Even with worse week ever in my RV life two months behind me, I still tremble a little as I write this post. It’s certainly one for the books and one I hope never to repeat. As you know from last week’s post, while I had to change my plans for my time in Idaho due to the heat, I happily was on my way after a lovely week there. I made it to I-86 on my way to merge with I-84 which would take me past Boise and just over the Oregon border where I had an appointment with an RV shop to help me get the on-demand water heater de-winterized. Good plan.

Plans Go Awry

Ninety minutes on the road and it was 6:30 in the morning. Things were quiet because of the early hour. A truck pulling an empty flatbed trailer pulled around me. He cut back in kind of tight and immediately started breaking, causing me to break. Continuing to do that, he pulled over to the shoulder and I knew he was trying to tell me to follow him.

So, I did.

Sparks and Smoke

When we were pulled off to the side of the road, the older man walked back to me. I rolled my window down and he said that there were sparks and smoke coming out the back of my trailer.

Yikes!

We walked around to the back and that’s when we saw the source. It was one of the tires. The guy touched the hubcap and it was super hot.

Neither of us knew exactly what it was (though I admit, I had a slight inkling that made me a little sick to my stomach—more on that in a minute). He suggested it probably wasn’t advisable to drive on it anymore.

He left me on the side of the road scratching my head asking, “Now what?”

My First Official Roadside Breakdown

Can I tell you how many times I’ve thought to myself that I should have a plan in place for if I ever broke down? Who do I call for what crisis? Let’s just say I’ve thought it a lot of times. But had I actually ever created that plan? I had not. I halfway think I might even have a couple different roadside plans. Even as I write this, I don’t have a grasp on what my options are for the various types of breakdowns. Lame, I know.

Anyway, in my current tale, I knew what happened wasn’t a roadside fix. Quill needed towed. So, I called Progressive and they were so helpful. They got me set up with a tow truck and even made the arrangements for an appointment at the place they suggested I be towed to.

Then I waited for the tow truck guy who Progressive got out of bed to come get me. I’m thankful it was early morning or I’d have also been battling the heat of the day on top of everything else.

Small white trailer on top of a semi-truck tow truck. The tow truck standing by it.
The tow truck driver was a kick. He said I could come be his assistant anytime I wanted. Nice people make bad situations a little less bad.

The Diagnosis

By noon, I was at a semi-truck repair center. Little Quill was an ant among the giants at this place. It was not an RV repair place to be sure. But it’s where the tow truck hauled me to and the repair center assured me they could help and they knew what they were doing.

Okay, now we come to the embarrassing part of the story…it’s all my own damn fault. Yep, a maintenance thing that I kept putting off really came back to bite me in the behind. The wheel bearings are supposed to be repacked every 12,000 miles or every year, whichever comes first. And I kept putting it off.

Sign that says, "No stupid people beyond this point," Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash
Let me just say, I think this is an example of, “If I can be an RVer, anyone can be an RVer.” You will make mistakes, even some really stupid ones.

In my weak defense, I tried for the two months prior to find a mobile RV service to come help with the water heater issue and I was going to have them repack the bearings at the same time. But with the onslaught of new RVers since COVID, I failed to get an appointment. Because I had Quill in storage for the winter, even though it had been a couple of years since the last repack, I was still only at that 12,000-mile mark and I thought I’d be okay.

Obviously, I wasn’t. Most of the wheel bearings were completely gone when they got the tire off the axle.

Close up of a trailer's double axle with two tires.
Once the smoking and sparks ceased, there wasn’t anything to see. But, that’s a $3,000 wheel bearing-less damaged tire.

The Bad News…Well, More Bad News

So, the day of the week this happened was a Friday. As I said, I got to the repair place at noon. By four in the afternoon, I got a call that they were having trouble finding the part needed. The parts place said that they had three in stock but couldn’t seem to get their hands on a single one and it was going to take a while for them to find it. There weren’t any other nearby options.

Off to find a motel for the weekend. Ugh. It just so happened that there was a big event that weekend so motel rooms were scarce and they were charging a premium for them. I looked at driving as far away as 150 miles but it didn’t help. Of course, I need to stay at a place that would allow Kitty.

I’ll spare you reading and me writing all the details. Let’s go straight to the bottom line. I paid $300 for a Motel 8 on Friday, $200 on Saturday and $150 for Sunday and Monday. Outrageous, I know. But I, literally, had no other choice. And I ended up there one night more than I expected as Quill still wasn’t ready on Monday. By Tuesday, thankfully, I was back on the road though $3,000 poorer ($4,000 once you factor in the motel).

On Friday early evening, Kitty and I settled into the motel, after a long and bad day.

And then I checked my email.

Hard to Believe but the Tale Gets Worse

This part of the story is difficult to retell. I want to provide enough information for you to understand where my head was but don’t have it in me to go into all the nitty gritty details. So, bear with me.

I’ve had a person in my life for more than three decades. Twice during the span, we’ve been in love and tried to make a relationship work, but both times it was destine to fail due to distance. Relationships are hard but long-distance ones are almost impossible to maintain.

Still, he’s someone who has been in my life, if even in the background, for all that time. He’s someone I’ve always felt would be available if I ever needed him. He was someone I could count on to be on my side no matter what. We had a connection that has lasted the test of time even though we’ve had rough patches and there were times I questioned if the work to maintain it was worth it. But we endured.

