Road Trip From Hell

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Travel Stories

We visited Amy’s parents this weekend in Reno. It was awful. Very awful. Pretty bad. A real piece of shit. Mind you, it had nothing to do with Amy’s parents, they are probably my favorite in-laws, especially since they put up with our demands for unlimited free babysitting. No, we had a bad weekend, and it was all due to our horrible trip up the mountain and is resulting effect on all of us.

We knew that the weather was going to be less than stellar on Friday. Even so, the lure of unlimited free babysitting pushed us to go, even if it meant we were going to brave traffic and putting on chains to get there. Things went pretty smoothly until we needed to put the chains on the car. This, in and of itself became an obstacle, as Amy and I argued over whether we should pay someone to put chains put on the car or not. I wanted to feel like a “man” and do it myself and avoid paying $30 to have a “real man,” do it. The resulting fights involved many go rounds of raised voices and hurt feelings. In the end, I realized I fighting for the luxury of going out to the snow and wrestling with our car and cheap cables. Ten minutes (and $30) later, we were on our way.

After a grand total of ten minutes, the traffic ground to halt. We sat in our car, Malcolm watching his movie on a DVD player, and Amy and I reading our books under the dim traffic lights we were thankful to be close to. We were less thankful for the traffic lights when, after an hour, each of us peed in the snowbanks in full view of our neighboring cars. Is there anything more disconcerting than making eye contact with complete strangers while evacuating your bladder? I think not.

Traffic finally got moving again 30 minutes later, and for a short while we slowly made our way through the mountains. At the top of Donner Summit, we heard a loud bang and then a steady thumping noise. I pulled over and realized that our tire chain had broken. Not knowing what else to do, I called AAA, only to find out that they didn’t cover it since it wasn’t a “mechanical problem.” They did put me in contact with a tow company, but the tow company said that they were too busy to come and help us. They suggested we call a cab to deliver us some new chains. I told them to go fuck themselves.

After some quiet reflection of what our lives were going to look like for the next 20 hours or so, a highway worker stopped by to ask if we were alright. I said that we were not, in fact alright. He told me he could call the Highway Patrol and a tow truck, and I nervously agreed, knowing that he was probably calling the same company that I had just had a few choice words for. So we sat. And we sat. Getting a little hungry (and being on Donner Pass,) I was a little fearful that we would have to begin the arduous process of selecting which one of us we were going to have to eat. Being the fat one, I was worried that I would be the obvious choice. Fortunately, the burrito I purchased for Amy to eat as lunch was gargantuan, leaving her to continually snack on the old burrito carcass instead of my leg.

After an hour and a half, we called Amy’s parents to bring us a new chain and some bolt cutters to remove what remained of the old chain. They lived pretty far away still, so even this option was going to take quite a while to execute. Luckily, another highway worker came by in a little while and saved the day. In a move even MacGyver would have been proud of, he tied a bungee cord to the broken chain, and voila, we up and running again. After unsuccessfully attempting to hug the hairy, stinky highway man who saved the day, I realized that there was indeed something more disconcerting than making eye contact with strangers while you pee.

We met Amy’s parents who agreed to follow us as we limped toward Reno. At around 11 PM, we heard the sickening sound of the other tire chain breaking off. I didn’t know if it was the cheap Chinese chains we purchased five years ago, or the real “man” who may have installed the chains improperly, but just to be safe I cursed the chain installer and every Chinese person on the planet. Luckily, Malcolm had fallen asleep for this portion of our disaster trip, and although he lurched forward every now and again to see what the hell was going on, he was generally a non-issue for us.

My first thought was to just keep going at five miles an hour. Nothing bad could happen at five miles an hour, right? When Amy calculated that we were still six miles away from Jean and Scott’s house, she realized that it would be another hour at that pace. The thought of spending another hour in the car was about as appetizing as having your affections rebuffed by a hairy highway man, so we decided to make our way to a nearby gas station to try and replace the newly broken chain. We immediately proceeded to spin out on the off ramp.

Ah, the promised land...

It was now 11 pm and I was done. I was done with the snow, the chains, the real men, the public urination and Amy’s constant attempts to tenderize my thighs to ensure a plump, juicy meal. We dropped the car off at the Boomtown Casino, not really caring if we ever came back for it. We piled into Jean and Scott’s car and finally made it home. Home sweet home.

I wish I could say that the rest of the weekend went smoothly, but the lingering of effects of intermittent sleep and a midnight bed time turned Malcolm into a complete dickwad for the rest of the weekend. He was whiny and irritable, and acted like a two year old. Sadly, I probably acted the same way, yelling at him or anyone else when they didn’t agree with me.

I don’t think we will ever be invited to Reno again. To tell you the truth, as long as there is snow on the ground, I don’t really mind.

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9 responses to “Road Trip From Hell”

  1. Debra Lilley says:

    oh dear, but your most passionate posting for a while. Life does often suck, I thought mine did today, but having read this, I now see that it is true, that there is always someone worse off than me, so thank you for having a shit weekend, I feel much better about my life. You are a true public service.

  2. Tracy Weitz says:

    As I sit basking in the sunshine of Hawaii, I am reminded of why I hate the snow. It is why the world was conquered by people from cold countries who were mean and angry and stole other people’s shit. Next time come with us to someplace warm. We like to babysit.

  3. Some German says:

    zee sinks you should purchase an audi. They have zee quattro. It be wundubar!

  4. Alan says:

    I think it is a rule that any road trip longer than 1 1/2 hours must include some disaster or series of disasters. Next time, take three months and only drive two hours a day.

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