Bridget and I are presently camped at Painted Rock Campground and Petroglyph Site, southwest of Phoenix and west of Gila Bend, Arizona, about eleven miles north of Interstate 8. After discovering the Perfect Tow Vehicle is stuck in “park,” I locate a fellow camper, Bill, who offers to take a look at the problem in the morning.
“Looks like it’s going to be a beautiful day, Bridge,” I announce as we step outside the Best Little Trailer around seven-thirty in the morning. “Clear, blue sky, no wind, warmer than yesterday . . . .”
We follow our usual morning routine.
Around eight-thirty I’m sitting at the rear of the BLT, laptop open in front of me, replying to blog comments and drinking a cup of coffee.
I don’t want to bother Bill too early in the morning about the PTV. I’ll give him a little more time to start his day before going over to his campsite.
Knowing that someone with a knowledge of auto mechanics has offered to help puts my mind at ease.
I hope Bill can figure out what the problem is. Maybe it’s that dang shifting cable that needed adjustment right after I bought the PTV. Better wait until Bill is here before starting the engine to check the fluid level. Maybe he’ll want to look at something while the engine is cold . . . .
As I’m ruminating on the situation and typing replies to comments, I hear an RV approach our campsite.
“Gee, maybe that’s him!”
I rush to the door.
Sure enough, it’s Bill’s Class A motor home with two slides and with a toad pulled behind. I stand in the doorway of the BLT and watch as Bill’s RV continues on its way on the campground loop, over to the exit, and out onto the main road.
“Wha? He LEFT? He didn’t even stop?” I stare in disbelief as Bill’s RV disappears around a hill.
“Well, I’ll be darned. The guy says he’ll be here and then he leaves.”
Eventually I accept his departure.
Can’t blame him for not wanting to fool with my problem. He’s under no obligation to me.
“I guess we’re back to square one, Bridge.”
I start up the PTV’s engine and check the transmission fluid.
Hmm . . . Fluid looks good. I close the hood, try to shift again without success, and turn off the engine.
“Come here, babe. Let me put you in your suit. We need to go for our morning walk.”
Here comes that guy who didn’t have any transmission fluid when I asked yesterday. (Actually I had asked his daughter and she in turn stuck her head inside their travel trailer and asked him.) I wonder what he wants.
“Hi! You’re the one with the transmission problem, right?” he asks as he approaches.
“Yeah, that’s me.”
He leads me toward our campsite.
“I looked over at your van this morning and I see that it’s parked on an incline. You can’t get it out of park, right? I grew up on a farm and we had a tractor that would do that all the time. I’m pretty sure I know what the problem is. Let me take a look at it.”
My hopes, recently dashed by the departure of Bill, shoot up again.
“That would be great!”
He asks me to start up the engine and try again to shift “so I can see what’s going on.” (I suspect he doesn’t want to ask if I remember to put my foot on the brake pedal.)
In a very easy-on-the-ears, soft, regional accent — hmm, Virgina maybe? — he lays out our course of action.
“Okay. I tell you what. I’m going to get my tow strap. You unhitch and I’ll be right back. I’ll pull the van forward. We need to take the pressure off.”
Before he leaves I introduce myself. “By the way, I’m Sue.”
We shake hands. “I’m Ken. Pleased to meet you, Sue.”
I remove the anti-sway bar and unlock the hitch lock.
I unplug both power cables and unhook the emergency break-away cable. I set out the cone for the jack to rest on. By the time I’m turning the crank to lift the coupler off the hitch ball, Ken has walked back.
“I could’ve sworn I had that tow strap with me,” he says.
As I crank, the hitch ball rises along with the coupler. It does that sometimes. Only this time it lifts more than usual.
“This thing (meaning the coupler) is going to pop loose any second now,” I comment to Ken, as I continue cranking.
He stands on the other side of the hitch, nodding and grinning.
POP! The hitch disengages and the rear end of the PTV jounces.
Ken remarks, with what seems to me like amazing confidence for the situation, “It’s gonna’ shift now.”
I hurry around the front of the PTV and hop into the driver’s seat.
Ken stands at the open door beside me as I start the engine.
Just for good measure, I talk to the PTV.
“C’mon, baby. Be good to me!”
I pull the shift lever into drive.
“OH, THANK GOD! What a relief!”
Ken and I chat for a few minutes.
“That’s where your accent comes from!”
The first time Ken saw the desert he fell in love with it.
Years later, his daughter, Jamie, chooses Arizona State University.
“That was when home prices were really low. We bought her a house to live in while going to college. Then my wife and I thought, “If we’re ever going to move to the desert, now’s a good time.”
They presently live in Queen River, Arizona, and never want to leave the Southwest.
“Well, I’d better be going,” Ken says. “I need to fix breakfast.”
“Oh, no! You haven’t had your breakfast yet?”
I thank him again before he leaves.
What a blessing. I take a deep breath. I am SO glad I didn’t have to call for a tow . . .
Later, I move the BLT to a new campsite.
I decide to stay at Painted Rock for two more nights. It’s very pleasant here. We’ll leave on New Year’s Day.
I put out the mat, drive in the stakes at its corners, set out my lounger and place Bridget’s bed on the mat.
I jump up and give them a hearty, happy wave goodbye.
THANK YOU FOR SHOPPING AMAZON FROM MY BLOG!
And congratulations to those readers who guessed the cause of the shifting problem!