Walmart (Junction City, KS): $0
“Everyone has a plan ’till they get punched in the mouth.” -Mike Tyson
While we were touring Arches and Canyonlands National Park, there was a “weather event” at Big Bend Campground. It was hot and calm when we left, and cool and calm when we returned at 8pm. In between, we could see rain clouds from the overlooks of the parks we visited. We left this: We returned to this: What’s wrong with this picture? Right – the awning is destroyed, and the upper arms of a super-strong Zip-Dee awning have been ripped out of the trailer. I know, I know. Why did I leave the awning up when I left? I was tired. It was hot. It was calm. I should know better.
Our biker tenting camping neighbors from Kansas say it sounded like a tornado (and they should know). It even blew out the wheel chocks. The awning arms were held in my two screws and a rivet. Not anymore. But they put up a good fight and bent before they let go. (They should be straight, except for that little 45-degree angle at the big end)
I can’t imagine how high those winds must have been. Well, now what?
I could press on. 6,000 more miles. Hoping the awning, without its locking fasteners at both ends, wouldn’t unfurl on the highway.
I could take it to one of the few Airstream dealers further West. Wait for the insurance adjuster, and parts, another adjuster, then the shop to likely replace most of the passenger side aluminum. During the repairs, would I camp in it? And months later, when I’m home, and there’s a leak or a gap, or the awning doesn’t line up, I can call them. And they’ll say “Yes, we stand behind our work. Just bring it in”. Right. It’s just a 3,000 mile drive.
And don’t forget, I need to get my brother Tim to Reno, NV by Friday.
Or… After some thought, and a few sips of vodka tonic, it came to me. If you’ve been following the blog, you know I’ve had the trip of a lifetime. BLM boon-docking, camping in breathtaking State and National Forests. Route 66 kitsch. My first camping week with my brother since we were teens.
Would it be so bad if I cut my losses, and took “Apollo 19” back to the mothership, my first stop on this trip: the Airstream Factory in Jackson City, OH.
It’s 1600 miles from Moab, UT. With my brother’s help driving, I could be there in two long days. And I could drop him home in MD on the third.
Yes, I’ll need to get in line and it’ll sit on the lot until late August. But what better place to address the replaced body panels than where it was made? If I ever sell it, I can say it had damage, but was lovingly fixed and tested by white-smocked factory workers right where it was made.
So I’m writing this from the passenger seat, heading East on I-70 in Colorado. We have a lot of driving ahead. It was a great trip. No regrets. Now, I’ll work on flight and car reservations to reclaim the last week or two of the trip. I’ll be home for a few days to mow the lawn. Oh, and I’ve used so many pit toilets over the past two weeks, I’ll need to retrain myself to flush a toilet. Sorry.
We left the canyon this morning and headed east.