When I was writing this post, I couldn’t help but think it had a very A Series of Unfortunate Events vibe to it. I’m a fairly positive person and I sure did try, but be warned now: “If you are interested in stories with happy endings, you would be better off reading some other blog*.”
*Adapted from Lemony Snicket, obviously.
Clearly I’m being dramatic (as I often do), but this day of the trip was hands down the peak of travel misery. Remember in my last post, how I said that I finally felt calm, and relaxed, and was actually enjoying the camping experience? Well, Day 3 of Stevie’s Revival Tour is where that all came crumbling down. Buckle up folks, it’s gonna be a wild ride (and a long one…again. Sorry about that).
Can we all just be honest for a second? Like, really truly honest? Take away all of the Instagram filters and the inspirational quotes, and just be genuine? Sometimes, traveling sucks. Yep, I said it. Sure, you’re seeing the world, and meeting amazing people, and learning & growing, yadda yadda yadda. But, just as we do at home, sometimes there are just bad days: you get a flat tire, or diarrhea mid-flight (too far?!), maybe you lose your passport in a foreign country. S*** happens.
So, diving right in: after making the decision the previous day to spend a second night in the Mount Shasta area, I booked a site at a campground in McCloud that was (according to ratings) very good and near the trailhead of a few hikes we wanted to try. In hindsight, I wish we would have stayed in our cute spider-ridden campground in Castle Crags. But more on that later.
The day started as lots of bad days do: with no breakfast.
Here is where I should probably mention another lovely quirk of mine: when I am hungry, I need to eat. Not in a while, not soon, but NOW. Anyone else have this problem? I’ll barely feel the grumbles of hunger and all of a sudden, I’m shaky, lightheaded, nauseous, and just generally debilitated. Maybe it’s a blood sugar thing? This trip taught me to always have snacks and food handy. The hike down to the nearest gas station (yum) was less than half a mile, and I was pausing to lean and rest on every tree while the surroundings spun around me. It occurred to me later that I was at a much higher altitude than I was used to, so that probably factored in as well.
The next bit was pretty nice, actually, I must give credit where it’s due. A short hike along the Sacramento River led to some beautiful views and welcome shade from the surprisingly hot sun. I don’t know why I thought we’d cross the border into California and it would instantly be cool weather? All lies.
Time in nature is always great for me – like a reset button when I’m feeling at my most overwhelmed. We hiked back to the campsite feeling rejuvenated and ready to take on what Mount Shasta had in store (or so we thought). Two things happened when we set out to leave our Castle Crags campsite:
- The tongue jack got stuck in the furthest upright position.
- Three out of five taillights weren’t working.
New to trailers, my first thought was panic – how did I break it already? Turns out, I didn’t…but I was about to. Stay tuned for my San Francisco post! Happy that it was daylight so the lights weren’t as much of an issue, we set off for the tiny town of Mount Shasta at the base of the mountain for some lunch, and hopefully to figure out what the heck was wrong with the trailer.
We ducked into an Auto-Zone type local shop, the only one around to ask about both issues. No luck with the lights, we just heard, “Did you try jiggling the bulbs and stuff?” Okay….but then entered Steve*, a customer in the shop at the time. Steve* had a mild case of “I Used To Have One Just Like That” but was a really chill guy with some trailer experience, so he offered to come check out the tongue jack. His suggestion: whack it with a hammer. Nope, not kidding. And yet, surprisingly it worked! A few hard hits with a rubber mallet knocked the tongue jack back down into the grooves and it was cranking like normal again. Steve* for the win! By the way, one of the first things I bought when we got home was a rubber mallet. Just in case. So we learned: Do not crank the tongue jack up too high, or it will come out.
Here’s where it really starts to pile up. We’re behind schedule yet again (starting to think this is the universe toying with my love of planning), and then, we meet Bob*. I actually do think his name was Bob,
so we’ll nix the asterisk for this one. Bob was the campground host, and honestly, a right pain the ass. From the second we drove in, he was all over us like white on rice, and I wasn’t having it. While I’m directing my very capable driver into our site, Bob rolls up on his little golf cart and immediately starts doing one of these: “No, you’ve got to cut it more. No, that’s not right. Cut it harder and then follow through. I said FOLLOW THROUGH. No, no, go forward, try again. *Rolls eyes, scoffs* No, still not right. You’re not cutting it hard enough.” He’s clearly frustrated with our complete ineptitude for parking. The problem is, we aren’t. It may take a few tries, but by this point we had gotten pretty decent at it, and his griping was only making it worse. I’m a very passive person, but I finally snapped, “He’s doing fine, you’re just making him nervous.” Aka – leave it alone, BOB.
