Before we left home I told the boys we’d think of this trip as one great big adventure and on any really great adventure, somewhere along the line, something goes wrong. So, let the adventure begin!
Here we sit forty miles from our intended destination for the day, Durango, CO. Today’s trip from Walsenburg CO to Durango was expected to take about five hours. Roughly four hours into the drive, and about 45 miles east of Durango, the truck simply stopped. All gauges were normal, no idiot lights, no warning signs at all that trouble was coming. With what energy that was left in the rig I coasted to a stop on the side of the road.
There’d be worse places for this to happen, but not much worse. We’re beyond any cell phone service regardless of what carrier you’re with. We’re across from a broken-down looking business which looks that way because it is, broken down. It’s out of business. There was a glimmer of hope seeing a payphone on the front porch. Unfortunately, that payphone was dead. Neighboring the business was an enclave of camper homes all looking rather “lived in”. Whether they’re currently inhabited was hard to decipher but we decided not to go there since there was a certain “Deliverance” feel to the scene.
With phones useless and no one stopping to offer aid, we had to find another way out of this predicament. I made efforts to find someone’s help via the CB radio I had installed just prior to the trip. We’re in a remote enough spot there was no one to be reached, not truckers, not police, no one. The luck we did have was there was a road crew working on a bridge about a quarter-mile from where we ended up. I hiked down there while Dawnie and the boys waited in the shade of the business porch. Through the graces of good timing and a stranger’s kindness there was hope again. The road crew was about to shut down work for the day (lucky I got there when I did) and one of the crew was willing to drive me to a mountain crest where I could get cell phone reception.
A call to AAA got some help on the way. It would be a while but they were coming with enough equipment to tow our truck, the RV, and the family on to Durango. Now we just wait, in the heat. It was tolerable though in that we did have some shade, some chairs, food, and water stocked in the RV. That’s not to say this wasn’t still an unnerving situation for all of us but we would be ok. What surprised us a bit was how many people drove right by us, could see a family stranded at an obviously closed business and a broken-down RV on the road… but never stopped. To make matters worse on that front, some people did actually stop at the location but had no interest in helping us. They were stopping to grab pictures of Chimney Rock National Monument which happened to be visible right behind the building we were waiting by. Here’s the picture they were taking. I took one myself.
Once the tow team arrived we at least knew we were getting out of here but where were we going to end up? They’ll tow us to Durango where we have campground reservations for the next four nights but can they actually get this big rig into that campground and the RV onto our site? Only time will tell and to make matters worse daylight is becoming our enemy. The tow team pulled the F-350 up onto a flatbed and had an entirely capable rig for towing the RV from the back of it. Before we knew it we were on our way to Durango, although not at all in the manner we’d envisioned when this day began!
With the family in a chase vehicle, we decided to run ahead and scout out the campground before our tow driver tried to get in there. It’s a good thing we did because there was no way he was going to be able to get our RV in there pulled behind his big rig. This campsite was one that I was looking forward to the most in the course of our trip but it would’ve been tight even for me pulling our unit in with our own truck. So the decision was made that it’d all be moved to the local Ford dealership while we found accommodations at a hotel in town.
With the hour now beyond 10 pm in the evening, our driver was kind enough to take us through a drive-thru to grab something to eat then on to our hotel. This was a l-o-n-g and stressful day to be certain but I’m proud of my family who handled it with grace and a sense of humor. As we rode to the hotel all crammed in a car with the few things we quickly grabbed from the RV for the night Ryan reflected on what I’d said before we left home. He said, “Dad, you said we should be ready for something to go wrong somewhere in our summer adventure. But I’m wishing that the thing that went wrong would’ve been your claim that something would go wrong!”
We all had a good laugh from that one…