“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.” – Henry Ford

I mentioned a few weeks ago that Kitty and I did not currently own a mobile phone.  This caused great annoyance and confusion when Kitty was admitted to the hospital in early May.  I made some steps towards getting a new mobile phone over the last week or so, yet had not finalised this.  On Sunday, I ran into some minor obstacles that escalated into huge problems due to Kitty and I not having a mobile phone.

Another view of the beautiful town of New Norfolk, from the Wikipedia entry on the location.
Another view of the beautiful town of New Norfolk, from the Wikipedia entry on the location.

On Sunday morning, I decided that I needed to take some of our trash to the nearby garbage dump, this is part of our minimising our possessions.  I took our two boys with me, and Kitty took our daughter to the supermarket to get some items we needed.  We both took a car each, I took our van which was loaded with garbage, and Kitty took our little town car.  I drove the 10 minute drive to the nearby town of New Norfolk.  New Norfolk is a nice enough town.  It is home to many antique stores and a great market, yet it is also home to a multitude of strange and unusual people.  As I entered the town I noticed that my battery light on my dashboard was lit.  This was strange, as the car seemed to be working well.  I also noticed that the engine light was on.  I considered this and decided that once I got home I would check out the engine for any obvious issues, and continued driving.  Two minutes later, my Airbag warning light was on, followed immediately by my ABS light.  Now I was worried.  I decided to pull over into a parking lot just ahead, yet the car’s power dropped suddenly.  I managed to get to the parking lot and stop the car.  I climbed out and checked the engine.  Apart from some corrosion on the battery, it all seemed in order.  I got back in and tried to start the engine, only to discover that there was no battery power to do this.  I sat back and considered my options, as my two sons argued in the back about something.  Kitty wouldn’t be home for hours, so I couldn’t call home.  I didn’t have a mobile, nor the phone numbers, of my friends who might be able to help.  We didn’t have roadside coverage, so I couldn’t call a mechanic.  I decided that as it was close to lunch, the boys and I would go for a walk and consider our options.


An hour later, having had lunch, we returned to the car.  I decided to try to start it before we tried calling home.  I fiddled with the battery cables and scrapped off some of the corrosion on the battery before trying the engine.  To my surprise, the engine started.  I decided to drive to the tip and unload the garbage before heading home.  We drove the last 3 kms to the tip, and just as I was about to stop at reverse to the tip face, the battery light came back on.  This was, possibly, the last place I ever wanted to be stranded.  I decided that while I was there, I may as well unload the trash… which I did.  Trying the ignition, the car took a few seconds before the engine caught.  I decided to drive straight home, so I left the tip, and New Norfolk behind.  Just as I turned off the highway, the lights lit up again… all at the same time, and there was no power in the engine.  I slowly drifted off the highway (lucky there was no oncoming traffic) and parked at the side of the road.  Despite a short wait, the engine would not start this time.  There were no phones, nor houses around, so we had to walk the 3 kms back to New Norfolk.


From the New Norfolk entry in Wikipedia. We started our walk on the far left, and finished near the far right.
From the New Norfolk entry in Wikipedia. We started our walk on the far left, and finished near the far right.

The walk took around an hour.  With my youngest son being 6 years old, he was walking slowly (due to his short legs) and he was apparently terrified of the oncoming traffic (driving at around 70kms per hour towards us).  When I tried to carry him, he told me that he is afraid of heights, so I let him walk.  There was no clear section to walk, so we were forced to walk on the shoulder of the road, either through grass and prickles, or on the road itself when no traffic was around.  I had to keep my eyes on my two boys the whole time, to ensure they didn’t walk in the wrong area, such as when my eldest started walking on the side of the road, despite the oncoming traffic.

Eventually, we reached the town’s edge.  We stopped off at a small café called “Country Kitchen”.  We were cold, tired, and stressed.  I ordered a coffee for myself and a hot chocolate for each of my boys.  I was able to use the café’s phone, so I called home.  Kitty wasn’t home yet (despite it now being well after 3pm), so I left a brief message.  I advised that we had broken down in New Norfolk and I would talk to her later.  I didn’t want to give her directions to find us or anything, as I decided to catch a taxi home.  It would be expensive, yet worth it.  I called the taxi company next, and sat down to wait.  Thirty minutes later, the taxi had not arrived, and the café was closing.  We sat out the front, waiting for the cab.   After another ten minutes we decided to walk into town.  This would mean another 1.5 kms walk, so 30 minutes later we arrived in town.  Taxis lined the street, waiting for a fare.  Before I jumped into one, I decided to call home one more time.  It was nearly 5pm by now, and thankfully Kitty was home.  She came and picked us up at a local bakery that was still open, and before too long we had arrived home.


The lessons I learned from this?

  • If you have a job to do (like buy new cell phones), do it.  If I hadn’t dragged my feet on this by shopping around for the best deal, the whole situation could have been prevented by calling Kitty on her mobile.
  • Keep up to date on your car maintenance.  I don’t think the car is overdue for a service, yet maybe I could have prevented the car breakdown in some way.
  • When the car was playing up, I shouldn’t have left the town.  I should have stopped off someone and sought help.

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