Recently, I set out to have an adventure (my first as a new blogger), and I succeeded spectacularly! I left my house at “O-dark thirty,” as my dad would say (Navy-speak for “way too early for sane people”), to drive three hours to hike with women I had never met. There were about ten of us in a wide range of ages and ability levels but the women were a friendly bunch and it was a gorgeous fall day in the Blue Ridge Mountains, so I had a grand time.
We finished the hike, I returned to my car, changed out of my hiking boots, and set off for Grandad’s Apples for some apple picking. This is when the REAL adventure began!
For those of you with keyless cars, did you know that your keys don’t have to be inside the car for your car to start? They just have to be near the car, say on top of the car where you might set them while changing out of your hiking boots. Did you know that the car will start, and it will keep running even after the keys fall off the top of your car? And that your car won’t give any indication that the keys have left the car until you stop for gas an hour away and try to restart the car?
**Would it be too much to ask for manufacturers to add some kind of alert, maybe a loud beeping and a lighted key symbol on the dashboard, to indicate that the keys have left the car?**
So Elvis had left the building, and Charlotte (my Mini Cooper) was stuck blocking Pump Number 5 at the Exxon station in Hendersonville, NC, a good three hours from home. I called my husband, who was THRILLED to hear my request that he drive six hours round trip to bring me the spare key. My next call was to the AAA roadside assistance specialist, who was confused to hear my request to tow Charlotte from Pump Number 5 to the Starbucks at the opposite corner of the intersection, where I could comfortably wait three hours for my husband.
“Is that more than 3 miles?” she asked me.
“No Ma’am, it’s about 300 feet.”
An hour later, the tow truck driver deposited Charlotte into a parking space at Starbucks and after grabbing a latte, I texted my adult children about my adventures.
“Oh, Mother,” my oldest replied.
“That’s what your dad said, only a bit more colorfully,” I texted back.
My husband finally arrived with the key at 6 PM, and we decided (since there was a little bit of daylight left) to return to the scene of the crime and try to find my keys. Truthfully, I was almost more upset at losing my Ampelmann key chain (a souvenir from Berlin) than my $250 remote key fob, but I also had my house key, office key, and multiple tags (my library card, YMCA membership, etc) on that key ring. Although we searched and searched, we had no luck, and finally got home at 11:30 PM, keyless and tired.
But all was not lost….the next morning I received a call from my library, saying that a woman from Ohio found my keys! She and her husband found them in the middle of the Blue Ridge Parkway, and tracked me down through my library card on the key ring. Four days later, due to the kindness of strangers, Ampelmann was back in the house. Whoop!
P.S. No, I never made it to Grandad’s Apples, and yes, the kind couple from Ohio have affirmed my faith in humanity.
P.P.S. It pays to have some kind of store card or tag on your key ring; this is how my heroes were able to track me down.
P.P.P.S The next time I took Charlotte in for an oil change, I mentioned my adventures to the service rep, and he told me there was a software update available that would fix the issue. He personally tested it out by starting the car and then placing the keys on the ground…lo and behold, Charlotte started loudly beeping and a light on the dashboard started blinking! SOOOO…if you own a Mini Cooper, test it out, then call your Mini dealer for a software update.
Do you have any funny travel stories to share? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below…