A. and I packed the truck for camping, fly-fishing and gathering one last haul of firewood over the weekend and hit the road shortly after work on Friday night.
Before we left, we finalized our plans to meet our friends MG and Little A. at the campground; they were to arrive late, around 1:00 a.m.
It was such a fun drive. It was a glorious night. It was a new moon so the stars were as brilliant as I’d ever seen. The air was cool and heavy with the scent of late summer. A. and I had a lengthy and animated conversation about McCain's pick of Gov. Sarah Palin for his VP candidate. A. was even getting into it. He discussed her foreign policy experience (or utter lack thereof) and we both shared our concerns than ANWR is going to be opened up to drilling. We both talked about how impressed we were with Sen. Biden. It was fun for me because A. usually lasts three minutes in these conversations. So the twenty minutes or so of politic-talk seemed really special. We chatted about our grandparents, and I went on and on about my great-grandma and how awesome and ornery she was, as is my way. We pulled over to see if a truck pulling a large trailer needed help. They declined; they pulled over to avoid overheating is all. We were relaxed and engaged. I’d dare say we fell a little bit more in love with each other. It was one of those kinds of conversations, you know?
Then the truck started having trouble shifting while going uphill. We both thought it was the oxygen sensor, as we'd had trouble with it before and the truck behaved similarly. Then, nine miles from the nearest town and two miles from the top of the mountain (where there was a smidge of hope of getting cell phone service) the truck died.
A. tried to maneuver it off the road while going uphill without any power steering. We were stuck half on, half off the highway on the inside corner of a blind bend in the dark.
Things could have been worse. The truck and trailer could have been loaded with a couple thousand pounds of wood. It could have been raining or hailing. The dogs could have had diarrhea or upset tummies. We could have already been in our campsite, two miles off the highway down a steep, narrow and rutted road. We could have not told anyone where we were going.
We were really, really lucky.
But it was still a pain in the ass.
A. unhooked the trailer rolled it until he found a side road to store it, about a quarter of a mile down the hill. He chained and locked it to a tree so it would be easy to pick up but hopefully hard to steal. A fellow (total stranger to us) from our hometown happened to stop by and pulled us about 100 feet up the hill to a pull-off so we were off the road. Then he took A. to the top of the mountain and A. was fortunate enough to reach our friends MG and Little A. on their cell phones. I kept my morbid crazy-mountain-murderer fantasies at bay. A. told MG where to find our spare key to the car and he swung by the house on his way through and brought the car up for us. The folks we stopped for earlier dropped of their trailer and drove back to see if we needed help and offered to let us stay in their cabin just up the road. We declined, but were warmer inside from the hospitality shown us from all these strangers. MG and Little A. arrived around 2:30 a.m. with our car, happy to help.
Like I said, we were really, really fortunate.
And while I kept insisting we were actually really lucky that things worked out so well, The Universe decided to toss us a little bit more crap at 2:30 a.m., just to test my optimistic resolve. (The fucker.) The spare car key doesn't have the button doohickeys, so you can't unlock all of the doors at once. While I was fiddling with a passenger side door, A.'s friend reached in through the open window to unlock the doors to help me out.
Now I know that trying to unlock the vehicle from inside will cause the alarm to go off. Now I know that I have an alarm. Now I know that a car horn sounding every two seconds for two minutes will cause my dogs to howl incessantly.
After searching frantically through my owner’s manual to figure out how to turn the damn thing off, MG gave up and unhooked my car’s battery. Later, during the drive back home, I found the instructions on how to disarm the alarm. It wasn’t under “alarm,” “anti-theft,” “theft,” “disarm,” or “horn.” It was under “radio.” Because obviously the only reason to have a car alarm in the first place and the only situation in which it would go off is in the event of an attempted radio theft. Obviously.
We were snuggled into our own bed by 4:30 a.m., safe and sound.
Yesterday we had the truck towed to a little town 30 miles from where we were stuck and the mechanic is working on it. We aren’t looking forward to this bill at all, but then, who does?
I would have loved for everything to work out as planned last weekend, but I wouldn’t change a thing if it meant missing the kindness and generosity of friends and strangers alike.