Adventures in Camping

First off, camping with an RV camper is cheating.  That is why using an RV camper has been the only I have camped.  That being said, I will never do it again.

This past Memorial Day weekend I camped off to Manassas, Virginia.  I drove a pickup truck and a trailer enclosed with a Beetle (mine) and a motor cycle (my friend's father's), followed my friend and his wife who was driving his camper.

On the way there, the pickup truck breaks down.  It decides to break down in the middle of 495-N (the Capital Beltway).  My friend is leading me, so he has to go off an exit, find a place to drop the camper, and come back onto the Beltway to come tow me and the trailer off.  All in Memorial Day traffic.  The time of the breakdown to his return: 45 minutes.  That's 45 minutes of me in the middle lane of the Capital Beltway stopped.

I had to get on my mobile and stay on pretending that I was doing something about the problem at hand.  When in reality, I had actually done something as soon as it happened and I had to wait for a whole lot of nothing to happen before my friend could come tow me out.  While the waiting and pretending of mobile conversation was going on, I had to brace myself from the "hospitality" of Northern Vagina Virginian drivers yelling obscenities as I was helpless on the road.

When my friend arrived and rescued me, we towed the wounded pickup and trailer to a school parking lot where we left it to be towed once again the next day to a repair shop.

The camping itself was...non eventful.  There is one and only one saving grace from the event.  You get to spend some time with some very great people and close friends.  The problem is that it's only "some" time because they have children and if anyone ever told you that rearing children was an easy task, they were selling you something, or they were in jail for child neglect.  My friend didn't even go to the "Bug Out" event with me, which was the whole point of me going down to Virginia with him.

And camping is to me a horrid way to vacation.  There's nothing but clean up and self-cooking going on.  And more clean up because you're doing the cooking on grills that need to be stowed away.  You have to pack the food when you go, and then unpack it when you get home.  I was tired of it, and I brought nothing, nor did anything.  And keep in mind, you have to camp A LOT if you want to make up for the sunken cost on the camper itself.

As we left Monday, we packed everything back up, and I hooked up the trailer to the now fixed pickup.  Unfortunately, I unknowingly hooked up the brake/electrical connector backwards to the trailer.  Apparently, this is supposed to be impossible, but since I have the strength of ten ten year old builders, a connection was somehow made.

Throughout the first leg of the trip back, I made three separate complaints regarding this problem to my friend.  He told me to keep, and I quote, "fiddling with the knobs."  On the third call, I explained to him that I had "no trailer brakes."  He asked me if I wanted to stop, and knowing that his devil spawn lovely children were with him, I decided against making an unnecessary stop.  The only problem was that it actually was a necessary stop.

As I got in front of my friend for an upcoming exit, two key things happened.  First, I used a turn signal in front of him, where he informed me that they were backwards (I select right, and the left turn signal executes).  Second, in the same conversation, he tells me that he is using a different entrance to get onto 495.  I ask him to specify whether it's a different ramp for the same exit, or the exit for 495 south.  I gather that he says 495 south.  I was completely wrong.

So, now with no one else on the road to block for me, or give me an advance on any braking situations in the fore, I have a pickup and trailer with a load that had its turn signals reversed at the trailer, and no trailer braking whatsoever.  When my friend calls me back, I am less than pleased.  Knowing that I was on my own, and that I was not going to get any help anytime soon, I took it upon myself to find a place to pullover (by the way, 495 South actually has a surprising amount of area to do this) and re-inspect the connection at the trailer.

At this point of the trip, I have enacted Michael Katsimbris emotion mode "omega."  In this situation, I have been so frazzled that I immediately start looking to do three things.  (1) Maintain safety.  Being that the situation whether current or recent past has angered me, I now make a conscious effort to not let any physical actions (driving in this case) reflect, or affect, my mood.  (2) Get home.  Usually, when this happens, I've been taken out of my element and my own possessions.  In this situation specifically, a pickup and trailer that are not my own - on top of the camping - have failed me (partly from my own fault).  (3) Isolation.  Being that my mood is volatile, bringing other people into it would be imprudent and moronic.

That is my modus operandi for emotion mode Omega.

The problem is that they have a predestined pit stop that I need to make.  Of course, when I get there, they have already been there waiting for me.   As I pull in, they already make their way inside.  Rude as it may seem, it's a blessing in the sense that I need the isolation.

When done with my meal - I sat separately - I ask where our final destination is, and proceed on.  Once again, keeping in check with my objectives.  When the final destination is reached at my friend's house, he arrives minutes later.  He explains how I need to "work on that" explaining how my mood (isolation in particular) got under his skin; a completely understandable reaction on his part.  Considering what I had been through that day, I only cared in the sense that I didn't want to get beat up by him.

At the end of the day, I was mad at myself because I had made personal pacts of my own to not go do these trips anymore knowing that I was completely at the whim of someone else for at least three days.  A big problem?  Not really, but when they have their kids, their wife, their parents, and three other friends of theirs there, chances are that I am going to be there only at a completely logistical level for them.

But they keep asking me to help take that trailer and pickup.  My only hope is that this time was bad enough for me that I won't put myself in a position again to be emotionally drained.

My point of all this is that I need to work on a robot that can drive.


s.m said…
All I can say to this is... "ouch." Whenever you invent that robot let me know.

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