What does a bear, ticks, mice, engine trouble and a punctured tire all have in common? Nothing, really. Or everything, depending on how you look at it. And as we wait here in a tiny Washington farm town for things to shake out, we must remember what the Grateful Dead’s roadie Steve Parish said:
“The Situation is the Boss”
The yin and yang of the Universe is always in play, but sometimes it’s easy to forget. Jim and I can own up to that. Thousands of easygoing miles have passed under our wheels without a hitch during our journey to Alaska.
But like the volcano eruption in Hawaii, the Universe has rattled us out of complacency.
The California brown bear encounter was soon followed by a tick party once we camped in Washington. And on Friday the Dodge engine bell of doom lit up the cockpit as we reached the top of a steep grade on the Coulee Corridor Scenic Byway. Just 141 miles shy of the Canadian border, we were no longer in control.
Or were we?
At that moment by the side of the road, we could choose to be angry and vent. Or we could just force some laughter yoga RV therapy and move on.
“The situation is the boss,” Jim recalled from the Grateful Dead documentary. I don’t say this often, but he was right. There was no point in fighting the obvious: we needed to get to a mechanic. Without any decent sized towns between us and the 141 miles to the Canadian border, we backtracked to Ephrata, where we had just left.
If the thunder don’t get you then the lightning will.
We found the Oasis RV Park and Gold Course in Ephrata and settled in for the duration. And as I went to reach into a kitchen drawer, I noticed that a hitchhiking mouse had settled into the dish towels. And underneath the sink. And in the stove. So. Gross.
The previous night while camped at a beautiful wildlife management area called Quincy Lakes, I should have listened to my intuition. I thought I heard a light scratching sound in the middle of the night. But I was sleepy, and forgot about it.
Then Things Got Really Hilarious
With the mechanic out until Monday, we settled into our new digs for the duration. Saturday morning I urged Jim to come explore the town with me for a quick pan dulce and wine run. Good thing he did. The minute I pulled onto the highway to town, a loud beep blared from our new tire pressure monitoring system.
“Pull over!” Jim looked at the TPMS readout and saw one of the tires was low. Really low. I steered the truck into a gas station so he could check things out. Then we couldn’t believe what we saw.
A big ugly bolt was sticking out of our pretty new Michelins from SimpleTire.com. Less than a few hundred miles on these brand new Defenders!
The situation was so ridiculous, it was funny. What else could we do, but laugh it off and get it patched, fast. Surprisingly, the local Les Schwab repaired it within an hour and didn’t charge us a dime. We figure that after all this, things can only get better from here. At least that’s what we’re hoping as we wait for the mechanic to call.
Be Here Now with the Boss
This series of unfortunate events used to throw me into meltdown mode on the road. I’ve learned to cope with the unpredictability of this lifestyle, but I didn’t always do such a good job at it. Not anymore. Eleven years later, these situations unfold differently for me, and I can honestly say for Jim as well.
Just like our RV TPMS system paid off, so has the daily Headspace meditation practice that we started last July (303 consecutive days and counting!). Meditation has taught me that it’s entirely possible to cope with life’s challenges without bickering and copious amounts of booze.
A Long Strange Trip indeed.
We don’t have to like what life throws at us, we just have to accept it. Work with what you’ve got to make the most of things. And above all else remember…
The situation is always the boss.