Stranded 1700 Miles From Home: The Marriage Pre-Test
We made it to the wedding. We pulled into our campsite in Yellowstone, WY, passed off the wedding goods to the bridesmaids and set up shop.
We had already had quite the journey by this point. We stayed with family in Nebraska for a few days and enjoyed the extended daytime hours. In the summer, it's really only dark from about midnight to 5/6am. We stayed at the first Cabela's in the United States in Sidney, NE and visited other historical sites along the way. We dipped into Colorado, mostly to say we were there - we peed there, too.
The wedding was beautiful. It was in a breezeway of the Old Faithful Inn, and the reception was nearby in the quaint, adorable town of West Yellowstone in Montana.
<sigh> Montana. I was in love.
When we left Yellowstone, we unknowingly went through the Gallatin Gateway. Literally the most gorgeous miles I've ever traveled in my life. The water was crystal blue. The trees were perfect. It was magical. I was on Cloud 9. Engaged. Traveling with my family of 3. Enjoying the best scenery there is.
We wandered western Montana, and I was more in love with every mile driven. We stopped in Three Forks, MT for lunch. We tried to stop a few other places - but we either didn't fit with our almost 50ft rig or everything was closed. So - this next stop, it was meant to be.
Lunch was at the Iron Horse Cafe. Bison burgers and huckleberry milkshakes were on the menu. Here is where I actually found out we had just traveled the Gallatin Gateway. There was the most beautiful painting of it hanging on the wall. The Montana map in our living room that so lovingly holds the engagement ring Copenhagen can - it came from here, too.
While we were sitting having lunch, it dawned on me that the next year - 2016 - was a Leap Year! HELLO. Our wedding date was going to be February 29th. A Monday. Why the heck not? We didn't do anything else by the book, so why would we get married on a normal old Saturday?
We traveled through Big Sky and Bozeman - soaked it all in, and then we headed into eastern Montana and North Dakota. Then...we hit South Dakota.
Everything fell apart in South Dakota. As we were leaving Custer, SD, close to the home of the huge motorcycle rally in Sturgis, the truck was acting funny. Except it wasn't super funny.
We blew the transmission in the truck. We came from the highest mountains to the deepest valleys - literally and figuratively.
Luckily, we had AAA for RV's. They towed the truck off to a local shop, and the camper was towed to a local campground. What a mess. It was going to be 2 days then a week then two weeks then three weeks. We rented a vehicle as to not miss the Badlands, Wall Drug and the prairie dogs.
We ultimately wound up renting a different car to come home. It was Oregon Trail to the max. We packed what we needed in the rental car - food and clothes - and left the rest in the camper. The dealership was 1 star on Yelp quality, so I was salty about that, too.
Zad, my dad and Zad's dad all drove to South Dakota the following week in the rental car to bring the truck and camper home.
We missed the Sand Dunes in Michigan, along with other places we had planned to stay and things we had planned to do. But. Everyone was alive, the truck was fixed kind of and the camper was mostly in one piece.
It was hands down the best trip we've ever taken, AND - I think God was preparing us for marriage. Every obstacle was thrown at us, and we conquered them all. I mean - we were literally stranded halfway across the country a few days after our engagement. With a 5 year old. And a dog. And a broken truck. And no way to tow our camper.
The trials were endured in the majestic West were just the beginning of the trials we'd face in the events leading up to and following our wedding.