Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Best Worst Vacation Ever - The Final Chapter

Our Inaugural Camping Trip had become pretty dangerous.  Days 1, 2, and 3 almost did us in.  Please forgive me for the lack of pictures, but at this point we were just trying to survive.  Pictures just weren't really important at that point.

We woke up, poured what little water was left between the three of us and waited.  10 o'clock became 11 o'clock became noon.  Feeling like it was Ground Hog's Day, we realized the Dealership escort wasn't coming.

RetroMan said we were all just going to have to die before he went to Mr. PMOC's house again.

He decided he would walk to the nearest town, which was about 7 miles away.  At that point it was at least 92 and heading for 96.  My husband, God love him, thinks he's still 20.  I told him that as dehydrated as he was, and as old as he was, he was likely to have a stroke walking in that heat.  Of course that just made him more stubborn.

So be it, he said.

He decided to ride the Yammahopper as long as it would take him, and then start walking.  He would take my cell phone, since it had reception in that little town, and call the Dealership as soon as he saw bars.

He took off around 12:30.  Me and Snappin' Sammie just sat under the Oak tree and waited, and worried that the Love of My Life might be stroking out as I died of dehydration in the middle of nowhere.  At least he would be found.  No one knew where Sammie and I were.  We'd be found years later.  But first by coyotes.

Around 2:00, a truck came into the clearing.  It was the Dealership escort.  Later we would find out that he kept telling everyone he was supposed to pick us up, but they told him to wait because we would call.  Now that's funny.

He asked where my husband was.  I told him "just look on Rt. 1234 for someone dead on the side of the road, because he left an hour and a half ago to try and make it to a phone with reception to call you."  I gave him the cell phone number, and he took off. 

Sammie and I were getting hotter.  And drier.  About 4 o'clock things were getting a little desperate, and I was trying to think about Plan Z, when all of a sudden I thought I heard a noise.  

A bright blue car turned the corner of the clearing and I just stared, praying that my husband was in there.

The driver side door opened and he shouted "Hi Hun!  Get in this car and get some AC!" 

And then I knew everything was going to be ok.

He had two cold Gatorades and some water for Sammie.  I swear I saw Sammie smile.

We all sat in the car enjoying the air conditioning, and he told me his story:

The Yamahopper took me 3 miles down 1234 and then ran out of gas.  I left it laying on the side of the road behind a bush, and then started walking.  About a mile outside of town, about the time I was thinking that walking had been a really bad idea, a car pulled off the road just ahead of me.  I thought it was the Dealership escort and hurried towards it.  But a girl looked out of the drivers window, said 'you're not Jimmy', and drove off!  I couldn't believe it!

I was at the edge of town, when I heard the phone ring.  It was the dealership guy.  He told me to wait for him.  He'd be right there.

He picked me up, and we went to the Dealership.  The Service Manager said he was sorry, but when they went to replace the gasket, there was too much sludge in the engine, and they needed $4700 to take the engine apart and clean it.

I'm not kidding.  They were holding our truck hostage for $4700.

I told him thanks, just put the gasket on and I'll take my chances.  Sludge won't hurt an engine.  The Service Manager said he couldn't do that, so I asked to see the General Manager.  The Service Manager said I couldn't see the General Manager, and at that point I got mad.  I told him I used to be a Service Manager too, and I know how it works.  Go get the General Manager immediately.

The General Manager came down and asked the Service Manager what was wrong.  At this point a small crowd had assembled, and customers were watching.  The Service Manager stuck his hand in the sludge and scraped a handful to show the General Manager.  The General Manager looked at me and said, I'm sorry, the engine has to be cleaned.

My husband is a pretty benign guy.  And a man of few words.  But when he gets angry, he speaks in a very slow, low, very loud voice, and attracts a lot of attention.  He's scarey.  There's electricity around his entire body.  I wish I had been there.

I told the General Manager that he was right.  The engine was going to blow now that the Service Manager stuck his hand in the sludge.  There was nothing wrong with the truck until he stuck his hand in there.

