Sunday, July 12, 2009

A tire blew out on the boat trailer

Published online 7/12/2009 12:34 AM

The Disaster Vacation' had its moments

For the sake of efficiency, I'll just run down the list of things that didn't go quite as planned.

* A tire blew out on the boat trailer near Emporia, and naturally, the tire tool in my truck didn't have the size I needed for the odd-sized trailer tires. With the help of a nearby farmer and his dog, we managed to pull off the tire. Surprisingly, I had a spare capable of holding a

* A much-too-large boat cover apparently acts like a swimming pool liner and fills with water during a downpour. Lifting the water-filled cover is impossible without dumping water down the front of one's pants.

* The temperatures soared above 100 degrees and settled there for the bulk of the week. And for the first time I can remember, the wind absolutely would not blow at all - which converts an airy outdoor tent into something more akin to a pressure cooker.

* The dog, who insists on curling up inside the tent with the rest of the family, really likes squirrels. Apparently, a tent's window netting is not designed to withstand a lunging dog, bent on having wild game for breakfast. Thank goodness for duct tape.

* Here's an interesting bit of information: Cell phones stop working when dropped, even momentarily, into lake water. So do digital cameras, although a little baking in the 100-degree sun might recover the camera. Dead cell phones are good for poking things and cramming towels into crevices.

* If you like to read at night, don't use the bright white light on your headlamp to light your book. As I discovered, it attracts stinging and biting insects directly to your face.

* If, as I do, you have a teenaged daughter with you, take extra precautions to ensure she has constant access to a cell phone. Bring an extra charger - the one we had broke, thanks to a younger sibling convinced it could double as a lasso. I learned that teenage girls without a connection to the outside world are quite unhappy, yet quite vocal, people.

Despite the list of difficulties, the trip wasn't all bad. We discovered some beautiful lakes that we hadn't visited before, and learned that even challenging times aren't without the opportunity for some joking and laughing.

And there were some helpful people through all of this too: The farmer near Emporia and the Lyon County Deputy who stopped to help with the faulty tire; the Wal-Mart garage employee who helped me replace a damaged lug nut; the people at a tire store and Orscheln in Ottawa, who called all over town to help me find a replacement spare tire.

Oh, and the woman at La Cygne, who took one look at my sweaty and agitated children and decided to interrupt her day off so she could give us our cabin a day earlier than planned.

So in my book, the trip wasn't a total loss. And as my wife points out, of all the vacations we've taken over the years, this is the one to stand out in the kids' minds many years from now.

With a name like "Disaster Vacation," it's all the more likely.

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