Trudy Andrew | Canadian Author

Travel Tails

The Adventure Continues

Way back when we broke down in Winnemucca Nevada, the place was a good deal different, from what it looks like today. From what I understand, the Winnemucca we experienced then, is a good deal different now. Now there are hotels, all kinds of services, things to do. When we were there, it was more of a three-legged dog, tobacco chewing sort of place. A land of rifle-toting rednecks that made the hair rise on the back of your neck. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
The second I spied all the derelict Fords, parked absolutely everywhere, my stress level began to ebb, at least somewhat. If I had to, I’d fix the dang van myself. Better yet, anyone with that many vehicles was likely a mechanical handyman. The evidence was everywhere, visible signs that projects were in progress abounded. I wasn’t about to take no for an answer. We were broke down in the middle of nowhere, and here was a veritable cornucopia of used parts! Whoever lived in the old bar, and tinkered on these vehicles was the person we needed.
I have a policy that has stood me well over the years, well mostly anyways, and it’s this. Make a decision and run with it, worry about the consequences later. After all, it’s way easier to apologize later, than ask permission beforehand.
I drove into the yard, with fingers crossed.
Out came the tinkerer himself, and as I talked to him, his wife joined us. At first he was reluctant to help me out. He was worried about being sued. I assured him that in the first place, I was confident that he would be able to fix what ailed my poor camper van. I said what I felt, and most convincingly as the truckload of young men with rifles slowly drove by. I said that he was similar to my husband and likely mechanically handy. The truth was there to be seen, in the vehicles they drove. They were older, yet he kept them on the road. The real clincher was, when his wife realized that we were Canadian. She was, too! Looking at him, she put her foot down, “you’re fixing this van for them!”
End of story and any further convincing. He would repair the van.
It was too late in the day to work on it right then and there, so we were prepared to chill a bit, and by chill, I mean melt in the dry heat. They weren’t at all keen on the idea of us sleeping in the camper.
“You have to be careful, whenever you leave it,” they warned, “there could be rattlesnakes. Please stay in the cottage. It has a bathroom and running water, and there are a hundred movies in there. It’s safer than out here. We insist. ”
As much as we didn’t want to put them out, being reminded of snakes, easily swayed me. The idea of having to tiptoe through rattlesnakes wasn’t at all appealing. The cottage it would be.
As it turned out, the cottage was pretty well perfect. There was a tiny kitchenette, a bathroom with shower, both of which are pretty wonderful to have access to, and a bedroom with a double bed. What else could one possibly need? I mean, other than a television, and at least a hundred movies. There was no television service out there back then, so movies were the way to go.
Settling onto the bed after refreshing showers, I was ready to watch a movie, sweetpea got her homework out. By now it was pitch black outside. Our generous hosts had retired to their ex-bar now home, and we were exhausted from a long day. It was really nice to be able to wind down. Well into a movie, while the girlchild focused on her schoolwork, we both jumped at the sound of a huge ruckus. Not a word of a lie, it sounded like wild animals trying to get in through the roof! We couldn’t help it, both of us had our gaze drawn to the door in the ceiling that clearly provided access to some sort of attic space. Wide-eyed, sweetpea and I looked at each other.
“It can’t get in, can it?” she worriedly asked, her gaze returning to the ceiling.
I was wondering myself, as the bedlam continued. Of course I couldn’t let on that I was wondering the same thing.
“I seriously doubt it,” I assured, even as I contemplated opening the door, and seeing if I could chase whatever dangerous critter off. After all, we were in the middle of Nevada desert. Any number of strange, exotic beasts was likely atop the cottage. The imagination easily ran wild. Just as I was about ready to go see for myself, the noise increased exponentially for a minute. The homeowner added his voice to the din, and it worked. He hollered for whatever it was to clear off, and surprisingly, it did! Silence returned, and remained for the rest of the night. I would like to say that we slept well, but that would be a lie. Lying there in the dark, it was impossible to keep from looking up at that ceiling, and wondering.
Up bright and early the next morning, we stepped out into a beautiful day, only to find the van already taken apart. I so wanted to ask what had tried to break through the cottage roof during the night, yet felt a bit foolish and didn’t. A minute later, I was ever so glad that I’d held my tongue for once.
Looking up as we walked over, he smiled, “Good morning. I hope those darn cats didn’t wake you?”
It suddenly made so much sense. No wild, imaginary creatures had been trying to get in. It was a simple case of, cats on a hot tin roof!
“We weren’t asleep yet,” I honestly answered. There was no way, no way at all that I was about to admit what we’d really thought, cats indeed!
A few minutes later, his wife was driving me to the nearest city for parts, while sweetpea stayed behind. We returned to find the place teeming with children. That tiny, desert community was alive with the sound of laughter and children playing. We met the family of our hosts, and fully enjoyed getting to know them, while the van was repaired. While we were gone getting a new bearing and race, he’d pulled off all the wheels of the trailer to check and grease those bearings, as well as the other three wheels of the van. We left there secure in the knowledge that everything had been checked over, and was seen to. Wheels were properly tightened after grease was applied, and we were ready to roll.
Of course we paid him for his work, as he’d saved our butts, and we left behind a gift basket as well. We always brought along baskets filled with things typically Canadian, to give as gifts of thanks and appreciation. Having learned from our very first trip that many wouldn’t accept cash to put up a horse for the night, or for allowing us to park the camper van, we were prepared ahead of time. Cash might be refused, but a special gift basket never was.
Leaving them, we happily headed towards home, blissfully unaware that the trip would be far from trouble free. Luck, bad luck, wasn’t done with us yet!

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About Trudy Andrew

Trudy Andrew lives on a small farm just east of Winnipeg, Manitoba, where she enjoys her Morgan horses. A dreamer since she was a child, its no surprise to those who know her well that her imagination would find an outlet in writing, as it has in the past through artwork.
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 Oakbank, MB