Engine Trouble

Once we turned left out of Denver, our drive started going steadily up, up, up the Rocky Mountains. We had been around mountains all week, visiting the Gore family. A week with them put up in such good spirits! Here are 2, short video interviews with Nathalie (11) and Freddy (7) about our trip.

Turn up the volume or CC

We parked on the street in front of Cody and Crista’s house for a week. Their suburban neighborhood at the foot of the Garden of the Gods gave us a nice break from campgrounds. I loved seeing children riding bikes around, people walking dogs with strollers, and eating in a house at a table large enough for 8 of us. Their couch gave us a very nice break from sitting in camp chairs in the wind. And their immaculate guest bathroom was just about the best part of this entire trip! (No febreeze needed.)

Freddy and Zane bouldering in Garden of the Gods
Some of us got up early one day to see the park at sunrise. #ambitious

I’ve been getting individual questions from a few of you wondering if I’m okay; if we are enjoying our trip. Maybe I get over zealous writing about the pitfalls of camping for months on end in a 13 year-old, oversized sardine can. But the frightening and annoying parts seem to make the best stories!

Speaking of which, let’s go back to the part where we were climbing up the Rockies on Wednesday. Everyone was happy and the kids had a day off of school so there was no zoom stress in the cabin. We stopped by King Sooper’s for a week’s worth of groceries on the way out of Colorado Springs. We were only driving 250 miles that day, so I’d have time to make lasagna for dinner at the campground. We all love lasagna!

As the incline continued, a high-pitched wheezing noise started happening under our feet. Interesting. Then the sound turned into a loud whirring that continued anytime Jeff gave it some gas, which was constantly since we were climbing to 11,000 feet.

The kids are in the back, totally oblivious, but we started to realize we were yelling at each other over the noise. Fun, right?

Then I started to smell something burning, just slightly.

Driving through Vail, Colorado

While we were in Colorado Springs, Jeff had fixed our slightly leaking shower. It wasn’t a difficult project, but it was very difficult to procure the right sized parts for an RV shower. He went to 2 or 3 auto parts stores almost everyday we were there. It was incredibly frustrating and then, very satisfying to finally get the shower fixed. But now, to be not even an hour into our drive, and realize we would be hitting another auto parts store. Well, it dampened our spirits.

The noise continued while I searched google maps for the nearest gas station. We were nowhere near a town of enough size to have an Oh-Oh-O’reilly’s (auto parts). And I could tell by Jeff’s pensive face that he was worried about this noise, running through the causes in his mind. At the gas station he popped the hood and still didn’t know for sure what the problem was.

I was studying his body language trying to know how worried to be.

We went on, me with a knot growing in my stomach as I imagined the engine catching fire under my feet, or us losing power and getting towed up the Rocky Mountains. Jeff pulled into a mechanic garage in Idaho Springs (cute, cute town) where a white haired man with his tight, round stomach hanging over his grandpa-jeans and red belt came out to listen to our beloved Taco Smurf whirring away.

Darla and I got out to walk around a bit, thinking this was going to be a really long drive after all. But Jeff quickly found us and said he was ready to go with a smile on his face. The fan clutch was busted and that is an easy fix. What a relief.

I spent the next few miles yelling into my phone, calling every auto parts store coming up on our way to Grand Junction. I found a store who could order the part and have it by tomorrow. In the meantime, we crested up around Vail (where there was snow on the mountains!) and the descent was much more quiet.

We arrived at the River Dance RV campground by the Eagle River outside of Gypsum, Colorado too late to make lasagna. But I made it yesterday and Jeff is having the time of his life. Last night his right hand was sore from reeling in so many large fish! (He releases them all.)

This loose rhythm of camping, them visiting friends makes the trip feel fresh again every ten days or so. We spend enough time in the complete wilderness to be sure we don’t have the coronavirus. And then are able to enjoy a big change in our schedules. We get time alone, time with each other, and then time with new people. I love it so much!

For the kids, school and schoolwork keeps them mentally occupied most of the time. And for Jeff, there’s always something on the rig that needs fixing, which he loves.

So don’t worry. We are fine. And don’t worry. We are coming home — sometime in November.


this edition brought to you by:
The British Baking Show and ACE Hardware

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I make a mean martini; am often reading; and usually thinking about my relationships, my teenagers and how I’m probably messing them up.

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Shannon Driskill

Shannon Driskill

I make a mean martini; am often reading; and usually thinking about my relationships, my teenagers and how I’m probably messing them up.

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