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Posts Tagged ‘Disaster while traveling’

A friend in need is a friend indeed.

Jeff and I will do anything for a friend in need.  I’d give the shirt off my back and walk around in my bra if a friend needed my shirt.  Recently Jeff and I helped a friend who is going to be moving to Texas but couldn’t afford the high cost of a moving van, plus gas, food and lodging.  So when we heard of our friend’s plight we said, “Hey! We’ve got a 33’ toy hauler just sitting around.  Why don’t we load her goods into the trailer and take a road trip to Texas! We’ll make a little vacation out of it!” So that’s what we did.  Little did we know, this would be an adventure on so many different levels!

It started with prepping the truck and trailer.  We haven’t used our toy hauler since we sold all the motorcycles and ATVs.  We used it once to take the Jeep out to Joshua Tree, but other than that, it’s been sitting in storage for four years.  To prepare, the truck gets a tune up, oil change and finally the seal of approval.  The trailer gets a cleanup, tires inspected, water tank filled, battery charged, poopy chemicals applied to the blank tank and it’s also ready to go.

Adventure #1:
The first day of our vacation is actually Memorial Day and we head down to our friend’s house in San Diego to load up.  She lives in a small house so we weren’t too concerned about running out of storage room in the trailer.  Heck if we fit the jeep in the trailer we can fit her small supply of household items!  So after all her boxes, night stands, dressers, boxes of clothes, kitchen stuff and various odds and ends are loaded we finish the load with the mattress and box spring.  The tailgate of the trailer is raised the inside boxes are secured and we’re just about ready.  We’re about to leave and I’m worried about the trailer backend hitting the house as we turn to leave.  So I get out and spot for the house.  We never even considered looking up!  It’s just been so long since we’ve used the trailer… So Jeff starts pulling away and he clears the house but little did I know that the trailer’s ladder hooked a cable line from the power pole above and it rips the ladder off the trailer.  Oooops.   The powerlines, telephone and cable lines are swinging wildly.  So Jeff gets out, throws the broken ladder into the trailer muttering profanities and away we go.  My bad!

Adventure #2:
We start heading out on the 8 east.  We’re laughing and having a grand ol time just shooting the shit as we drive.  The plan is to continue driving until we get to Tucson.  Well we’re just outside of Yuma Arizona when we hear an explosion.  Jeff quickly checks the dash of the truck, everything is A-OK. I look in the mirror and our trailer tire has literally exploded and is sending trailer fender and tire shrapnel all over the freeway.  So we pull over on a flat spot and begin the process of installing the spare tire.  We had these tires balanced and inspected by Discount Tire!  F%#K! Now we have an exploded tire, a broken fender and two bent supporting trailer frame brackets!  After the new tire is installed we have to make a committee decision.  Do we continue on to Tucson or drive back to Yuma? Technically we have one more spare tire as the truck uses the same bolt pattern as the trailer; so IF we continue and get another flat we’d still be good.  The other option is to head back to Yuma and get a new spare.  The consensus is to continue on to Tucson.

Adventure #3:
No sooner as we all pile back in the truck and begin our journey to Tucson, we hear a “Bing Bing Bing” and the Truck’s check engine light comes on.   MOTHER F%#KER! We have no idea what’s going on with the engine, all we envision is being stranded in the middle of the Arizona desert in 104 degree heat.  We make the decision to head back to Yuma and get new tires and have the truck checked out.  Unfortunately it is Memorial Day and 6:00pm at night so neither Chevy nor Discount Tire is open.  I found an RV park nearby and we stay the night.  Discount Tire opens the following morning at 8:00am and Chevy opens at 7:00am so we drop the trailer off at Discount and take the truck over to Chevy.  Two hours and $600 later the trailer has four new tires and the truck has a $125 inspection report that reads bad O2 sensor.  The technician clears the fault and tries to get the truck to duplicate the error and nothing happens.  We get the thumbs up from Chevy that the O2 fault must have been an old code and we finally head east.

