Sunday, June 12, 2011

Unexpected Vacation, Day 1

Earlier this afternoon, we left Lake Metigoshe en route to Bottineau, ND for juneberry malts at Denny's Pizza Inn before departing for Dickinson, ND.  Well, we made it as far as Westhope, ND, which is where we are right now.  Yep, automotive troubles have left us stranded in a small town in rural ND on a Sunday night!  Ready for this tale?

After we left Bottineau and traveled west, we noticed some chugging of the vehicle as we drove: intermittent jerks, as though it wanted to stall every three or four minutes as we drove at highway speeds.  We were just a few miles east of Westhope before the vehicle stopped wanting to maintain speed.  At first, I wasn't able to accelerate past 50 mph, and the top speed just keep declining from there until the vehicle was jerking by the time we entered Westhope.  I pulled into the Farmers Union Oil Co., which was a very fine place for the vehicle to die and refuse to start again.  Their shop isn't open on Sundays, so we are stranded for the night in Westhope.

The friendly cashier in the convenience store dialed the Gateway Motel in town and handed me the phone, and I was able to get us a room for the night.  We got out our luggage and walked the couple blocks to the motel, used the self-serve system for retrieving our motel room key from a wall safe, and brought our things into the room.  We walked back to the convenience store to buy sandwiches and beverages for supper, which we ate in the motel room while watching TV.

Let's look on the bright side:
  • The direct route out of Bottineau toward home would be Hwy 5, but it's closed due to flooding.  That's why we took Cty Rd 6 that runs through Westhope--a town that has a motel and an automotive shop.  Otherwise we'd be sleeping in the van tonight on the side of the highway!
  • We got stranded here before the convenience store's hours of operation ended for the night.  Gas station sandwiches, bags of chips, and bottled soda may not be a glamorous supper, but it's better than literally nothing at all!
  • The convenience store cashier was kind and helpful, as was the motel employee on the phone.
  • Our motel room is spacious and clean and has been remodeled fairly recently.  And it's got cable TV, so we have plenty of options for viewing.
  • We have clothes and toiletries in our suitcases because of our weekend spent at Lake Metigoshe.  Had this just been a day trip somewhere, we'd be stuck here with no change of clothes and no toothbrush or toothpaste in the morning!
  • We're safe and sound, we're fed, and we're in clean and warm beds for the night.


  1. This happened to me in eastern Montana. Good friends resulted from my 3-day ordeal!

  2. There is a lot of "bright side" there, in spite of the breakdown!

  3. Unplanned stops can always be fun! It's all in what you make of it!