Traverse City Record-Eagle

Feature Columnists

January 5, 2014

Marta Hepler Drahos: A return trip from hell

It’s a week and a half before Christmas and we’re on our way to Virginia for an early celebration with my sister.

We’re loaded down with gifts, clothes, a giant Christmas wreath, cold-weather and rain gear, cameras and a laptop, books and holiday CDs, a cooler and snacks.

We stop in Lansing for my favorite pizza and a hasty tour through the world market. On our way out of town, the car starts to lurch and the engine light comes on. Steam billows from under the hood.

We limp to two or three repair shops before we find someone with the tools to diagnose the problem: a misfiring engine coil. The good news is that he can fix it. The bad news is he won’t be able to get the part for two days.

We’re frantic because we have reservations at two of our favorite places that night and the next, plus special holiday activity plans we don’t want to miss. Since going home isn’t an option and we don’t want to be stranded in Lansing, we decide to rent a car. We call several places and learn they’re all closed and won’t be open the next day, either.

I have a fit, then remember the airport. Surely an airport would have a car rental agency open at what is now 5 p.m. on a Saturday. It does, so we limp there, rent a car and learn we can’t park our own there until a tow truck can pick it up. So we find a car dealership that handles our make and drop the key with a note in the night deposit box.

It’s dark and numbing cold as we transfer all our stuff from our car to the rental. Finally we’re on our way again.

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