June 3, 2015
I found myself sitting at the campsite, slightly drunk after enjoying a glass of wine, thinking what else could go wrong? When we were packing, I figured we didn’t need the old matches that were in our camping kit. We had a nice lighter; however, I didn’t realize that the lighter was almost empty (oops). I was able to use it to light the mosquito coil, but wasn’t sure how much longer it would last. Fortunately, the camp stove in the rental van (named Vance) only needed a spark to start, that is, it didn’t need a flame. So, as long as we could light the camp stove, we could use it to light a fire. I had thought that perhaps we could use the cigarette lighter in Vance, but modern cars don’t come with cigarette lighters anymore!
It was chilly out, so I had planned to make a chicken soup broth to go with dinner. When we setup the camp stove we discovered that it leaked! Now, this wasn’t our camp stove, it was the camp stove that came in the rental van – for which we only had one set of keys – we left both of our fully functional camp stoves at home (a four hour drive away). Fortunately, I had bought baguette and salami at the grocery store before we left, and we also had an assortment of cheeses and fresh fruit. We could easily make dinner without the camp stove – breakfast on the other hand was going to be a challenge.
As I prepared dinner, I noticed that Vance’s doors were open. The mosquitoes were starting to get bad, and I didn’t want the van full of them as that is where I planned to sleep. The whole reason we rented Vance was so that I didn’t have to sleep on the ground. I walked over and closed the doors, then went back to making dinner. As I chopped up fruit, Scott was chopping up wood to make kindling for the fire. He went to grab something from the van, only to discover it was locked! The key was prominently displayed inside the van on the dash. This too happened due to a comedy of errors – Scott had been trying to reprogram the key so that it would not beep when the doors were locked. In doing this, he had inadvertently left the doors in a locked state. It did not occur to me to even check the doors, as we had been leaving the van unlocked when we were at the campsite.
So, there we were, with dinner half ready, locked out of the van, at a campground in the middle of no where (Calaveras Big Trees State Park), with no cell phone coverage – not that it mattered as both our phones were locked in the van – my immediate thought was that we were screwed. Taking stock of the situation, we realized that we did have the tent and sleeping bags. We could sleep OK with what we had, however, in the morning we’d be in the same stuck state – locked out of Vance. We asked around the campground for a hanger and only came across plastic ones. In reality neither of us knew how to use a hanger to open the door.
Fortunately, Scott did find a kind soul, who drove him into town (about 6 miles away) where he was able to phone for a tow truck to come out and unlock us. Upon return, we finished our dinner (and the bottle of wine) and waited. The tow truck was supposed to be there in about 30 minutes, but an hour had passed. It got dark, so we started the campfire. We sat next to the campfire and enjoyed the moment, while waiting for the tow truck.
Fortunately, the tow truck did eventually find us. It took him longer to process our credit card than it did to open the door. He used a balloon thing, fed it through a crack, inflated the balloon, then used a stick of some sort to press the “unlock” button. That had never occurred to me … in my mind opening a locked door involved using something to lift the lock nob, which no longer exist in most cars. So, $165 later, we were able to get back into the van, and the night ended on a positive note … with Becky happily tucked into bed in the back of the van and Scott sleeping in the tent. Becky even had an idea on how we might make hot water for breakfast in the morning …