I have to tell you about something that happened during our family vacation that made us realize how lucky we are to be living here, and why we shouldn't take this expensive state for granted.

My family and I take an annual trip up to Cape Cod in MA every year. My wife's family used to own a business up there and she would go every summer while growing up. So it's important for us to keep this tradition alive with our two sons.

This trip, however, had a very rocky start.

Vacation trip away from NJ - Entering Cape Cod
Mike Brant - Townsquare Media

Here is the location of where this incident occurred. As you can tell by the overhead signs, we were nowhere near NJ. We had left home around 5 a.m. and made incredible time getting to this point. We had our vehicle serviced and all checked out for the long ride ahead. Our vehicle, however, had different plans for us.

Parked on the side of the road
Mike Brant - Townsquare Media

Here we are on the side of the road. Our vehicle, suddenly disabled. To paint the picture here, it was around 9:30 a.m. on a very hot July day, with my wife, two kids, and our dog on board. Unfortunately, running the car wasn't an option. Here's why.

Broken coolant hose in car
Mike Brant - Townsquare Media

See that object I'm holding? That's a coolant hose, which is vital to preventing the car from overheating. It suddenly and abruptly ruptured and completely broke apart from that hole in front of the hose I'm holding, causing what appeared to be lots of smoke coming from the right side of the vehicle.

Fluids running from vehicle
Mike Brant - Townsquare Media

And here's our coolant running onto the road. And just to point out, this wasn't a situation of a clamp simply coming apart, it was a total rupture. Because of the situation, and the sun becoming stronger and hotter as the morning went on, we got the kids and dog out of the car.

Parked on the side of a highway
Mike Brant - Townsquare Media

So there we were. Traffic now building up, much like how the GSP does during the summer weekends, and we're stranded there in the heat just watching the cars go by. Naturally, I got on the phone calling our insurance company with the mindset that we'll at least be able to get roadside assistance quickly. But this was anything but speedy.

iPhone (Bagus Hernawan via Unsplash)

As I was on the phone trying to talk to the insurance company, my wife was calling around to local garages that could possibly take a look at the car. Most garages could care less that we were stranded on vacation and told us that "maybe" they'll look at it in a couple of week. Umm, we're only here for a week... with kids.... and a dog.


Fast forward and we're approaching 12 noon. That's 2 1/2 hours later and we STILL made no progress of getting any kind of help whatsoever. Our insurance company is Jersey based, and their used to quick service response times, so this was unusual for them as well. And even crazier, not a single police car anywhere. In New Jersey, we would've had a trooper behind us probably within a half hour to see if everything's OK.

Close-up of lights on roof of police car

At this point, it was time for me to put the insurance call on hold, and call the local police department to get someone out there.

It was starting to get extremely hot and there wasn't much shade where we were stuck. All I could think of was my wife, kids, and dog, and getting them somewhere safe. But even after that call, it took about a half hour or so for someone to finally show up.

The officer took my family to a safe location, where my wife was able to coordinate a rental car for us to use. She still had to call an Uber to take her to the rental location as the officer left them as soon as he dropped them off. I will say though, he was very friendly.

1) The sun is hot

Meanwhile, I'm still with the car on the side of the road. It was around 1 p.m. when I got word that the tow truck driver that was dispatched to come get the truck cancelled. Like, what? I didn't know they could just cancel a call like that, but apparently they can. Even the insurance company was a bit floored by that.

So back to square one looking for another tow truck driver. At least at this point, I was finally able to find a garage willing to look at the car the same day if we got it there soon. I was trying.

Morning sun light effect 3 o'clock
Getty Images/iStockphoto

It wasn't until around 3 p.m. that the next tow truck dispatched met me on the side of the road. Mind you, the truck broke down around 9:30 a.m. Also around this time, my wife was leaving where she was with the rental. She had to do it all with the kids and dog, and places not allowing dogs inside. Regardless, she was able to get it done.

Car on tow truck
Mike Brant - Townsquare Media

With the truck in tow and my wife with the rental, we're finally on our way to meet at the garage. Once all was set and done, this was about a six-hour set back. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad everything worked out at the end, but the shear amount of time and hassle this took was just something I wasn't used to.

I've had roadside emergencies before in NJ and never went through such a delay like this, and it made us realize how lucky and spoiled we are to be living where we do.

Because of this incident, I started thinking about other ways that we're lucky to call the Garden State our home. Click here to check out my "lucky 7" list of why we're fortunate to be living in New Jersey.

Stay safe!

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