshield and was perched next to my driver’s side door.  I was driving blind, in Arizona, on a scenic route, where they have soft shoulders. AAGGGHHHH.

Fortunately we had a cell phone. We called my parents, who we were following, and asked them to find a safe place to pull over – immediately.  I could just barely see them through the rain and so we were able to get off of the road safely and change the wiper blades.  My point is – be prepared and have spare parts for your car, whether you are traveling or not.

I was surprised how many cars I saw on the side of the road with people who had broken fan belts, flat tires (without a spare) and overheated engines.  It doesn’t cost a lot to keep a first-aid kit, weather appropriate clothing, a spare fan belt, an extra quart of oil, windshield wash, WIPER BLADES, a spare gallon of water or two (to drink or use in the radiator} and a set of tools.  It might help you with a problem that could be minor, but then again it might just save you a lot of pain and heartache from something far more serious.  It would also be a good idea to try your windshield wipers out before you actually need them.

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