TEMPORARY SETBACK

On a rainswept highway in southern Texas our trip came to a sudden and unexpected end.

On Friday, the 13th of March, 1998 we left Mission TX in route home, after a 70 day adventure. It was a cool morning with a slight drizzle. US 281 traveling north is one of those non-descriptive highways that are often pictured in road runner cartoons. Straight flat and coming to a dot in the far distance. Miles and miles of nothing on either side. Roll-over in Texas. It had been a good morning, all was well and I was feeling comfortable. Without much consideration, I settled into a relaxed position for the pending 360 mile trip to our next stop north of Dallas. I curled my feet up under the seat, as I locked in the cruise control to 55 mph. Several minutes later, without reason or warning the cruise control decided to increase the vehicle speed, and subsequently sent 800 additional rpm to the transmission. I might as well have done a wheelie. Roll-over in Texas. The rear tires broke traction with the road surface, which sent the rpm up over 4800, as the wheels spun madly out of control, and the truck now hydroplaning began itís slow rotation to the right. My first thought was to disengage the cruise control, as I unfolded my legs from under the seat and struck out at the break pedal. I accomplished this, but the side effect was to lock up all 4 tires thus increasing the hydroplaning and I now found myself at nearly a 45 degree angle to the road while still traveling straight. There is a device installed with the trailer that is designed to correct this. Roll-over in Texas. On the dash board just below the wheel is an additional break switch which only activates the electric brakes on the trailer. To apply this brake would have slowed the trailer thus pulling the truck back in line. In what I am sure was an act of desperation, I lunged forward in the seat, reaching for the break switch. My aggressive action was sufficient to lock the seat belt with my finger only inches from the switch. It was in that position that the vehicle, having lost itís cruise control, regained contact with the road and shot off the shoulder and out into the Texas flatlands. Roll-over in Texas. The truck quickly mired in the mud and steering was lost, as the truck continued itís slow right turn dragging the trailer behind. The mud, now reaching the axle as a result of my sideways slide became a large suction cup locking the tuck in place. The trailer, having for the most part, traveled in the direction of its wheels, had not yet sunk in, and as such had to go somewhere. As we came to a stop, the force was too great and the trailer rolled over on itís side, ripping free from the embedded truck in the process. It must have been a horrific sight for those following us, as they pulled to a stop along side the road and waded into the muck , bent on our rescue. But there was nothing to rescue. Roll-over in Texas. The trailer lay silently on itís side, the truck, still held firmly in the mud, itís bed looking like the aftermath of some terroristís bomb, and Laura and I neatly locked in our seat belts with nary so much as a scratch. After about the second or third repeat of "Are you OK", "Yeah, are you OK", I got out and walked back away to survey the mess in itís entirety. It was the closest I would come to crying. The rest of that hour was more or less a blur, as traveler after traveler would stop and rush over to give aid where needed. I remember toward the end, as the first of many police cruisers arrived I was repeating the same expression, "No treatable injuries". Roll-over in Texas. I was unaware of Laura who remained in the truck, quietly making the necessary phone calls on her cell phone. The arrival of the police ended the stream of would be rescuers and the traffic congestion soon cleared, leaving me to face my own feelings for failing to prevent this devastation. It has now been almost a month since that fateful day and I am just now willing to write about what happened, although hardly a day went by over the following weeks that I didnít find myself reliving the incident and attempting to rationalize my actions. Laura was an absolute champ through and through, She had taken a towing insurance policy out over my objections, and had two wreckers on the way before the police arrived. Roll-over in Texas. It would be six hours before we would get back to Corpus Christi. During that time we stood in the rain and watched the wrecker crew do an impressive job of righting the trailer and removing the truck from itís self dug grave. She got into the trailer just before it was pulled back to the road. I now know what a house trailer owner feels like after a tornado. It brought a whole new meaning to the word "trashed". Mayonnaise and cold slaw plastered over every wall and floor. Broken glasses, mirrors and doors. I just turned away and left. Laura entered and recovered the basis necessities of life, piling them into the wreckers. The rest was pretty dull. The ride back was long and lonely, with Laura in one wrecker and I in the other. We arrived back at the wrecker co. after 6 and the Dodge dealer was closed. There was nothing else to do. We called a cab, went to the airport and rented a car, found a room at the Corpus Christi Inn laid down and fell asleep till morning. Laura was back on the phone as soon as we got up. Calling insurance companies, as we had one for the truck and another for the trailer, and getting everything rolling. Roll-over in Texas. I found myself staring at the blank wall again going over and over in my mind the events leading to the crash as if I could find some way to change them. The next few days were monotonous as we traveled from restaurant to hotel room and back again. It was in Corpus Christi that we had spent the longest time and although we had seen much of it, we had no desire to visit the rest for fear of marring the memory with the wreck. As each day passed, Laura would go back to the trailer and salvage the remaining valuables, placing what could be taken in boxes she had picked up along the way. I went on the first day, but there was really only room for one or so I justified and the reminder of the wreck stared me in the face at every turn. I would return only one more time, leaving most of the salvage operation to Laura who dauntlessly charged on through, doing what had to be done.

The days passed and finally the trailer insurance co. came through with it estimate. The trailer had been totaled. The truck would take months to fix as a new bed was needed and the closest one was in Detroit. At least it was a direction out of limbo. We rented a truck and made our last trip to the trailer to clean it out completely. Then we returned the rented car and started the three day trek back to Cincinnati in the truck. Roll-over in Texas. In the days and weeks that followed there was much thinking and talking as I slowly threw off the effects of the depression I had been suffering and began looking at the whole trip as recorded on the web site. It became obvious that the trip, excluding the disaster was hugely successful and wildly enjoyable, worth every bit of the effort required. Recently we broke the ice and returned to the trailer showrooms hunting for a replacement. We hope to be back on the road, recording our adventures before the end of summer. None the worse for wear, but wiser in the ways of trailering.

Thatís the story. As to whether or not I will include it on the web-site is not known yet. But it is now in my past where it shall stay, as another bit of history in the long story of our adventures on the open road.

***THE END?***