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Adventure #4:
The road through Arizona’s desert is beautiful.  We make it without any troubles into New Mexico where we come across a train wreck.  There are two injured people in the derailment. I have never seen a train derailment in person and there are rail cars everywhere.  It’s truly a sight to see. I’m just glad that nobody was killed.

Adventure #5:
Just before Las Cruces New Mexico, we stop at the rest stop and I cook a spaghetti dinner.  We are all sitting out on the park benches of the rest stop enjoying dinner.  We see off in the distance a huge volume of black storm clouds accompanied by flashes of lightening.  We turn and in the opposite direction is another bank of storm clouds.  We pull up the MyRadar app and all we see are these two storms in red converging on one another.  The sheer scale of red “severe” weather is alarming.  So we finish dinner and begin to head out just as drops of rain are starting to fall.  HOLY MOTHER OF GOD; THE WIND!! THE RAIN!! THE LIGHTNING!! THE HAIL!!!  I have NEVER in all my life actually seen a storm of this magnitude.  Cars are driving at a crawl or either pulled over to the side of the road with their hazard lights flashing.  Our truck’s windshield wipers cannot keep up with the deluge!  The hail hitting the windshield and the hood is so loud we have to shout to each other to hear.  I would have taken a video of the storm but my hand was “white knuckled” on the Oh Shit bar of the truck.  As the hail continues to pour down, Jeff shouts “I hope our bathroom skylight isn’t broken!” I’m thinking, I hope we don’t die! Thankfully we emerge from the worst part of the storm after 20 minutes of pure hell.  Now we’re just getting a steady rain with the occasional flash of lightning.  To say we were all “Scurd” is an understatement.  There was definite pucker factor going on big time!

Adventure #6:
As we leave the outskirts of Las Cruces, I lean over to look at the gas gauge; to me it’s reading pretty low.

I ask Jeff, “You want to stop for gas? Do we have enough?”
Jeff replies “Oh we’ve got plenty.”
Skeptically I say, “Really? You Sure?”
Jeff scowls “We Have Plenty”

Little do we know that the road to Dallas Texas is NOT flat.  We’re approaching uphill after uphill and I’m seeing that gas gauge inch closer and closer to E.  Finally it’s pretty clear that we are not going to make it to Van Horn Texas.  Unfortunately there are no diesel gas stations around that could fit our 33’ trailer and 20’ truck, so reluctantly Jeff pulls off the freeway and into an abandoned gas station.  Luckily we are carrying seven spare gallons of diesel. While Jeff is filling the tank I get out of the truck and stretch.  I look up at the trailer and see that the aluminum siding skin has peeled off the trailer at the front and runs about 6 feet back.  It looks like the peel of a banana except so much worse. I say to Jeff while pointing up, “That’s not good!”  Jeff looks over and his jaw just drops.  He states, “That isn’t good.”  So since our trailer ladder got ripped off in San Diego, we have no way to easily fix the trailer skin.  Jeff improvises the use of six used tires, stacks them up and uses them as a wobbly platform.  I’m trying to steady the tires as Jeff clambers up and attempts to fix the skin. And people wonder why women live longer.  So with seven gallons in the tank and the skin of the trailer tucked back in the seal, we make our way to Van Horn Texas.

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Adventure #7:
We find a really nice RV park and spend the night without any drama. Back on the road we go.  I use the app Trucker Path to find a diesel truck stop.  I step out of the truck and let Bogie take a pee.  While Jeff is fueling up I look at the trailer.  Once again we have banana peeling trailer skin in the same location.  Jeff’s temporary fix was indeed temporary.  So I walk over to Jeff and tell him the siding has come loose again.  While telling him this I see another part of the trailer skin that has separated.  I say to Jeff while pointing, “That’s not good.”  Jeff just says “SHIT!”  So we finish fueling and thankfully there are no wobbly tires around for Jeff to almost kill himself on, but there are these nice cement streetlight platforms that are not only high enough for Jeff to each the trailer top but are also steady!  So with power drill in hand and a couple of screws, Jeff once again clambers up and fixes the trailer.  Then with the remaining screws fixes the trailer on the other side.  Once repaired, back on the road we go!

