Thursday, June 25, 2009
I am going to make our $300 donation to the Shelter Partners program today via paypal and I have some great news! Apparently there was a total of $250 donated directly to the Shelby County shelter for our trip which brings our grand total of money raised to $1,500!!! You guys are awesome!
Also, the van is being picked up in Bristol by the couple that left the Tuesday after us. Kudos to them for taking on driving the 18 hours back solo. It is a great relief to know that the van is back in action.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Car Rental $37.67
Tolls/ Misc. $60.00
Total Money raised $1,247.57
Here is where it gets a little confusing. We had a $192.07 charge at Sullivan Tire for the oil change and diagnostic tests. So, technically we raised an excess of $491.71. But, when you subtract the Sullivan Tire charge that leaves us making a donation of $300 to the Shelter Partners program. You guys rock! Not only are they getting this $300 donation, but they did not have to pay for any of the other expenses of our trip so that give the shelter quite a bit of extra money to put towards the van repairs. We just can't say it enough, but thank you all so much not only for your donations but your support as well.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
We pulled into the Doge dealership right around 5 o'clock and met our hero Norman. He was so kind to us though out this entire disaster and had talked to Sara for over an hour on the phone trying to help us figure out a plan. We unloaded our stuff out of the van and into the Yaris. Some mechanics came over to talk to us (the van demands attention) and when we told them what the issue was, they informed us that it was a very good thing that we had brought it in and that we probably would not have made it home. We apologized to them that they would be stuck working on the stinky van!
We hopped in the Yaris and headed to our hotel back in Hartford. I started laughing when Brittany got in the car and started talking to me because in the tiny Yaris it felt like she was sitting on my lap. We had been so used to the big van! Bristol was such a beautiful little community. We passed a super neat looking pizza place and also a quaint little wine bar. We would have loved to stop but number one, we were too sleepy and number two, we would have cleared out the place with our stench!
Enterprise, Hampton Inn and the airport were all within a half mile of each other, so convenient! We checked in and decided to carry everything up to the room to sort it all out. As soon as we walked in Brittany started ordering some pizza. I hadn't eaten much at all since Pal's the day before because of all the stress but now that the pups were safe and we had a sure fire plan to get home, I was ready to eat! I got in the shower and then Brittany came in to tell me she had ordered the pizza. She said that for $4 more we could have gotten the family meal that included cheesy bread and coke but she had decided against it. I screamed 'CALL THEM BACK! WE NEED CHEESY BREAD!' And that she did because she is the best sister ever.
Once we were both showered and in our PJ's we took on the task of packing for our flight. Flying when you have no luggage is not very fun. We had our cooler and one big beach bag and one smaller tote bag. We stuffed them to the rim. Once we got done packing we both ended up under the covers. I never thought the pizza would get there but when it did I killed it. We were both in our beds with the pizza on the floor between us and the dipping sauce on the nightstand. We are very classy.
As soon as we swallowed our last bites it was lights out. Amazingly it was 9:30 and we had been awake for about 38 hours. Needless to say, we slept like logs and 5 am came quick. We were out the door by 5:45 and after sneaking some yogurt from the breakfast bar the didn't open until 6. We headed to a gas station to get some duct tape to secure the cooler for our flight. We looked like hoodlums entering the airport. We were not planning on seeing the mass public at any point in our trip so we had not brought very appropriate clothing but I guess you just have to make due. On top of that, we had our duct taped cooler, a very colorful beach bag and our pillows. Once we boarded the plane I realized yet again how amazing our God is, it was full. I have no idea how we snagged our (cheap) tickets only 12 hours earlier.
The flights were easy and the layover in Atlanta was perfect. By 10:30 am we were in Birmingham and my last little worry was put to ease as I saw that the cooler had made the flight with the lid intact. My boyfriend Daniel picked us up and I think he was more relieved for us to be home safe then we were. He took us to my house to get my car and then I drove Brittany the 45 minute drive to the Shelby County Shelter to pick up her car.
When we drove up the dogs in the outside runs started barking so we went over to see them. It was overwhelming. Here we are feeling like we made such a difference (which we did) but there were still SO many dogs. It just broke my heart. But, thanks to the Shelter Partners program, thousands of dogs a year get a second chance.
It is great to be home but I can't stop thinking about our pups. I wrote both of the shelters today and asked them to keep us updated on our dogs. One wrote me back and said that 5 of the puppies went up for adoption today (I think they are held a few days to make sure they are healthy enough for adoption) and the others would be put up soon. Then they told me that Binx, an Australian Shepard from our trip had just been adopted and was on his way to his forever home. Yup, I cried. Thinking about him meeting his new family for the first time and seeing his new home and it is amazing feeling.
