I have never yet said no to a road trip in America. If you are moving across country and need to split the drive or have a wedding to go 4 states away and need a date, then I am your man. The lure of a long 2 lane high way stretching out in front of me, unhealthy road snacks and endless playlists and audiobooks has always been too much to refuse.
I love the way that is so easy to travel long distances by car in the United States. Growing up in the UK meant that the suggestion of traveling more than two or three hours by car would be met by an intake of breath, a shake of the head and an anecdote about ‘that time I got stuck on the M25 for 6 hours while trying to make it to the seaside’. It is not even possible to drive more that 8 or 10 hours in any direction in Britain before one falls off the edge of our small island. It is possible to drive 13 hours just across the state of Texas out here. It is car travel on a different scale.
Therefore, when my friends Heather and Josh asked me to help them move to Portland from Chicago by driving a truck filled with all their stuff towing their car 2000 miles across the country I didn’t refuse. Josh and I would drive out in the truck and Heather fly out with their young son, Luke, a few days later.
Our plan was to head off in the late afternoon on Sunday 9th August and reach Portland on Thursday 13th.
At least that was the plan.
We had already had a busy day. After a delayed journey and some unexpectedly long stops, Josh, Heather, Luke our friend Maria and myself had all returned from a wedding in Michigan that afternoon. We had stopped long enough for me to do some laundry (to avoid travelling in dirty clothes all week), grab some food and pack the last items into the truck and car before Josh and I hit the road.
Goodbyes were said between Father, Son, Wife and friends then we were off to pick up the trailer on which we would put the car. That is where we hit a problem. We arrived as the rental location after it had closed, as was the arrangement, to find the trailer waiting just in the right place for us to back up, hook up and drive off.
It was only once we had sweated to get the thing connected and the car loaded that we noticed a problem. The trailer has a brake which only engages if it becomes detached from the vehicle. It is not possible to reset this brake once it has been triggered, at least not without the requisite tools…so we found. The brake had been tripped and we had nothing with which to realign it. After a thirty minute wait for a call back from Budget we were told there was nothing they could do before 7.30am the next morning. However, it was during this 30 minute wait that I noticed that the trailer had zero brake fluid in it, nothing, not a drop. I can only imagine what would have happened if the brake had not been tripped and we had driven off without noticing this. Thank fully we did not but there was no way that we would be able to leave tonight.
There was nothing left to do but to return to Jay and Phil’s house, our wonderful hosts from the afternoon, and wait until the morning.
It was disappointing as we wanted to get a head start on our journey and at least make it out of Illinois today but, safety first. The wait is worth it if it means that we get the right equipment for the job.
We begin our epic journey tomorrow.