Adventure #8:
Finally we make it to Grapevine Texas five minutes before the storage yard was about to close.  We unload our friend’s goods into her storage garage and away we go.  The plan is to stay the night in the driveway at our friends’ boyfriend’s house in Flower Mound. We pull into the driveway and set the trailer up for a much needed rest after a long day of driving.  The next day Jeff detached the truck from the trailer and we head to Home Depot to get supplies to make some serious trailer repairs.  Sealant – check, longer screws – Check! Back to the trailer!  So with a borrowed ladder the permanent repairs are made much more easily. That evening we make plans to visit with our friends in Fort Worth.  Along the way, Jeff spots one of the places he’s been dying to go for over three years!  It’s a truck stop called Buc-ees.  Buc-ees is HUGE!  There are 36 gas pumps!  There are even shopping carts for the store portion.  But this ain’t no normal convenience store!  HOLY HELL this is the mecha of all convenience stores.  Jeff’s face is showing a blend of pure joy on the verge of orgasmic to absolute amazement.  We’re walking around the store and Jeff finds a true gem.   It’s a t-shirt that reads “Got Beaver Nuggets?” On the back it reads “Be a lot cooler if you did”.  Jeff is in heaven.  So we get some snacks and a couple of shirts and away we go to meet our friends.  I must admit I really wish we had Buc-ees in San Diego, they really are amazing places.  From country nik nak decoration stuff to clothing to fudge and hot food, Buc-ees has it all.

Adventure #9:
Friday morning we are scheduled to head back west to San Diego.  As we’re leaving Flower Mound I’m checking the Doppler radar and all I see is a HUGE patch of red and yellow Doppler warnings all throughout Texas and New Mexico – This should be interesting.  While it did rain hard almost all the way to New Mexico it wasn’t nearly as bad as the first storm we had been through.  However it was strong enough to damage the trailer AGAIN!  This time the fiberglass siding under the 5th wheel hitch has come loose.  We pull into a Loves truck stop and Jeff climbs into the back of the truck with power drill and screws in hand and screws the fiberglass back into place.
I comment to Jeff, “I think this is a sign to retire the trailer”
Jeff says reluctantly, “I think you might be right”

 

Adventure #10:
We have driven through New Mexico and are in the high desert of Arizona approaching the mountains.  We took the scenic route and it truly is beautiful! The landscape goes from high desert scrub to majestic pines in just a matter of miles.  As we head through the mountains we get a text message from one of our San Diego friends: “Hey we are at the San Diego airport heading to Scottsdale!” We text back “Meet for lunch in Scottsdale?”  So a couple of hours later, the timing is just right and we meet our friends for a quick sandwich lunch.  What a small world!

Adventure #11:
As we leave Phoenix and are crossing the desert plains we hear that familiar, Bing Bing Bing, and again the check engine light comes on.  Jeff rolls his eyes and I heave a deep sigh. “PISS ANT MOTHER F$#KER!” This time we agree, we’re throwing caution to the wind and continuing through the desert ignoring what could be impending doom.  Thankfully that doom is a mere inconvenience in gas mileage.  We were getting around 14 MPG before the check engine light.  After the light it dropped to around 8 MPG.  Probably the O2 sensor again.  Our plan is to make it our river place in Yuma and have an actual bed to sleep on.  Surprisingly that plan comes flawlessly into place and we arrive at Hidden Shores without any further engine problems. So the next morning we leave Yuma and head back to Alpine where we store the trailer.  Thankfully the truck didn’t give us any further problems and thankfully the trailer didn’t decide to shed anymore skin along the way.

Even though our trip was funded by the National Lampoon Vacation fund, I can look back on it now and just shake my head in amazement of all we experienced.  Through all the adventures; the ladder, the tire, the engine, the trailer continually wanting to get naked, it still was a fun trip that I’d do all over again if a friend needed us to.  I think next time however, I might bump up my life insurance before I do…

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