This was one well earned weekend. So well earned, in fact, that I am still quite sore. But let’s back up… Last weekend was the first of two sequentially scheduled weekends at home. What on earth could prompt something so drastic? Well, it turns out we have a bicycle problem. Or at least, one of us does, and we were finally forced to confront the situation in a dramatic way now that our son has a legitimate need for his own. There was no way we were going to fit another in the garage, so we rented the smallest size dumpster possible (i.e. “ginormous petite”) and planned to clear away the contents of twenty years of accumulated junk into it. Knowing we were going to have a dumpster available, we also set a Part B goal for getting rid of the twenty year old play structure. Extra credit and Part C was loading the newly repaired Subie full of toxic chemicals (mostly paint) to be disposed of at an authorized place. Couldn’t we have simply gotten rid of just one of the bicycles, you ask? Let’s just say the dumpster route was way easier.
The project went as planned, including the extra credit tasks, primarily because we told ourselves that if we finished everything in one weekend, we could earn the right to go camping the next. So when it was dumping rain on Sunday and we were out there, slipping and falling down in the mud, bashing out cedar dowels, hauling heavy beams, and sawing apart what could not be bashed, we were thinking to ourselves, “Worth it.”
Reveling in the glory of a mission accomplished ahead of schedule, we arranged to camp at a place in the foothills so that we could facilitate an Alto tour with the couple who’d planned to visit us at our house. Lake Don Pedro is just off Highway 120, the road that goes to Yosemite, and it looked like a nice spot, not too far from the couple. Friday I got home promptly after school and we were in the final stages of the hitching process when we both noticed the hitch seemed really low. We said that out loud even. Then, I looked over at the rear driver’s side tire on Bruce and it was as flat as a tire can possibly be. The culprit was obvious: a big wood screw, undoubtedly from the play structure, was jammed in all the way to the head. I must say, we moved through the stages of disbelief and/or disappointment in a highly efficient manner and just started doing things. One of the things was figuring out which number to call for roadside assistance and getting a person who knew something on the phone as quickly as possible.
As we were waiting on hold, we started emptying all of the camping gear onto the driveway so that we could get to the emergency equipment. This definitely felt like deja vu from the Subie battery incident. With everything removed, we clearly saw words stating, “Spare Tire (if equipped)” and a big huge arrow pointing to a button. Obviously, we pushed the button. Nothing happened. You can now begin to imagine the scene as we just kept pushing the button with more force, and then, with the assistance of tools in order to apply additional force. When the roadside assistance person finally picked up, we were both just barely subduing our frustration and Richard launched into an explanation of how the spare tire button didn’t seem to work. The person then silently assessed our mechanical developmental skill level and asked, “Are you sure you have a spare?” “Well, we think so?” (it seemed like something we would have thought to include when we purchased the tow vehicle). “Can you see it under the car?” We both bent down simultaneously. “Oh yeah! There it is!” At this point we realized three things. First, the spare is not like a full size tire we can just put on and go our merry towing way. Second, it would take far longer to wait for someone to come do this than for us to do it ourselves and try to get a new tire from Acura before they closed. The third thing we realized, critical to our decision making process, was that the button we had been pushing was actually a cap covering the bolt thingy you turn to lower the spare. Ignoring an overwhelming preponderance of empirical data, we decided to trust to our combined problem solving abilities and do it ourselves. I have to say, though we must have looked pretty idiotic throughout the process, we got er done with time to spare (get it?).
Richard called ahead to Acura, where incidentally, we’d just taken Bruce for a service after winter break and were told we should start thinking about getting two new rear tires. Sold! They were ready for me on arrival and I swear they had me rolling again in twenty minutes, with me enthusiastically signing for whatever price they wanted to charge. I was on my way, returning home by 6. I don’t usually like towing in the dark, but decided this too would be worth it so that we wouldn’t feel as though we’d lost the weekend. So all the camping gear went back in, we got hitched up again, and pulled onto the road as the last glimmers of daylight faded away.
The entire drive to Lake Don Pedro was done in the dark, so we were pleased in the morning to see that our site had a lovely view overlooking the lake. Richard went on a bike ride, recommended by our touring couple, and I spun Dory to get a nicer angle. My job Saturday was to get through three reports. It would have been two, but I couldn’t get a single thing done during dumpster weekend. I didn’t mind at all though. I was happy to type away, enjoying the lake view, while not falling in mud or swinging a crow bar around.
Sunday we lazed for a while, sitting in our swing chairs looking at the view. You can just see the snow capped mountains of Yosemite on the horizon and the weather was all blue skies and nicely warm. Eventually, we headed home and got the see the route we’d driven Friday night. I think this place would make for a lovely weekend location. There are electric and water hookups and good cell service. Site 13 is definitely a winner. Anything further along on that loop will give you a view of some kind of boat repair or storage place. I believe there is a boat launch somewhere, so it might also make a nice boating destination. All in all, we were happy, and definitely impressed, that we were able to get out there at all. Nice.
Oh yes, one footnote. Have you noticed how we use ice packs as weights for the camping mat? Great idea right? Well, just be careful if you do this because if you accidentally step on one, the cap flies off, turning it into a water bomb land mine. Richard’s shoe and sock are still wet.
Total miles: 118.1, 17.4 mpg, 3 hours 12 min (2:41 with no traffic). Site 13. Electric and water hookups. Nice, large, paved pad. Bathrooms, showers, good dump. Better signal for ATT than Verizon, but LTE for both.