By 5:30pm we were on the road to our First-Ever Family Camping Trip in a Rental Trailer. The problem is, we were on the wrong road. Bret was so nervous about driving the trailer and it towing well behind the Flex, that he automatically started driving to my sister’s cabin. A frequent weekend destination for us and certainly a place we love to go, but NOT our destination for this particular weekend. By the time we realized the mistake we were in the middle of Minnesota’s weekly Friday night lake migration. EVERYONE was headed north to their lake cabins.
We got ourselves on the right track and promptly drove into torrential rains. Now as much as I love my Flex, it does sit low to the ground. Add to that the fact we had the wrong trailer hitch, giving us 4” of clearance, and we were in one of the scariest driving situations Bret said he’d ever been in (keep in mind, during Minnesota winters, we’ve driven in some pretty bad weather). We pulled over for 20 minutes to let the storm pass.
By the time we pulled into the campground, it was 10pm. The hookup process began. We had no levels. If you’ve never camped before, you may not realize the importance of having a good level. Not only is a level trailer more comfortable, it also makes the refrigerator run more efficiently. We quickly realized that we had probably not thought of all of the things we were going to need for our trial run. Bret grabbed a grape from the sink and placed it on the counter. “Low to the left rear,” he announced as it rolled away. He ran outside to adjust the leveling brackets.
After we were settled it was time for a quick cocktail and bedtime. Much to the kids’ dismay, we were too tired after packing up and driving through the rain to start a fire and roast s’mores.
The next day was wonderful, we toured Itasca State Park, waded across the Mississippi headwaters, and returned the campground to swim and play on the beach. That night there was plenty of time by the fire, time to play cards, and time to just relax and enjoy each others’ company.
Sunday morning we were up early to break camp. Most campgrounds have a checkout time of 11 am- 1pm and we wanted to hit the road so we could take a long bike ride on the nearby trails. About an hour down the road, not 5 minutes after pulling out of a gas station, on busy highway 371, Bret heard a loud noise and pulled over to inspect the trailer. We’d blown a tire. It was 12:15pm. It would be approximately nine hours before we’d arrive home. In those nine hours we: talked to numerous wreckers who couldn’t help us since our rental didn’t come with a spare tire; found our AAA membership didn’t include rental trailers; and we discovered there were no tires on wheels the size that we needed anywhere within three hours of where we were stranded. Since we knew of other people killed when rear-ended while broken down, we unhitched the trailer and drove into the nearest town we could find to make our calls…