The bus broke down again in Taft MT. We had very difficult discussion and decisions to make. Did we trust Veronica to get us to Harris Beach (and then 3000+ miles home? ). Sadly, the answer was no. We have broken down 4 times in the past 20 years that we’ve had her. Three of those breakdowns have been in the past 12 months. We have been very lucky on those break downs with friends close by (thanks Michael) and lovely selfless stangers who this last time jumped us and pushed us down a hill for a roll start. One extremely nice couple drove out of the dead zone to call AAA for us and THEN doubled back to confirm with us that a wrecker was on the way because they ‘couldn’t eat dinner if they knew we were stranded at a rest area in Taft with no signal’. Wrecker ETA was one hour.
These countless acts of kindness just remind me of how intrinsically good people are. We all just need to feel safe and loved. I’ve heard several post covid horror stories, but I’ve experienced nice humanity everywhere on this trip and it’s refreshing. The bus brings out the best in people. I heard several bus stories from the good Samaritans at the rest stop.
We wait, and after an hour and a half with no tow truck and darkness on the way, I begin profiling pit-stoppers for sympathetic glances while George attempts to start Veronica one more time. She starts! We must get out of the dead zone so we jump in and head out of the rest stop. We pull over at the next exit that has cell coverage and decide we have enough gas to get to Spokane which is where the next van alert approved fixit shop is. (Euro Union). Since it was running fine before we stopped, we just won’t stop. Next stop Spokane KOA. #dehydration
Veronica is tired. Euro Union is going to fix her up but we decided to move on with our once in a lifetime semisabbatical. That had to start with road ready equipment. We drove the bus to the Nissan dealership on the Spokane motor mile first and there she stayed (because she wouldn’t restart). This only solidified our decision. We needed reliable transportation.
Remember we have Ringo? First job: test drove a truck to get Ringo to doggie day care. Then, we went up and down the motor mile test driving multiple trucks. We finally bought a Tacoma (I’ve named him Frank) and unloaded all our worldly possessions out of Veronica and into storage containers and hope for no rain. We went to Walmart and bought a tent, Coleman stove, air mattress and left Spokane in the review by 7:30. Onward and upward…
Around dusk (8:30) it dawned on us, that we should not set up the new tent in the dark. We headed for the nearest campground. To say this campground was sketchy, doesn’t quite convey the sentiment. There was a cash transaction and a promise of showers (the grossest shower we never took). I slowly pumped up our air mattress, while George made an entire dinner. I froze all night and we were both terrified that someone was going to steal all our worldly possessions out of our unlocked storage bins in the bed of Frank. Exhausted at 5 am we looked at each other defeated. Neither of us had slept. We wordlessly packed up our new shitty tent and air mattress and got the hell out of there as quickly as we could.
We decided maybe we should rent a trailer. Research commenced and in the span of our 15 hr day we concluded that the math just worked better to buy something small (given our novice towing skills), but nothing was for sale. All the things we see online are already sold. We are literally at our last stop before heading back on the road and we found this t@b. Negotiations started with a disclaimer that if this can’t conclude within an hour we are out. 45 minutes later with 2″ ball hitch off the truck of our sales rep and were under way.
We arrive in Harris Beach, our original final destination on the coast, which is now our first. We are heading back up the coast in reverse order with both sad and happy emotions.