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  • Writer's pictureRobert Gidley

Our first challenge!

Mon, Feb 7, 2022

The wisdom of Mmm-doo

A number of years ago, Robert went on a trip to South Africa. During part of that trip, there was a tour of some native schools and villages. The tour guide was Mmm-doo (that's how it was pronounced, anyway).

As he pointed out that 33% of the population was HIV positive, and unemployment was around 50%, he said: "But we do not have problems here. Oh no! A problem--oh, that just is so defeating. It takes away all your energy and you deflate! No, we have Challenges! A Challenge, you rise up to! You can overcome a Challenge! We have many Challenges in South Africa, but we are prepared to meet them!"

So today, we get to face our first Harvey challenge! Yay...

Moving money

One of us didn't get much sleep last night because she was so excited about buying Harvey ("We have an RV!"). The other one slept surprisingly well for sleeping on a sofa bed with no jammies (despite being woken in the middle of the night with a demand for the Wi-Fi password).

Fortunately, Heather provided us with some fresh ground coffee and wood to make a fire in the morning (and these wonderful little fire starter thingies that would make damp diapers burst into flames!). We are warm and amped up and ready to go.

But first, we need to move large amounts of money from one place (our accounts) to another (Ed and Heather's accounts). That turns out to be a lot easier than it really should be (and only costs $25 to move tens of thousands of dollars).

It's also a lot more boring than in the movies. No little progress bar as the money is transferred. No tense music. Just a person asking Gini challenging questions to prove who she is (and she almost flunked the one about her step-son's birthdate!).

But it works, and Heather confirms that it's done and we take the title and possession of Harvey and we head out and straight to the gas station, because this sucker gets 10 miles to the gallon and we want to have a full tank!

On the (bumpy) road to Longview

We head back out on the road we followed into Vernonia and maybe because it's Monday or maybe because this time Robert is driving Harvey, but Holy Potholes this is a bumpy road! Robert is pretty sure he left a couple of fillings on some of those pot-holed turns.

It's certainly a good lesson in handling the van, except that the van has a tendency to drift across the center line when Robert is fooling with getting his iPhone connected... The many log trucks barreling down the road help us all stay focused.

As we pull into Longview, Gini gives Robert a call. she’s been following Harvey in Robert‘s car. Since Robert's iPhone has long since bounced into the passenger side door well, it's a good thing that Robert can take the call on his watch. What's not a good thing is Gini's message: "Something's wrong with the spare tire, it's bouncing like crazy!"

Harvey comes with a spare tire mounted at the back, next to the rear door. It's a clever latch system that relies on the main beam thingy (sorry to get technical) welded to another beam thingy that's part of the van.

That is, it used to be welded, but is now hanging free and easy, allowing the spare tire to cheerfully bounce up and down. This can't be good. What to do?

Head to Burger King!

We head to Burger King, because it's got a parking lot (and burgers!). Maybe we can locate a local welding shop to fix the problem.

Along the way, Robert realizes that if the spare tire isn't on the main beam thingy, then the back bumper thingy won’t drag on the ground. This seems a much easier solution in the short term than trying to get something welded.

Robert and the wonky spare tire

After pulling in, and realizing we need a tire iron to remove the spare tire, and further realizing that we don't have one, Robert heads to the NAPA Auto located three blocks away ("Burger King: Close to all the Stuff You Need" should be their slogan), and gets a tire iron ("Sixty Bucks!").

Our golden tire iron goes to work on the getting the spare tire loose. How inept did we look? A helpful guy stopped by and lent us a hand, because clearly these newbs were about to lose a finger fooling with this spare tire.

But the tire came free and got tossed into the back of Harvey and without the 50 pounds of spare tire, that rear beam thingy is solid as a rock. (“Not so much solid as a rock,” says Gini, “but at least it won’t drag on the ground.”)

Notice how there's no tire there now. Sure, it's a bit slanty, but stable!

That means it’s burger time, baby!

Our first meal (notice the spare tire in the background...)

Of course, as soon as we sit down at the table, Robert inadvertently tests the waterproof flooring by spilling the (sugar-free, thank heavens!) iced tea all over the floor. This also encourages us to locate a nearby towel (“We’re finding out where all the stuff is!” says Robert).

Thankfully, Heather had wrapped a glass water container with an old towel in the sink, so finding the towel was a lot easier than finding a tire iron.


The rest of our time (five more hours) was thankfully boring, with no more challenges—just a couple of accidents on the freeway that didn’t involve us.

And we pull into our home just as the sun sets.

Gini and Robert

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1 Comment

Feb 10, 2022

Just loving reading your posts, I can hear your voices and I’m smiling the whole time 😘

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