As for the Van, I'm not 100% sure what the plan is. There was a trip originally planned to leave today and last I heard they will still be going but in a smaller van. The shelter was going to see if those drivers would be willing to pick up our van. I'll keep you guys updated. But, thanks to your generous donations the Shelter Partners program did not have to pay for our trip which saved them over $800 which can go towards the van repairs. Plus the excess that we will be donating this week. I have not had the time to break down our expenses yet but as soon as I do I'll let you all know the total.
Monday, June 22, 2009
When we got back to Sullivan Tires they still had to finished with the van. They kept rising it up and down and up and down and I could see people under it knocking on things. Then they would take it for a test drive, come back and load it back on the lift. This went on for three plus hours. Not a good sign (which is why my breakdown continued). I just kept envisioning us stuck in New Hampshire forever and I had used my last vacation day to leave on Friday.
We finally found out that there was a bearing in the drive shaft that was bad. They informed us that this bearing would need to come from a dealership and so they called the closest dealer and found out it would have to be ordered and would not come in before Tuesday. Great. So, I start asking questions. I cornered the actual mechanic who had been avoiding the smelly girls from Alabama having the panic attacks in the lobby. I asked him what he thought our odds were of making it 1200 miles on the bad bearing. He said they were pretty good. I then asked if it did fail if it would cause further damage to the van. He said no. I then asked if it was a safety concern and he said no. He said that if the noise got worse or we felt a vibration in the floor then we would need to pull over and 'seek assistance'. That was all I needed to hear, I just wanted to start heading south while I had at least a few hours of consciousness left. We called our contact at the Shelby County Shelter, Sara, and informed her of our situation. She was very calm and told us to get on the road but that she was going to call the dealership where they had bought the van to get a second opinion on if it was safe for us to drive.
I drove for about 45 minutes until I hit my breaking point and had to pull over and switch with Brittany. We had both attempted to sleep at points along the trip but neither one of us were successful so at this point we were at about 28 hours without sleep. By this time in the day, our original plan would have had us almost to New York City. But instead we were still in New Hampshire. When we got about an hour down the road Sara called us back and very calmly told us that she had spoken to the dealer and he had informed her that we should not be driving the van and that we should get it to a dealer as soon as possible. This was not what we wanted to hear. We pulled over in Auburn, Massachusetts and sat in a bank parking lot while we tried to figure out what to do. There was a lot of calling back and forth to Sara and we finally found a map in the van and I just had her calling out cities in Mass and Connecticut that had dealer and I would try to find them on the map and see how close they were. The plan was to drop the van at a dealer and then rent a car to drive back. We finally settled on Bristol, Connecticut. Sara called them and spoke to Norman the service manager. Sara then called me and ask that I call to get Norman to get directions. While talking to him I asked if he could suggest a place for us to rent a car. Norman then informed me that all the car renters in Bristol close after noon on Saturdays and would not be open on Sunday either. Not good. I then look at the map and notice that we will be going through Hartford, CT to get to Bristol so I had the bright idea to call the rental places at the airport as they would probably be open. By this time, we had been sitting in Auburn for over an hour so I just typed in the address for the Hartford Airport and told Brittany to head that way. It was about 45 minutes away and I figured we could find a car before we got there. Oh little did I know, it would not be that easy......
Part Three coming soon!
I know this is getting lengthy and not as interesting since it does not involve the dogs anymore. You won't hurt my feelings if you don't read. But, don't leave us quite yet. Sara said that the two shelters that we went to are very good about updating them when our dogs are adopted and one even usually sends photos of the dogs with their new families (I am going to loose it every time I see one). So we hope that they will trickle down to us and we can share them with you!
Where in the world do I start? I want to tell you all everything! But I might have to break it down into parts. Sorry the updates were not better along the way but after about hour 10, we had to use all the energy we had to drive and focus on the dogs.
First, here is a little video that Brittany took before we left which will give you a better idea of the layout.
The drive really wasn't too bad. I drove from Columbiana, Alabama to Marion, Virginia. That is the first time we let any dogs out. We had one beautiful and sweet 4 year old yellow lab and knew we just had to let her out because she was probably holding it. We let about 5 of the bigger (older) dogs out but only had success with two of them. It was very hard to let them out but also very hard not to.
