Tuesday, June 9, 2009

My Brother's Wedding

Two years ago, my youngest brother got married in Las Vegas. A few days before his wedding, his fiancé and he planned to drive from Northern California to Las Vegas. They wanted to make the trip in the middle of the night, which I warned would be unsafe.

My brother lived his entire life in the same exact place. Imagine being born, growing up, and then raising your family in the an area that would be the only home you would ever know.

After communicating the danger of traveling to a place they never have gone, my brother decided to fly instead. My fiancé and I had to make the trip from Valencia to Las Vegas. This story will highlight the obstacles that we endured to make it my brother's wedding.

My fiancé and I were having dinner. We had already planned to meet everyone at the Wedding Chapel on Saturday - my best friend and his girlfriend were flying down to Las Vegas from San Francisco.

For the past few days, I considered having a wedding cake made for them. We decided that the wedding cake was the perfect gift.

At the time, I was a few months away from graduating from the University of California, Santa Barbara's Film and Media Studies Program. I didn't have as much money as others to make any large or even minuscule purchases outside the high cost of living and tuition. I was already maxed out and sinking further into a quicksand of debt. Life never seemed to work in my favor.

That was beside the point. My struggles were not important at this point in time. I wanted to find a wedding present that was memorable. People don't get married too often. That statement may spark a few laughs due to the high divorce rate.

People are supposed to get married once. That was what I meant to say. You may be thinking about the wedding cake and what it has to do with the obstacles.

I talked to my brother on that Friday night. I told them, he and his soon-to-be-wife and my future sister-in-law to fly safely. We were going to meet them at the Wedding Chapel at 6p.m.

On Saturday morning, the air was cool, but you could feel the heat. It was going to be a hot day, especially in the Mojave Desert. I contemplated on which car to drive. Both cars were not in the best shape. One car was driven four days a week to one college an hour away while another endured 4000 miles of driving per month to the other college. Since We had to pick up my best friend and his girlfriend from the airport, it was best to take the 4-door Honda.

Before we left, I grabbed a few things from the other car. For some reason, I grabbed a bag with a strap. It was one of those small ones that you could put sodas in, which kept them cold. The same could be said about the hot items. We were making good time.

Passing into Baker, California, it was quickly heating it. The largest thermometer in the world measured the temperature at close to 100 degrees.

We were lucky we left early. There was plenty of time to shop at the outlets and the mall. I knew that I needed to buy some dress slacks and a collar shirt. The dress clothes that I had a home were not suitable for the occasion.

As we coasted up the first large hill, I heard a loud pop. It sounded as if something had exploded, maybe the tire. All of a sudden, the steering wheel started to shake. The rest of the car soon followed its lead.

What I initially thought was that the tire blew out. Many of those truckers drop loose debris on the road, which is a motorist's nightmare. It was very common to pop a tire out in the hot desert.

What signaled danger was how fast the dashboard needle spiked up. The needle swayed over to the red area in a few seconds. I wasted no time pulling over. What I found out was not good.

The radiator hose had split into two. I couldn't have asked for anything worse. Behind the hood, I was reluctant to tell her the bad news. The radiator hose was the worst possible engine part that could have blown out.

Another car pulled behind. A few guys jumped out of the car. They quickly rushed to fill the radiator with water. That Baker's hill is a tall order, especially if you don't carry the right supplies. I finally decided to tell my fiance about the disaster. She was already unhappy about driving to the wedding. I slowly approached the door and told her about the radiator hose. She gave me this mean look, one that I knew was not good.

The Mojave Desert is the best spot for a heated argument. As the heat continued to rise, so did my ability to keep cool. I was normally a patient person, but we were stuck in the middle of the desert and my brother's wedding was in a little over 6 hours. I tried to keep calm about the whole matter.

If I had blown out a tire, it could easily be changed. I was swimming in uncharted waters. What would I do to find a new radiator hose. We were at least 70 miles away from the nearest automotive store.

I took a walk to the nearest call box. There was a slim chance to find help. Some counties have free towing service. I wasn't sure whether the area offered that particular service. That would have cost a small fortune.

The female operator declined to help. She suggested that I call a tow truck. I knew that I didn't have enough money to pay for a tow truck. The hike back to the car was long and depressing.