We’ve had an occasional email correspondence since I started this blog five years ago. Then, he emailed me in May to announce a big change in his life. A divorce. We corresponded for a few weeks when he offered me his phone number (which I already had) so I gave him mine. Soon, a text from him popped up on my phone and we started regular, frequent text communication.

And a few weeks after that, he suggested we actually talk on the phone. In case you are wondering, yes this is the same guy I told you about when I told the story of selling my first book. Our first phone call came on Solstice’s birthday which was also the day I finally signed the book contract. It was an amazing four-hour phone call where the deep connection we have was easily and instantly recognizable as “us” even though it had been 15 years since our last phone conversation. And it was followed by more long phone calls.

From my side of things, I felt like my number one priority and job at that moment was to support him through the divorce though I was already starting to have hopes and expectations about what it meant for us once he was through his difficulties. Though it was never explicatively said, it was clear he was thinking exactly the same thing. Early on, in one of the emails, he’d asked if we could get together since we were in the same state at the time. When we talked, we spoke of seeing each other face to face very soon.

Without talking about it, we were talking about a future together. So, the email I opened on that Friday in the motel was a shock. To say the least. It was a sentence. “I have some crazy news, I’m getting married again. Take care.” Yep. Not even the consideration of a phone call, an explanation or an apology. One sentence that just shattered me.

In one sentence, I felt like I became the butt of a bad joke. My 30 plus year relationship with someone I completely trusted instantly turned into a punch line.

China doll face, all broken up into pieces. Photo by Aimee Vogelsang on Unsplash
This is how I felt, shattered in a million pieces barely held together.

Let’s just say it wasn’t a pretty weekend. The pain that email created is indescribable (though I know most people have had their hearts broken so will know what I’m talking about). Sharp and intense, it left me in a puddle for days. When I called the RV guy on Monday, I unexpectedly burst into tears. I covered it up by saying I was afraid to drive the rig, afraid of more sparks and smoke. And, again, when I went to talk to the motel clerk about extending my stay by one day, that burst of unexpected, uncontrollable tears returned. I couldn’t even think of a lie to cover that one.

The agony lingered. And it lingered. I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was never going to get over how he treated me. That I might never be able to forgive him. Yes, I know, it’s dramatic and wholly untrue but when you are in the middle of it, the feelings are very real. I was mourning the plans I’d already started making in my head, the broken trust of someone I never in a million years thought would so recklessly hurt me and so much more.

I’ll say it again, it wasn’t a pretty weekend.

Perfect Description of It

I think I shared THIS video a while ago but it’s one of my favorite hiking videos. I’ve probably watched it 25 or 30 times. In it, she says that to do a thru-hike one must always keep in mind the reason you began the hike to begin with. For her, part of the reason she wanted to hike the Pacific Crest Trail was her love of the outdoors. Then she added the other reason she wanted to do the five-month hike (at minute 12:24). It was…

The classic tale of heartbreak where the life you thought you had was really just a ride-along of betrayal.

I’ve thought about that line a million times since I got the email. A ride-along of betrayal.

The Fallout

There were several reasons I made the decision to cancel my Amazon job (despite the fact that it would cover the cost of the repair and the motel). The number one reason though was to make it easier to see email guy. Because I was still in the outward role of being a support to him, I didn’t tell him I’d cancelled the job. I wanted to wait until we said out loud everything that had been implied.

So, I cancelled the job and the Phoenix RV park spot and made reservations on the Washington coast. The day after I cancelled the job, I learned that due to staff shortages, Amazon was paying an additional $1,000 sign-on bonus to all the seasonal help. It made perfect sense to me since that’s how things in my world were going at the moment.

When I was debating about cancelling, I actually created a pro/con list so at least I can say email guy wasn’t the only reason. It also meant the possibility of participating in my third NaNoWriMo (though at that moment, my head is so cluttered I’m not sure there is a story in there to be found) and spending time with friends who’d recently moved to Washington. The final “pro” on my list was not having to leave my 18½ year old cat for 12 hours straight each day.

So, while it may not have been the smartest or most financially sound decision, I feel pretty good about the decision to cancel Amazon even though the primary reason I did it no longer exists.

There you have it. My worst week in RV life. It wasn’t pretty and involved lots and lots of ugly crying.

Finally Arrive at My Destination After Worst Week Ever in My RV Life

I arrived three days later than planned to my workamping assignment in John Day, Oregon. But I finally arrived. Albeit with a repaired rig and a broken heart. Broken, it felt at the time, beyond repair. Even so, somewhere in me, I knew the jagged ugly wound was just beginning to scab if only at the edges. Experience said it would soon crust over, the scab would fall off, leaving a scar. Then the scar would start to recede. Scars, by their nature, will always be there, the faintness reminder of the gaping wound it once was.

But That’s STILL Not the End of the Story

Unbelievable as this sounds (even to me and I lived it), within a few weeks I would meet someone and he would change my entire world. He would change me. The devastation and hurt from the one-sentence email guy vanished. I’m not kidding. On a dime, it completely vanished. The wound, the scab, the scar. Gone. As if it had never been there at all.

How is that even possible? You know me. I have a theory about everything. But this? This defies explanation, defies my ability to even theorize. I’ve never experienced anything like it—so instant, so complete. I went from utterly broken to entirely healed. All in the span of two days.

But that’s a whole other story for a whole other day.

Red heart painted on a yellow wall.

Photo by Nicola Fioravanti on Unsplash
And just like that my heart was filled with love and kindness once again.

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