is good.First, thanks to everyone’s concern for Chipmunk’s head
injury; luckily, she is fine.All she needed was a little basic
First Aid and an ice cream cone, compliments of
We ran some errands on Friday evening and then enjoyed a quiet
evening of tacos and Chipmunk caught up on one of her favorite shows, The Middle (free viewing online, YES!).She stayed up late reading online fan fiction, emails and watching you tube videos while Papa Chip and I snoozed.On Saturday morning, I made her Chocolate Chip pancakes from the Sturdiwheat Pancake mix (with a VASQUE sticker on it) that was a giveaway at a hiking seminar at Bill Jackson’s Outfitters in Pinellas Park,
FL.Sadly, it was the last pack and we’ve been unable to find the
product in any grocery store along the way.(Yes, Yes, I know there
are online resources but it’s difficult to buy and have something shipped to us when we move almost daily.)Hopefully, a Sturdiwheat or Vasque rep
will be at the upcoming Trail Days Festival in Damascus, VA.
We stayed at the camp site as long as we could, charging all our devices.In the pouring rain, Papa Chip disconnected our water and electric supply and dumped our tanks.In the meantime, Chipmunk and I researched a place for her to get a haircut.We quickly realized that it was Saturday and that the normal Monday-Friday-ers had filled the appointment books of many of the salons.We finally found one with an opening and headed there.It was in an older downtown area where the streets were narrow and every corner we turned had to be done with a wide
turn because of the truck’s extra-long wheelbase. Good old Rosie, the GPS, again tried to send us the wrong way and we ended up facing 2 “do not enter” signs with only a parking lot thruway to get us to our desired location.Papa Chip turned into the lot and saw the “height clearance” sign on an odd beam that ran across an arch in the lot. No problem, he thought but he failed to consider the added height of the rooftop air conditioning
Papa Chip drove up and under … er, rather, almost under … the beam.Within seconds, we heard plastic cracking, metal crushing and (the rarely ever heard) Papa Chip cursing. He backed up and then we both jumped out to see what had happened.The beam looked completely unharmed but our rooftop air conditioner looked more like something from a junkyard.Once we confirmed that the beam was fine and realized we had no idea how to contact the owner of the mysterious mid-parking lot beam or the vacant buildings around it, we decided to back out and set a course for the local Lowe’s home improvement store.
We rode mostly in silence, both Papa Chip and I realizing the implications of the 2 second long “beam” invasion in our life. We instructed Chipmunk to keep an eye on Chocolate Chip in the cab while we investigated the inside of the truck camper. Much to our disappointment, the outside damage left its mark on the inside, too.Did I mention the pouring rain earlier?? Yes, it was now raining inside the camper.There was a major leak from the escape hatch/rooftop vent over our bunk that’s above the cab; the sheets and blankets had a solid wet circle about the size of a large dog … and oddly, in the same basic shape, which my weird little mind couldn’t help but
notice. In the center of the camper, between the kitchen sink and the dining table/combo single bunk, there was another light “splayed” puddling where rain dripped through the now open parts above the venting on the rooftop
Papa Chip unlocked our bikes which were attached to the camper’s rooftop access ladder on the back of the camper. He climbed the ladder and even from the ground, the expression on his face told me that this
was not going to be a quick and easy fix.My mind turned to our bank account and then I heard, “get me the wire cutters from the toolbag under the seat”. I found them and passed them up to him. We had parked in a remote area of the parking lot and soon the ground was littered with mangled pieces of metal and chunks of jagged plastic. I found a shopping cart and put all the pieces in it.When he returned to the ground he said, “We’ve got to get a few things to hold us over until the rain stops. ”FYI, this particular Lowe’s was one of the few which didn’t
have an overhang to park under at the contractor’s entrance or we may have tried to do a complete repair then.
We bought a can of expanding foam insulation (I LOVE THAT STUFF!) and a can of rubberized roof repair. We tore off a portion of the free hardy plastic that’s available in the tie down/loading area out front. On Papa Chip’s instruction, I cranked open the vent over our bunk and he pulled the plastic around and under the edges of the vent cover; then I cranked it closed. It immediately reduced the incoming rain to a minimum.Then I passed him the foam insulation spray can and a piece of styrafoam board I had in the camper (to help cushion items and keep them in their place when we are rolling down the road). He used a razor knife to cut the styrafoam to the sizes he needed to fill the open gaps and then sprayed foam insulation into every small gap and hole.Within minutes, the inside leak was now minimal but Papa Chip was soaked to the bone.
