Are We Gone Yet
Everything was locked and loaded at 9 am sharp, just like we planned. Which we all agreed was a feat of no small magnificence considering the length of our trip (4-ish weeks) and the number of people in our family (6).
The kids eagerly jumped into the car, surrounded by pillows and activity books and snacks, and waited patiently while we hooked up the trailer. Casually and oh so naively, we conducted our perfunctory trailer light check.
Nothing. No brake lights, no turn signals, no running lights.
We told the kids to hang on while we unplugged cords, blew on connectors, jiggled wires, and kept calm. We told them we would fix it while we googled, YouTubed, and searched as many vintage trailer forums as we could find. We told them to go watch tv while we cussed, sighed, and took turns running to the auto parts store.
2 hours in, our best buddy Kev happened to be in the neighborhood and stopped by to see us off. 3 hours, a beer, a couple of iced coffees, and approximately every known swear word and trailer wiring supply later, Kev & Caleb were still out there, tinkering and troubleshooting in vain.
About this time the kids lost heart.
Approximately 8 hours past our ETD and no closer to solving the riddle of the malfunctioning lights, Kev had to take off. We had replaced as many things on the 12v wiring system as we could buy from O'Reilly auto parts, except the 7-pin connector which our continuity tester told us was working fine. (Btw, I now know way more about our trailer's wiring than I ever wanted to.) In one last desperate effort, Caleb decided to replace the connector, and if it didn't work we'd have to reevaluate the whole plan for the trip. Like, Thule and hotel instead of camp, which is to say, crush my dream of taking my kids on the Great American Camping Road Trip and ruin our summer and our lives.
After more YouTube, more trailer forums, more trial and error, more cussing, and more precious TIME), we replaced the connector, plugged it in, and held our breath. Success! For one shining, glorious moment, all the lights were lit! We threw everyone back into the car, pulled to the end of the driveway, stopped to lock up, and realized the running lights were no longer working. Brake lights and turn signals were still good, though, so we said screw it, we can get to Missoula before dark.
At exactly zero dark thirty pm, we blew into the Missoula KOA, which, while not the rustic haven of #wanderlust glamor instagram fantasies are made of, was 200 miles closer to Nashville than our driveway and was therefore perfect.
Day 1 of #mannanroadtrip2017 ended with s'mores around a campfire in Montana, so, with the help of our family misadventure spirit guide Clark Griswold, we did it!