While I was dealing with all of the those obstacles, my fiance was losing her patience. I decided that it was time to scavenge for plastic bags and water. After gathering up a handful of bags and water on the road, I wrapped the radiator hose until it was sealed.

Maybe the car behind mine would know what to do. I asked the guys whether they had any ideas about how to do a quick fix on the radiator hose. They walked over and inspected the damage. Neither of the guys had any ideas.

A police office pulled behind the other car. I approached him and asked if he could help me find a way to fix the car. He told me to ask my friends. I told him that I didn't know them. The officer said that I was in a tight spot. He told me that I needed some luck on my side to make it. Time was winding down; still no answers.

After the police officer and the car behind mine left, another van pulled up. The guy said he was a mechanic - he had a European accent. After he looked at the radiator hose, he suggested that I rig the radiator hose. I had already wrapped the radiator with a dozen plastic bags and filled the radiator with water.

The mechanic traveled back to his car and grabbed a few bottles of Fuji water. The Honda was about to taste the most gourmet water, one that I never tried before. I discovered what I had already knew; if we were going to make it to the wedding on time, we had to figure out this problem on our own.

I attempted to start the car. On the first turn of the key, the car immediately turned on. We were back in action and ready to make our descent to Las Vegas. There was one problem. I could barely make it up the large mountain before the car started to overheat again.I immediately pulled off the road and turned into the truckers' area.

Another trucker was trying to cool down his engine. The wedding was only 5 hours away. A trucker rolled by and asked if I needed some help. He inspected the hose, one that was tied up with a dozen plastic bags. The hot water leaked through the bags.

The trucker told me to search for some random supplies. He located a rubber bungee looking cord. I found the strap to my Eddie Bauer bag. Using those items, a few more bags, and some watered down Gatorade, the car was able to make it down the hill. The trucker was generous for helping me out.

Once we made it down the hill, the outlets were within plain sight. The car started to overheat again. I knew that it was going to be hard to fix. I had to use the start and stop technique to make it to the outlets. I would speed up until the engine needle soared upwards and then shut the engine off. I threw the car into neutral, which coasted down the bike lane.

I continued to repeat the action until we reached the outlets. I bought some automotive supplies. With a couple rolls of electrical tape, I managed to fix the radiator hose. As we drove to the back side of the outlets, the car started to overheat again. She told me that we wouldn't make it to the wedding. I refused to give up when we were so close to Las Vegas.

I ran through a dirt storm. My clothes and face were smothered with dirt. People asked me for direction. I still was polite enough to give them directions. Once in the store, I purchased two more bottles of watered down antifreeze.

While taking a shortcut through the outlets, the bag broke. The contents fell on the ground, but didn't break. I approached the Honda and wrapped the hose with more electrical tape. I also added some material and anything other I could find. The rig job worked; we got back on the freeway and coasted up to the Las Vegas.

The wedding was less than 3 hours away. I had to look for a radiator hose. I wasn't sure if the stores would be closed due to the fact that the very next day was Easter. On the phone, the automotive store claimed they had a radiator hose in stock. When I got there, they said they made a mistake. Since the car was driving good, we decided to buy some clothes.

The next agenda was picking up the wedding cake. The cake was nicely decorated and ready to be dropped off at the restaurant. The time was 5:30pm. The wedding cake was going to ride with us. There was no time to drop it off.

Everything seemed to be going well until my best friends and his girlfriend called for a ride. We agreed to pick them up. This was the perfect time for an argument. We had to pull into a parking lot and get dressed. I had to hear the regrets and the mistakes of coming down to attend the wedding.

The traffic was heavy. An accident blocked the strip. I finally told them what had happened. My best friend told me to go ahead. He wanted at least one group to make it on time. He told me that he would call a taxi. My brother called again to confirm that we were in the area.

Within a matter of minutes, my best friend and his girlfriend we directly across the street, also waiting at the same intersection. It was a miracle that the driver made it to the destination without getting a ticket.

Two minutes and counting. The Little White Chapel was nearby. We parked at the same time that the taxi pulled into the parking lot.

My brother was dressed in a black suit while his soon-to-be-wife had a nice pink dress on. Everyone made it on time without a second to spare. I watched the wedding from the seating. I was proud that my brother was getting married. They already had a daughter waiting at home. She was only 5 months old.

After the wedding, we all took pictures. It was a miracle that we were able to make it without having to cancel. This proved that you can't never give up. A person must fight for everything they want in life.

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