We Hit the Road and the Road Hits Back

October 5, Cooperstown, NY

To borrow a phrase from the musical Annie, “Yesterday was plain awful!”

As you know if you’ve been reading this blog, our departure date, originally contemplated for September 1, has been delayed, and delayed, and delayed again. Until this week when we made a pact: We would leave Friday, no matter what.

Well we didn’t quite. As Friday evening wore on and it was clear we weren’t ready to leave, we decided to spend the night in our van, in our driveway. Not a bad plan for our three cats: Give them a chance to get used to the van for a night before being driven away in it. But it left us disappointed in ourselves and grumpy and in a rush to leave as soon as we could on Saturday, yesterday.

We did leave, but didn’t get that far. Yesterday was the first big rainfall our region’s had in weeks so that’s when we discovered that the skylights in the van–which were slightly leaky when we bought it and which we’d paid more than $700 to have sealed up super-tight–were now twice as leaky as before. Water dripped on us as we headed down the driveway. Then we heard a loud, not-good-sounding noise.

“What’s that?” I asked.

“Trees,” Bill answered. He told me he thought the top of the trailer had hit a low branch as we headed out which seemed logical enough. “I hope it didn’t damage anything,” he added. Neither of us considered that there’d been no such issue with low branches when we brought the trailer in through the driveway couple of months earlier.

We were both hungry, so first stop was the diner/pizza place by the Thruway in Saugerties, which has the kind of spacious parking lot we now need. I hopped out of the van, headed toward the trailer and stopped, stunned. Then I did what I always do in an emergency. “Bill! Come here! Come here now!!” I shouted.

The first thing I’d noticed was that the trailer doorknob was  bent around 90 degrees, but then we realized that the awning on the side of the trailer had  been ripped off completely and the electrical outlet on the outside of the trailer had been torn off with its wires left hanging. One of the two poles that holds up the awning was also gone, presumably in our driveway somewhere along with the awning itself. The other pole was still hanging on, but none too tightly. As Bill shook it to see how well attached it was, several wasps came crawling out, so he banged the pole to chase them away…and it slipped out of his hands and bounced off my head. Fortunately, it hit me hard enough to smart, but not hard enough to leave a bump or cause any injury. Still, I was in such a high dudgeon that I stomped away to the other side of the parking lot for a while.

Next stop was the RV place, where the only response to our complaint about the skylights was to hand us a tube of caulk since they couldn’t do any further fixing while it was wet. We hinted around about a refund–no dice. On the other hand they got the trailer door open (no small feat with the doorknob bent over) and replaced the doorknob for free.

And so we headed off in the rain…to LL Bean which is our happy place. We’d been going there anyhow; Bill had some items he wanted to return and get a bathrobe instead. Still it was a true when-the-going-gets-tough-the-tough-go-shopping moment. My raincoat was soaked through so I got myself a new truly waterproof one also a down vest, a bit of an impulse splurge that I came to greatly appreciate in the frosty weather at the campground where we spent last night. Both should be pretty useful in the Pacific Northwest weather.

I won’t go into the mess we discovered when we let our cats out of the enclosure where we’d kept them all day, along with a small travel litterbox that turned out to be completely unequal to the job. By that time we were so exhausted and frazzled that more mishap didn’t seem to matter.

I don’t like to admit it but there have been a few moments in the past 48 hours when I’ve gone over in my mind the sequence of conversations and negotiations that led to me agreeing to this trip and wondered if I should have vetoed it instead. Insisted on driving a normal car from motel to motel like normal people. But I love the trailer and it’s so nice sleeping in our own mattress with our own covers and cats. And the weather’s dried out, at least for now.

We’re finally out and on our adventure. Let’s see what tomorrow brings.

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