If you’ve been following me on social media, you know that my husband, Ken, and I spent most of last week driving cross-country to our family’s vacation cabin in the Colorado Rockies. It was a planned trip but not a planned drive (especially with the cost of gas), but we were asked to drive out by a dear friend back home who had extensive back surgery and needed a “new” truck delivered to his cabin just up the road from ours. This friend has done so much for Ken over the past thirty years and made it a point to visit my father-in-law several times before he passed away. Our family is so lucky to have a friend like him. We couldn’t say no.
I think that was a pivotal decision in our journey. We could have said no. We could have told him it was too expensive to drive. We could have done things differently, but driving that truck out west was the right thing to do. I think it was because we said yes, not despite it, that everything happened the way it did. You could call it luck…
When I first met up with our friend’s son to pick up the Toyota 4Runner (actually an SUV rather than a truck), I was shocked. The truck was new to them, but it was clearly not new. In fact, the son told us that the truck was about 32 years old! I had serious doubts about whether we would be lucky enough for the truck to make it all the way from the Eastern Shore of Maryland to Southwest Colorado, not to mention up the steep slopes of the Rocky Mountains to the cabin. I was even handed some extra money “in case it breaks down on the way.” This was not how I envisioned the trip beginning! Nobody even mentioned to me that the air conditioning was not supposed to work. First strike of luck–it worked like a charm the whole way.
Ken was attending a conference outside of Pittsburgh, so I left early the next morning to pick him up. That’s where I began having more doubts…
Fortune and Friends
As I climbed the mountains in Western Maryland, I pushed the accelerator into the floor as deeply as I could without going right through the floorboards, and the speedometer kept falling. The little truck with a six horsepower engine was no match for the Allegheny Mountains. What was she going to do in the Rockies? I didn’t want to think about it. Luckily, I made it to the resort where Ken was staying, and he took over, assuring me that the truck had all the get-up-and-go she needed.
We didn’t have far to drive that day. We were meeting friends in Ohio for dinner. We had made plans to visit the National Museum of the Air Force, which I had visited back in May with my girlfriends, and I knew Ken would love it. Though Ken was initially late in checking out of his conference, we were lucky to make it to the museum with enough time for Ken to get a taste of everything it had to offer. He’s now planning on adding an extra day of travel to his fall hunting trip so that he can really take the time to explore the entire complex (though one day is hardly enough).
We met our friends for a fabulous dinner and then continued on our journey for a couple more hours.
A Bounty of Berries
The next morning, Ken was pulled into a conference call for work that we hadn’t planned on. He needed to be on video at a desk where he could easily access his paperwork from 8:30am until 12:30pm. It meant knocking off a couple of the places we intended to visit, but with some luck, we should still be able to make it to the cabin by Friday night. The question was, what would I do with myself for those four hours in a small roadside town with nothing nearby? Thanks to the Internet, that “nothing nearby” was anything but. I found a local farm that offered pick your own cherries and blueberries, and both were in season. What luck for me as these are my favorite fruits! It was a quick but beautiful drive through the countryside, and the day was sunny and breezy, just right for berry picking. By the time I left, I had 5 pounds of cherries and four pounds of blueberries.
I headed back to the hotel and was on a call to my daughter’s mother-in-law, making plans for the upcoming baby shower, when there was a pounding at the door. The clerk from the night before had not put in our request for late checkout. The housekeeping staff was not happy, and soon the phone was ringing, and the manager was telling us we had to vacate immediately. Ken had an hour left on his call, but his major role in the meeting was over. How lucky for us that he could do the rest of the meeting from the car. Even luckier, we were on the road a good hour sooner than planned!
We spent the next 12 hours driving through Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri, making it to Topeka, Kansas, in time to fall into bed and immediately go to sleep. That little truck kept plugging away, air conditioning blowing without a problem, and I was amazed at how smoothly all was going. As luck would have it, we were making great time and realized we would be able to do something we’d never had the right timing to do before–drive to the summit of Pike’s Peak. How lucky could we be?
Grace and Gratitude
About mid-morning the next day, we made a quick stop at the Cathedral of the Plains, the St. Fidelis Basilica, where we stopped almost twenty years ago on our first drive to the cabin. This beautiful church was built in 1911 and was the first basilica in Kansas. It was given its nickname, Cathedral of the Plains, by William Jennings Bryan on a visit in 1912. The inside of the church–which luckily for us is always open to welcome visitors–is beautiful, but not as stunning as the stained glass depiction of St. Cecelia that overlooks the choir loft. We felt lucky to have enough time to revisit this magnificent piece of architecture.
We were back on the road and heading toward Colorado Springs, still making great time, singing along with my Apple Playlist of classic country blasting from Ken’s portable speaker. Everything was just perfect as we pulled through the gate at the ranger station and began our ascent into the clouds above Pike’s Peak. We summited and spent about an hour marveling at the views. Everything had worked out perfectly in our favor. We were even going to arrive at the cabin earlier than anticipated. What luck!
Twists and Turns
On our windy descent down the mountain switchbacks, the brake check showed that the temperature was perfect, and the ranger high-fived Ken and said we’d have no trouble making it back down. That was where our luck ran out.
Or so I thought…
As we sat on the side of the road, four miles from the ranger’s station, watching steam billow from under the hood, we looked at each other and asked, “What was that noise?” An inspection of the engine told us that the radiator hose was dry-rotted and had blown off the radiator with such force that it had destroyed the cooling fan and blown a hole in the radiator. Ken looked at me, “What luck that we’re only 4 miles from the ranger station and not at the top.”
