Well, that sucked.
Let me start over…
Vacationing in an RV that happens to be your home has some major advantages. You don’t need to pack a suitcase or toiletries; you don’t miss your bed; everything you need just travels with you.
After saying goodbye to our friends, we hitched up the Jeep and headed back onto the open road. Pulling out of our RV resort, we felt a mix of emotions: sadness for leaving our friends because we don’t know when we are going to see them again and happiness to go back to our little park — that offers a canopy for shade, refuge from the heat, and regular sleep schedules.
This time, driving in daylight gave us a view of what we had missed.
It wasn’t much. But it wasn’t nearly as bad as the drive from St. Paul to Bismarck, ND (flat nothingness). It still got pretty monotonous after while (hilly nothingness).
We made it through Baker where the giant thermometer read 116° (way too hot). We decided to stop again at the Greek restaurant because neither of us gets sick of eating gyros — they’re just delicious.
As we entered into an expanse of seemingly endless desert, our lack of sleep started to get to us. We were running on about 2.5 hours of sleep and the bickering had started. After about 15 minutes of this, we decided that maybe awkward silence was best.
Then, it happened.
I looked over and saw Andy jiggling the steering wheel and stepping on the pedals repeatedly. I took out my headphones as he said, “we’ve lost everything.”
The engine cut out which means that we lost our power steering and brakes. We coasted in neutral for about a mile while Andy tried and failed to get the engine to start again. Finally, we were able to coast to a stop on the side of the road.
I looked at him with wide eyes, wondering if this was real. Unfortunately it was. We immediately started trouble-shooting, checking on all of our fluids, gauges, etc. Everything was fine.
Andy called a guy from work who said it was probably our fuel pump. Crap. Here we were in the middle of nowhere in 116° heat with no way of getting our RV back on the road. And the heat inside the RV was rising quickly.
I looked over to see Pica panting. I have never seen a bird pant before. While Andy was trying to find a part for the RV, it dawned on me that we just had to get the animals out of here. We were 40 minutes from the closest town and there was no way that everyone would survive while we tried to fix the RV.
As the battery on our phone was quickly dying, I found a hotel that would accept us, all of us.
We had planned for an emergency evacuation so I quickly threw together a bag of supplies and loaded up the cats and Pica into kennels, throwing ice packs in the bottoms of their cages to help cool them. We loaded everyone into the Jeep, wrote a note to stick on the door of our RV, and took off towards the closest town.
I wish I had a picture of all of us packed into the Jeep but I was a little preoccupied with everything that was going on.
We got into Barstow, 40 minutes from our RV, and the front desk checked us in quickly.
Thankfully, everyone made the trip. With no windows on the Jeep and no A/C to cool us, it was like a furnace blasting on our bodies as we drove down the highway at 75 mph.
The hotel room was already cool and comfortable when we got there. Our panting cats — I have never seen that before either — were happy to be cooling down.
I was so worried but everyone made it, including Pica.
As I dealt with settling the animals in, Andy got to work on figuring out our RV situation. After a lot of phone calls and discussions — and after calling state patrol and begging them not to tow us to an impound lot — we finally decided to have the RV towed into Barstow so that Andy would be near an auto store for parts.
$525 and six hours later, the RV was parked in a random parking lot in Barstow.
I don’t know how many people know this but Barstow, we found out, is a sketchy area. The tow truck driver told us that when people get out of jail, gang members from L.A. normally, they send them to places like Barstow and Mojave to keep them out of trouble. This ends up creating a population of ex-cons and gangs in these areas.
The parking lot we were towed to had a lot of foot traffic and was right next to the railroad tracks. The driver advised us to take our note out of the window, hopefully lessening the chances of someone breaking in. Scary.
Andy ended up only replacing the fuel filter and not having to drop the entire tank down to fix the pump. And guess what? It worked! We were able to get it up and running that very night.
Since we had already paid for our hotel room and since we were running on so little sleep, we decided the most responsible thing to do was spend the night and drive home the next day.
But we didn’t want to leave our RV in such a scary spot. The hotel receptionist recommended a different parking lot — one that had lights and security cameras. This is where we left our home for the night while we slept in wonderful A/C and took several showers under their amazing shower head with impressive water pressure (we had paid for this luxury, after all).
The next day, after rest and a continental breakfast, Andy went to check on the RV and test drive it. All was good!
We loaded up the animals and checked out of our hotel. The drive home was uneventful, just how I want all future drives to be!
What did we learn? We learned that we work well together under pressure and that we can drop all the BS to get stuff done. We learned that we can get through a potentially disastrous situation. We learned to trust one another — when one person says something has to be done now, it has to be done NOW. And we gained confidence in our abilities as RVers. This could hold us back but knowing that we can make the right decisions just makes us more confident in future adventures.
The Wandering Dolphin continues to wander for another day!