Day 8: June 1

We traveled 460+ miles on Day 7 (May 31) and we were planning to travel 608 miles from Mom’s house (17 miles from Calvin, Okla.) to the Gentilly Terrace neighborhood of New Orleans — home. We got up and going by 4:30 a.m. Our GPS gave a New Orleans arrival estimate of 2:56 p.m. But the car problems that developed Saturday had not gone away, in fact, it was getting worse.

Just outside of Longview, Texas, something broke. We knew we needed to stop. We found a Chrysler dealer and awaited the verdict. I thought it was an ignition or fuel management problem because it wasn’t getting hot, just running rough. The service manager suspected the same and checked the injectors and a computer chip. Unfortunately, those things were fine. An hour and a half later he returned to tell us we had broken a valve. A big time problem with lots of labor. So we are here for the night and most of the next day.

Here we are in Texas, relying on the kindness of strangers and what was Jonathan wearing … an Oklahoma Sooners T-shirt. If you don’t get the irony of that, you don’t follow college sports.

Would an epic journey be complete without a car breakdown? Here is a short survey of my breakdowns on epic journeys:

1983 – Car breakdown on the way home from my first beach trip (in Texas)*
1989 – Bus breakdown on the way home from my first mission trip (in Texas … I see a trend)**
1998 – Car breakdown on my way home from my first trip to NYC (in Maryland)***
1999 – Car breakdown on my way home from a trip to D.C (in Maryland)***
2005 – Bus breakdown in Israel (on the border near Syria and Lebanon)
2009 – Valve failure on the way home from the Grand Canyon (in Texas)

* I was 13, riding with my pastor and his family in a 1978 VW van.
** Riding in an ancient church van.
*** Our beloved Honda Civic only broke down twice in 186,000 miles. Both times in Maryland. We lost that car to Katrina.

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