Adventure Gone Wrong
My friend asked me about my favorite vacation. Now, I have been to many different places, but it’s been so long ago that I don’t remember all the details of each vacation. Disney World, I can remember certain rides, different hotels, and some of the character breakfast/lunch/dinners we attended. Arizona: All I remember was being pulled away from the edge of the Grand Canyon. Washington D.C: Seeing the Declaration of Independence was cool!
However, I can tell you about my trip to Texas. While I don’t remember much of the details while being there, I can tell you the trip was…eventful. Interesting. Mind-blowing. Settle back and travel with me to the year 2005.
I had just graduated high school. My dad and his wife decided to string for an RV and take me camping in Texas. Apparently, my stepmom had family down there, so they figured it was the best place. Got the OK from my mom and her side of the family because my grandfather had a heart attack the day before my graduation. Supposedly he was on the up and up health wise, so they figured it was safe for me to go on an adventure.
Along with my dad and stepmom, my stepsister and her son joined us. As well as the dog. We all fit perfectly in the RV. Dad and stepmom would sleep in the “master bedroom” while my stepsister and nephew got the fold out couch. Me? Oh I got to pull the little table apart and make it into a bed. Do we know how to camp or what?
The day arrived when we would set off for our adventure. None of us were (or are) morning people, so we left around 10am. Bright eyed and bushy tailed. Our plan was to drive through the whole state of IL – because we live on the border of IL and WI – and cross over into Missouri. Just over the border was our first camping site where we would rest and relax. Easy enough, right?
Oh we got to Missouri all right. We even found our exit. However, once we stopped at the light at the top of the exit, is where we ran into trouble. You see, the engine of our RV started on fire. As soon as I saw the flames, my mind went into survival mode: Get the fuck out and get as far away as possible in case the damn thing blows up!
I am sure the folks in the car behind us had a WTF look on their face as they saw me run off into the overgrown grassy field next to the exit. Doesn’t help that I had no shoes on either. I managed to grab my purse and phone, but fuck shoes, right? Or anyone else. I left my stepsister and nephew to fend for themselves. As well as my dad and stepmom. However, my stepsister was about three paces behind me, running while carrying her son like a football. (Oh yeah, he was three at the time of this trip, so not like it was hard to carry him like that.)
My stepmom was running behind my stepsister with the dog, yelling at me. “Take the damn dog, Kara!” So I take the dog, who had no leash on, and took off running some more while carrying this dog who was shaking and freaking out. I’m lucky I didn’t get peed on.
Now, this town we were stopping at, was about the size of my local Wal-mart store. All I saw was a gas station, hotel, and some fast food joint. Down the road was the little tiny town that had no name. I’m trying to call 911, while thinking do they even have a fire department here?! while my dad pulled out a fire extinguisher that was about the size of a hair spray bottle. Yeah, like that’s going to do anything to put out the blaze coming from under our RV.
As I was dialing 911, I saw a fire truck coming down the road. How in the bloody hazes did they know already?! I thought. Well, you see, the town didn’t have a full fire department. They all ran off of volunteers. All the volunteers happened to be at a baseball game. Across the street. So they saw it right away. They got the fire out in record time. However, our RV was broke. All juices that make the engine go vroom were forming a puddle on the ground.
Luckily, while we had to wait for the tow truck to arrive (the guy who drove it was a volunteer firefighter, so he had to drive back to get it) we were allowed to gather some things up from the RV. While walking back, I noticed that we caused a huge back up in traffic off the exit as far back as the eye as could see. I joked with my stepsister saying we backed the whole highway up all the way back to our hometown.
So our first night on our camping trip was spent in a hotel. Like I said, do we know how to camp or what? I do have to give props to the mechanic in No Name Town, Missouri. He got us up and running by noon the next day. He worked through the night to get our RV fixed, even after driving 50 miles to another town to get the part we needed. Plus, he gave us a discount for “providing this town with something exciting that can be talked about for the next few years.”
Anyways, we were back on the road, on our way to Texas, only a few hours delayed. All things considered, that was about as good as it could get. There were no more hiccups on the way to Texas. There were no major eventful things that happened in Texas, unless you want to count my stepmom’s 50 year old brother trying to stick his tongue down my 18 year old self’s mouth. Ew. Her response to that? “Oh, he’s just lonely after losing his wife so many years ago.” Uh huh. Lonely wouldn’t have been my word of choice. More like horny. Or creepy. Or ewwie.
