Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Breakdown

The Sweet Little Pool
Life doesn't always go the way that I plan (how dare it!). Like this camping trip for instance... Tonight we are sleeping in a very sweet Comfort Inn with a pool and a lovely (indoor) shower that is not coin operated. We have a continental breakfast and a climate controlled room.

Basically, The way I plan these Odysseys is to get an idea of how I want the trip to go and then everything falls into place flawlessly, intermixed with a couple of good stories. I'll admit that we are really lucky. Even things not executed perfectly, often turn out for the best. Glacier being a perfect example.

I have always wanted to camp in Many Glacier, the most highly coveted campground. It is the farthest north and has the most glaciers to hike to. We did our research and that campsite usually fills by 2pm. We were on target for a noon arrival. Only we didn't leave on time because we couldn't find the electric cord that made the trailer lights work. We looked everywhere. For an hour... and still nothing. Finally, we found it, where it belongs, just camouflaged with something else kind of dirty and black. At this point, we were running late but not too late... only to collide with the biggest small town parade in history. EVERYONE came out for this event and we couldn't make it 2 blocks, for another hour. By the time we got close to the campsite, it was filled (by 11:15am -so even the absence of these issues would not have put us there on time); and we were forced to stay in my 2nd choice.

It was the 4th of July and rather than fireworks, we listed to stories and songs told by Jack Gladstone, a Blackfoot American Indian. It was beautiful and something I would have NEVER wanted to miss. Our kids sang a long with songs and poems and legends original to the exact area we were camping.  We saw 2 big horn sheep (I thought they were mountain goats but the park ranger corrected me as he was running full speed and chasing them out of our campsite). We saw a couple of bears (at a safe distance). Our campsite had the best view of the mountains and when we went up to Many Glacier the next day to hike, I discovered that I didn't like it half as well as our campsite. It was cold and less private and would have had a really boring 4th of July Ranger Program. At that point, it was so nice and easy and clear to see how much better things were when they didn't go according to My Plan.

Today, not so easy. On Friday, 3 hours from our next destination (my parents oasis in the woods) smoke starts billowing from the front of the Odyssey. Now the Odyssey is just shy of 100,000 miles but she runs like new. We pull over at to the side of the road and the smoke just keeps pouring out. Stuff is leaking all over the ground and it smells awful. We are about a block from a rest stop so we decide to pull up and let it cool off in a safer spot. 90% of our trip, our phone has literally said, "No Service" but at this rest stop, we have 4 bars of 3G! We are out in the middle of nowhere, but we have means to make calls and research; the small closest town is 20 miles away and entirely closed by 5p on a Friday; there is no shade. We wait 2 hours for AAA to come, when he arrives, we have more trouble, they will only take 2 of us, the other two will need to find another way into town -- not only that-- we are told that no one will even look at the Odyssey until Monday. Now coming from Suburbia, this is NuTS. I'm used to competing quotes and shops open until midnight 6 days a week.

Within moments, an adorable little couple holding hands and in matching shirts (reminding me of my own matching parents), come up and ask if we need help. They have an RV and are heading straight into the nearest town for dinner. We decide that this is the best bet for me and My Dear Daughter; I close my eyes and say a little prayer for safety. We sit between the dogs and their two sons (surrounded by anti-government paraphernalia) but they were our sweet angels. Their adult special-needs son requested the bathroom so they stopped a mere 20 miles from their destination. He was the nicest guy. So excited to see guests in his RV; offered us Pringles and juice boxes. The family had just had their own angel the day before and were thrilled to drop us directly at the hotel where we found an open room.

My Dear Husband and Son went with the (very smelly) tow truck back to The Shop. There was someone in the shop, who said we blew the transmission. In his short diagnosis, the transmission fluid was highly over filled (by 4 quarts even after it blew all over the road; We know nothing about cars, but we had just had the fluids checked and oil changed the day before we left). He said he can rebuild the transmission but won't be able to order parts until Monday and then it will take a couple of days to fix.

These were literally our fortunes from that night
By the time we had a dip in the pool, got dinner (at a really tasty Chinese place about a 1/2 mile from our little hotel), came up with a plan on how to get our camper from the rest stop, it was 11:30pm PST (at home it was 1:30am). Our DD crashed on her half of the queen bed with murmurs of "Oh, I love sheets! Actual sheets!" and our Dear Son didn't argue about which half of the bed was his.

This seems crazy, but I even feel a little lucky with The Break-down. We had 3G and cell service. We were super close to a rest area. The college town we are in, albeit small, is friendly and cute. I don't know what we missed (or why) by this crazy and really expensive detour. I don't know yet, but hopefully someday, I'll know why this was all the best thing. Right now, I just want to scream (or cry depending on the moment), but instead, I'm downstairs at the complimentary continental breakfast, enjoying some coffee without floating grounds and some fresh peach yogurt and blogging the morning away (while a really awkward older woman is shouting into her cell phone- gesh)

--Peace and Love and Blessings--

Update for Tuesday: we are safely at my mom and dads house with a rental car. My mom drove four hours to rescue us on Saturday. The Odyssey will be thousands and thousands of dollars to fix and they still don't know when it will be ready.

It is my DD's bday so we are off to fuse glass and hang out in the Pacific Ocean and pretend there is nothing to be anxious about.


  1. You are taking this way better than I ever would . . . I have a very hard time altering My Plan, but as you said; wandering off The Plan is sometimes the best thing.
    Take care. I hope the rest of the trip goes smoothly; maybe not just as planned; but safely and smoothly.

    1. Thanks! especially for leading the way in epic voyages! I love following in your footsteps, or at least "Planning" to follow in them.