Monday, October 01, 2007

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Saturday Wyoming to Wyoming (149 miles. Yes you read that right)

As six years earlier, the early morning light in Wyoming is beautiful. The light coming over the hills, the undulating horizons, and the endless expanse of sky is so beautiful that it is almost overwhelming. This time I was able to see the skylines as the sun was rising, thanks to Wyatt needing to go outside as soon as a human stirred. The winds were fierce in the early light and though I wanted to take photos the lure of the bed was much stronger than any artistic motivations.

TGF offered to drive the Behemoth to the Sinclair gas station as she had more experience maneuvering the beast and once on the highway we would find a place to switch driving. I strolled over to her to negotiate payment and such. In passing I noted that there was a red Dodge diesel truck on the other side of the pump. The owner of this vehicle would soon prove invaluable to our journey and protected our safety. A few moments later he was looking over our truck and said, “I don’t mean to be nosy but I think you’ve got yourself a problem with your towing rig. The tongue looks yanked out of place.” Sure enough it did not look right at all. The rig was barely on one the ball hitch and he said we were lucky that we hadn’t lost our car. We thanked him profusely for pointing out the wrecked car dolly, filled up the gas tank (again for buckets of money), pulled the truck to the side of the gas station and call B*dget.

One of the first things the very helpful guy said was “you should NEVER back up the vehicle when you have a car dolly”, which was exactly what TGF had to do the night before. She replied that our dealer had even drawn out directions for how to back up. There was an awkward silence from our guy on the phone and some hemming and hawing. Soon Iron J Towing was pulling up behind our crippled Behemoth. A tall, thin, dark haired guy named John took one look at the hitch and said, “Shit!”, to which I replied that was not exactly the assessment we were hoping for. Aside from his negative judgment he was quite helpful but said he would have to send another guy with a larger rig out. On the positive he thought there was a B*dget car dolly left at their tow yard. We tried to think positively about this dolly because who knew how else we were going to do this trip if we had to leave a vehicle here.

Shortly after Mikel from Iron J Towing came by, gave the same assessment on the condition of the hitch – basically it was f*cked and would need a major repair. We mentioned that John had indicated there was an abandoned B*dget dolly at the yard. He noted that it had a flat tire. Soon he was on the phone with B*dget when I overheard him say that he doesn’t do tire work on Saturdays. I fought the urge to say something about it must be nice to decide when one does what type of work but bit my tongue and wondered if $50 dollars under the table would change his mind. After a fair amount of back and forth with our rental company and Mikel it was decided that we would follow Mikel to the yard, in the east part of town so he could see what he could do. It was there at the Iron J Towing property that TGF remembered my tevas had been on the roof of the Purple Beast, only now there was but one lone sandal. I was now down to one pair of shoes, a pair of cheap sandals, until we landed and unpacked in Ohio. Mikel kindly sent us off to get some breakfast while he saw what was usable between our car dolly and the two he had sitting there.

By the time we finished our meal down the road at Penny’s Diner (this end of Rawlins was the bustling end while where we had stayed was the down on it’s luck end of town), Mikel had taken the Subaru off, disconnected the defunct dolly and had another one almost ready to hitch on. By this time, Don a older guy with a body crooked and awkward from hard physical labor, and bad teeth, who I assume was the owner or manager of the joint was chatting us up. Especially since I would be driving the Behemoth from for awhile we were asking about the mountain passes. He assured us there was only one more major one and from the crest, “you can see all the way over to Ohio where we would be able to see our husband and yell at him to get back to work". Needless to say we did not correct him about a husband waiting on our asses in Ohio. Clearly Mikel had broken his own rule and replaced the tire on the dolly so we could hit the road. I thanked for his help and going beyond the call; I also let him know that I would be publicly thanking Mikel and Iron J Towing. So if you are ever in a pinch in the vicinity of Rawlins WY, you now know who to call for excellent help. Just don’t mention if you’re a lesbian, don’t talk about the dangers of cigarettes and pretend politics doesn’t exist as a topic up for debate.

Finally we were on the road, looking for a good pull off to trade rides, which we soon found. At first I was a little nervous about handling a 24-foot truck plus hauling the Subaru but I remembered a little thing TGF told me. Her dad and she have always bonded around cars. TGF is a good driver and has what her dad refers to as a good gut for driving, as in it’s instinctual for that person. Well she apparently told him that I have “the gut”. I replayed her telling me that tale a time or two to calm my nerves, and it really did help.

