About Us

The Open Road Project exists to spread kindness and meet the needs of strangers. We travel in a 1979 GMC Vanguard named Lily. These are our stories.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

How We Got Here

We would like to apologize that we have kept you in the dark regarding our situation over the past week. We do however, have a pretty good explanation. Since approximately August 18th at 11:00pm Mountain Standard time, the fate of our trip was taken... nay, yanked completely out of our hands. As you likely know, we have been experiencing minor technical difficulties since departure. However, as we approached the final mountain range of the trip in Wyoming, USA we could tell that Lily was not going to cooperate.
We knew the problems started when we pushed our RV into a no camping zone at dusk. Why push? Because she stalled. Why at dusk? Because she wouldn't start and even if she did, no alternator=no lights. While we were nervous about the NO CAMPING sign with fine print saying "Punishable with $2000 fine or 6 months prison," we felt that we had a legitimate excuse (also how are $2000 and 6 months in the clink similar punishments?). We woke up in the morning to a State Trooper who thankfully called a tow truck instead of locking us up.
West Yellowstone is right on the border of Yellowstone National Park and this is where we spent the day. We decided to finally treat Lily to a new alternator, so while she was in the shop, we set up a base camp at a laundromat that had free wifi. Our first order of business was cashing in a few $20's for quarters and officially making it "Free Laundry Day." We befriended many patrons, mostly families travelling through to see Old Faithful (the same reason that we were there).After a long day waiting and $200 later, we were on our way. By now it was almost 18:00 so we decided to try to drive through the night to make up for lost time. We stopped at Old Faithful and enjoyed the spectacle.
Now it was time to get some serious miles behind us. To this day, I question why we thought that our only problem was the alternator. We all knew that it couldn't be that easy. The next stretch of road proved us right. Words will not begin to describe how we all felt at 01:00, while we got out to push Lily up the mountain. The cold Wyoming air chilled our bones and the high altitude sucked the air out of our lungs as we ran desperately behind a finally rolling Lily. Josh, not wanting to lose momentum was last seen driving into the night up the hill as the four of us were left only to watch the now working lights fade off into the distance. We were going to die out here.

After two miles of walking, we finally caught up to Josh (who thankfully didn't roll off the cliff), once again stalled on a hill. This is where we would sleep. On the side of the most isolated Interstate in the country.

We awoke in the morning groggy and sad. We hadn't miraculously made it to civilization. With the closest towns almost 100km in either direction and no cell phone service, we could do nothing but hope that someone would care enough to stop. And thankfully people did! We sent for a tow truck in both directions, one East and one back West. However, we had no idea if the people we sent would have any luck, so we sent Josh and Adam to hitchhike to a payphone. While Charles Jamie and I hung back at the RV, we tried to pass the time as best we could and not worry about the situation. However, as we ran out of things to do and with our friends who knows where, we almost started to worry. Then a State Trooper showed up and told us that help was on the way! Ted's Towing out of Sheridan should be around in an hour. Now we were hoping that our friends would make it back from their adventure.
Funny how things work out. Where we stopped was almost at the top of the mountain, and if we would have made it, we would have obviously decided to go down. We would surely have forgotten that our brakes were less than reliable. We would have very likely ended up going through a guardrail. After all, it was the steepest grade we had seen to date, almost 10%. Josh and Adam arrived back at almost the exact same time as the tow truck. We piled in to the little cab of the big truck and made our way to Sheridan where there was a 24 hour mechanic. Our time with this shop was most interesting and I can say that Lily was driven harder than perhaps any time in her life while they were trying to diagnose her sickness, but thankfully, they solved all of our issues by Sunday morning, and at a shockingly reasonable cost.

Once we finally got on the road, it was smooth sailing. With the mountains behind us and the prairies in front of us, we were once again feeling rejuvenated and as we like to say, morale was up. Whether our issue was being stopped in the middle of the road to having no breaks or lights, we are truly thankful that we are safe and sound. Next stop, Cedar Falls Iowa. If you read this whole post, congratulations and thank you. It was a long one.

Cheers,The Boys

1 comment:

  1. Car trouble when you least want it?? Sounds TYPICAL, To You, Painful, In Christ's Arena, Laundromat love. I am sure this comment is too late to tell you to go see some live blues at ANY pub in Chicago, that will be a cure for any left over malice towards Lily, but maybe you guys, especially the musicians, already knew that! Bring it home, John Maguire