Houston, We Have A Problem (part 2)

Be sure to read Part One Here

I don’t care about what anything was DESIGNED to do, I care about what it CAN do.
— Apollo 13

My mind started thinking of all the music gear that we needed to play a show. It was like a 3D Tetris game. I would mentally place pieces, flipping them in my mind, rearranging them - until I thought they would fit. Even if I could get all the gear to fit in the rear of the van, that was not including any of our personal belongings or our conference materials. If we could pack our clothes and enough gear to play a concert, I would call it a success. 

My father-in-law arrived in the van and the kids jumped out to give him a hug. He helped up carry gear over. I started calling for pieces in a specific order. After just one small adjustment, it fit! Everything except our two broken lights. I thought it was bad luck the previous week when those lights broke, but now I was thankful that we didn’t need them. 

The kids started piling in the passenger seats. We filled 9 seats with passengers and our 10th seat held all of our clothing, schoolbooks, and electronics. It wasn’t pretty, but it worked! At that point, we were talking about having the bus towed to Effingham. My thought was that after the tow truck arrived, we could come and reclaim anything that we missed. 

Let’s work the problem people. Let’s not make things worse by guessing.
— Apollo 13

As we got settled in Effingham, it was very clear that the bus was not going to be repaired by the time we needed to leave in one week. It also became evident that the tow company was not making the 10 hour trip a priority. We weren’t going to be able to claim any “extras.” I was glad that we brought all of our clothes and not just a few days worth. 

The Lunar module has just become a lifeboat.
— Apollo 13

I found a hotel that offered large suites to accommodate our family.  Michael got in contact with Daniel from The Thirsting Band and asked about his bus. Daniel was really compassionate and helpful in working with us. If we could manage for 2 weeks, touring out of the van, we could transfer to his bus and keep our tour schedule. The RV conversion on his bus was not complete, so it would not be quite what we were accustomed to, but it would work. 

OK… so it’s not a perfect parallel. Our lives were never actually in danger. We leaked coolant, not oxygen. Our van was our LEM, allowing us to not have to cancel our concerts, to keep our job. It was never our plan, and it is not what it was designed to do, but we made it work. It felt dramatic in the moment.

As we headed out of town in our van, ready to execute our plan, something went wrong. All at once, we started hearing a loud noise. Michael looked over at me and said, “Is that us?”

“I’d pull over,” I said. We had just had the van in the shop to get new tires and have the steering checked out. When we were driving in town it wounded like we were scraping a mud flap or something. Now that we were on the interstate, it was much louder. “It could be road noise, but since we heard the noise in town we should check.”

Michael got out and inspected all of the tires. They looked great. Brand new, actually - because they were. We started off on our way again. The noise got worse. We pulled off at the exit and did another inspection. We could now see that our lug nuts were loose and one of the posts had completely broken off. We were about to lose our tire.

“I’ll call roadside assistance for a tow truck.” I say. 

“I’ll call my parents to come pick up the kids.” Michael said. 

Luckily we were only 10 miles out of town. A couple of hours or waiting and $67 at the tire shop remedied the problem.

So long, Earth. Catch you on the flip side.
— Apollo 13

As of now, we are continuing our tour in the van. We have scheduled to meet Daniel and to borrow his bus until December. We still don’t know what is wrong with our bus. We don’t even know if it has been towed to Effingham. We don’t know if the repairs will be covered under warranty from the rebuild. We are just working the plan and waiting. December is the next time that we will be back in Effingham. Hopefully we’ll have something to work with by the time we get there.