Yep. That was our mantra during the last unplanned time away.
Some of you might have known about our aunt, who, at 59 years old (she turned 60 a few months ago), was diagnosed with a very rare, very aggressive uterine cancer last August. When she was diagnosed, she was stage IV. For those of you who have dealt with cancer, you might have an inkling of what this means. Stage IV means a spread to other organs, and is usually a terminal diagnosis.
In this case, there was zero survival at 2 years.
That being said, her course resulted in some amazing (and, as I understand it, documented by her doctors) developments, as her body worked to re-route functions.
We knew she had started getting hospice care at home a few weeks ago, and then we waited. Two weeks ago tomorrow, we learned of her passing. And so we got ready to head out.
Our oldest (16) decided he wanted to stay home, which is completely understandable. It also solved the dilemma of how to coordinate care for the chickens, some of which are still inside at night (yes, this includes the three boys. *sigh*) For a long time, I’ve been naysaying Hunny’s concept that at some point, he wasn’t going to want to go on vacation with us any more. I’m not saying this has actually happened yet, but I’m beginning to think that there may be some writing on a wall somewhere.
That Monday we got details and sorted out the details of our trip. Tuesday we washed bedding; packed clothes, food, and did last-minute shopping. Wednesday morning, we headed out.
Normally, we stop along the way for lunch, pull (well, push the button) out the slide and make hot dogs for lunch. Come to find out, the battery was completely dead. It was so dead, that even though power from the truck should have been able to get the slide out, it couldn’t even switch. This also meant that there wasn’t enough power for the fridge to switch to propane. Fortunately, the fridge was full which means it will stay cold at temp for several hours.
The first day of travel was the longest day, but not terribly long. We have a campground that we really love (even though it’s in Oklahoma!) mostly because we really enjoy the owners. And we always get the same spot across from the pool, which makes it easy for the kids to go swimming while we stay inside and stay cool.
Thursday morning, we decided we should probably get a battery. We were kind of kicking ourselves for not stopping along the way the day before, but we were sure we could find something along the way. Which is, of course, what we did. We found another Walmart , but never quite made it there. This was because there was a Tractor Supply literally across the street. And, you all know by now that my absolute *favorite* store is Tractor Supply- even if it’s not in the middle of Chick Days.
30 minutes later, we were back on the road with a new, functioning battery. Yay! (It could have been worse- we could have had to make numerous stops to find the right battery, thereby causing us to pull into camp later)
We have never stayed in that part of Oklahoma. We thought about it once, only to find that the KOA was basically in the parking lot of a casino/race track combo, that at the time, was a huge mud pit. It was also loaded with traffic for the casino and race track, and we decided it was not someplace we want to stay. I guess if you want to go to the casino and racetrack, it would be ok, especially if you didn’t have kids. We LOVE KOAs overall, but this one is not our cup of tea.
Sunday and Monday I had spent scoping things out. We have our set places, and typically use KOAs for overnighting along the way; not usually as destination parks (unless it’s a good one that we know) for lengthy vacations. One of the reasons we hadn’t gone and spent time with them there once they moved was because of the lack of campgrounds in that area. This time, though, I was determined to find something.
My standard first place to check is Woodalls. I have used this site for years and years and I’m on the forums. Thankfully, I found a campground that had a pool. If you have never been to Oklahoma in the middle of summer during a heat wave, let me summarize it thusly: God made Oklahoma as a preview of what Hell is like. It’s His way of giving people a chance to get a taste; thereby giving them time to repent and be saved. The end.
It was so hot, that if we had gotten there any later in the day (this was our short day, so we were there by around 2 pm) we wouldn’t have been able to sleep at night because the air conditioner wouldn’t have brought the inside down to decent sleeping temps (see the above “it could have been worse” point). It was so hot there, that when we went and got ice cream (which partially melted on the way home), even after 3 days in the freezer, the ice cream still hadn’t re-frozen solid.
When we got parked and got camp set up, Hunny noticed that one of the tires had gone completely bald on the inside of the tire. (It could have been worse- it could have blown apart while we were in the midst of construction in the middle of nowhere) We attribute this solely to the absolute terrible roads in the state. Parts of it were like going down a washboard- remember those gravel roads that make your teeth rattle? Ya, like that, except now add some pot-holes.
