Sunday, November 3, 2013

Kaput on the way to Stuttgart

We stopped the Autobahn on the way to Stuttgart.  The Autobahn was a parking lot as our car burned to the ground people.  Our IRL friends and family were not surprised by this occurance- weird stuff usually happens to us.  Most of the time, it's our fault. This time, it was most definitely NOT our fault.

The couple we were staying with has a son who was playing in a baseball championship in Stuttgart. The dad of the kid, the kid and our kid (AJ) went ahead to Stuttgart for practice and warm ups.  Guitar Man, my friend A and I followed a day behind in our rented van- the van we were planning on traveling in for a week. Guitar Man drove and he, with all due respect, isn't the smoothest driver on the road.  He is safe- never been in an accident, but just a little jerky on the brake and the steering wheel.  I'm used to it and have his rhythm down pat and can totally roll with it.  It's like a dance- he leads and I follow.  

We were jerking along just fine for a few hours until the car went a bit haywire.  The dash started blinking and Guitar man couldn't put the car in gear.  We found a shoulder to turn off on and called the insurance company. While we were calling, white smoke started coming out of the engine- we thought it was steam and just stayed put.  About 5 minutes later, the smoke turned gray.  We got out and Guitar Man emptied the luggage onto the shoulder.  I thought he was over-reacting.  Soon a few cars stopped to help.  They called the fire brigade and the police.  After about 10 minutes, flames started coming out of the engine compartment and in less than 5 minutes the entire car was engulfed in flames.  Pops and explosions and rolling debris were frequent.  For every explosion, my friend A and I jumped out of our skin. The jumpiness wouldn't leave until the next day.  I'm sure it did wonders for our adrenals.  We moved farther away and finally the police and fire brigade showed up.  They put out the fire (it seemed tricky to put out).  From the time the fire started to the the time the car was engulfed in flames was about 15 minutes.  The car burned for another 20-30 minutes before the firefighters put it out.

The fire chief took us the nearest town where we got on a train to Stuttgart. On the way he told us the fire was electrical and we were lucky.  We were worried about liability and how we would get home and what would happen to the rest of our trip and we were trying not to think of what could have much worse it could have been.  We were very, very thankful that the kids were not with us.  We just sat with stunned, dumbfounded looks on our faces and made jokes to lighten the mood.

We had to board the train without tickets- evidently the Germans don't usually check tickets.  The ticket machine was broken and we didn't have time to walk to the station to buy a ticket.  Of course, they decided to check our tickets- the tickets we didn't have because they USUALLY don't check tickets! When my friend tried to explain what happened, he just looked at us dumbfounded and let us ride for free. We smelled like fire so I guess he believed us.  He kept saying, "Kaput?" and we kept saying, "Kaput!"

The silver lining in all of it was that the driveway down to the villa we were visiting in Tuscany was completely treacherous and had one hairpin turn that our replacement car barely made.  We had to burn the parking brake and make a 5 point turn to get the minivan down (and then back up) the villa drive.  The van we originally had wouldn't have made it to the villa since it was much bigger and longer.   Another example of how something bad really turns out for the best.

Here's some video of us going down the villa drive.  I'm the one giggling and ignoring AJ as he keeps trying to talk to me.  Mother of the year.  The video doesn't seem to capture the fact that we are bumping along two strips of concrete through the Tuscan mountains with a steep drop off on one side.  The video stops at the hairpin turn.  Wish I would have kept it rolling:

Here's my rendition of a hit song whilst viewing our van burn to the ground:

Thank you for humoring me and reading our car fire story (if you made it this far!).

God Bless You!