A Tale from the Trail
I performed at the Canyon County Fair (and Festival) in Caldwell, ID for seven years. It is a 50K attendance fair about 30 miles from Boise, Idaho. To get to Boise from the San Francisco Bay Area, you take I-80 east, through Reno and turn left in Winnemucca. You drive a few hundred miles through the sagebrush, cross a corner of Oregon and into Idaho. It’s a 12 hour drive, and when I have time, I’ll give myself an extra day, Stay in Winnemucca in the Winners Casino and not shotgun the trip. I like the Winners because it has a motor lodge, you get a free drink (to get you into the smoke filled casino) and the Wells Fargo Bank is across the street. Small reasons, I know - but enough.
On this particular journey, I had recently bought a new Dodge Caravan. My old one lost the transmission at 125K - or perhaps it was the one I back ended another minivan with and did $5,000 worth of damage to mine and almost zero to them because they had an iron tailgate (on a mini van! Who would have thought?). Regardless of the demise of the previous Dodge MiniVan, I was in a new one and before abandoning the old one I removed the full-sized spare from under the trade-in and replaced the toy spare under the new vehicle with the full sized spare.
I had taken this road many times and I always notice the small “attractions” signs as I travel. Like all of us, we love to get out of the vehicle and stretch our legs. Along this particular road, there is not much to admire very long, but I always saw a small sign every time I traveled this road that was in the middle of nowhere. I just tried to find the mane of this attraction to share, and it is so insignificant, I can’t even find a reference to it on the internet after searching for the name for a good half hour. Let me describe it to you: The small sign referenced volcanos, lava formations, fissures - it was a small sign and probably 99.9% of people driving by ignore it, I am sure. On this trip, I decided, “I have an extra day - let’s go look!”
I turned right. One half mile up the dirt road another sign tells me my destination is 23.5 miles ahead. I decide, I am on the adventure, I have the day off and am early - go forth and explore!
At 21 miles into the wilderness, having passed nothing resembling any form of civilization, the road starts to get a bit rough. Not ruts and dirt clods rough, I am talking Lava rocks jutting up 4-6 inches rough. Sure enough, about 1/2 mile from the lava formations and 23-1/2 miles from the highway, I get a flat tire.
No problem, I get out, pull out the full sized spare … and to make a long story short, the lug nut holes on the older model Caravan wheel do not match the later model Caravan. I have no cell service, but I decide to walk to the top of a hill I see and see if I can get service there.
Sure enough, I have one pip of service if I stand on one foot, hold a coat hanger in the air and wear a tin foil hat and after trying five times to reach AAA, I get through without getting disconnected. they connect me with the AAA Service people in the area. This conveniently located service station knows exactly where I am - he is familiar, and he is only 85 miles away, oh … and … his tow truck does not work, the starter needs replacing, so he will come to me, pick me up and my flat, bring me back to the station, change the tire, drive me back to my car and get me on my way!
This gives me time to explore the lava domes, which were fun to look at the little 20’ high funnels. If my memory serves me right there were 20 or more of them of all different sizes and formations, some were the size of a hollow tree, others were bigger, like a fort and others were much smaller.
Two hours later, my AAA representative arrives, we grab my wheel and flat and head back to his shop — 85 miles away – which I will refrain from calling civilization. It’s a metal barn in poor shape, an RV Park that resembles a trailer park you’d not let your kids visit and play in if you had a choice, and they have a diner and small grocery store that has one refrigerator and minimal groceries, but enough to camp and survive if necessary if you are camping there.
We get to the shop, and Bad News; he does not have the correct sized tire to replace on my rim. Good news: his father is at Costco in Boise and will pick up the tire and bring it back. This took another four hours before dd returned, but he did bring the right tire, they changed my flat, did not charge me an exorbitant price, only fair market value - and they drive me back to my handicapped minivan siting in the wilderness raised up on a floor jack. It is now dusk, we replace the tire and when I get back to the highway, it has been a 12 hour adventure.
All is well that ends well, and my tale has no real hicups, it was all a good experience and now I have a story I can share. My next one will be more humorous and a lot shorter. Stay tuned.