To be completely honest, the only reason I was running on time was because I can drive obscene amounts of times straight without needing to take a break. It's like a super power. One time I drove solo from Kansas to Philadelphia in a straight shot. I was supposed to take a break in the middle, but there was an incident at a Super 8 (never stay there), so I spitefully drove around 24 hours straight.
While I had covered a good deal of ground since Mississippi, I had done it all very slowly and cautiously on account of my overall worries regarding the trailer. If the speed limit was 70, I was going 60. If the wind picked up, I might've been going 55. I had many concerns with losing the trailer or control of the truck or both, and could imagine it all happening a million different ways as I was passed by semis speeding 20mph over the limit. So it was fortunate I could drive over 10 hours each day, or else I'd have never reached Utah. Aside from not dying, the other benefit of my granny driving was that I was doing great on gas mileage.
|One of the many ways.|
I was given a fair amount of driving advice prior to leaving Mississippi, most of which was pretty common sense, but still a good idea to point out. One of the things that was driven home repeatedly as a cardinal rule was to always have an exit in mind whenever leaving the road (parking, gassing up, etc). Specifically, an exit that doesn't involve going in reverse. Driving in reverse in a car is no big deal to anyone that's been on the road for a few years, but do you remember when you first got behind the wheel? Wrapping your mind around how the car would react based on your steering wheel movements? How slight turns came with uncontrolled results? I bet some of you still can't parallel park.
This piece of advice was at the forefront of my mind as I tried to find camping spots in Coral Pink SDSP, as most of the side roads went off into the unknown distance. At a width slightly larger than a car, turning around on those roads would've been a nightmare if at all a possibility. Not just there, but everywhere I stopped, I made sure there was a way out that never required me to shift into reverse. This meant parking with the big trucks at every rest stop and always taking the end pump at the gas station.
|Nothing to impede forward progress.|
Having briefly attempted to drive backwards in Mississippi, I quickly became hyperaware of how important it was to never do it again. It was not great. I really sucked at it. There is a finesse to backing up a single-axled trailer that I still do not possess. Even the slightest turn makes the trailer jackknife. And everything's backwards. To move the trailer to the right, I had to move the car to the left. My brain could barely wrap itself around reverse turning, let alone determine proper turning radius proportions. And the thought of backing up in front of other people? No way. It would be mortifying. Especially if I had to admit defeat, disconnect the trailer, move the truck, attach the hitch roller to the trailer, manually move the trailer, and then reconnect it to the truck. In front of a crowd.
All that said, I only let me guard down for one second and my worst fear came true. My second day in Kanab, I decided to get some lunch at a grocery store. Glazier's Market was on my way back to my camping spot, so I popped in. Finding no parking in the main lot, I headed down the side of the grocery store to see if I could find a spot around back, presumably where the tractor trailers unloaded. Here's an overhead view of Glazier's parking lot before I continue.
So... yeah... there's no loading area around back of Glazier's, just a dead end. A dead end with a building on one side, and a row of parked cars on the other side: Ok. Don't panic, maybe you can back out. Nope, no you can't. You don't have nearly the skills to drive that far in reverse. Ok, there's a little space behind the store, try to pull in as far as you can, then back out, turning the trailer away from the store, and then pull out forward. Nope, there are cars in the way. Ok, ok. Just relax and think for a moment. At least there's no one around to watch this debacle, this fruitless attempt and reattempt (and re and re and re) to get out. Scratch that. Hello employee lady that just came out the side door to smoke a cigarette. You're not saying anything, but I know that look, and yes, I am an idiot.
Fortunately for me, smoky lady knew whose car was keeping me from my K-turn, so she went and got them. Once that car was out of the way, I was able to sneak the truck out (after disconnecting the sway bar). Lucky end to a terrible decision. I wouldn't find out until Moab how lucky it really was. Upon reaching Moab, I briefly inspected the truck and trailer to make sure there was nothing obvious I was going to need to take care of before heading off to Nevada (nails in tires, leaking fluids, etc). During that inspection, I noticed that top of the one propane tanks that sat on the trailer was badly bent, as well as the bar (3/8" all-thread) that sits between the two tanks holding them in place. When I got stuck behind Glazier's, I had turned so hard that the rear fender of the truck pushed into propane tanks. Hard enough so that a few pieces of metal were bent. Thick metal. Wow. Who knows how close I was to blowing myself up that day in Kanab. Of all the things I'd worried about with that trailer, puncturing and igniting the propane tanks hadn't even made the list. Just another reason to stop worrying so much. For all the worrying I'd done, nothing would have prepared me for a full-on explosion behind a grocery store.
Fast forward to :53