But this exchange went on for about 20 minutes, with me finally walking away so I don’t scream at this guy while he makes “Women!” jokes. Once finally parked, he has the nerve to say, “You know your hookups are on the other side, right?” …………I HAVE AN EXTENSION CORD, BOB! It’s fine! (Clearly I’m still salty about this, ha!)
This is the first campground with hookups, so we get to work pulling out the aforementioned extension cords and hoses and such. Stevie does not have a bathroom (hallelujah, a smelly toilet in <90 sqft, nothankyouverymuch) so the hookups are pretty simple. Unless you’re me. After lots of whispering “WTF…” to myself and some Google searches, I realized that we do not have an adapter for the 30amp, just a regular extension cord. Who knew they were different?!
And for some reason, the hose just will not screw on properly and water is spraying everywhere. Today was supposed to be a lovely trip to Lake Siskiyou – rent some kayaks, take out the fishing poles, watch the sunset on the lake…and it was all quickly disappearing before my eyes.
But HEY. I am Camping Woman – hear me roar! So I did what any self-sufficient, independent adult would do: call my dad. I’m on the phone trying to explain that YES I have both ends of the hose screwed in all the way, yes both washers are there, no the threads aren’t crossed, etc…., walking around the back of the trailer to look for any kind of tool that might help, and WHAM. Before I know it, I’m crumpled on the ground, sobbing like a toddler and I realize that I completely
drilled my head on one of the open camper windows. If you have ever seen a vintage camper, you know that the windows are designed in the dumbest, most dangerous way possible and could literally decapitate you.
So I’m just curled up on the grass praying that the ants eat me alive so I don’t have to feel my head anymore, phone still connected to my dad who’s yelling, “Lisa? Lisa? I THINK I LOST YOU!” while my travel partner runs off in search of ice, an ambulance, or a firing squad to put me out of my misery. At this point I’m questioning buying the camper in the first place, to be honest. My “Eat, Pray, Love” trip was turning into “Starve, Curse, Hate” pretty quickly, and I felt completely helpless, hopeless, and frankly, quite stupid. Why on earth did I think I could do this?! Buy a trailer when I knew nothing about them, and drive it 2,000+ miles in the first week?!
And yet, somehow, I was able to turn that hopelessness around. Maybe it was the ice numbing my head, or the *slight* overdose on Advil, but everything about this started to seem incredibly funny. I was distraught, to be sure, but somehow I kept pushing forward. Still not sure how that happened, but I’m eternally grateful. Because the rest of that night proved to be a turning point in the trip that I’ll never forget.
By now, sunset was less than two hours away, the fishing poles were completely tangled, and oh, did I mention? We can’t unhook the trailer. That’s right, the locking lever has cleverly decided that it doesn’t want to budge whatsoever. So after taking 30 minutes to park, we realize that in order to somehow salvage this day, we are going to have to move and take this thing back on the road. So we load up, unplug everything, and start to roll out. No sooner do the wheels move two inches forward, then who should show up but BOB. Not wanting to hear his thoughts on the matter, I frantically yell “Keep going keep going!” as he tried to flag us down. As we drive by, I hear something like, “Oh, I get it, man, I’ve been married for 40 years. Good luck!” ….I say with absolute ELATION that was the last interaction we had with sexist, know-it-all Bob.
With Lake Siskiyou too far away and out of the question, we drove down a windy road to McCloud Reservoir, a small lake about 10 miles away. It may not have been the first choice, but this little slice of heaven was exactly what we needed after the hellish day. We pulled off near a little boat ramp that had already emptied for the evening, unfolded the chairs, and baited up the one fishing pole that worked. The next hour was bliss – casting into the lake, enjoying the weather and hanging out with a beautiful doe that was uncharacteristically calm and unafraid of us both. We called her Bambi (yes yes, the originality) and loved having such an amazing creature so close!
Driving back to the campground was a harsh reminder of the taillights still being out, and Bob was awaiting us back at the site, and there was no food in the town of McCloud open at 8pm, but the gourmet gas station soup warmed up on the stove was enough, and we did the best with what we had. One thing I will say about Bob and his campground, is that it had the nicest showers around. So after a long, hot shower sans black widows and a beautiful sunset, I was ready to put the day to bed and start all over in the morning.
And what might seem to be a series of unfortunate events may, in fact, be the first steps of a journey.