Monday, June 3, 2013

An Uh-Oh Moment

Written by Karen.
It was bound to happen eventually.  After several weeks of driving slowly off the beaten track, stopping in the middle of the road in the middle of nowhere to take a picture, and being without cell phone or internet coverage, it happened in a retail store parking lot in Provo, Utah.  

The afternoon sky was ominously gray with even darker clouds coming over the mountain ridge just behind us.  We dashed into the store to get a few grocery items for a warm meal later that evening.  It was going to rain for sure tonight - big time.  We were hoping to get to the campsite before dark and before the storm hit us.  In the fifteen minutes or so that we were inside doing some power grocery shopping, the sky turned quite dark as we  scurried through the parking lot and back towards Chinook. The wind was blowing fairly hard and the raindrops were starting to fall. The temperature seemed to have dropped by ten degrees since we arrived.  

Adam mentioned as we closed the VW doors, "You know, Chinook has really been a champ on this trip.  We've gone two thousand miles now, and no problems so far", and turned the ignition key. Nothing. We looked at each other in disbelief as the wind and the rain started hammering us in earnest.  Adam turned the ignition key again. Nothing. No lights, no sounds.  Nothing.  It happened. We had broken down.

Over the next hour as we problem-solved the issue, I couldn't help but feel a growing sense of....no, not annoyance, but sincere gratitude. Not for breaking down of course.  But, if we had to break down, we broke down in a safe place - in a well-lit parking lot - where we had multiple rescue options available to us. I flashed back over our activities and adventures over the past few weeks.  This could have been so much worse.  

We've had a lot of awesome moments on our road trip thus far and much to be grateful for.  But, I will also remember this uh-oh moment of being stranded in a parking lot in Provo, Utah. As my dad would say, "You can't let yourself get stuck in the negativity of an experience." 

Instead of reacting negatively, I chose to define an inconvenient moment - not by fear, frustration or annoyance - but by being sincerely grateful for the timing and circumstances of our first significant uh-oh moment. 

My choice to be grateful was independent from my determination of whether this was a positive or negative situation.  It simply was another unplanned circumstance to be figured out. As you might guess, we'll be staying in Provo, Utah for a few days....

"We do not remember days, we remember moments."
- Cesare Pavese

"Be happy for this moment.  This moment is your life."
- Omar Khayyám

Our closest spectator to our uh-oh moment. He seemed so sympathetic to our predicament. Even when the rain was coming down in nickel-sized drops, he just hung out and provided moral support.
After trouble shooting our non-responsive Chinook for awhile, which included buying a new battery, we called roadside assistance for, well, assistance!  Jamian responded to the call, and eventually determined that our problem was caused by a seized solenoid, with a possible seized starter.  He banged on the solenoid - a heretofore unknown but very effective trick - and got Chinook running again.  Jamian recommended both this local campsite and a mobile mechanic to replace the starter/solenoid the following evening.  
When all else fails, bake!
Freshly-baked focaccia bread not only tastes great, but is a good way to meet your camp neighbors.
Meet Seth. He came when he said he would.  He took our cash to get replacement parts, came back with the parts and with the change.  He's twenty-something years old and talked non-stop about his love of cars.  Particularly Mazda.  He replaced the solenoid/starter combination in about two hours.  He was fair, honest and a great guy.  Every time we start up Chinook, we say, "Thanks Seth!"


David in SF said...

The thing with adventures is that thse darned unexpected things happen, but glad that it all worked out- and Seth? What a champ!

Anonymous said...

yes they come but oh..that backed goodie..

Observers of Life said...

Hi David -

It was pretty cool. Seth said he would come out to our campsite after he got off of work...and he did. He finished up just as it started to get dark. He was really a great guy!


Observers of Life said...

Nothing like freshly baked goods to make new friends! :)

Jennifer Chase said...

What an adventure you two have had! At least you were in a populated area instead of off the beaten path. Looks like you've met some great characters too ;)

Observers of Life said...

Hi Jennifer -

This experience could have been much worse than it actually was! Eventually, we could have push started the Vanagon to get it running again, but everything worked out nicely in the end. We met a lot of really interesting people during our stopover in Provo.