The next morning we woke up to a sound on my back bumper. Crawling to the back of the van I realized that we were literally surrounded by cows.
We had found a campsite that was free and about fifteen minutes from the sand dunes and I had decided that I wanted to go ahead and see the dunes during the day to get the full experience instead of just at night so we camped out and got up early to hit the dunes before it got super busy. But being woken up to a scratching sound was not my favorite thing in the world. I thought we were being broken into and I was ready to fight someone when I got up.
With the realization that we were surrounded by cows and scaring the **** out of him to stop rubbing on my van, I got up and started the day. It was easy enough, get up, get changed, go to the sand dunes and take Lylah out there for some fun. We spent about an hour out there just walking on the dunes and enjoying the time of freedom she had but within an hour it was becoming apparent that it was getting too hot and I remembered why I hate sand but for the experience, it was worth the time out there. Lylah got to run around and be free before we started to make our way to New Mexico.
Now I have never been to New Mexico and I was kind of excited to see it and to explore a little bit before making the long 23 hours to get home. So driving around I decide to swing into a few little towns and on the way, I saw the Rio grande. Stopped and took a few photos and then continued on my way. Really I was just wanting to see what I could before we did a hike for the day but then guess what happened...at a half tank of gas...the van started acting weird...again.
So concerned I pulled into the gas station and filled it up and continued on my way. The gas situation was getting worse. Not happy and worried I decided to go ahead and skip the trail since it was another hour away from getting on the road which would make it a little over 24 hours to get back. So skipping that I Decided to make my way back to the main road to head home. Then the most heart-wrenching thing happened.
I was in the middle of traffic and suddenly the van starts to shake and sputter. Unsure of what was happening and thinking it was the gas thing I look at my gauge and it's barely moved. What the actual ****?
In a frenzy, I call my dad and put him on speaker and I start talking to him about what's happening. The van is shaking and my tank is practically full. We start talking about what's going on and there is a suspicion it's the fuel pump. Dad has a suburban and the engines are the same model and everything so he was also having some issues out west with it and he suspecting something funky was going on with the elevation and heat factor on the fuel pump in both vehicles. As we're talking suddenly the van stops working....at a stoplight...surrounded by cars. I'm panicking because now traffic is starting to move and I can't get the van to turn back on. At this point, I'm screaming that the van won't turn on and yelling at people around me, even though they can't hear me, and I managed to navigate this giant vehicle into a gas station on my right (luckily it was on a downhill) and someone was kind enough to let me in there with no hassle.
With my Dad on the phone, I pull into a parking area and put it in the park, and sit there. My lord, this was not ok. Taking a deep breath and finally calming down I turn the key and he fires up. Dumbfounded I sit in the lot letting it idle to see if it does it a second time while talking to my Dad. He tells me that when I get back to the lower elevation to let him know if it's still giving me issues and we can go from there. Taking a moment I thank him and apologize for screaming on the phone and hang up. Now I just had 23 hours of hopefully no problems getting home.
This trip taught me a lot about this vehicle and what needs to be fixed and it gave me an idea of what to look out for in the future when it comes to future travels or full-time travel. In honesty, I really hate having this happen because almost ****ting myself every time this does go down is ridiculous and I've never felt this way when going places and I don't want to continue to experience it. So of course the plan is to get it fixed so that I can travel with more ease but first, paying off that transmission I paid for.
With the half- Marathon was finally completed and our bodies aching we continued onward with our trip. We made sure to see other sites, got lots of good food, and made our way back to Gimli who is now done with getting the transmission fixed. Happy that we got to the race finished but sad that I have to pay a bunch of money for the fix we arrive in swift time. I split the transaction as much as I can and suck up the hurt that was coming my way. It wasn't fun but I had to pay the people who assisted me with this mess up.
Paying the dues and getting the keys to the vehicle I start him up and we go get some dinner to fill our bellies and say our goodbyes. I knew that I wanted to go check out the sand dunes in Colorado so that was my next stop. So Giving my dad a big hug I started on the path towards sand and adventure. Side note: I hate sand...really really hate it.
Even though my heart was heavy from the amount I paid I kept in mind that the transmission now has a warranty and that I should feel good about it being fixed and new. I wouldn't get stranded and it could have happened at any time. I got lucky with where it happened and I'm glad that it was in an area where I could get somewhere for help without much issue. Looking back at Lylah I knew that going to the sand dunes was going to be a good way to let out her excess energy. Plus I mean I just wanted to explore and just relax after all the craziness that we had been through.