Here is our sweet lab friend Josie.Brittany started driving from there and drove us from Virginia through West Virginia, Maryland, and most of Pennsylvania. We stopped again to get gas somewhere in north Pennsylvania and it was dark at this point. The van runs on diesel and at most place they only had diesel in the 'trucker' areas where the big rigs fill up. Not very fun but we survived. At one stop around West Virginia we found a gas station that had diesel at the regular pumps and we decided it was probably time to try to give the dogs some water. We pulled over towards the back of the building and started the process. It was very dark and the van did not have lights in the back so we had to use flash lights. We managed to give everyone a little bit of water but there was one small puppy in the very back that would not drink any. (Thinking about this makes me cry) She was in a cage with a friend and they were just pretzeled around each other at the back of their cage. I got her out and she just snuggled up into the nape of my neck. I am so upset that we did not get a better photo of her because she was adorable but so skinny. I got down on the pavement and put her in between my legs with the water in front of her. She wanted nothing to do with it and was just leaning as hard as she could into my leg. All she wanted was to be close to another living being. She had her tail in between her legs but as I started to put her back in the cage it perked up a little. She really wanted to be with her kennel mate. Brittany suggested putting her up front with us and had she been alone I would have, but I knew she was happiest with her friend. (there is a happy ending to this, I promise)
I started driving from there and got us through New Jersey. This is about the time I started noticing the 'grinding' noise. It wasn't that bad on the interstate but very loud when going slow speeds. I just ignored it because there was nothing we could do in the middle of the night and we just had to focus on the dogs. We made our way into NYC and just as Brittany was typing up a post on my phone about seeing the Statue of Liberty, there was a fork in the road. The GPS did not specify which way to go and so I just took a 50/50 shot and it ended up being the wrong one. It was around 3 in the morning and suddenly we were in the streets of NYC. Not a good feeling. I would have been very nervous driving my own car through New York but driving this van with 31 dogs which was making a scary grinding noise certainly made for a stressful situation. The GPS was redirecting us but it was an awfully long route back to the interstate. We went through Holland tunnel and ended up on West street in Chelsea and drove right by the piers and saw all the big ships. We went about 6 miles down West Street which had lights at every block.
Holland Tunnel-as we went through 'Without You' from Rent came on my ipod. So appropriate.
The stopping and starting was killing me but we finally made it back on route and only lost about 20 minutes. And I actually think the adrenaline from it kept me feeling wide awake for quite sometime!
We made it into Connecticut and took a quick bathroom break. I went first and then Brittany, the dogs were going crazy so I just circled the parking lot. It was so amazing, as long as the car was in motion they were fine. But, as soon as it came to a stop they would get restless and bark. Obviously taking this trip is a lot better for them than the alternative but looking back there and seeing their puppy dog eyes just broke my heart.
This little guy was right behind us. He was very protective, at one stop during the night some poeple walked by the van and he went crazy doing this deep bark.
I was really getting anxious and just wanted to get them out of the cages. We continued through Connecticut and saw the sun rise there. It was very beautiful although it started to get very foggy. We entered Massachusetts and kept on trucking, Brittany took over driving somewhere along the way. Things start to get a little bit fuzzy about this time. We went through a lot of tolls and finally entered into New Hampshire. We arrived at our first shelter around 7:30 am. There were a few volunteers there to help us out. Each kennel had clear a plastic envelope with their information in it which had the name of the shelter they were going to written on it. We just started pulling the papers and getting the dogs out one at a time. We transported them to a big fenced in area where they had baby pools full of water. One of the puppies ran straight to one and just laid down in it. They were so happy.
This shelter took most of the puppies. When we were unloading I wasn't paying much attention to anything as I just wanted to get them unloaded as soon as possible. We still had the other half to take to another shelter so we didn't have much time but when we finally had everyone in that group unloaded I stood there for a moment and tried to take it all in. Then I spotted her, my little friend that wouldn't take any water back in West Virginia. Her tail was up as high as possible and wagging and she was playing with everyone. (I'm about to start crying again). I think that might have been my favorite moment of the trip. They told us that they leave them out for most of the day which made me happy to know that they could run around and play. I also made sure to point out my special friend and told them that she should share a kennel with someone else.
I felt very uneasy as we still have the other dogs in the van most of which were the larger ones so I really wanted to move on and get them to our next stop. It was about 30 minutes to the other shelter and our route was through the gorgeous quaint neighborhoods of New Hampshire. I am a little upset that we didn't take any photos but at that point the one and only goal was to get there. But Brittany and I kept telling the pups how lucky they were because this was their new home!
We arrived by about 8 at the New Hampshire SPCA and it was a very nice facility.
