Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Salvaging the Big Camping Weekend

We had big plans this weekend. We were heading to Rocky Mountain National Park with our good friends, the Deacon family. Since this summer really wasn't a big camping summer for us, we were just so excited to get out of town for three nights of communing with nature. Besides, I really needed the break having just rewritten an entire draft of my dissertation in about a week. After packing the SUV for two solid days and picking the kids up early from school, we took off on Friday afternoon. Instead of making it to our camp site in the park, our car broke down in Big Thompson Canyon about four miles from Estes Park. To add insult to injury, we broke down in the no cell phone coverage zone with barely six inches to get off the road. Long story short, we had the towing service take us the 100 miles back to Laramie. After calling around to a few repair shops, it became evident that they would tell us what was wrong with the car, but wouldn't be able to fix it over the holiday weekend because of parts.

Well my desire to salvage our weekend was greater than my fear of driving the "Scruffy Kitty" back down to Rocky Mountain National Park. Scruffy Kitty is our other car. She's a 1994 Toyota Corolla wagon with a lot of miles on it. She's reliable for town driving, but doesn't exactly inspire confidence for longer road trips. And we can't fit all of our camping gear in it. Not even close. So we dumped most of the cooking stuff and a few other non-essential items, loaded up Scruffy and packed the rest of the gear onto Steve's motorcycle. We made it by mid afternoon on Saturday and ended up having two great days of camping.

Overall, considering the circumstances, things worked out pretty well.
  • The kids were awesome riding back to Laramie in the tow truck very late Friday night. Not much complaining...could have been the fantastic cheese doodle and orange soda dinner they had in the truck (courtesy of the Harley Davidson shop vending machine).
  • Strangers are usually willing to help people in need. We met Lisa, the cabin owner, who let us use her phone and bathroom and offered to drive two of us into Loveland if the tow truck couldn't fit us all. She actually cringed at the idea of one adult and one child hitchhiking a ride back. We also met Diane (wife of Bob who owns Bob's Towing and Repair in Estes Park) who was kind enough to spend her Friday night driving us back to Laramie even though it was a bit over the 100 miles allowed by AAA.
  • The motorcycle guy riding in the tow truck with us on the way to the Harley shop in Loveland was in far worse shape than we were. He threw his back out trying to load his bike onto a trailer. And he lives in Dallas. This guy was in some serious pain. Suddenly, I felt lucky!
  • Steve got to ride his motorcycle all weekend, which he absolutely hates doing:)
  • The kids got to run around in the woods and get dirty while the adults got to enjoy some time by the camp fire drinking those adult beverages we brought along.
  • It's a beautiful place that I never get tired of visiting or looking at.
  • Finally, we made it back to Laramie safe and sound. Tragically, there were two fatal accidents this weekend - one involving UW football players and another involving a UW professor. I wish I could say these type of accidents are seldom around here, but they aren't. Now I feel very lucky!
Still gotta get the car to the repair shop!

The view from Trail Ridge Road

Motorcycle Man

Motorcycle Girls

Lily with her friend Hannah

Lily and Semira with Hannah and Hailey;
You can tell they really like each other!

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