A bit down the road she buzzed me saying the cats could probably use some water – the hot winds continued – and a bathroom stop for us and the dog might be a good idea. The next likely place was in Buford at the Buford Trading Post. We hung out a bit, stretching our legs, giving Wyatt some time out of the car, getting water to the cats, etc. The owner of the Post came up to ask TGF if the soda machine had eaten any of her money, which seemed nice, but he was abrupt and odd about questioning her use of dimes rather than quarters. We decided he was bit cantankerous and left it alone. Getting into our respective vehicles I steeled myself up to the challenge of a series of turns to get out of there and back on the highway. As I climbed the entrance ramp my phone rang. “The Blazer won’t start.” Ugh. I told her to call me if she couldn’t get her going, or to catch up to me. A few minutes later I called her and found that she still had had no luck so I needed to turn around at the next available exit. Luckily this was not too far ahead and as I neared the entrance to the trading post I noticed the sign: Buford WY. Pop. 1. Elevation 8000. Sure enough Purple Beast was making the same noises and not turning over as she had before we replaced the battery and alternator, after being assured the fuel pump was fine. Not so sure about that any more.

A call to AAA told me that a tow truck would be on the way within an hour, and because I was confident they would not get the Purple Beast to start, I requested that they switch which vehicle was on the dolly since there was nothing wrong with the Subaru. The sun was beginning to make it’s descent but the beauty was almost wasted on me as this had put another hitch into our plans and I was starting to doubt our ability to successfully get to Ohio. About this time we both phoned our mothers because, frankly, at this point our inner child needed a cyber hug awful bad. A bit later AAA called to say that taking the working car off the dolly was not covered and might cost about $200. I was really frustrated by everything and really didn’t care about the money, I just wanted to get back on the road. When it had been more than an hour I called again and was told that tow truck that had been sent to rescue us had broke down. Irony, no? When I went over to TGF to tell her this she was chatting up two guys who she announced were professional wrestlers. They were great guys. Mosi is originally from Detroit, which is where they were heading, but had lived a number of places. Jeremy was from Idaho, in the process of relocating to Detroit. Mosi was a chatty guy, while Jeremy was a good foil for his tales. My phone rang with another call from AAA telling me they were having problems finding another tow company allowed on the property where we were stuck. No I am not kidding. Apparently the owner of this land and apparently most if not all of Buford is a bit, um, prickly. In the midst of this, as the skies got darker, I remembered that I had brownies from Roger the Neighbor, so despite being stressed and stranded I played the gracious hostess and passed the dessert around to the wrestlers who had said they would stay until a tow company came to help us.

Another phone call from AAA tells me they found someone but, and it’s a big one, they will have to tow the Purple Beast and we will have to follow them to somewhere else because The Buford Man does not like any work done on his property. Now keep in mind that the store has long since closed and Mr I Live in Town of My Own is nowhere to be found. Finally after dark Sean from Big Al’s Towing showed up. He was great! Told us great stories, like the guy who pulled off the highway to walk his dog and was told by a cowboy type man to “get off my land”. Mr Dog Walker said "hey it’s a public highway". Apparently not and Mr. Cowboy let off a load of buckshot into his engine and Sean towed it away. Sean called Mr My Own Town to tell him he was coming to help us. What Sean didn’t tell his was that he was going to do the work right there. In fact Sean was surprised that Mr. My Own Town didn’t show up to bother us. The charming Sean also only charged us $100 for at least an hour of crazy work of switching the cars. It was quite the project towing a dead car up onto the car dolly. Upon his recommendation we drove about 25 miles to a Motel 6 (which is the chain we stayed with the rest of the trip) because they are relatively inexpensive (read bare bones) and allow pets.

So though we had been out of our motel room for a good 12 hours our miles traveled were very low for last Saturday.

(Dear readers please note I am posting these way after the fact so the posting date is correct but for example this happened over a week ago. I have been having difficulty having enough energy to write and internet access is still quite irregular. I have started on last Sunday's entry and hope to post it soon. We are in Ohio already so do not fear.)


wen said...

Glad you arrived and I can't wait to hear the rest of your tale!

Kelly said...

Wow, what a challenging time you two had. I'm glad that you made it safely to Ohio.

Jbeeky said...

Holy Country Folk! You guys really did it the hard way! I can't wait for the next post!

heather said...

congratulations on your fascinating trip. =p

Breena Ronan said...

I'm sorry I missed your going away party. Your trip reminds me of my trip with Beorn from Ohio out west. We broke down in Colorado and then again in Battle Mountain, Nevada, but we made it eventually.