It happened on our way down from Sequoia National Park. I don’t really have any good excuses, although I think tiredness, in combination with having to drive on the wrong (right) side of the road played a big part. We were happily driving along, coming up to a T-junction, when I noticed a stand on the left hand side of the road selling avos and fresh fruit. Thinking only of how happy Soph would be if we stopped there I decided to pull over.

I looked back to check my blind spot, started turning, and turned around to see a huge black pickup oncoming. As I’d started turning there was nothing I could do other than continue the turn and hope for a near miss. Smash, bang, airbags exploding everywhere, and suddenly we were on the side of the road half way through a fence and facing a completely different direction.

It took me a while to grasp the shocking reality of what happens when cars actually hit each each other. We spend so many hours in cars passing by within mere metres of each other, but here we were, in shock after finding ourselves on the wrong side of that white line. Soon after, thoughts about the sheer amount of damage that had just been inflicted on our poor innocent Kia Forte began hitting me, and more scarily, how much it would cost us. That ends the worst part of our ordeal. From then on, the situation resolved itself in the most amazing, dreamlike series of events.

I was almost completely unharmed, Sophie likewise, although later on she had a very sore and stiff neck. I got out to check the other car. It was not nearly as smashed as ours, and the occupants were fine. With the weight of that beast I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t even feel the hit. The driver, a middle aged woman, was just the nicest person you could ever want to crash into you. It was amazing, especially given the fact that I had just turned in front of her, her husband and little daughter completely out of the blue. “Just promise me this won’t stop you enjoying your holiday one bit” she said to a teary Sophie with a big motherly hug.

We had no phone, but the avocado guy very quickly flagged someone down and used their phone to call the highway patrol, who arrived in a few minutes. They too were completely understanding, just asking for a description of what happened and our details. Before I knew it our car was being towed away and one of the cops was lending me his phone to call Dollar Rent-A-Car.

The rental guy got our details and said we could pick up another car at the Fresno Airport. Then I was in a police cruiser, chatting to a police officer, sitting next to his M16 and pump action shotgun. He drove us and all of our huge piles of luggage to the rental desk at the Fresno airport. We gave them all the info for the accident, they said they were sorry we’d had such a bad experience then, and this is the craziest part, they gave us another car! Just like that. Apparently a zero liability insurance policy had found it way onto the rental agreement although I have no idea how it got there. Normally there is no way I’d pay extra for insurance for an accident that was so unlikely to happen. But there it was, on the rental agreement, zero liability, no worries, here’s a new car.

So miraculously, less than two hours after the initial incident, after most probably writing off at least one car, there we were, on our way again in a new car, with a full tank of fuel to boot. Never again will I whinge about paying extra for car insurance. On the other hand, I probably will, after all, what are the chances of that happening again?

You are probably looking for all the photos of the carnage. Well there aren’t any. I can’t believe I didn’t take any, but there you go. I was so preoccupied with the repercussions of what had just happened, and dismay that we were now standing by the road in the middle of nowhere with just a huge pile of luggage and a car wreck, I didn’t take a single one.