To kick things off, we closed up the shop and loaded the car and the lil Scamp to head up north to camp and watch the Chequamegon Fat Tire Race. Before we left town, we were excited to join my Dad in celebrating his retirement after 31 great years at Scherer Bros. Lumber. I felt like a kid again, seeing so many familiar faces from my childhood, or my teen years when I worked three summers there. It was so fun to watch my dad with his friends, laughing and telling stories... it was obvious that he was going to be missed... and that he was really going to miss being there.
As the party winded down, we said our good-byes and hit the road. Time: 11:30 AM. We stopped for gas before we left town, only to find one of the tires on the camper was flat. Thinking nothing of it, we topped off the gas tank and filled up the tire and kept on our way. Leaving early was AWESOME! We planned on setting up camp, then heading off to meet up with Timmer and the crue for a great ride, followed by dinner at the Sawmill. That is, until we crossed the border into Grantsburg....
Going up the hill out of the St Croix River Valley, the car started to misbehave. The RPM's soared, but there was no power to accompany them. We crested the hill and looked for anything that resembled an auto shop. We found one quickly and begged for their advice. He popped the hood, checked all the gauges and fluids, then gave us the sad news that he thought our tranny was starting to go. After some deliberation, he guessed we could keep it under 50mph and make it to Hayward to salvage our vacation. So, we turned off the overdrive and settled in for a long ride to the finish.
Time: 12:45 PM.
Jay drove the cruck gingerly down the road, and the three of us held our collective breath in silence, hoping to make it to Hayward with no more troubles. We only made it 5 miles. The car was pissed at us, and I really don't know what we did. So, in a moment of clarity, I told Jay to pull into a gas station and unhook the camper. "Let's head back to the city, rent a truck somewhere, and finish out our vacation". DEAL! We unhooked the Scamp, let the gas station know we'd be back in a couple hours, and headed back West.
We crossed into MN but the car was still mad... this was going to be a LONG drive home. To top it off, we found out there's laws against towing with rental cars, Uhaul rented off their last truck, Dad's truck was packed for his trip hunting.. we were gonna have to go all the way back to the cities and find a car. We only made it just south of Rush City before it sounded like a spray can was being used on the other side of the steering column. Jay pulled onto the shoulder and, after a moment of unplanned silence, we called up AAA. Just then, Dad called me back to check on us with the family mechanic on the line .... we described the problem and texted him a picture of a hole Jay found that we didn't think was there before. New plan... get towed back to our point of origin (Dad's former place of work), drop of car for mechanic to pick up, wait for Dad to pick us up and bring us home, find a new vehicle at home, start over and go back to Hayward.
Time: a blur.
The tow driver was awesome and we had fun conversation all the way back to the metro area. We could have done away with the road construction and rush-hour delays, but all in all, we were keeping it together just fine. Dad met us in perfect time, got us home, where we found DMC's fabulous Envoy waiting for us - THANKS DMC!!!! Kinda perfect that Jay had taken him to the airport some 12 hours prior and the hitch was ready to go. Wait... wrong size ball. No prob... we had highjacked the hitch from our car, and we just needed to drive to the bike shop on the way out of town to switch them out. Oh yeah, and the power source was different... off to O'Reilly for a converter. We hugged Dad goodbye and thanked him for his rescue and party leftovers, loaded up the Envoy, and prepped for our trip back up north.
Time: 6:30 PM... yeah, 7 HOURS LATER!
We got back to Grantsburg, and Rosco and I took a short walk while Jay hooked up the camper. Poor puppy had been in the car for 9 hours by this time. Once done, he drove over to us to pick us up, but there were no running lights on the camper. Dude, forget something? Nope... the cables were about 2ft. too short. Now I started to come a little unglued. I'd taken all the bike blinkies out of the bags since we weren't going to need them.. DOH! Reluctantly, we pulled onto the road.. only 10 miles to Siren.. there's got to be a gas station still open with some sort of solution. Cars behind us kept flashing their brights at us and I tried NOT to freak out that we were driving in total darkness with no brake lights or signals on a camper with MN plates, in a WI car under someone else's name.. we're f'd.
We found a Holiday with some keychain blinkie lights and duct tape and fashioned up some redneck tail lights. Before we pulled away, we noticed the wheel had gone flat yet again and filled it up. 48 miles to the KOA. Time: 9:30 PM. Jay drove just under the speed limit with the brights on and we feverishly searched out deer, figuring that would the the ultimate frosting to our Griswold-esque cake. Somehow, though, we made it to the KOA with no road kill or further issues, and were pleased to find Ann and KK chillin' by a fire. We made it! Time: 10:59 PM. Oi!
We chilled by the fire to unwind and shared our day's adventure with our friends. We were happy to have arrived, but even happier that this was the first year we'd decided NOT to race, so there was no worry about lack of riding or sleep. Come morning, we were able to begin anew and enjoy the vacation we'd looked so forward to. Jay and I rode out to Fire Tower Hill and had an awesome couple hours cheering on the racers, giving Coke hand-ups, and a strong push down the hill for the tired few.
Afterwards, we headed back down the trail to Telemark to drink beers and exchange stories with the finishers before retiring to the KOA. Jay wanted a few more miles on the bike, so him and KK headed out and me and the ladies decided to have a cocktail hour at the Turks Inn. Wow! Can't even describe it... go there!
We spent the evening with our friends by the fire, listening to tales of the day's race and reminisced on years previous. When the sandman landed in my lap, we headed off to bed to fall asleep to a movie, but the last thing I remember was the first couple lines.. I was OUT instantly. Come morning, though, we were all back together, sharing in a fabulous community breakfast on the fire including french baguettes with olive oil, 18 scrambled eggs, fresh breakfast burritos and smoothies in some killer Monster glasses.. it was perfect!
We cleaned ourselves up, grabbed a bite at the Sawmill, then headed home with smiles on our face. Luckily, we found a sweet patch-solution at the gas station in Hayward, that filled our camper's flat and kept it going all the way home. Throw in NO TRAFFIC, and it was a sweet ride home.
Looking back on it, all the troubles were nothing but little hurdles. Thank heavens we hadn't started out of town at 5:00pm or so... then we would have had to bag the trip. And thankfully we weren't racing so there was nothing really major to freak out about... well, until we get the mechanic's bill, but why let it harsh my mellow right now? :o)
Yet another amazing weekend with friends,