Continued from part 1, and part 2
Our car battery was dead. We were stranded in the country, in the parking lot of a old furniture store, miles from our hotel and from Walmart. It was 1:20 AM, and dogs were barking at us. Fortunately, we had made it off the road, and had a battery charger - a battery charger that would be helpful if only we could find a plug.
But this was in the country where plugs were unlikely to be found, and it was very dark. Dark, that is, except for the giant, old-fashioned flashing lights of the BRAY'S FURNITURE sign. Their gaudy glow was the only thing I could see as the car was failing and I was losing control. It had guided me to safe parking like a light-house guiding a ship home.
By its light, we scouted the parking lot, looking for some sign of a conventional plug. As a last resort, we looked at the large flashing bulbs themselves, and discovered our eagerly sought plug. It was far too obvious, and shocking that we could simply unplug this light. But it was our rescue!
It was only a matter of pushing our car over, unplugging their sign (then plugging it back in to another socket), and hooking our battery charger up to this giant flashing contraption. We hoped that country manners allowed for the sharing of electricity with passing rock bands.
This time we knew we had long wait. So we slept in the car as it charged, hoping not to be surprised by a country deputy or anyone with less law-abiding motives.
At 3am, we woke up, and the battery charger had actually made some progress. We unplugged it, and jumped in the car as it started, trying to preserve all the battery power we could. The tense ride back to the hotel had us watching the battery meter all the way, still wondering if we would make it up until the point we actually pulled in.
In the morning, we had a leisurely breakfast, and then plotted our return. By charging it in our rooms overnight, the battery had made it up to at least a quarter of a charge, and we decided that with no headlights or air-conditioning, we should be able to make it back. We almost did.
Along the way, we preserved battery charge by re-fueling without turning off the engine, by keeping dashboard lights off, and by not using turning signals.
But a few miles outside of Nashville, the battery ran out once again. At the same place we first broke down. Irony?
This time we had a charger, and made it into a McDonalds parking lot, where we were able to plug our battery into their lightpost. An hour and a half later, we decided we could make it the 30 miles or so back. We unplugged and hit the road, making nice time, and passing by my exit.
We could have stopped at my exit, but the problem is, we don't park the trailer there. We needed to make it 6 miles farther to park the trailer. We thought we had it. We made it 2.
As in all the cases before, the power suddenly started plummeting, the car started whining, and we realized we had only a minute to find a stopping place, or our car would find one for us. We were stranded 2 miles from my house, 4 miles from where the trailer needed to go.
Fortunately, one more charge at the local TA truck stop would get everyone home.