Now, this mind-blowing trip doesn’t end here. We still have the drive home! We were taking another way home so we could pass through other states and see their beauty. First night wasn’t too bad, but I did get the call from my mom telling me that my grandfather had another heart attack and didn’t make it this time. This was a Monday, we were scheduled to be home on Thursday, so they arranged the funeral for that Saturday. You would think fate/destiny/life would give us an uneventful trip home then so I could say my goodbyes to my grandfather.
Well if you laughed and said, yeah right, you are correct. Pat yourself on the back!!
We were camped out at some site in Alabama. Packed up, got ready to hit the road. We went about 5 feet before the RV died again. Luckily, no fire this time. Even more lucky, our camping neighbors were a kind, gentle couple, and the husband worked in a mechanic shop in whatever state they were from. And they had a rental car, so they drove my dad to a shop to purchase the item needed to get us back on the road. Woohoo! It only took about 3 hours to get us up and running. Score one for us! We’d still back it back by Thursday if we didn’t stop for lunch that day.
Which may have worked. If we didn’t catch on fire again. In the middle. of. nowhere. We were in Tennessee, on some highway that hadn’t past through a town for at least 3 hours. No other cars on the road. So, my stepsister and I run off the RV, yet again. Least this time I remembered the grab the dog and leash. Not my shoes though. We crossed the street of the RV, but I turned to my stepsister and said, “Maybe we should move down…a lot. In case it blows or something.” So we trekked down about 50 feet, opposite direction of the wind. We weren’t smart, but figured we’d have a slim chance of outrunning an explosion. Right?
Luckily we didn’t have to test that theory. My dad managed to get the fire out by himself this time. He had bought a HUGE fire extinguisher after the last time. However, once again, the stuff that make the engine go vroom was forming a puddle on the ground. Awesome. We’ll just call a tow truck! Only, no one had a cell phone reception. Not one little bar. Couldn’t make a call at all. Just got the NO SERVICE message.
Only other option? Make Kara and her stepsister walk to the next town! Only we had no fucking idea how far away the next town was! Pull out the map. The road was found, but the distance between the last town we saw and the next town was as long as my pinky finger. Oh, well, maybe we’ll wait a bit to see if another car drives by.
We waited one whole hour and never saw another car. Back to the walking plan. Both of us put on our hiking boots, each grabbed a back pack, and stuffed it full of water bottles and some snacks to munch on. Obviously we had no idea how long we were going to be walking. And we set off down the road, leaving my dad, stepmom, and nephew to watch for cars passing by the RV.
So we walked. And walked. And walked some more. We discussed who our knight in shiny metal might be. Would we be able to trust whoever it was? Would they be a rapist? A serial killer? My stepsister even suggested a hilly-billy redneck with about 19 guns in his car/truck. Then we discussed if Tennessee even had rednecks. Then we discussed what would even define a “redneck” as a “redneck.” By the end of this trip, we both figured we would be rednecks with the burning we were getting from the walk. (And yes, sunscreen was applied!) Then we discussed the epicness of this fateful vacation. Then we both vowed never to leave IL again.
Besides car watching, we did some bird watching. I have no idea the name of the birds we saw, but we made up different pretend names for them.
Finally we can to a 4 way stop. Why the bloody hell there was a 4 way stop in the middle of fucking no where was beyond us. We pulled out our trusty little map, trying to figure out where in the blazes we really were. Then we had to figure out if we were heading north, south, east or west. I voted on north since we were trying to drive north up into Kentucky. Logic, right? Never mind the fact that both of us had a compass on our backpacks that could point us in the right direction.
Well, according to the map, if we headed east there was a town that looked like it was only a tiny bit down the map, compared to turning west where it looked like it was fucking miles on the map. So we turned right.
Luckily, we turned the right way. However, the only mechanic shop we found was closed for the day! So we stumbled into the tiny, run down police station. The cop we found quickly rounded up the mechanics, sent them in the direction of the broken down RV, and then plopped us in the little diner in town. He even bought us food. Aww! And still no bars on our phones, but the diner did have a pay phone. Called my mom, explained how I doubt the return on Thursday wasn’t going to happen. I was instructed to call back once I knew how long the repairs would be because if she had to, she was going to buy me a plane ticket to get me back by Saturday.
Now I realize this story has gone on way longer than I planned. So i will cut to the chase. Mechanics rushed on the RV, got it done by Thursday night. We left super early Friday morning and my dad drove all the way home, at neck breaking speeds. We got home Saturday morning at 5am. Caught a few Z’s, drove my ass to my mom’s house, went to the funeral, and then fell asleep at the luncheon afterwards.
Pro-tip people: If you are going to buy a RV, buy one that isn’t 4th time owned, hella cheap, but if you do, have a mechanic look at it before you head off to the other side of the country!