First I want to say thanks for the supportive comments on my last post, all your support means a lot. I plan on writing several posts unpacking our decision and the emotions associated with it at a later date but right now I want to focus on our vacation into the desert, our first vacation in 3 years.
The morning of the first day of vacation went incredibly well. We had spent a large chunk of the previous week packing and planning so we managed to get on the road by 8 am. I knew we had a long journey because in the past our average speeds in the VW bus ran about 55 mph and we had about 500 miles to go to get to our first destination, Mojave National Preserve. The drama started at our first stop about 3 hours into the journey. We had stopped in a little town called Filmore for gas and while I was our walking the dogs Jack filled up the bus and then went inside to the bathroom. I came back to the bus and got in the back with the dogs to keep them from howling at every person who walked by. I sat in the back unnoticed (due to tinted windows) and saw a guy who looked like he worked for the gas station walk past our bus several times. He kept looking at the drivers side tire. After several minutes Jack walked back out and the guy went up to him and told him his tire looked low. Jack, who had carefully inspected our older tires before we left, was surprised by this but he was directed across the street to a tire shop where he could get some air. The air at the tire shop was not self service and while the technician filled our tires he noticed places on the front 2 tires where they were coming apart. Even though Jack had checked them before we left somehow in the 3 hours we had been driving their condition had deteriorated to the point of being dangerous. We reluctantly agreed to replace the front 2 tires at a grand total of 500 bucks (ouch). Then it all began to feel like a scam… Suddenly our back tires were coming apart as well and we “would be lucky if they lasted 5 miles” They really laid the pressure on. Jack, who knows a lot about cars, knew they looked fine but they basically called him an incompetent and insisted, it took a lot to continue to refuse. Then the guy who noticed our tire was low at the first gas station came over (turns out he owns the tire shop) and laid into us about how we were doomed if we only replace the front tires (which legitimately needed to be replaced) and offered to knock 20 bucks of the over 1000 dollar total “if money was going to be a problem” Finally they shut up and replaced the tires and we got back on the road. Looking back I wonder just a little bit if they somehow sabotaged our front tires because the whole thing just felt like a slick scam (I know I’m just being dramatic)
The rest of the drive was pretty smooth through Las Vegas (did you know you can scuba dive with sharks in Vegas?!?!) and since we were making such good time (60-65, go Heinrich!) we decided to push on to the preserve and not stop in Vegas like we originally planned. The trip down to the preserve was fine too. Things got a little tricky when we started to try and make it to the campground since we lacked a detailed map of the preserve. Apparently the campground we were attempting to reach had 20 miles of badly washboarded gravel road leading to it. I was white knuckled the whole time as we were shaken so hard I thought my fillings would fall out. My husband kept chanting “Keep it together, Heinrich, keep it together”. We had contemplated turning back but it was very dark and late and we needed to find some place to stop for the night so we pressed on. Needless to say we were very relieved when we made it to the campground in one piece… (to be continued)