The Livingstons

The Livingstons

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Car Problems, Vegas, and More

Well, I'd say that Greg and I had quite an interesting weekend. To say the least. We had spent a wonderful week in California with my family and also in Yosemite. It was such a fun vacation! Then, last Saturday, we decided to drive home to Utah. Our air conditioning wasn't really working for some odd reason, but we decided to deal with it when we got home. As we drove through Las Vegas, we figured we should just keep on driving until St. George and then fill up on gas (we hate stopping in Vegas; it's just too busy). A few miles out of the city, near the speedway, the car felt like a gust of wind had picked it up, and then a few seconds later, we heard something break in the engine, and our car started freaking out. We pulled over to check it out, and it smelled like burned rubber and it was smoking a bit. Needless to say, we were in a pickle. The car definitely was not going to work unless we repaired it. Unfortunately or fortunately, whichever way you look at it, it was Saturday. Unfortunately because not a lot of people were open. Fortunately because at least SOME people were open, but very few. We called around to try to figure out where we could go to that would charge the least amount. We found a guy that would tow us for free and then fix our car. When we got to his shop, he couldn't find all of the parts that needed to be fixed, but was going to continue trying to search for them so we could be on the road again that night. Basically, what had happened was that the A/C Compressor seized (broke/stopped working) which caused the serpentine belt that spins it to not be able to work. This cause the serpentine belt to shred to pieces and also break the idler and tensioner. It was pretty bad.

Luckily while the car was being fixed, we had a couple of life-savers: Aunt Janna and her husband, Don! Don picked us up and we went back to their house to hang out. They fed us, and we got to spend some quality time with them. We were sooooo blessed to have them. We couldn't thank them enough. Later that same day, at around 9 PM, the mechanic called us and our car was done, or so he said. We got there, turned on the car, and realized there was an oil leak, and a part needed to be replaced (the seal) but wouldn't be available until the next day (Sunday) or Monday. We went back to Janna and Don's to spend the night and waited for the call the next morning to see if the mechanic had found the part.

Sunday morning, we woke up, Janna made us a really nice breakfast, and then the mechanic called us. Bad news: the part was available but not until Monday morning. We had to stay another night in Vegas. This wasn't so bad because we had Janna and Don, bless their hearts. We went out to a little ghost town called Bonnie Springs. Janna used to work there, and it was a cute and fun little town, complete with a petting zoo and everything! It was very hot, about 100 degrees, but honestly, it was so great to be with our family and get our minds off of the car fiasco (Greg was having a really hard time with it all, just very stressed). The rest of the day, we pretty much lounged around at the house and watched some old TV shows and had dinner. It was really nice.

Monday morning, we went to Mimi's Cafe with Janna (so good!) and then headed over to the auto shop. He had our car fixed by around 11 AM. We were on the road after that! Everything seemed great, until about 2 hours outside of Vegas, toward St. George. The A/C stopped working. It just died. We were so upset, so we called our mechanic back in Vegas and he told us he thought it was a problem with the tubing (why he didn't fix it, I don't know). We decided to turn the A/C off for the rest of the drive (it was SUPER hot) and just get home.

Yesterday (the day after we got home) we took the car to an A/C specialist. He said he thinks our other mechanic didn't flush out the system before he installed the other parts and now there were metal pieces clogging one of the valves. Great. Just our luck. If that isn't the problem and the A/C guy finds that the metal is all throughout the system, we have to replace the ENTIRE A/C system. Which is SUPER expensive.

Money is just draining from our pockets. This is honestly one of the hardest times financially that Greg and I have had ever. But I know we will get through it, with the help of our family, our friends, and our God.

The Damages:

-Replaced A/C Compressor
-Replaced Idler
-Replaced Tensioner
-Replaced Serpentine Belt
-Potentially need to replace valve
-Potentially need to replace entire A/C system

Total: $1200 (if we replace the valve, another $350)

The Blessings:

-We decided to stop in St. George, not Vegas. Greg believes that if we had stopped in Vegas, the car would have cooled down, and then when we started to go again, it would've taken longer for the problems to happen, and by that point, we would've been way out in the desert, not 9 miles away from the city.
-We didn't get in a car accident. We don't have to pay for more severe damages. We don't have to pay for hospital bills.
-We have credit cards. We just couldn't do this without credit cards. We normally don't like to just use them freely, but desperate times call for desperate measures.
-We didn't have to pay for a tow truck.
-Aunt Janna and Don live in Las Vegas. They are our heroes. We are so appreciative of them and we love them so much for taking us in!
-Because we have family in Vegas, we didn't have to pay for a hotel for 2 nights.
-We got to spend some quality time with Aunt Janna and Don all weekend.
-Our mechanic really didn't charge us as much as he could have for the repairs. I think he had mercy on us college kids.

