The open road had lured us with her siren song and now, at a turnpike truck-stop only an hour into the trip, she had apparently hopped in with a long-haul trucker and left us in the middle of a 50-acre parking lot in a growing puddle of our own transmission fluid.
Fate had delivered a fine start indeed, but if she were looking to break us, she picked the wrong crew. We had a delivery to make another five hours down the road, and if we couldn’t drive our daughters to the mountains of Virginia to begin their hike on the Appalachian Trail, my buddy Soup, his gal Sally and I would set out on foot with kids from that very spot to assure they had their adventure.
That, of course, is an absolute lie. I wasn’t about to walk anywhere and neither were my fellow elders. As a matter of fact, we had packed our bikes for a couple of days of riding the next mountain range over once we had ditched the girls. We’d get the kids on their way, by golly, or we’d be fried to gristle in that parking lot while trying.
The good news about our crew was that there wasn’t a quitter among us. Soup and I each look at a problem as a riddle that must be solved, a challenge that must be met, a mountain that must be climbed. We research tirelessly, strategize obsessively and act only after long and careful deliberation. Thank God that Sally was there to come up with a plan or our rugged determination would have kept us writhing around under that car for the next three days.
"Let’s drop the trailer, limp this thing to a dealership and get it fixed," she said as Soup and I stood slack-jawed and greasy pawed. "Sound like a plan? I knew you’d think so."
Sylvia and Lily stayed behind with me to guard the camper, a pop-up with an expansive cargo deck that carried every bit of our outdoor gear wide out in the open for all the world to see. Not to suggest that my faith in humanity has waned, but this thing looked like a grab-and-dash yard sale. There was no way I was about to leave it unattended, so we made the most of our surroundings and unrolled our sleeping bags on the tarmac and chased a shrinking puddle of shade until ultimately, at high noon, our bivouac had moved entirely underneath the camper.
In hindsight, dropping the trailer in the most highly traveled portion of the parking lot probably wasn’t the greatest idea, but it certainly made for some great entertainment — both for the three of us beached underneath, but even more so for the sea of travelers floating by. Everyone had something to say, with my favorite coming from a trucker.
"Let me get this straight," he said shaking his head. "She got the pick-up and you got the trailer and the kids? Well, that ain’t much of a deal!"
As time goes, it wasn’t a bad five hours stranded there on the tarmac. Still, we were all more than a little relieved to see the freshly repaired SUV return to take us on down the road. Good company makes for good times, and we still had plenty of those up ahead!
(Be sure to check out Kristin’s time-lapse illustration of this week’s cartoon along with John’s latest adventures on Facebook at JohnLorsonSendHelp. You can also find the best of John’s stories, read aloud, on TheVoiceOfHolmesCounty.com in his weekly segment "Out There In It.")