I get about 45 minutes in and suddenly the van stops going up. To get to the sand dunes you have a bunch of hills and panicking with the fact that I just paid over $3000 to get this transmission fixed I spaced any other issues it might be having. My very first initial reaction is that the guys were smoking something while working on my van and ****ed something up. I was about to explode. I was stepping on the gas peddle and it would lurch forward with no warning and go for a little bit and then stop working. After about ten minutes of this, I finally decide to pull over and call good old dad.
Unsure of what else is wrong he tells me I can meet him in Colorado Springs so he can take a look and see if he can get any codes on it and see what was going on. Defeated I hang up and turn around. I just couldn't win. After about ten minutes I realize that the van isn't doing anything. It's running normally but all downhill. Confused I text my dad to see if I should go there now or not. He tells me it's up to me.
Thinking about all the troubles I've had with this van I decide to say **** it and turn around. I wanted to do something new with this trip and it was going to happen. So I turn back around and try to list the things I know are wrong with it. Only one thing comes to mind. The gas tank.
In the past Gimli has ****ed up going uphill. I'll have a quarter or more of gas and it will randomly stop working while on a hill even though it's full or has more than enough gas in it. So thinking that may be the case I found the closest gas station and pulled in and as soon as I did the van died....five feet from the pump. Getting my little one gallon out I put some gas in it and pull up to the pump. Filling it up all the way we finally set on our way to the sand dunes. I was hoping that I would be able to see the dunes and maybe shoot some star shots as well.
Getting out there I was surprised at how big it was. I wasn't sure what to really expect but I was excited to shoot some stars and just enjoy some time out there in the grand sand dunes of Colorado.
For about an hour Lylah got to run around and play in the sand and when we were done there we went back to the van and sat in it waiting for it to get dark enough to go shoot. Once it was dark we headed back out and enjoyed the night sky. It was beautiful and definitely worth the extra scare from Gimli to make it happen.
So there is something about getting up super early for a race, especially in Yellowstone. Now mind you I haven't ran a real race since my dad moved away so for me this was bringing back memories and I normally do a lot better running in a race than just on my own. It's just that races are difficult to come by in this day and age with Covid being the way it is and really the "pandemic" sucks the fun out of it but when it comes to running in a national park (well just outside of it in this case) I was all in.
The only real downside? Waking up at 4:45. Oh, yea it was an early start to get over to the start line and we needed to be caffeinated for our start. Being this early and knowing I was about to put myself through a difficult race I told myself over and over that it was going to be ok. YOu would wake up and be ready to rock this race. After all, you spent six months training, three weeks of detoxing and being good with your diet, and just making sure to not over-push beforehand. Everything should be fine? Yea?
Once we were at the parking lot we sat in the car letting our bodies be caffeinated. Soon we did our normal routine of going to the bathroom and then doing small stretches and finally go to the start line.
As soon as we walked up the race started. Now the race states that there is one major hill and one minor hill in the race so you need to train for it. We did our best to do that and to keep in mind that we also had elevation gain to account for. SO I decided to take my dad's advice and keep my watch on the zones part of the watch so I could check throughout the race to make sure I didn't go into zone 5 before the hill was over. The minor hill wasn't more than 100 of elevation gain maybe 200 but this other one was a lot larger and more difficult. Looking at the profiles It looked like the hill started at mile 6 and was over by mile 7.
First off, why the mother of god the profile was set up this way, I don't know but let me state right now it was wrong. So wrong.
I get to mile 5 and suddenly the route becomes an incline and not any little incline but a pretty decent size hill that looks like it stops going up and flattens for a second around the bend. So throwing myself into the hill I keep myself at an even pace and start running up this hill and making sure to not push into zone 5. I didn't want that. I wanted to make it through the race without killing myself.
So I make my way up and a quarter of a mile goes by and there isn't a sign that the hill is going to let up anytime soon. Confused but still trying I keep pushing a little bit at a time keeping an eye out for when this hill will stop going up. I look at the watch and were 5 and a half miles in. The hill was supposed to start at mile six so I'm looking around wondering what is going on. Feeling overwhelmed and knowing I probably have a long way to go I finally walk. Now if you guys didn't know, I'm gonna tell you now. I hate walking during any race or run. It makes the run so much more difficult and just really drains you to walk and then pick back up the pace. Especially with a half marathon. That is not ideal.
After two short walks mixed with a tiny jog up the hill mixed in, I finally get to the 7-mile marker. From there it's downhill. you guys, I have never hauled ass like that before. I gave zero ****s and just started passing everyone on the way down but of course, they also didn't tell us it would more than "a little" technical. Well, a little technical tells me that maybe a mile of it is where you have to keep an eye on where your feet go but in this race, it was almost 4 miles of technical. Rocks everywhere and in my five fingers I was over it. Literally, my feet were screaming on this downhill. Every once in a while I would step on a rock that just jabbed the bottom of my foot with no mercy. Swearing up a storm I managed to make up five minutes of time lost if not more just from going down that hill with no mercy.
