Tuesday, June 19, 2007


The Journey To The Annual

Our journey began on Thurs. night, May 24. We planned and prepared for weeks, but despite all of this we didn't leave as scheduled. Originally we were going to leave early Thurs. morning, even if it meant taking the kids out of school for two days. But a week or so before the Annual our son Brady found out something was going on at school that he just couldn't miss. Just as well. With everything else going on we weren't as prepared for the ride as we would have liked to have been.

Laura was spending a lot of time preparing for Nina's softball awards banquet. As team mom, Laura had many duties including organizing the banquet. She was also preparing for Brady's middle school graduation party, which was set for the Saturday after Memorial Day Weekend. So these efforts were cutting into the time needed to prepare for the ride.

Back to the journey. With Brady in school that Thurs., we decided to keep Nina in school too. Laura decided to work that day, and I spent the day getting ready for the ride. I had just filled the many spare gas tanks we bring along in order to fuel our quads, and finished filling the truck up with diesel fuel when the first problem occurred. I backed up from the fuel pumps at the gas station and positioned the truck next to the air pump in order to air up my tires. Having done this successfully, I got ready to drive back home - when the truck wouldn't start.

To this day I have no idea why, but the truck would not start. I tried again and again, but it wouldn't start. It was clearly not a battery problem; everything the battery powered was working. The truck just wouldn't start. Did I mention this is a new truck? Purchased in Oct. '06, and only used by Laura to drive to and from work (about a total of 4 miles per day), and by me to tow our trailer on rides - it had about 4,000 miles on it by this point in time. Hardly enough time for the battery to die.

So I called Triple A. Lucky for me, the local tow truck company was based nearby and arrived right away. They couldn't get it started either. The truck that came to help was too small to tow our pick up, so they had to dispatch a second one; a flat bed. Lucky for me, the dealer we bought the truck from was located nearby, so I was there right away. The salesperson I bought it from was beside himself and made sure I was given priority service. A few hours later, after they checked everything thoroughly, they couldn't explain why the truck wouldn't start for me. It started fine for them - over and over again, even when I came to pick it up. Go figure. At least there was no charge by the dealer (or AAA).

Back to the journey. because of that major inconvenience I was now several hours behind schedule. There was no way I would be able to leave when Laura got home from work, which was the new target time for departure. That was just as well because traffic would have been a nightmare. So I (and later the kids and Laura) continued getting ready by loading the food and provisions into the trailer. We even ate dinner.

With traffic no longer a factor that evening, we departed at 8:00 p.m. It takes about 4 to 4 1/2 hours to get to California City from La Habra (without traffic), so I figured I would pull in at around midnight. I was up for it! After all, I would be riding my quad in the morning. The feeling of anticipation is akin to a gambler willing to drive to Las Vegas after working all day long, and then knowing that he'd be up all night gambling.

Back to the journey. So we're driving along with no traffic on the 5 freeway through the San Fernando Valley. That's when the second problem occurred. I saw one of those freeway message boards warning of an accident ahead with two lanes blocked. At first I didn't think it would cause too much of a delay - that is until I saw the break lights about 4 miles before the location of the accident. Do you have any idea how screwed up traffic is in Los Angeles when 2 lanes are blocked on a major freeway? We reached the accident site at 9:00 p.m. just as they were clearing the overturned big rig.

Back to the journey. So now we resumed driving along at full speed and reached the other end of the Valley. We headed north on the 14 freeway towards Palmdale / Lancaster. Everything seemed fine until the third problem occurred. All of a sudden we heard that all-too-familiar sound of a tire blowing. A trailer tire blowing - just like 4 other times before! Lucky for us we were at the beginning of an exit from the freeway. I pulled off the freeway safely and found myself in the middle of nowhere. Dark, alone (as far as other vehicles) and not having a clue as to where I was.

Lucky for me Brady saw the sign on the freeway exit: Agua Dulce. Sweet! (no pun intended) I was half way to Palmdale from Santa Clarita. I really was in the middle of nowhere! The people at Triple A were very caring and professional, and I was really impressed about how they helped find a roadside service to come out to help. It only took an hour and a half for them to get there and help put my spare tire on my trailer. That was not bad considering the time of night the distance they were traveling to get to me.

It was a quiet and uneventful wait; no cars stopped to help, no creepy people or zombies walked by, and no animals attacked us. We did see several people exit the freeway, but most of them turned to the opposite side of the freeway from where we were parked. A few passed us without stopping. So the guys from Town and Country Tire fixed me up and so the journey continued.

It was now 11:30 p.m., and I knew it would be really late by the time I reached Cal City. I pushed on and made it to Mojave without further incident. It was about 1:00 a.m. when I pulled in to the Carl's Jr. There I was greeted by a construction worker who was waving me off to tell me the restaurant was closed. I waived back and mouthed we're just parking. Laura and the kids had fallen asleep awhile back, and I was getting tired. We agreed to spend the night there.

Now this posed a small problem. Our cargo area is also the bedroom area for the kids. This was off limits as there were 4 quads, a lot of equipment, and assorted supplies stored there. That left our bed (that is, the one Laura and I sleep in). So Laura, Brady and Nina slept there - safe inside the trailer. I slept in the passenger seat of the truck. At least I tried to sleep. Between the trains that roared by (accross the main street from Carl's), the construction going on all night at Carl's, and the creepy people and zombies that were walking the streets of Mojave; I didn't get much sleep.

Things get better, but you'll have to stay tuned.


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