The GM and the Service Manager went off and talked for a few minutes.  They came back and told me if I signed some papers absolving them of any responsibility, they would clean the engine for free, and the truck would be ready in the morning.  In the meantime, they would get me a rental car at cost.

I signed the papers, talked to the mechanic to make sure he knew how to clean the engine properly, got the car and came here.

At that point RetroMan said he was glad we were staying only one more night.

I told him we'd be getting a divorce if I spent one more night there.  

He's like a Marine.

Or a lunatic.

We decided to go home, and then I'd following him back with the van in the morning.

But first, we had to go retrieve the Yammahopper.  We went to town, bought a gas can, filled it with gas, and found the Yammahopper.  We decided to return on a longer back road, because the moped wasn't street legal, and we'd be less likely to be caught on that back road.  So I followed RetroMan, and we slowly made our way 9 miles to Tree Ring.

After 3 miles, the Yammahopper died.

So, going 8 miles an hour, RetroMan held onto the car door, while I towed him 6 miles on a dusty road in the middle of nowhere back to camp.

We finally got back to our City house around midnight, roughly 84 hours since we started out.  We were never so glad to have a shower.  We got the truck the next day without incident.

We haven't been camping since.   

It was such a great trip and horrible at the same time.

In the end, it all came down to this

It's the overdrive button, which is what you're supposed to push when you are towing.  If you don't push it, pressure can build in the engine - enough to blow a gasket.

If we had only known.

But if we had pushed it, we wouldn't have
  • Known there was sludge in the truck and had it cleaned
  • Known the Yammahopper always dies after 3 miles
  • Switched cell phone companies so we always have reception at Tree Ring
  • Met our neighbor
  • Known how wonderful a shower feels after 4 days in 96+ heat
  • Figured out you don't really need a Potty Tent when you go camping
  • Known to camp with multiple rolls of toilet paper, lots of cash, a can of gas 
  • Known what kind of photography City Girl was interested in
RetroMan and I were talking about this camping trip the other day, and we realized that some of the details were getting murky.  Since this blog was named after this camping trip, I thought I would write everything down before we forgot all the details.  

I hope you enjoyed the story and never go camping as unprepared as we were.

Day 1


  1. What a great story! Although not the least bit fun, at least it was memorable.

  2. I hate to laugh but the image of you towing RM has me laughing pretty hard. I bet y'all were a sight! It does sound like a great adventure though and a trip you'll never forget.
    Add "more water" to your list!

  3. Oh, my. I hate to say it (I hope you take this right)... I haven't laughed this hard reading a blog post EVER. You wrote it so clearly I was picturing every mishap.

    "At least he would be found. No one knew where Sammie and I were. We'd be found years later. But first by coyotes."

    "Later we would find out that he kept telling everyone he was supposed to pick us up, but they told him to wait because we would call."

    "I told him we'd be getting a divorce if I spent one more night there."

    Day 3 had me rolling, too.

    The closest thing I can even relate to this incident (being that we are not campers) was last fall when Mr. Meems' friend offered us a really cool cottage stay right on the water up in Panacea. We were so excited to celebrate our 31st anniversary there. It was pouring rain while we unpacked our car with no cover. Once I finally got everything situated (I always have to lysol down every hard surface no matter where I stay ~~now that I think about it camping might be easier on me HA! ~~I love the outdoors)and we were both finally sitting down to relax the biggest rat I've ever seen came running out of the kitchen and slid across the floor then disappeared into the small bathroom. Of course I was the only one who saw it.

    After a series of interesting conversations about what/how to do and attempts to trap the rat in a utility closet ~ I made one of those comments like you did about divorce. Mr. Meems thought we could just take care of the whole situation in the morning.

    We packed up everything at midnight and drove ten miles to find an inn. The story gets deeper but this isn't my blog. Just thought I'd share.

    I DO hope you get back up there while it's cool and now you know how to do it!