A Pox on California Roads . . . and Hula Hoops

Oh no, I hear you say. What’s wrong with these people?

As disasters go, it wasn’t our most terrifying ordeal, but still:

“That doesn’t look right.”

“What?”

“The runner. Look. It’s cracked.”

After a lunch time stop at a rest area, Jimmy made one of his routine equipment checks. Our rear slide/bed-in-a-drawer rolls into the body of our trailer when we’re bouncing along much like a drawer hung on wheels with two metal runners screwed to the ceiling.

The weight of the bed had ripped the runner off the ceiling. It was bent and cracked but the screw was still firmly in the ceiling, achieving nothing, a bit like us standing there staring at it with our hands on our hips.

If the runner broke the bed would drop onto the dinette and sofa rendering all three unusable. Our already bijou living space would be reduced to a galley kitchen big enough for one and a quarter people, a closet bathroom and one bed, with all our vital paperwork, including passports, and half our pantry supplies trapped under the immovable slide.

To make matters worse the vital screw was in at an angle and the rigid runner was bent just enough so the screw head was not visible.

In other words, instead of the runner, we were screwed.

With limited headroom and the screw playing peek-a-boo under the runner Jimmy stood on the dinette seat and bent over backwards while my arms threaded through his to pull on the runner.  We looked like a vertical game of Twister. I had visions of his foot going through the flimsy fiberboard under the cushion and breaking his ankle on the toaster in the drawer underneath.

The idea was to put a washer on the screw and screw the runner back to the ceiling, thus taking the strain off the crack. Easy. Except . . .

“I can’t see it!”

Eventually I am kneeling on the kitchen counter with my head forced over by the ceiling and my neck at snapping point. I can pull the runner across, see the damn screw, engage the screwdriver in the screw head, it’s in! and hand over to  Jimmy to grunt and twist the screwdriver with all his might.

But the screw wouldn’t turn.

He took a big breath and “erghhhhhhh!” The screw still wouldn’t turn.

Another big breath and “ERGHHHHHHHH!!!!” The screwdriver popped out of the still stationary screw head stripping the vital cross head a little. My advice to push up on the screwdriver was rewarded with one of his oh so withering looks.

After half a dozen attempts to turn the screw, Jimmy was gasping, drenched in sweat and shaking with the effort and bloody awkwardness of it all.

“What were you grunting for?” he accused me between gasps of breath.

“You try kneeling on the counter with your back arched and your neck breaking and face smashed on the ceiling while pulling with all your might and see if you don’t grunt!” I snarled back at him.

This graceless exchange seemed not to give offense to either party, simply vented a little frustration.

I had also knelt painfully on a varicose vein which I had suddenly developed the week before while playing with my new hula hoop.

After a few successful twizzles ‘round my waist I thought I was twelve years old again and tried to hoop around my knees. It immediately dropped below my knees, twirled on a perfectly sound piece of leg, upset a vein, which then popped up angrily to complain at my stupidity.

The purple lumpy mass looked ready to explode and scared me half to death. I spent the next two days with my leg raised and a cold gel pack on it to sooth the vein back down. Idiot.

Reduced to a bruise on my leg the vein didn’t appreciate my kneeling on it so I half knelt, half lifted myself on the other leg, arched my back, squashed my face on the ceiling, pulled the runner to line it up with the screw and grunted. Who wouldn’t?

We tried again. And again. Several more times. The screw wouldn’t budge.

“We’re in the middle of nowhere.”

“Yeah.”

“These rough California roads have caused the problem.”

“I know.”

“You know we can’t push the slide back in now.”

“Yes.”

“The runner will break.”

“I know.”

”And we can’t travel with the slide out.”

“I know.”

“And there isn’t much water in the tank and the batteries are knackered.”

“I KNOW.”

What now?

. . . . to be continued . . . no, not for weeks and weeks like Airport Gestapo, just one more episode. I’m only thinking of you. I don’t want you to get eye strain.

Bed slide on travel trailer
See that thing sticking out the back? No! Not him! That’s Jimmy sweeping acorns off the roof. I mean see the bed slide previous to the cracked runner incident. He pushed it in with ease that time. Happy days!”

52 thoughts on “A Pox on California Roads . . . and Hula Hoops

  1. Like Bulldog, I think I want to read the next instalment before I comment. I’m almost afraid to look!

    I had no idea California roads were bad. I assumed that without our extreme freeze/thaw cycle, they would be smooth as a baby’s bum.

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    1. I believe they’ve had no money spent on them since . . . ever. And for what you would assume to be a wealthy state they have the worst roads in the country. Maybe the potholed roads up north are worse now but at least they’ll be fixed. Won’t they?

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      1. I thought there was an issue with California’s tax laws and even though it’s a ‘wealthy’ state in terms of the people who live there, the amount of tax collected is very low.
        As much as we all HATE taxes, there are certain conveniences we really like to have – like roads.

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  2. Glad you do relate the “interesting bits.” They always seem funnier when looking back at them, don’t they? In the moment, not so much. Sounds painful. 😦

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  3. I do so appreciate you adding to my joy at living in a sticks and bricks. You keep this up and you will be seeing that estate agent. I know driving a beast like that around would kill me for sure, not to mention the stress of hauling your worldly possessions everywhere you go.

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  4. Hired movers to carry my son’s earthly possessions to California and all they talked about was how CA had the worst roads in the country. Said they knew as soon as they crossed the state line even without a sign! Can’t wait to hear the rest of the tale….

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  5. ‘Vertical Twister’ ….love that phrase almost as much as the vision you created of your husband breaking his foot on the toaster. You do make the RV life sound appealing. 🙂

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  6. Gotta love the California roads, especially when hauling a trailer – YIKES! Have almost lost the propane tank and awning off the camper, the bike rack in the truck bed has come undone, and totally shredded a tire on the camper too. The joys of road traveling and more adventure than you need at times too.

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    1. More adventure than I need! I like that. Himself drove in the middle lane approaching San Franciso because the slow lane was just so awful and was juddering my brains out. A copper pulled up next to us and gestured nastily for us to change lanes. I thought my head was going to come off my neck before we got to our campsite.

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      1. I feel equal achievement when the maintenance staff at the hotel fixes my problems. Case in point NYC last week. Tues morning I realized there was no hair dryer I the room. Ring ring…hello, front desk…HELP ME!!! 🙂

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  7. Ok do I wait till next post before I comment or do I do it now?? Well I suppose not knowing the final outcome maybe it should wait… going into hospital tomorrow, so I hope it’s not too long await for you for my wise words of wisdom…

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        1. Not really! Still could be France. But I’m ready to visit an estate agent as soon as my feet hit British soil and buy a house. Unfortunately it’s not entirely my decision. Although I have my ways!

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