Being stranded with all of our luggage and 5 children in Buffalo, Wyoming was NOT in the plans...nor was it in the budget. We DID have A car...a little Mercury Tracer with 5 seats, definitely NOT big enough for all of us.
God's timing was amazing. About five minutes after we discovered that we weren't able to restart the station wagon, a couple "happened" by...he owned an auto repair shop about 5 miles up the highway. They went to get a bigger vehicle, and we loaded all of the children in it to go spend the afternoon in their front yard while we tried to figure out what was next.
The station wagon was towed there, and he confirmed that the transmission was indeed shot, and that it would not be worth our while to replace that transmission...that the new tranmission would cost us more than the car was worth.
The man who owned the repair shop knew a used car dealer in town, and was able to find us a van...an old van...a 1988 Conversion Van...it was big enough, and the price was right...we spent *almost* every last penny we had on that van...and for the motel room, because the van would not be ready until the next day.
Finally we got back on the road the next morning, and headed to Helena. About 30 minutes outside of Helena, we stopped for gas...that big van was DRINKING the gas....we put our last $2.56 into it for gas...and arrived in Helena around supper time. We had reservations at a hotel in town, but had no money left to pay for it, and no money to go get supper. Fortunately, Jason was able to call his new command, and one of the guys came and helped us out.
The next morning, we got left the car parked at the hotel, climbed BACK in the van, and headed back down the road to Billings, where we spent the week with the guy who Jason was replacing. Their family was very helpful to us, putting us up for the week, feeding us, and taking us to the state fair during that week. The kids and I hung out at their house while Jason spent his days with Mark at the reserve center in town.
Jason was able to go looking for a different vehicle for us during this time, too....that Conversion Van was NOT going to be much help to us for long. It was not firing on all of the cylinders, and I was 5 months pregnant...by December there was not going to be enough space in it for the whole family. He and Mark went to a dealership and started looking at vans. Jason went for a test drive in one with only 7 seats, and while he was gone, Mark found another van with 8 seats...a Pontiac Montana with all kinds of amenities...power seats, dual controls on the heat/AC, DVD player, CD player...it was NICE. Jason took it out for a test drive, and amazingly was able to buy that van...we had a vehicle that was big enough for all of us...
After the week in Billings, we went back to Helena to find a house, and for Jason to report in to work and start learning his new position. We stayed at the Inn on the base at Ft. Harrison for 10 days...in two rooms with a connecting bathroom. I cooked our meals in the electric skillet and microwave, and washed dishes in the little sink in the room.
We looked all over town for a place to rent and finally found something...a 4 bedroom, 2 bath house a little ways outside of town, for $900 per month. It was a cute little house...but our housing allowance was only about $780/month...and we had to pay for electricity and phone, too. We moved in on August 24th, and our furniture arrived two days later.