When Life Serves up a Lemon, Make a Snow Monster

Every year our family looks forward to our trek up the I-17 to Flagstaff during Winter Break. It’s a time for us to go sledding, have snowball fights and get away from the busyness of our lives in Scottsdale. One of the most amazing things about the state of Arizona is the diversity of the climate and terrain. In less than 2 hours we go from cactus and tumbleweed to high pines and snow covered mountains.  

The first night we took our dog Rusty for a walk in the woods and went out to dinner. We got up early in the next morning to go sledding when we noticed something odd on the drive. It felt like the 4 of us were on pogo sticks the whole way there. I was hoping it was poor roads, but I had a bad feeling about our SUV. When we got there the fear became reality. Our rear suspension went out and the back side of our 2006 Navigator was bottomed out.

We made a call to our mechanic back home and he gave us some tips on what to do. Hopefully, the cold weather was just affecting it and if we allowed our vehicle to warm up longer, the air suspension may raise up. We tried and tried, but to no avail. My wife started to get a little stressed out as we thought about the rest of our trip. We had plans to go to the Polar Express later that day and now we had no wheels. We also had to decide on whether to get the vehicle fixed locally or tow it back to Phoenix.

At this point we all had a choice to make. Get completely stressed out and ruin our vacation or go sledding with the kids and figure out solutions along the way. We made the right call and spent the next few hours sliding down hills, having snowball fights and we made a snow monster. There wasn’t a whole lot of snow, so we did the best we could with what we had. We hung out by a fire pit area, chatted with strangers, pet some random dogs and started to make a battle plan for the rest of the trip.

Things didn’t get a whole lot easier when we found out that our SUV would not get fixed within a day and that there were no rental agencies who had a vehicle big enough to get us and our dog home. Then we called our insurance company to find out that it would cost $700 to get our Navigator towed back home. Top it all off with the fact that we need to check out of our hotel by 1:00pm tomorrow. Can we get stressed out now?!!

Leading by example

As a husband and leader of the family the answer is NO.  I need to lead my family by example and keep things calm. First thing we need to do is get a vehicle so we can get to the Polar Express train ride in Williams which is 30 miles away. So, we call Avis back and rented a Chevy Cruise for the night. Let’s enjoy some family time, drink hot chocolate, sing Christmas carols and pretend to go to the North Pole. Things can’t get a whole lot worse, so why sit any longer in this hotel room worrying about our situation.

We had a great time and got a good night’s sleep. The next morning I called one of my best friends, Andre Wadsworth, who knows just about everyone in the Phoenix area. Within an hour ‘Dre set us up with a tow truck that had a full second row to fit all 5 of us and get this- we didn’t pay a dime. We went from possibly spending $1,000 on a tow truck and rental vehicle that we would drop in Scottsdale to paying absolutely nothing. It was a fun ride home sharing stories with the tow truck driver and by the time she dropped us off at home, we had made a new friend.

Ok, so I just told you a great story, but what is the point of this blog? I want you to get two things from this today.

Number one: When the walls start closing in and things are getting stressful, take a breath, put things into perspective and brainstorm solutions. Getting all worked up will do no one any good and if your spouse is involved it is almost a guaranteed fight.

Number two: Doing everything on your own is a hard road to travel. As men we sometimes try to fix everything on our own. Is it our ego? Are we afraid to ask for help? I can tell you this, I love to help people so give others the opportunity to receive the same joy by reaching out and asking for assistance when you need it. Plus, they might have resources or wisdom that you don’t have.

If I didn’t make that call to Andre, who knows what would have happened. We still might be in Flagstaff for Pete’s sake. Surround yourself with friends who love you as much as you love your own family. Have people who are willing to hold you accountable for your actions and be willing to pick up the phone at 1:00am when you are in need. They can be hard to come across so when you find them, treat them well and treasure them more than money itself.

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