Finally, we reach the last two miles. Finally. The trail flattens out and I just kept in mind that there is water at the end of the race. So close to the finish and I could finally stop running.
With the finish line in sight, I give that last push to the end and once I cross it they give me my medal and my dad is waiting for me. INstantly I stop and take deep breaths. My feet are on fire and I feel every part of my body just go into this mode of hurt. Hurt, hurt, hurt. Everything felt like I was getting stabbed.
I look up and my dad and I exchange few words because we both were out of breath. Turns out the race also kicked his ass and we both agreed this would be a one-time-only race. Never again. Not only did they lie about the stats but they lied about how technical it was. My feet were destroyed and even in today's time my left foot still gets aches and pains from that race. It was beautiful don't get me wrong and if you want a surprise and challenge it's perfect but otherwise, I'm glad I got it done. I will officially never do that race again.
The good news from that race. I placed 15th in my division which is...AMAZING considering how difficult it was. Like holy bananas.
With events from the campground now over with we get up the next morning in high spirits about our day. We had a whole park to explore and two people who had never been there before.
With the morning light slowly coming into play I made my way out on the path behind our campsite with Lylah. She had total freedom on the other side of the fence and quickly realized that there were chipmunks to chase. In high spirits of wanting to play and totally excited for adventure she takes off after them. The day was a nice cool 40 degrees when I got up and with the sun slowly climbing up and the clouds disappearing the temperature was getting a little warmer. She and I just walked around and checked out the scenery. We were in Yellowstone after all and we finally got a break from the craziness that had been happening for days. For Lylah I am sure this was a nice break from the normal everyday routine of driving everywhere and being in a truck all day.
After an hour we finally came back to the truck and warmed up. Dad and K were enjoying some coffee and when I got in my seat with Lylah we took off towards the town. The first matter of business was getting the window fixed. We go to the hardware store and get the supplies he needs and in a matter of 20 minutes, the window is being held up by paracord. Feeling better about the situation we all felt our spirits go up from the solution. Our stuff was safe and Lylah had security for when we had to leave her in the car.
Once that was completed we went and picked up our bibs. If you signed up early you got a t-shirt and a water container to take with you on the race. Happy about the shirts we finally made our way to the coffee shop and talked about the race. K was doing the 5k which was later this evening and we were interested to hear her feedback since that was part of our course as well. Excited that we may have finally put the worst behind us we got to the coffee shop and got some caffeinating in our bodies. We had a full day of exploring to do. Going to the gate we enter the park and immediately we run into what I call, Bison Traffic. Everyone and their mother pulls over, slows down, stops, and takes photos when bison are out at this park. It's literally a beacon for people and they all make their way towards them to take photos. After thirty minutes we get through the traffic and make our way to Ol Faithful so my dad can see it in action.
Now today was mostly about my Dad and K got to see the sites I knew were important. I had seen them all already and more but I wanted them to enjoy their stay and see everything I could so with me navigating we made our way to Ol Faithful. Asking around I knew that we had some time before we it went off so I let my dad and K go into the shop to get some souvenirs. Knowing that it could be a minute I settled with Lylah and let her take in the sights and do some small training in the big crowd we were in. Opportunities like this don't come often for us.
Once they were out of the shop we got our seat up front and watched as Ol Faithful goes off. Even Lylah got to enjoy it. It was my second time seeing it and it was just as wonderful the second time as the first time.
When ol faithful was done we continued on our journey. During this time we did one small hike, got to see one new area, and made our way to the springs up towards the North corner of the park. ONce we got to see Mammoth Springs we decided the best thing to do was head back to the race area. K had to do her race and we were excited for her to do the run.
Arriving at the parking area my Dad and I sat as she went to do her race. They had the announcements over the radio so we listened as they rambled about their new protocols because of covid. That they would send out our medals, nobody could wait for you at the end of the race, and so on. We listened as people were being announced and finally we heard K be announced and saw her run to the car. She opened the door and had a medal around her neck. Apparently, all those covid restrictions were bull...of course. So we smiled a small smile and listened as she gave us an idea of what the first three miles were like. From what we gathered, flat, a little rocky but easy for the course.
Satisified we decided to go ahead and go and get dinner and turn in early. My dad and I had to be up early for our race since it started at 6:45....yea 6:45 a.m
With our thoughts on early bedtime and knowing that we were all satisfied from the day's events, we turned in for the night. Little did we know that this race was going to kick our asses....literally
With a walk-behind us, the truck loaded and in high spirits, we set out towards west Yellowstone where we would be able to stay in our campsite for the race and the rest of our visit. Things were nice, easy, and of course comfortable. We were cruising along, stopping to get gas and just chatting on and off about different subjects that came our way. Honestly, it was nice to just relax for once since we started making our way towards Yellowstone.
