Road Trip for Tractors: a tale of the usual unexpected adventures

Before I begin this journey with you today, I need to give you some key background points. First, I love road trips. All I need is a direction and a cause. My wife does not enjoy them. I love the journey and she loves the destination. Second, I am not a planner. I can be out the door and halfway to New Mexico before I have thought through all the possible needs I might have for the journey. My pastor friend Jack said it best, “I am the first to jump out of a plane and then ask did anyone remember the parachute.”

This is how our marriage works. I am the big ideas and the go getter attitude while my wife gently taps the brakes and fills in the details (She tries to do this before we leave but I move fast). Now, for the tale of the usual unexpected adventures.

Last Thursday, we had just woke up that morning and were lounging on the couch watching the millionth episode of Veggie Tales (Ty calls them toonsies). I was shopping on Craigslist for a tractor. Not just any tractor, a John Deere. I had already been praying about this and wanted Gods leading on a wise choice for a tractor for our place. And there it was, a beautiful John Deere 2030 in my price range “Just south of Lubbock”. It was as if the heavens opened and a shaft of light appeared on my phone to let me know the Almighty had heard and answered my prayer for a tractor. In my mind, I could run down there and be back by the middle of the afternoon to chill with my family. This was at 9 a.m..

I began texting the seller to get info and to make sure he knew I was coming before I set out. I convinced my wife that it wasn’t that far and that this was a good deal. I asked if she wanted to go because I knew Ty was in because it involved truck, tractor, and daddy. I got the confirmation I needed from the seller. I hooked the trailer up, put the car seat in for Ty, checked the trailer and truck, and waited for Amy to fill in all the important details that I hadn’t thought of. Then we were off @ 10:15 a.m.. This shows you how quickly I process and act on decisions.

We made it to Amarillo an hour later to make a quick exchange of kitchen drawer slides and get diesel fuel. We also had to run to the bank to get some cash because everyone knows that you should take a pocket full of cash with you to make a deal in the desert. What could possibly happen, right?!?! We grabbed some lunch and we were off. I should mention that while Amy was exchanging the drawer slides in Lowe’s, I map quested the location of the tractor. I thought Seminole was just south of Lubbock, like a suburb or something. Nope! It was nearly an hour and a half past Lubbock. Meaning we were 3 hours from the tractor. So 4 hours from home one way.

We headed south from Amarillo and the wind was getting vicious. It was blowing around 50 mph. All the sky had a haze and a brown film. It was horrible driving conditions, but we pushed on. We burning fuel like a space shuttle trying to leave earth. I could actually see the needle move with every wind gust.

We finally made it to Lubbock. But that is where I ran into a little hot water. My wife began probing me as to how much longer this was going to take. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that it was another hour or so, but I didn’t want to lie to her either. So I said, “I am not exactly sure. It was only like a half an inch on the map. So it’s probably close.” My wife is no dummy, she may have had a slip up by marrying me but she’s not dumb. She looked it up and was less than pleased with me, but we were too far in at this point to turn around now. Did I mention the wind was blowing? We got to see parts of west Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona fly in front of our windshield. Some of the fields had blown dirt into the road. Tons of farmers were out plowing fields to keep the fields from blowing dirt so bad. A rotten drive for sure and we had another hour to go.

It was the longest hour of my life. I was fighting the steering wheel and trying not to have a wreck. My wife was giving me death stares from the back seat and I was beginning to doubt the game plan for the day. It was as if Seminole was getting further away. We saw signs for Odessa and a bus from Ft. Stockton that only fueled my wife’s dissatisfaction with me. I was beginning to wonder if this place even existed or did I somehow pass it up. I was never so happy to a sign with the town name on it.

As we rolled into town, we needed fuel and a snack. (I had burned 30 gallons of fuel in 3 hours. That’s like 7 mpg)  We were beat up from the wind and tired from the journey. But the excitement was only about to begin. I fueled up the truck while Amy changed Ty’s diaper and she got us some water to drink. The guy selling the tractor told me to call when I got to town and he would give additional directions. First call, no response. Slight panic. No worries. Texted next, no reply. Feeling blood pressure rising a bit. Called again, nothing. Different scenarios playing out in my mind, none of which are good. So we drive around looking for a place for Ty to get out and play while we figure out what to do next. This was 2:15 p.m..

We found a church named New Life Fellowship that had a really nice play area for kids. Ty was having a blast. In his mind, this was worth the trip. I called again, still no answer. I was becoming concerned at this point that I had given up my day off to go on a fruitless wild goose chase. The worst was creeping into my mind. I was feeling more and more idiotic. So I called again. He answered this time. Oh Thank You Jesus! We are back on! We loaded up Ty against his will because He wanted to stay and play. But we still had 13 miles to go. It is 3 p.m. at this point (Thought I’d be home by now and yet I still haven’t even seen the tractor.)

I could barely understand the guys directions because He was German. But He said He lived right across from some seed and feed plant. The funny thing is that so did 30 other people. We pulled into a business to see if they were selling a tractor. You guessed it, they were not. It was 3 houses down. I had half a mind to just go home at this point. But we pulled in to the drive and exchange pleasantries. He showed me the tractor and then jumps on it to fire it up. This what I had driven so far for. I was excited to see if this was the “one.” Do you ever get those feelings like this is not going to go as planned? I get those all the time. It could be that I never really have a plan but I am in a hurry to get there. He turns the key, nothing happens. He turns it again, still nothing. He looks puzzled and I am thinking this makes sense after the day I have had.

We monkeyed around with it for 10-15 minutes before we could ever get it to crank. I was embarrassed for him. It was just the cherry on top of a weird day. Finally with a tap on the starter, it starts. I drove it, negotiated, loaded it up, and drove home. This time with the wind to my back which is crazy that I got better fuel mileage loaded than driving into the wind. We made it home @ 8:20 p.m.. We were all exhausted and slightly ill at this point. It is funny to think how quickly that day escalated to drive to Seminole which was 12 miles from New Mexico. This is our lives. This is who i am. This kind of adventure happens all the time. I don’t need that much of an excuse to do something crazy or do something that most folks would never consider. It does get me into trouble from time to time, but man do I get to experience life like nobody else.

At the end of a day like this a simple prayer is more than necessary: Thank you God for your  protection on a day like that. I thank you for the way you created me and the crazy adventures that I get to experience. I thank you for my wife who keeps crawling back into the truck even though she knows down deep that she is getting more than she bargained for. I thank you for how good Ty was even though he was strapped in a car seat most of the day. I thank you for having a story worth sharing and that my story begins and ends with YOU. In Jesus name, amen.

What’s your story? What adventures have you gone on lately? When was the last time you threw cation to the wind to do something out of the ordinary? I would love to hear about it. Grace and Peace to you as you step into the unknown with a Known God. He wants to journey with you!

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