Wednesday, June 7, 2017
THE LAST DAY
Well, everything was going along way too well. I should know by now to be more goddamn careful when I feel cheerful and as if things are finally going my way. You would think I would have realized that the gods are cruel and I don’t get nice things.
I forgot to blog last night but, since I have decided, now that I have wifi, to put up the last couple of days, let’s just pretend that there was a DAY SIX. Here it is: I drove all day yesterday, from horrible Frontier Land by Ocean City at the top of the peninsula to absolutely lovely Kiptopeke State Park by the base of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. It was a great drive. Everything went smoothly. Route 13 through the Eastern shore of first Maryland and then Virginia is beautiful and flat and mostly deserted. I stopped at The Great Machipongo Clam Shack for a crab cake sandwich (not bad although not as good as the Sip N’Bite in the days of its vanished glory.) Then I decided not to go on to Gloucester VA to the dealership because I wouldn’t have gotten in until about 4 pm and that seemed unfair. I was, at this point, blithely assuming that everything was, you know, basically OKAY. And so I turned into Kiptopeke and discovered that it was really a great place. The park was lovely! Everything was wonderful! I met a nice couple from Quebec in a GIANT truck camper that they had taken all over the country! I went swimming in the Bay and I did laundry. I bought a T-shirt! An orange T-shirt! Lighthearted me. I slept well, woke up early, went for a really nice little hike and thought, yay, this day is off to a GOOD start, it’s going to be WONDERFUL.
AND WITH THAT THOUGHT LET US BEGIN DAY SEVEN. THE DAY OF RECKONING.
It was windy at the campground Tuesday night so I was worried about the Bridge-Tunnel but it was fine. It was, in fact, awesome. The tunnels were a little hairy but at this point I was all, ok, I’m used to this truck and camper. Everything is fine! And there are seagulls on the railings! It was so beautiful I forgot to be scared. And then I got into Norfolk and, by the way, dude who invented Google Maps, I’m coming for you and we are going to have a TALK. Because I hate you. Through the magic and glory that is Google Maps, I got to drive a truck camper slowly through all sorts of neighborhoods in Norfolk, VA that I would never otherwise have encountered. Let’s just leave it at that, except that when I come for you, Google Maps person, I will use a different program to locate my supplies of tar and feathers. SO! Three slow hours and many, many bridges, boarded up buildings, potholes and used tire dealerships later, I arrived in the edges of Gloucester, Virginia and the Travel Lite dealership.
They were very nice. The owner came out and looked at my camper and truck and leaned on it and shook it up and down and said,
“My God. You can’t drive this. It’s way too big for this truck. This isn’t okay. You could be killed and so could somebody else. I would never have sold you this camper for this truck. Who sold you this?”
And we went back and forth like that, me and the frazzled owners, who are very nice and very busy, for about two hours. The upshot of all our discussions was that no, there was nothing that could be done. The camper was, first off, too long for the truck – that’s why the tailgate has been down, which is not okay, despite what RLEM said – and second off, too heavy for the truck, which made it top heavy as hell. The center of gravity is too far back and the possibilities were simply one: the truck could flip, killing me and everyone around, I suppose or two: the rear axle could just break, killing me and everyone around, I suppose. These just aren’t good thoughts for someone with anxiety disorder to have about something they are driving across the USA.
I should have trusted my instincts. When I got up to Street, Maryland and met the seller and looked at the camper sitting in the driveway I thought – and said! – “This is too big for my truck.” I was right. I knew I was right. But I let myself be sold for a couple of reasons that we should all remember: one, I had no Plan B, which was really fucking stupid and two, I am a woman and I was with two men. Without even thinking about it – and that’s the point, we don’t think about it – I did that quintessentially stupid raised within the patriarchy female thing of stepping back and assuming that the men knew what they were talking about while I, just a woman in the face of mechanical things, did not. And I wanted to believe, so I let myself be lulled into believing that the seller – who was desperate to sell it and went on at length about how it was fine, it was designed for trucks like mine, it was okay to have the tailgate down and the license not showing, everything was great, perfect, don’t worry – was right and I was wrong. Meanwhile, my old friend, who is prone to contagious enthusiasms, got caught up in the glory of the moment. We all did. It was such a great thing, to be buying this camper. We wanted it to work. And neither I nor my friend actually knows a damn thing about campers. He knows big trucks – but not RVs or pickups or campers and there’s a difference. All I know is what I’ve read – and I didn’t weigh my truck, which I should have done. The seller, though, knows his stuff and he sold it to me anyway. He had it on a 350 dually – about ten times more truck than me and more, really, than he would need for that camper. And let us not forget the culpability here of the Travel Lite marketer: they have been selling their campers as designed for 1/2 ton trucks and, honestly, flat out lying about them.
But then people do drive things overloaded and sometimes, you know, they get away with it.
The Quebecois couple I met at Kiponeke were driving a Dodge 2500 and a camper about five times bigger than mine. It went way past their tailgate. It was probably just as dangerous and they have gotten all over the country with nary a care. They looked at me like I was nuts though when I asked if it shook. No, they said, not until the winds got, oh, to 50 or so. My camper shook and rocked like a sailboat and I’m still floating in my head. It was more like sailing than driving. I like sailing. But.
But in the long run, it doesn’t matter why the hell I bought it, whose fault it was, what happened six days ago in that neighborhood near Havre de Grace. It’s like trying to go on about Bernie and Hilary and who did it, how did it get fucked up, what happened. It doesn’t matter what happened then. What matters is what happens next.
I tried to trade the camper for a smaller camper. They don’t have any used ones. The new one they have that would fit, that I could live with (which is not the Razr or an ancient thing full of ants) would cost $12,550. They offered me $5000 for the camper, in cash or trade. It’s a fairish price, for a dealer. I paid almost twice that, a week and a lifetime ago. That’s one HELL of an expensive beach vacation.
I called my daughter. I called my old friend who went with me to buy the camper. I didn’t know what to do. Don’t make a decision now, they said. Wait! So I asked the dealership if they would hold the offer for a few days and meanwhile store the camper for me. They are nice guys. They agreed.
And so Hermie is sitting alone on the service side of an RV dealership in Gloucester, VA. Moby (who is now making all kinds of ominous squeaks and scrawks and bounces, like perhaps I have fucked up my truck while I was out there enjoying myself and being mind bogglingly stupid again) is sitting in the parking lot of the Red Roof Inn in Williamsburg, VA, across from a room in which some people have just finished either having extremely athletic sex or doing a full on trapeze work out. And I’m upstairs from that room, drinking wine, typing and sniffling. My inner ears are still floating and sailing, because sleeping in Hermie was like sleeping on a sailboat and now I’m grounded and just so fucking damn sad.
And I’m thinking about a lot of different options. If you can think of any, please let me know. .