Thursday, June 18, 2015

O'Briens Going For BROKEN DOWN... And Getting Help From a Stranger!

As many of you know the wagon broke down on day 2, just as we were leaving Las Vegas. All in all, for as big of a car issue as it was… It was the pretty perfect setting for a breakdown, considering where a lot of the trip will take us. However, there is really only one thing worse than a breakdown on day 2… A break down on day 1, and thank God we avoided that or we may have had some rethinking to do?

A couple of people have asked how we knew there was a problem with the wagon. Well you see, there was no NOT KNOWING there was a problem with the car. One second we were fine and the next second the back axel fell out or something. All I know is that I know nothing about cars and I knew it was bad the moment it happened. I quickly said to Shawn, “Let’s not make any rash decisions”…. Which meant, “Let’s please not scrap the trip”. 

We immediately took to social media because well, it’s 2015 and if you don’t know the power of social media yet, you must not care about it! Within a few moments we had friends reposting our IG photo of us broken down as well as HAMB members suggesting how to fix the problem. Shawn’s phone was ringing off the hook with calls to try and help which is a great feeling knowing that many people are following our journey and care to reach out when we’re having a car issue.

At the time of the breakdown it was 104 and even though- thank you Lord- I was only walking about ¾ of a mile to a McDonalds, it was a brutal walk with two kids. About mid way through our walk, I saw a Best Tire Center that was open on a Saturday at 3:00pm, which believe it or not- most things in this area were closed on Saturdays- including the Aamco Transmission the tire shop shared a mini mall with. I figured I’d walk up and see if they could help. The guy told me that their other shop, located not far from us, was a mechanic shop and open until 8pm and would look at the wagon if we could get it towed. AAA was already on the way and they took an ungodly amount of time to get to Shawn, especially considering the heat but regardless they came through and at about 6pm, the car was at the shop.

Meanwhile at McDonald’s the kids and I shared a second lunch while thoroughly enjoying the AC. I realized after we were done eating that the Happy Meal toys were legit Nerf squirt guns... I bought each of them one and we took the party outside where they ran around under an outdoor pergola area for an hour. Best $3.00 ever spent and we’re still using the water guns!

After being at McDonald’s for almost 2 hours, Shawn called to tell me that a total stranger, a young guy named Jeff who lived in Las Vegas (a friend of a friend of a friend of Shawn’s who got a call from his friend about us), was going to drive to Car Quest and pick up the part (real axel), and then drive it to him so he could bring it to the mechanic. After dropping the part off with Shawn, he then came to McDonald’s and got the kids and I and shuttled us back to the Strip where we used our hotel room card to get back in to the Treasure Island pool. He was like our little angel! And we didn’t even know him! He refused even gas money and stayed with Shawn until 10:30pm when the car was fixed. Some people are just total gems and we were so lucky we met this guy, what a huge blessing he was to us. I mean look how happy he looks to be helping!! But serious, he truly was!

The kids and I lounged at Treasure Island’s pool until it closed at 7:00pm and then headed to Fashion Show Mall where we ate dinner and bought Birdie some Forever 21 sunglasses, because how can I resist a girl in pink shades for $6?

I decided after the the mall we should walk the Strip and try and see the Volcano erupt from the Excalibur (or where ever it erupts from), since we’d missed it the night before. The Strip on a Saturday night with two young kids in 100 degree heat… Well, on the one hand it was great because we had an exciting place to go that didn’t require me buying them new clothes (Cormac was in trunks and a tank, and Birdie a romper)… On the other it was the Las Vegas Strip on a Saturday night with two kids in 100 degree heat. I did ok until about 9:30pm, which is when the kids started loosing it and I followed suite. I started texting Shawn every 30 minutes asking what was “the plan” was. I didn’t want to stay in Vegas another night because I don’t like messing with timelines and plans, but we were getting tired and I could only handle so much more carrying Birdie everywhere because hello, it’s late and she’s exhausted. I figured the only thing that would pick my spirits back up was… Another mall. So we went the The Miracle Mile Mall at Planet Hollywood and the kids got cookies, I got a latte and let me phone charge so I could await the big call from Shawn.

He called at 10:30pm to say he’d be picking us up at 11:00pm at Planet Hollywood. It was like the voice of a literal angel. As long as I knew what was happening, I was fine. So even though 11:00pm was way later than I was initially expecting, there was a definite end in sight. I made my way through the Planet Hollywood lobby, to the valet area and the kids and I plopped on a bench at 10:45pm… They both layed their heads down and took a brief rest and then it happened, our knight on his white horse came galloping around the corner (Shawn in the wagon)… the kids and I literally cheered.

Upon getting settled back in to the wagon, both kids went to sleep almost immediately. I knew they could both sleep like that all night because if my kids are one thing, it’s great sleepers. I asked Shawn how much road he thought he could charge and he said, “A lot” and that’s all I needed to hear. I knew we could get back on track with our plans if we just made it to St. George, UT that night, or morning…. Whatever. We arrived in St. George at 3:30am and decided to not waste money on a hotel for a few hours… But instead utilize the ol’ Walmart parking lot “visitors welcome” rule.

It was a pretty brutal night sleep-wise. At one point I had both feet out of the car window and slept like that for about an hour, while Shawn was sleeping sitting upright with his head on his knees. The hard part about the Wally’s parking lot idea (now we know) is that it’s mainly used by big rig truckers who leave at any time of the morning, so just when you’re finally hitting some REM, the huge big rig next to you starts up and startles the crap out of you. I’d say Shawn and I got about 2.5 hours of sleep that night… The kids slept until 8:30am, when we literally had to wake them because we wanted to go in to Walmart. And they were pissed.

After getting out of Walmart, Shawn got the stove up and cooked a full breakfast of pancakes and eggs and we got in the car and headed for Zion National Park. Zion was great, beautiful, all of it. We explored a bit, took tons of pics and then headed for our first camping of the trip, a KOA called Bryce Zion Campground, directly in the middle of Zion and Bryce. Super cute campground with horses practically in your site, which the kids loved. We swam, mingled with other campers and I remembered I do love camping… Which is good… Because we’ll be doing a lot of it.

So all in all, the wagon breaking down didn’t set us back a bit. It made us tired as hell… But it didn’t screw up any of our reservations for camping.  And if you’re wondering why things look so planned and mapped out in all the pics… It’s because they truly are. Shawn spent a great deal of time planning all of our camping spots and while we’re very flexible usually, this first part of the trip is a bit more scheduled to try and fit in the national parks/camping while trekking along to Chicago, where Shawn has to be on the 22nd for school.

As the trip progresses, we may say, “Hey we love it in this town, let’s stay another day!” but for now, we have to get a move on from one city and state to the next… Which, while we’re on the subject… Is hard on Birdie, who lays roots at each place and cries every time we leave. But I’ll save that for a huge recap trip on “What to Expect on a Road Trip with Two Young Kids”… Doesn’t that sound epic?

Until we find free wifi again…

xo road trip or die xo,


  1. Marvelous recap of your trip so far. You are darn funny, Kenna!

  2. I love your blog. And that first photo is so cute and it looks like you have antennae.


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