We Can Laugh About It Now
by JoAnn (Vancouver, BC)
We were just starting out.. ,married 3-4 years. All we could afford is an old 1972 11 footcamper on a 1974 GMC pick up. A hand me down from a previous generation, but we thought we were the luckiest campers on earth.
We live in Vancouver and were heading to Disneyland for a Christmas Vacation: 14 days to get out of the rain and snow. We were counting down the days!
When we left, it was the coldest snap in the Pacific Northwest in forever. The roads through Seattle were packed snow with chain grooves. So for 4 hours (dead slow traffic) all we did was feel the thump thump thump of the road condition. A drive that was going to take us 4 hours from the time we left home, took us an entire day.
We got up the next morning bright and early and headed down the highway. It was bitter bitter cold. We were heading down I-5 and on some little bridge, ran out of fuel. But that was okay, because we would run it dry and then switch to the tank on the other side (this was before fuel injection). My husband flips the switch…nothing!
We are getting slower and slower on the bridge, the truck is sputtering and in the rear view mirror we can see big tractor trailers coming at us at lightspeed and we are trying to coast over the bridge. Finally we get off the bridge, but there is so much snow on the highway that has been plowed. There is no real shoulder as it is snow pack.
The tank is full, but the fuel switch has frozen and won’t switch over. So he has to get under the truck and try and break the line free. No way. So he gets a clamp, a screw driver and switches the line to the good tank. He is covered with gas. Our camper has no shower – having the toilet was a sheer luxury, let alone hot water. Off we go…it’s all going to be good from there on out… we know it!
We get to San Fransisco, and it’s still cold. We are in that old camper and we can’t get it warm. We have resorted to leaving the propane furnace on while driving to try and get some heat into it, and that still didn’t even help. We visit friends and I go out and pick an orange off their tree and it’s frozen solid. They called it a “popsicle with a peel”.
But we aren’t going to give up. This is our Vacation! We are going to have fun in the sun!
Off we go, back down I-5 to Disneyland!
We get in late, still cold and being young and poor, we are going to spend the night dry camping at Camping World at Anaheim for the night and head to fun in the morning. I wake up and go to the bathroom, and there is blue water all over the bathroom floor. Our tiny little 5 gallon holding tank, has runneth over. There is no place to dump it. The dump stations on the trip down were closed due to freezing and here we are.. with a blue liquid floor.
Finally we scrap Disneyland for the day, as we have to find somewhere to drain our tank. Found a campground and they let us dump it for $5.00. Back then, it was a lot of money and for a teenie teenie tank.. but we have no choice, obviously..
The next day we go to Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm, Universal Studios .. we do 3 or 4 days of fun things. But it is so cold, we give up and decide let’s go to Reno on our way home and spend a few days there.. so north we head.
Way out in no man’s land on I-5 by Santa Nella, we blow a tire at 60 miles an hour. It takes off the back passenger side of the truck in the blow. Luckily we weren’t hurt and it’s time to change a tire. My husband gets out the jack, positions it under the axle and finds out the jack has seized.
I notice some farmer working way way over in a field by us, and I’m going to walk over and see if he has a jack we can borrow (between sobs). I start walking thru his field only to see him drive away. What else could happen!
Luckily, the farmer wasn’t driving away, he saw this girl in neon pink walking towards him and got into his truck to meet me. Yes he has a jack and he’s more than happy to help. He comes over, and they jack the truck up to find out our spare is flat… so that is what can go wrong next.
The very nice man takes the tire back to his farm, returns in a few hours with the tire filled up with air. We thank him profusely and head down the road to Reno (what were we thinking?!). The tire won’t hold air though, so we get to Sacramento and need a new tire, but we do get that far. It takes them 8 hours to change our tire (we vow never to go to a Goodyear tire shop) and away we go.
We get to Reno and it is beyond cold now. We pull into the MGM Campground. At the time they parked you parallel parking style and our spot is in front of a shiny new class C motorhome. We are sure it’s a maiden voyage for them and they must be in Reno for New Years Eve.
We get parked, smile at the man in the Class C, open the door to the camper and it falls off in my husband’s hands. 🙂 The man in the Class C is trying not to laugh at us. I am trying not to cry and my husband, quick as a wink, pushes the door back into place and tries to fix it.
The problem is we only have Rrobertson head screwdrivers with us, and we are now in the US. We can’t drive anywhere or the door will fall off, so we are removing the screws from marker lights, anything we can find – so we can get the door on and limp it home.
We should have known this was a sign from the Gods just get home, but in true trooper style, we proceeded to gamble away what little money we did have left! On the bright side, we made it home and can laugh every time we tell or think about our “holiday from hell”.