Pete Gilbert">

Two miles to go, and then it happened…

We were 446 miles into our trip. At the time we didn’t realize we only had two miles to go before we reached our destination. Our family of five was cruising nicely along highway M75 probably going a few miles over the speed limit when it happened…

We were headed to Boyne, Michigan for a weekend ski trip. This story isn’t about the ski trip. We’d broken up the “getting there” portion of the drive over a two-day period, but were still a little road weary, when at mile 446, the Blonde Bomber started screaming about a potty emergency. She didn’t sound like she was bluffing.

To my right I saw a gas station, probably a 1/10 of a mile down the road. I was being cautious slowing down because everything was snowy, as a result, we missed the gas station’s entrance.

Since this gas station was location at an intersection, I assumed, much like EVERY OTHER GAS STATION IN THE COUNTRY, there would be a separate secondary entrance. I finally slowed down enough to turn into the second entrance, it was a little snow covered, but didn’t look like much of a big deal…until I made the turn. What I turned into wasn’t an entrance at all, it was part of a snowmobile trail running parallel to the road. This trail that had about a foot deep of snow covering it. Once I pulled into what was essentially a snow bank, we were stuck, which also meant we were screwed. Forward, nothing. Reverse, nothing. No amount of rocking back and forth, floor mats under the tires, nothing we could do would get us out.

For some reason my wonderful wife thought this was a great time to remind me that she told me not to turn in because it wasn’t an entrance, and if I’d listened to her to begin with this wouldn’t have happened at all. She also reminded me of a few other times I hadn’t listened to her when she was helping me drive.

In addition to being stuck, we still have a child that needs to potty. At this point, my wife and BB walk through the snow into the gas station bathroom.

First Born, the worrier (not the warrior) of the family, was in full-on question and panic mode. “What happened?” “Are we stuck? Why are we stuck?” “How are we going to get out?” Unsure what to do, and about to call AAA, an angel (guy in a pickup) from heaven (the gas station parking lot) pulled up next to me and offered help. He pulled out the largest, rustiest chain I’d ever seen and handed it to me. At this point my son started to get really excited. Middle Man suddenly felt like he was an actor in his very own action movie.

Angel in the Pickup told me I needed to hook up the chain to my van because he didn’t want any liability in the matter. Fair enough. I crawled, face-down on my hands and knees in the snow looking for something, anything, on my van not made of plastic. Finally, I hooked the chain up, put my van in neutral and we waited.

At this point, First Born’s fingernails were chewed down to nubs and Middle Man was so excited he could barely stay in his seat. After the chain was taut, the pulling began, and in a matter of seconds it was over, we were back on the road. First Born was relieved, Middle Man was shouting, “Woo-Hoo! Rock n’ Roll!” He was having the time of his life.

I thanked (and paid) the man and as fast as it began, it was all over. By that time, my wife and BB were done going potty and headed back to the van as well.

This little five minute situation was a perfect representation of each of our kids. First Born was nervous and curious. Middle Man was enjoying the action and uncertainty, and Blonde Bomber, the one who got us into the situation in the first place, was oblivious to the entire ordeal. Story of my life.

-Pete

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