Tuesday, July 28, 2009
the number one cause of stress is reality
**Pictured above: if you find yourself using duct tape to repair the bag of Fritos exploded by the altitude of your campsite, you might be a redneck.**
I'm back after another nerve-shattering vacation. These seem to be the theme this summer. I expected Florida to be difficult, but I didn't expect the camping trip to be such a nightmare. It's usually our escape from everything, all peace and granola. NOT THIS TIME!! I'd call it a comedy of errors except none of it was funny.
Let me preface this by describing our RV. It's about a millon years old (I think it's a '76) and is pretty much a heap on wheels. We were insane to take this thing hundreds of miles away from home to a remote Sierra campground. We did manage to sucessfully take it up there two years ago (skipped it last summer due to gas prices being so high) but it leaked oil the entire way up and back. Way to pollute the environment, campers! We thought the leak was fixed, turned out it was NOT..but that was the least of the problems.
The first problem occurred before we even left the driveway. We planned to leave at 1:30am on Sunday the 19th and drive through the night/morning while it was cool. The RV has no air conditioning, of course, and doesn't do well in heat, so it was a good strategy. Except that the battery that runs everything inside (lights, water, stove, etc...) decided to stop working just as we were about to leave. Panic ensued, but luckily it turned out that it needed water and was quickly resolved. Whew.
So off we rolled at 2am and met up with our buddy Andy (who will from here on out be know as Saint Andy due to the patience he exhibited on this trip). He followed us in his truck.
Six hours into the drive, we stopped for gas in Madera, California. The AM/PM we stopped at is always our last fillup before heading up the mountain to the campground. It was about 8 in the morning and the RV had just made an ominous sound a few minutes before we stopped.
Know what? I'm boring mySELF writing this, so let's abbreviate.
1. We discovered the water pump was broken, rendering the RV undrivable.
2. The temperature was rapidly rising and we had 4 dogs in the RV.
3. We were rescued by a mechanic who lived near the AM/PM - this man allowed us to plug in the RV and use his power at his home as he fixed the water pump! We were amazed by the amount of kindness he and his family extended to us that day.
4. After the pump was fixed we had to head up the mountain in triple-digit heat. Three hours of bone-rattling uphill switchbacks were spent with me frantically holding frozen water bottles on the dogs' necks to keep them from dying of heatstroke.
5. After a normal night at the campsite, we awoke to find our youngest corgi unable to walk. She'd been fine when we'd gone to bed...but woke up broken. Saint Andy let us use his truck to drive over two hours back down the mountain to find a vet in the nearest town (Coarsegold). The vet determined that she must have injured a disc in her back because she wouldn't bear weight on her rear legs. Oddly, she displayed fairly normal reflexes in her hind legs, she just had a lot of weakness. We were given muscle relaxants and an antiinflammatory and instructed to head home if she didn't eat and drink normally by that night. Well, not only did she eat and drink normally later that day - but by that evening she was running, jumping, scaling small boulders. It's a mystery.
6. Our male corgi, who'd managed to injure his shoulder the day BEFORE this wonderful trip, re-injured it and began limping. Perhaps he was hoping for a trip to the vet. We suspect that Lucy, the one who hurt her back, bragged about being fed a few bites of my cheeseburger on the way back to the campsite out of sympathy.
7. The battery decided to stop holding a charge, causing us to have to run the generator every so often to charge it. This is a lame thing to do in a quiet forest camping area and we were embarassed.
8. Our other female corgi started limping toward the end of the trip. She's still running around on three legs.
9. On the way home (we left at 12am Saturday the 25th) we kept losing the headlights whenever we stopped for gas and restarted the RV.
We did make it home, though. And we did manage to squeeze some fun in. I did some fishing (caught five rainbow trout), we went on some nice hikes, swam in the creek, enjoyed the beautiful surroundings.
We definitely will be selling this RV and looking to buy something smaller and more reliable. I don't think we'll be bringing the dogs camping up there again. It's just too far from town. If they'd gotten into severe medical trouble, the two and a half hour trip down the mountain would have been way too long. And while they did enjoy themselves, they were also pretty stressed on the long ride there and back and seemed really thrilled to be home. It's too hard to relax when you're trying to keep track of four dogs in such a remote area.
We've been back for a while now, it's just taken me forever to finally write a blog entry. There's been so much work to catch up on, I've been going nonstop since we got back.
And now I'd better get back to it. :)