Here are some pictures of us in Las Vegas, up in the mountains a little bit at Bonnie Springs:

This is right before the gates to the ghost town.

The little ghost town, Bonnie Springs. 

Cute little fawn.

A couple of ostriches.

This little pig is called Bubbles. It loved being in that water, especially because it was so hot outside!

Greg and a goat.

Little Donkey. 

Some birds. 

Overall, it was a very tough and stressful situation, and it's not over yet. But we were very lucky and we found good even in the worst of situations. Right now, we are trying to sell our car without A/C, and then buy a car that is cheaper to replace. Our car is a Saab, so it's parts are Swedish and expensive to repair or replace. We are just too poor to have another accident like this.

Friday, August 17, 2012


Well, we just got back from another awesome backpacking trip to Yosemite! It was such a BLAST! Greg and I went with Dad and some boy scouts and their leaders from the Vietnamese branch in my home stake. It was my second time doing Half Dome, Greg's first, and Dad's third. It definitely was a tough 20-something miles (lots of up and down hiking) but it was TOTALLY worth it. I told Greg about half way through the trip that I had always dreamed of doing things like backpacking and Half Dome and camping with my future husband. And now, here we are, doing these breathtaking, amazing, and awesome things!

We saw this very patriotic building on the drive out there.

The first breathtaking view of Yosemite Valley. On the left, kind of behind the green trees is El Capitan. In the middle of the picture is Half Dome.

El Capitan. Such an enormous flat rock. People climb up that thing, right on the face of it. It's so GIGANTIC!

Just hanging out in the valley!

We met up with the boy scouts at a general store in Yosemite Valley. It was packed full of people from all over the world.

We went to a place above the valley called Glacier Point. This is such a spectacular view of Half Dome. There are no words to describe how amazing it is.

Just getting ready to start the hike.

The entire group. We all did really well!

So gorgeous. 

Greg climbed onto a bunch of rocks when we got to the place where we camped the first night. 

Trying to find a good place to put our tents!

The first night, we camped right next to this beautiful stream called Illilouette Creek

I had MAJOR blisters after 3 miles of hiking. We hadn't really even started the hard stuff yet! In this picture, you can only really see one of the bad ones, on the left. I also had one toward my toes on the left foot, and also got another one on the other side of my left foot a couple days later. My right foot did alright. My shoes were just terrible. Luckily one of the guys we were with was carrying some extra shoes and I used those, which helped!

Doesn't his shirt just explain it all? Haha! Gotta love Dad.

Camp the first night. Our tent is on the right.

The next morning, Greg tried to catch some fish with his hands. He was scoping it out.

On our way to some water slides just above a waterfall (safe, huh?)

On our hike the second day, we found these crazy looking trees! 

Here's Illilouette Falls, just below where the water slides are. It's just a sheer cliff from where we were standing.

The group, all ready to slide!

Gorgeous Half Dome. Oh, and Greg too :]

Here was another little dome near Half Dome. It was HUGE, but honestly, nothing compared to Half Dome.

Here is where Nevada Falls is. It's about a 600 foot waterfall. These pictures don't do it justice.

This is right next to Nevada Falls. What a crazy rock! Look at what the weathering has done to it.

We hiked on into Little Yosemite Valley. This is the Merced River, which runs through the valley.

The next morning, we got up at 5am and got on the trail at about 6:20am. It was a hard hike, all uphill. This is the view from a point on the trail.

There is a little dome called Sub Dome that you have to climb right before you reach Half Dome. It's basically stair steps all the way up. It is a KILLER on your legs. But this is the view once you are up there!

This is what Half Dome looks like when you are on the top of Sub Dome. Looks pretty intimidating!

We reached the cables at the base of Half Dome and this is the view we saw- straight up!

After a long 900 feet of just pulling yourself up on those cables, we made it to the top! What a view!

Theres this section on top of the dome that everyone calls the "diving board" because that's exactly what it looks like. It's right out on the edge of the cliff and it's a great place to take pictures. Here's Dad, right on the edge!

There were these rocks all over the top of the dome, where people just piled them on top of each other over the years. It looked cool.

Greg and I were so scared to be on the diving board!

Coming down, we just had an amazing view.

We were exhausted after hiking back down from Half Dome, but we sure were happy!

After we came down from the dome, we swam and ate and rested, and then we had to hike back out another 6 miles. It was not easy. But look how beautiful it is!

We found a tree that looked like it was burnt on the inside, but totally fine on the outside. Weird.

Such a gigantic tree.

We saw a black bear on our hike! In this picture, it's the dark spot kind of toward the middle-left of the picture. We were about 100 yards away from it. It was amazing.

We got back, and our bodies were just so sore. 

We really had SO much fun! Even though it was hard, it was all worth it. These pictures don't really do it justice, but we did see some amazing things. We can't wait until the next time we go back!