Later that evening, with the truck safe in a local repair shop and a rental car full of all our stuff in the parking lot of a little BBQ place we found, I groaned and complained about the turn of events in our day. I was hungry and tired and irritated that we would now arrive at the cabin far later than we’d hoped. And as our current state of luck would have it, the restaurant had one of my favorite wines on the menu, but they were out of stock! I ordered a Ginger and Jamison instead, but I really wanted that glass of wine.
Ken looked at me and said, “Do you have any idea how lucky we are?”
“Hmph,” I sniffed, not wanting to hear his attempt to make me feel better.
“We made it all the way to Colorado instead of having this problem halfway across Kansas. We were four miles from the ranger station. There was a dirt patch on the side of the road just big enough for me to pull over. A flatbed trailer was actually able to get the truck off the narrow mountain road, and it all happened before the mechanic closed for the weekend. We were able to get a nice rental car, and we’ll still get to the cabin tonight. Don’t you get how lucky we are?”
Just then, the waiter put the rocks glass in front of me, and I took a sip. “Oh my,” I said to Ken. “I’ve been drinking this for years, and this has to be the absolute best ratio of ginger ale to whiskey I’ve ever had.”
“See,” he said. “We’re still in luck.”
I wasn’t sure I believed him.
Then our meals were served, fast, hot, and looking delicious. It was our second attempt at barbecue that week. The first one was an epic fail. Ken’s favorite place to stop in Kansas had been sold, and the new owners served us the most overcooked, dry, tasteless “meat” products they could cut off the cow and pig. This time, however, both the corned beef and brisket in my combo melted in my mouth. My sweet potato fries were the perfect temperature, and the cornbread was outstanding. Ken’s meal was just as appetizing. What luck that we happened upon that place. I was full, satisfied, and very happy.
We drove on and watched the sun set behind the mountains, which were growing closer by the minute, and made it across the continental divide shortly before dark.
Not Lucky at All
It was smooth sailing the rest of the ride, and our cabin was a welcome sight under the glow of the moon. We still have to work out getting the truck over here from Colorado Springs, but we made it safely and have two weeks to enjoy our time in the west.
Looking back, I can see that Ken was right all along.
He continues to marvel at how lucky we were, but I see it differently. Instead of luck, I see our trip as being full of blessings. We were blessed to make it to Ohio and have dinner with Marian and Greg. I was blessed to find the orchard and bring with us a bounty of fruits. We were blessed to be kicked out of the hotel and have that extra hour in our day. We were blessed to be able to stop by the basilica and make it up Pike’s Peak. We were blessed with how everything turned out with the truck that afternoon. We were blessed to find a new favorite restaurant to stop at on our travels, and we were blessed to make it to the cabin on Friday night as planned.
Our entire drive was blessed. We were being watched over from above and guided safely to our mountain home. There’s nothing lucky about it.
You can continue to follow our travels over the next two weeks on my Facebook and Instagram accounts!
Enter the Contest!
Don’t forget to share your Selfie with a Saint to be entered into our end-of-the-summer drawing to win a copy of our new book, Meet the Satins From A-Z, A Children’s Introduction to the Saints. Just take a selfie of yourself with a saint, and share the picture with me! Find a statue of a saint at your church, on your campus, or during your travels this summer, and take a picture with him or her. Then post the picture on Instagram or Facebook, and tag me in it–@AmySchislerAuthor– with the hashtag #Meetthesaints. All photos must tag me, use the hashtag, and be posted by August 30.
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Amy Schisler is an award-winning author of both children’s books and sweet, faith-filled romance novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture Me, Whispering Vines, and Island of Miracles are all recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top inspirational fiction books of 2015, 2016, and 2017. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016. The Good Wine, the sequel to Whispering Vines was released in June of 2021. Island of Miracles has outsold all of Amy’s other books worldwide and ranked as high as 600 on Amazon. Her follow up, Island of Promise is a reader favorite. Amy’s children’s chapter book is The Greatest Gift, and her most recent suspense novel is Summer’s Squall.
Amy’s second book in the Chincoteague Island Trilogy, Island of Promise, was awarded First Prize by the Oklahoma Romance Writer’s Association as the best Inspirational Romance of 2018 and was awarded a Gold Medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards 2019 for Inspirational Fiction. It is the 2019 winner for Best Inspirational Fiction in the RWA Golden Quill Contest, Best Romance in the American Book Awards, and a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Award of Fiction. Amy’s 2019 work, The Devil’s Fortune, a finalist in the Writer’s Digest Self-Publishing Awards and winner of an Illumination Award, is based, in part, on Amy’s family history. The third book in Amy’s Chincoteague Island Trilogy, Island of Hope, was released in August of 2019. Amy’s book, Desert Fire, Mountain Rain begins her new Buffalo Springs series. Book two, Under the Summer Moon, was released in December of 2021.
Amy’s new book, Seeking Tranquility, was released on June 15, 2022. Buy your copy now!
You may follow Amy on Facebook at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor, Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschisler and at http://amyschislerauthor.com.
Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me (2015), Whispering Vines (2016), Island of Miracles (2017), Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms (2017), The Greatest Gift (2017), Summer’s Squall (2017), Island of Promise (2018), The Devil’s Fortune (2019), Island of Hope (2019), A Devotional Alphabet (2019), Desert Fire, Mountain Rain(2020), The Good Wine (2021), Under the Summer Moon (2021), Seeking Tranquility (2022).
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