- Sometimes, the universe just ups the ante in the “lessons of life”.
- We have a lot to learn and God has decided that Amarillo is the classroom.
Here’s the first installment of this chapter in the story.
Yesterday, we left our campground in New Mexico heading east on US 40 for what we had thought would be two nights at Palo Duro Canyon State Park, just outside of Amarillo. We’d heard about this beautiful place, called the Grand Canyon of Texas, and felt great to have secured two nights here before heading to the tall grass prairie of northern Oklahoma.
US 40 follows the original path of Route 66 east from Cline’s Corner, New Mexico over to Amarillo, Texas. It’s about 200 miles and the landscape is wide open and this time of year, miles of pale yellow grass unfurl beneath the sky which yesterday was wrapped in a grey, thick blanket of clouds, randomly dispensing rain showers.
On the drive, Peter noticed that the back window in the truck cap had suddenly popped open and so he pulled quickly off the highway and I jumped out to close and relock it. As he accelerated, he noticed that the truck was resisting acceleration. It got worse quickly and the good news is that a picnic area was right ahead and we limped in behind a half a dozen tractor-trailers, assorted cars and RVs.
From there, the next three hours were spent trouble-shooting with experts (our Ford dealer mechanic in Keene, an Airstream mechanic in Ohio, Ford Road-Side Assistance somewhere in the US, Coach-Net/Airstream – a roadside membership program that, with Divine grace, we joined with the purchase of our Airstream) and in experiencing a couple of little epiphanies, and some dark comedies.
Eventually, we determined that the electrical connection between the truck and the trailer had failed and the trailer kept getting a message from the truck to lock up the brakes, meaning we couldn’t tow the trailer.
We would need to unhook the truck from the trailer (the brakes on the truck were fine alone) and have the trailer towed to a safe place in Amarillo. We would drive in the truck following the tow vehicle, sleep in the Airstream where it was being towed, and then get into a Ford dealer first thing in the morning.
Epiphanies: We came to the realization that nothing we had done had caused this to happen and that something was awry in the truck’s electrical connection that was causing the trailer brakes to lock up. We were blessed with GREAT Internet connections and solid Verizon service making a difficult period of time much easier.
Dark comedy #1: Thanks to dear friends, we now have our very own copy of the 1954 classic movie “Long, Long Trailer” with Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. There is a scene in the movie where Lucy decides to shorten the time clock on dinner preparation by cooking while Desi drives the trailer. It is hysterical to watch, whether you live in a trailer or not.
Well, yesterday after a couple of hours of difficult conversations and decision-making, we were waiting for a tow truck, getting hungry and a bit grumpy. I decided to go to the trailer and get us some snacks.
Meanwhile, Peter, knowing that a tow truck was on the way, saw the space in front of us open up as a tractor-trailer pulled out. He decided to grab it so we would have enough room to maneuver when the tow truck arrived. So, I’m in the trailer and I feel the floor start to move very slightly. Now this whole sequence happens in a couple of seconds. Then the trailer stops and I lose my balance and grab the couch but the cushion gives way and I end up plopped on the floor, on the cushion. I’m quite confused as to what altered state of consciousness I have entered and then it moves again! I look out the kitchen windows and see the horizon slowly inching by and the snacks are sliding across the counter. And I think, ungraciously, “Whaaattt???, he’s moving the trailer?”
I’m Lucy in the movie, minus the red hair and the beautiful 1950s dress and matching shoes, but like Lucy, I’m on the floor along with a small collection of food items and I can’t call out, “Stop” or get the room to sit still.
When it did stop, I got out and presented myself, arms upraised in question to Peter, behind the wheel of the truck. He immediately realized what had happened and he cupped his head in his hands, poor dear. It was too much of a difficult thing after a rough day. But now, 24 hours later, there is dark humor in the scenario and I am living a movie script!
Dark comedy #2. Last night, we followed close behind the tow truck that was pulling our Airstream into the gated yard on the east side of town. Even at 9:00pm, I could see the blocks of warehouses, the train tracks, the feedlots, and the scrap metal company whose piles of shiny materials shimmered in the night rain. To paraphrase Garrison Keller’s character Guy Noir, it was a dark and stormy night in a city that keeps its secrets.
And would I be able to sleep in our Airstream in the lot? The yellow lights from the store just on the other side of the chain link fence announced its inventory of RV parts and truck aftermarket repairs. Hmmm. Once we unhooked from the tow vehicle and dropped the stabilizers, we literally pulled up the steps and locked ourselves inside. I drifted off to sleep and then like Marisa Tomei’s character in My Cousin Vinny, woke up laughing when I heard, and felt, the freight trains rumble by, at 1:00 and 3:00 and again around 5:00am.
My life, illustrated.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of the Adventure…
Peter and Liz are on a pilgrimage to here across the U.S. in their Airstream.