Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Southwest Trip: Luckiest Unlucky

We stayed two nights at Arches National Park. Took great pictures. Got off the trail before it got hot. Niles got his Junior Ranger badge.

It was hot.

We saw petroglyphs off a highway outside the park, Intestine Man and TV Sheep. I am in love with TV Sheep now.

Waking up early, we headed out of Arches, towards Capitol Reef. We took I-70 west a bit, and got off the highway at one of those “no services” exits. One side was a dirt road, and the other was a state highway headed south. As we got established onto the highway, a few miles in, with no other cars anywhere, I thought to myself how terrible it would be to break down on this road. I watched as my cell phone service dropped and then disappeared. But the truck had been doing fine, all the gauges were happy, and we headed 40 miles south to Hanskville.

Suddenly, Bixby cursed, looking in the rearview mirror.

“What is it?” I asked.

“I think we just lost a wheel,” he said. Trailer. I looked in front of us, at some huge fields of dark green, obvious signs of civilization.

“Can we make it there?” I asked. I knew it was probably close to 90 degrees already, almost noon, and I was worried about pulling over on the side of this highway.

We drove slowly. I pointed out a gravel parking lot to the right, with an old fashioned fire engine parked in front. It wasn't a gas station, with no pumps, but there were a few cars pulled up so maybe they could make a land line call to a tow truck. Tow truck? How do we do this with a trailer?

Bixby drove slowly and carefully, about the half mile to the parking lot. We pulled in and I read the sign painted on the fire truck.

“Kitely Boat Trailer Repair.” I registered the words as I read them aloud.

I had this flashback to ten years ago, a trip out to Yosemite, our brakes failing on the way out of the mountains, directions to a garage in Oakhurst, finding the place closed, and a man, Eddie Gilmore (I still remember his name), who worked for a car parts supply house, pulling in behind us and guiding us to a reputable mechanic in town. How I'm not certain Eddie Gilmore was a flesh and blood person or just an angel sent to save us. Some sort of spirit that protects travelers.

And here we were again.

A woman in western wear, with a purse crossed over her denim shirt, walked out of the garage end and shook our hands. I told her what had happened and she looked at the pop-up trailer.

“Well, let's look and see if we have them in stock.” She walked around the sides of the trailer and looked at the tires. “Sure do, my husband can take care of you, I'm on the way out for an appointment but I'll get you started.” She told Bixby where to pull around, and then showed me where to take the kids, to sit in the shade. She brought us bottled water. And I had to stop her before she left.

“We broke down with a trailer a half mile from your place. And you repair boat trailers in the middle of the Utah desert.”

She laughed. “There's Powell Lake, just an hour south of us. Lots of boats will go by, you'll see, watch while you wait. And,” she tilted her head and smiled. “A lot of people who come in here say that. They break down up the road or down the road and there we are!”

For a moment I wondered if somehow they'd seeded the road with razors and nails or something, but when her husband came out later and said we were lucky we'd made it that far, that the tires were 12 years old, I knew it was just some sort of crazy luck that it happened where it did and not twenty miles down the road.

Twenty minutes and two new tires later, we got back on our way. It has hardly settled into my brain, and yet I know it fits right in with our motto, “The luckiest unlucky people.” It's just how it goes for us. We are unlucky in the luckiest way possible. God watches over drunks and fools. And I'm pretty sure we're either or both.


  1. I don't think you're unlucky at all! Twenty minutes and all sorted - that's brilliant.

  2. I love it, too, and I'm all verklempt reading it and feeling the presence of all of your guardian angels yet again. You never travel unprotected, do you? Thank God!