We would have to change it out. Fortunately, we found a mobile unit on Friday (after the service). And, it didn’t cost an arm, a leg, or first-born child. It could have been worse.
Because we stayed a day longer than we had anticipated, this meant we had to move to another site. Honestly, this begs the question: if you have to pack up and hitch to move, are you better off to not just go? At the actual moment I was walking back to the office to see if the only remaining site we could fit into was available, the cousins pulled in. That basically made the decision for us. So we packed up, hitched up, and moved a few sites down.
This got us into the shade, but gave no grass for little dog. The awning rolled up just fine, but in trying to extract it, one of the springs went out. It could have been worse. It could have been a deal where the whole awning and mechanics would have had to be replaced, or wouldn’t have functioned in any capacity at all.
After the tire debacle was resolved, we needed to do some food shopping. A few hours later, I went to call the teenager at home (you know, to make sure he was alive and hadn’t run out of food) only to discover my phone was gone. This could only mean one thing: it got left somewhere on the Walmart food trip. *sigh* (I had given it to my daughter to hold while I got my wallet out)
And, it was going right to voice mail. I was not optimistic. Back to the store we went, and by the grace of God, it was in the lost and found and no one had made any calls or done anything else with it. Wow. I was sure it was gone! It could have been worse.
Our way back home got us to the same campground we really like. Later in the evening, my daughter realized her IPod was missing. *sigh* (Remember- we’re up to 2, and this makes 1 for her, although at the time, we were thinking this completed the 3) The next morning, she went back to the office and indeed, it had been saved. Yay! (She was really sweating it, too, because she paid for the thing with her own money. She is the only one in the family who has an actual IPod, and she loves it.)
On the road we went the next morning, to make the long leg of our journey home. When we were around Amarillo, Hunny let me know one of the other tires was feeling hot. Ugh oh. We were hopeful it would make the 200 miles home.
You know what’s coming next, right? Ya. We didn’t make it. We got just outside of Hereford when the car on our right let us know something was amiss. Seriously? How did we miss it? It was really windy (as usual for this part of the country) and the roads weren’t great, but not as bad as they were in Oklahoma.
We pulled over to the side of the road and saw our poor, shredded tire. Well, not really. We saw the rim with some rubber pieces. The firewall was still intact. Hunny had seen a few tire pieces in his side mirror and was going to pull over once we totally cleared the city.
So here we were, on the side of the road, outside of a town, with a totally blown tire. We were outside a veterinary supply store, so I was planning on heading in to see if we could see their phone book. Lo and behold, a FedEx truck pulls up to turn back on the road, and comes to help- with his phone book. We got the number of a tire place, and off he went.
Hunny called the tire place, which had tires, but no mobile unit- but, they had the number of a place that did. 30 minutes, y’all. They said they’d be there with 2 new tires in 30 minutes. And it was getting cloudy, which meant we weren’t baking in the Texas heat. The tires also cost about the same as we had priced earlier at Walmart, of all places.
It TOTALLY could have been worse!
We didn’t get gouged on either price; not the cost of the tires, nor the cost of the mobile service, which actually cost less for them to come to us on the side of the road than we were charged to change out a tire in a campground. And we thought the price in Ok was reasonable for mobile service!
No one was hurt behind us; we weren’t hurt; the underside of our rig wasn’t shredded; it didn’t happen in a construction zone with heavy traffic; it didn’t happen in the middle of nowhere where we didn’t have a cell signal (that came about 40 miles later); the tire place HAD RV tires AND a mobile unit, AND the heat wasn’t oppressive.
That, my friends, is God in action.
I say this in all sincerity. Hereford had a 2010 population of 15, 370 people. When we got home (to our town of about 50,000), we called around to several different places, and had to end up ORDERING tires that took 2 days to get here. While I admit that where we were just past Hereford is 50 miles from Amarillo, the odds that they actually had our tires when our own home town did not- well, that, imo, is more than dumb luck, especially considering that tire blowouts aren’t generally considered ‘lucky.’
And now that I’m counting, I can relax. That’s 6 for the trip (because everything goes in 3s):
- bald tire
- awning spring
- my phone
- blown tire
We knew that the trip wasn’t a vacation and certainly wasn’t a pleasure cruise by any means. But, it could have been worse, and this trip will forever remembered as such.