I convinced him to come into the camper and put on a dry shirt, at least. He looked at me with and said, “I’m sorry.” I laughed.“Really? It’s no big deal.S*@t happens. We’ll be fine.” He said, “you realize that the a/c is officially DEAD, right?” I said, “Yeah.” He looked miserable. It’s probably just because he’s not used to
things like this happening to him. I’m the official klutz in the family.One time I knocked the rear chrome panel off our old Cadillac when I went to the bank drive thru. Later that same day, Papa Chip stopped to make a deposit and the teller held up the 30x14” chrome piece and said that his wife had left it behind earlier in the day. When he returned home with it, he wasn’t mad. He calmly asked, “why did you leave it behind?”I said, “DUH! If I use
the drive thru because I’m too lazy to walk into the bank, do you really think I’d get out to pick up a car part? And besides, I’d caused enough trouble; it’s best that I just left.” Who could fight that logic?? He laughed and put the panel back on my car.
When we finished the temporary fix on the camper roof, we disposed of all the rooftop debris and drove to the local Walmart, where we planned to dry camp (a funny term, considering our situation). Now, that the leak was temporarily fixed, we turned our minds to dealing with the wet bedding on our bunk. It was only wet on one side, my side. At first, I was going to put our bath towels down to absorb the moisture when I realized that we had the Outgo Microfiber towel that the McNett/Gear Aid rep had bestowed on Chipmunk at the Franklin, NC hiking festival. I spread the towel over the dog shaped wet spot and then set our dish washing bin on top of it. Papa Chip noted that we had extra sleeping bags with us and the spare water repellant down bag may well work well in this situation. We put it down over the wet area, leaving the unzipped edge facing outward so that I could climb in at bedtime.
We ate dinner and then Papa Chip and Chipmunk went into Walmart and rented a $1 Redbox movie to take our minds off the situation at hand. We watched “Beasts of the Southern Wild”. Papa Chip noted how their situation was just a little too familiar at the moment. Although he was somber most of the evening, Chipmunk and I found plenty of things to say and do that made all of us laugh.It’s our family’s way of coping … and as life goes on, we get better and better at it.
Amazingly, I had one of my better nights of sleep. I stayed warm and dry and it was easier to sleep with Chipmunk in the camper rather than out in a hikers’ shelter. Both of the leak areas still had occasional drips but for the most part, the temporary fix had worked. We had awakened early and it was still pouring rain outside.We had looked at the weather forecasts and pre-decided that Chipmunk would have another Zero day if the forecast held; it called for a full day of rain on Sunday. So, we had coffee and a simple breakfast. Papa Chip and Chipmunk returned the movie rental and looked around in Walmart while I read in bed with Chocolate Chip snuggled up at my side. It was quite peaceful reading as the rain fell rhythmically on the camper roof. They returned shortly and excitedly told me how they found 3 dvds in the clearance bin marked 2 cents each … YES, 2 CENTS each … WHAAAAT? The movies were “The Snows of Kilimanjaro”, “The 39 Steps” and “Challenger”. Sweet! (I might have to watch the "Snows" dvd when summer hits and I have no a/c!)
We discussed and decided to return to the campground close to where Chipmunk left off the AT, for several
reasons: 1) we could re-charge electronics, 2) we could use the onsite laundry and dry out our bedding and 3) I’d have internet to try out something I’d been debating: a blog about Chipmunk’s hike instead of daily email updates.
So, we are warm and dry. We are in denial about the rooftop damage and like Scarlett O’Hara, “I can't think about
that right now. If I do, I'll go crazy. I'll think about that tomorrow.”
Thanks again for your interest and support.If you’d like to spend Chipmunk a personal message,
firstname.lastname@example.org. Her Twitter handle is @openlymtngoat and the blog about her former adventure (a 3800+ mile bike ride in 2011) is www.ridethenation.org.
Mama Chip, Papa Chip, Chipmunk and her dog, Chocolate Chip
(Tammy, Jay and Neva Warren and her dog, Coco)
For information about sponsoring Chipmunk on her AT quest, contact Tammy Warren, email@example.com