They had a lot of people there to help us unload and yet again all I was focused on was getting them unloaded as quickly as possible. Unfortunately as they were unloaded they were taken inside, checked in and then taken to the back into the clinic. I'm sure we could have asked to go see them but we were focusing on cleaning out the van so we didn't get to say goodbye or love on any of the dogs. But that is ok, it isn't about us! About this time is when the reality of the 'ginding noise' started to set it. Also, the van was due for an oil change and the light kept coming on saying that we were low on oil. As much as I wanted to ignore these two issues and just hit the road, I knew that we had to get it checked out.
Part two coming later today!
Here are just a few more photos of the pups!
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Friday, June 19, 2009
We took a pit stop to get some gas and tried to let a few dogs out. It was only simi successful because only two went to the bathroom, the other just wanted to play. And those that didn't get let out seemed a little bitter. But, everyone is happy again and napping. We will be in Virginia for quite a while, the weather is still very nice. Brittany is driving now and I'm going to try to get in a good nap soon so I can drive through the night. I know I don't have to remind any of you, but keep on praying!
Update: We are now going through Knoxville, TN! We are only a little over an hour from our hometown , Kingsport, TN! If you have been reading all of our posts, you will know about our excitement about our favorite fast food restaurant- PALS! We have been snacking on healthy foods so far, so we have plenty of room for a fabulous dinner! Dont worry.... we WILL be posting pics of Pal''s!
First of all, we would like to say a huge THANK YOU to a few people:
Our friend Rodney Hightower, who so kindly let us borrow his Verizon Wireless air card so we would have internet access on the road! This is priceless! We are currently blogging while trucking down Interstate 59! Isn't technology amazing?? Thanks Rodney!!!
On our way to the shelter this morning, I surprised Brooke with a 'Shout Out' from my friend Reg who is the morning DJ on Live 100.5. I emailed Reg about our trip yesterday and asked if he would play a Guster song for Brooke and he came through for us! He informed all of the Live 100.5 listeners about the Shelter Partners program and played the Guster song "Happiness" for Brooke! She will thrilled and surprised! Thanks Reg!
We arrived at the Shelby County Humane Society this morning at 9am to find the van already loaded with the pups! Sara at the shelter gave us a notebook with information about the trip as well as a list of the 31 dogs who will be traveling with us.
So far so good! We have been on the road for two hours and the dogs have been extremely quiet! They all look very comfortable and relaxed! There are a couple of barkers, but even those have settled down and are napping now. Out of all the dogs, about 75% of them are young puppies (under 4 months old!). They are all beautiful with sweet personalities and we just cannot imagine how none of them have been adopted!
Just in case you are curious.... the van is very nice! We have way more room and comfort than we had anticipated. The CD player is already coming in handy for the mix cds all of our friends made for us! Logan (Brooke's co-worker)- we are already on track 15 of your cd and we LOVE it!
Please pray for good weather- it's looking like it might be a little rainy up north!
Here are some photos.... more to come later:
P.S. About to cross the GA line!! Please feel free to comment- we will be checking often!
We also have felt so unbelievably lucky to have such wonderful friends and co-workers who made us CD’s and care packages. A big shout out to all of you, whom I’m sure we will be calling and harassing as we make our way through all the wonderful music.
P.S. We got a sweet note from our friend Kristen asking us to show all of you this cutie which is available for adoption at the Greater Birmingham Humane Society. If any of you are thinking about adopting, I think she'd be a great candidate!
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Pal’s is a fast food restaurant in our home town of Kingsport Tennessee which we will be passing through. In 1956 Pal Barger opened the first Pal’s restaurant and he now has 21 locations throughout East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia. Pal’s is the most efficient restaurant you will ever visit. A drive thru line that might take 20 minutes at McDonald's will take about 5 at Pal's. They even won the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality award in 2001 which was presented to them by President Bush. This was (and I believe still is) the first time this award which is usually reserved for manufacturing type companies, was awarded to a restaurant. Unfortunately for us (and you), Pal’s has no plans to franchise. Most of the time, when I go to Kingsport for a visit, I’ll stop by Pal’s before I even go home. My personal record for the most Pal’s eaten in one weekend is almost embarrassing. Especially since they added breakfast items. Whenever Brittany and I have a friend that we know will be passing through Kingsport (a very busy south/north interstate passes right through K-town) on a trip, we make sure that they stop at Pal’s. They are never disappointed. We even got an e-mail from one of those folks when we sent out our blog information. He asked if we would be stopping to get Pal’s for all the dogs. The pups are out of luck but Brittany and I certainly will be enjoying it on our way up north and probably again on our way back south. We suggest that if you are ever around those parts, that you do the same. If not for the food, at least to check out the amazing architecture!
With the exception of the two original locations, they all look like this!
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Chace and Josh's Molly
Erika's Paisley and Penelope
Anastasia's Mini Moo
Anastasia's Lina and Elvis