Thursday was the final graduation of the year. Actually it was the last High School graduation for our family until Evan graduates in 2025. Weird. The weather was a bit overcast which was great because we didn't cook. Sarah's graduating class had 595 kids in it and it went surprisingly well once it got started. The problem is that if we didn't get there two hours early then we wouldn't get a seat. As it was we were barely able to get a row where all thirteen of us could sit together. We were even lucky enough that we could get a seat where Evan could park his wheel chair.
After the ceremonies were over we all went down on the field and I followed Sarah around on the field taking pictures of her with her many friends. Normally we take the kids to "Soup Plantation" where they can have all you can eat food but this time we had made some pulled pork ahead of time and we all went back to the house. It was a fun time and we enjoyed visiting.
In our community they always plan an all night party after graduation. Grad night starts and 9:00 and goes until 6:00 the following morning. The idea is to keep the kids entertained in a safe place so they are less tempted to go off to less controlled parties and get hurt. Lisa has always chaired the entertainment committee for each of our kids but this year they were severely lacking for volunteer help. She ended up chairing or co-chairing three other committee's as well. I normally have stayed home with the other kids but with Sarah being the youngest I volunteered to deal poker in the casino. Having never played a game of poker in my life this did require some training. Kira and Alycia came and helped at the midnight shift. Some of the activities that Lisa has for these kids are tatoo's, crazy hair doo's, tons of food, a casino, all kinds of arcade games, a dance, a money machine, blow up jumper time obstacle courses, a make your own music video, pool tables, ping pong tables, a climbing wall, a flight simulator and who knows what else. Kira and Alycia did tatoo's. I got a tiger on my for arm. Trevor came with Kira and Alycia at midnight and I was going to take him home but he got lost among the kids and ended up playing games with kids until their shift was over. Normally there is no in and out traffic at this event but Trevor kind of blended in.
Unfortunately not all of the family could make it. Kira and Grandma of course arrived last week. Alycia and Trevor arrived early afternoon on Wednesday and Ben pulled in later in the evening. Ben had to work on Friday so he headed back north later in the evening on Thursday.
He came back down on the train on Friday night, Brandon flew in from Texas at around 9:30 and Justin flew in from a conference he was attending in Las Vegas at around 10:30. Ben came down on the train at 9:15. I went to pick up Ben and Kira picked up Brandon and Justin.
I have an interesting story to tell about picking up Ben. I took the truck and everything was working well until I was almost to Via de la Valle when suddenly the lights on the dash board went very dim. I was trying to figure out what was going on when the battery light came on. That is when it dawned on me that my alternator must have conked out. My battery was obviously not charging and with the lights on I knew that my time was limited.
I turned off the radio and anything else that could draw excess power and to my horror when I got to the train station Ben's train was late. I knew if I turned off the engine I'd never get it started again so I sat there idling waiting for Ben to arrive. Luckily he was only about 5 minutes late so I rushed him into the truck and off we went.
It wasn't long before the lights were too dim to be off much use so I turned them off leaving the running lights on in the hopes that nobody would hit me. I had a few moments of panic when I had to get off the 5 and switch to the 56 but I managed to keep the engine running. Next the radio lights died off and shortly after that the "Service Engine Soon" light came on. That meant that my battery was so dead that the truck thought my truck was turned off.
Finally the ABS light came on and almost instantly the engine started lugging. I coaxed the truck about another quarter mile at which point we had to call for help.
Trevor came to the rescue. He pulled up next to me and we charged my battery for what seemed like ten minutes and off I went again. A few hundred yards down the freeway I was dead in the water again.
This time we gave it what I thought was a good long charge and again I may have made it a mile.
The third time I was bound and determined to make it home so I used the timer and made sure that we gave it a good ten minutes charge. After what I thought was much more than ten minutes I checked the timer on my phone and it was barely two minutes. Those first charges were certainly less than that.
This time we made it almost to our exit before the engine started lugging but it is a steep hill to our exit and there is no shoulder and I knew that getting Trevors car in there to help would be extremely difficult. With Ben's encouragement I decided to not go for the exit and to pull over one last time in a little pull out where the cops always hide to give tickets. Another ten minutes charge and off we were.
It must have been divine intervention that turned our light green just as we got to the exit and then again at the next light. Our luck left us on the last light however where I sat with my foot on the brake and the gas with the truck in neutral trying to keep the engine going. When the light finally turned I revved up the engine to make sure it didn't stall and it nearly died when I released the clutch. I pumped the gas hard and eeked out one last burst of energy that got me through the intersection and we rolled at a slow crawl over the crest of a hill.
I used to play games with the kids when they were younger and at the crest of this hill I would turn off the engine and we'd coast home. Ben and I both knew that we could coast home from this point but since those days when the kids were younger the city has put in four new stop signs in addition to the one that was already there.
As we pulled up the first of these signs another car arrived at the four way stop before we did and he took so long at the stop that I had to brake. I needed my speed to make it up to the next crest (naturally we had to run the stop sign) and so with the lack of momentum we were once again moving at a snails pace. Ben got so frustrated that he jumped out and pushed me and then jumped back into the truck.
We cruised through the next stop sign with no interference but imagine my distress when I saw three cars arrive at the next stop sign all at the same time. I allowed the truck to accelerate down the hill planning to play a game of chicken with the other cars. The first one quickly bowed out and let me go but the other car actually ran the stop sign right in front of me. That was fine with me as long as I didn't have to wait for him but then the jerk decided to stop at the next stop sign. I have not idea why he ran one but stopped at the second one. This stop sign was critical because it was at the bottom of a deep gully and I needed all the speed I could muster to get up the other side. Anticipating that the car in front of me would stop and slowed down as much as I dared at the top of the hill and then let her rip right through the stop sign and up the other side of the gully. Once again we crawled over the top fo the hill and then it was home free to the house. I now have two dead cars parked in front of my house. That really stinks.
The good news is that I think my only problem is a worn out fan belt. We were much too busy with partying today to worry about another vehicle.
Friday night with Brandon, Ben, Justin and Trevor all home it was of course Settlers until 3:00. With Grad Night the night before and then going to bed at 3:00 Friday night my mind is bit of a blur today.
Most people know that the "coca" in "coca-cola" comes from the cocaine that was in the original drink but did you know that the cola is because originally coca-cola was made from the Kola bean found in east Africa? The extract from the Kola bean is very high in caffeine. The kola bean was an important part of the diet of the original native Africans who lived there. Coca-Cola was originally green.