In the midst of this adventure, we got to a point where real food was required. So we found a little town and decided to stop to get some burgers and drinks. It was around 2 when we stopped and knowing we would be late we decided to give the campground a call to let them know about our late arrival. In the email, it states that if you are going to be later than 6 p.m to give them a call so of course, we did what was advised. Now mind you the email said nothing else. Just to call if you would be late.
Giving them a call I hear a lady on the other line and I tell her we will be later than 6 thinking they will make a notation and give us some instructions for our late arrival. In my experience, most places tell you that there will be a code at the gate and a packet of some kind with your name and what site you are at with a map so you can direct yourself to the appropriate spot. Apparently, this place didn't operate that way. The lady tells me that if we're gonna be there at 6:30 that's the latest they can stay but after that, we wouldn't be able to get in and would have to show up the next day.
Stunned and confused I started to give this chick hell. The email does not state that they are ONLY open till 6. It says to call if you will be there later than 6 p.m. There isn't any notation about how they are only open to 6 and if you don't show up at that time well you are screwed for that night. Baffled I explain this to the girl and she sighs and says she's going to get the manager. I update my Dad and K and my dad is making this face that says "wtf" which is correct by all means of our day and how it has gone.
Finally, a manager comes on the phone and I'm telling her that we need to be there tonight and where we are. Baffled she tells me we won't make it in time but she and her husband will stay till 7 p.m and no later. Blown away by how rude she was I tell her we WILL be there and hang up. Going into the restaurant I tell them we have to go. Now. We quickly leave and apologize and get in the car and take off. We were about 4 hours away and hauling ass and decide to go through Yellowstone park since it was faster and I had an annual pass card that allowed you free entry into the parks. So we take that route and make our way to the campground and I'm apologizing for this. It was just another layer to this **** show.
Soon we're in the parks and we see the Tetons from a distance and were cruising and enjoying the views eating some food in the car we had. Seeing a really cool view but knowing we couldn't stop I rolled down the window and stand up and take photos out the window. I roll the window back up and a few minutes later I see another view and roll it back down. My Dad and K are enjoying a conversation and just taking in the wonderful views. I sit back down and go to roll up the window.....to realize it's not rolling up. It's stuck. Panic set in.
This could not be happening.
Messing with the switch while also trying to palm the glass up I realize that the window is going nowhere. I even tried to palm it up as high as I could but it quickly went back down. Glancing at my dad and knowing that I could make this day worse by giving him this news I continued to try to fix the window. My mind of course had a string of curse words going.
"Mother of F*cking sh*t"
and many others. Finally, I admitting defeat and sat in my seat. When do I say something? When we get there? Now? When the conversation is done?
I kid you not twenty minutes went by and I tapped my dad on the arm.
"Heyyy....soooo the windows not working". The next ten minutes was him trying to get it to work with me doing the palm and lifting situation. Nothing worked. Sighing my dad starts telling us all this food has to go because you know...bears are around Yellowstone. So we started eating all the nuts, jerky, and chocolate we can.
Soon we're at the campground 20 minutes past 6 and the lady is baffled we made it in good time and I tell her that the rest of the amount we owe will be paid by my dad but guess what. She runs the card on file...my card...on accident. SHes apologizing profusely and I'm sitting here wondering if she did it on purpose or if she really was that stupid. She couldn't even do a refund. I was blown away. Telling her it's fine we get to the campsite and set everything up and go back into town to get a garbage bag and tape until we can go to the hardware store to get the part we need. After getting the redneck fix we need we FINALLY sit down and eat some food. Were exhausted from low energy and from running around all day to get to where we need to be. I was ready for bed and honestly was not in the mood for any more surprises.
We only had a day until the race and I just wanted this part of our trip to be done. So with food in our bellies and talk about what to do for the window we set off back to the campground. In spirits of being a hands-on person, my dad sets to trying to get the door panel off but he doesn't have the tools he needs to get it off. After searching the truck and taking a look around where we were which was a park full of RVs I notice that one of our neighbors is out by the fire. I head over and decide to ask if he had some tools we maybe could borrow. I explain what is happening and in good spirits, he comes over and tries to help my dad by giving him his full toolbox to try on the door panel. After thirty minutes we find out he doesn't have the one tool we need. \
Thanking him and telling him to have a good night we finally retire for the night. Hopefully, tomorrows exploring will be a nice break from our back-to-back crazy adventure.
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