Check Your Nuts

Lauren and I just got back from our summer camping trip.  This year we decided to take the Retro Trailer (made by Riverside RV) on an 11 day trip from Southern California to Utah and then the Rock Mountain National Park. 

The trip was full of adventures, beautiful scenery and learning experiences.  We got to see the red sands of Utah and visit the highest National Park Visitor Center in the United States. We saw tons of elk, moose, deer and chased waterfalls all over Colorado, it was amazing.

During our trip we also fit in a couple escape rooms, a visit to the Stanley Hotel (The Shining Hotel) and did an awesome repelling obstacle course.

It was a great break filled with beautiful nature and wonderful experiences.

With that said, one of the most important learning experiences that we had could have been a major tragedy.   It also, turned out to be one of the best days of our trip….

Let me explain.  

We were traveling in a car-a-van of RVs and trailers.   Our daughters were traveling with my parents and Lauren and I were towing our Retro Trailer with the mighty Acura MDX….

Lauren wanted to drive for a little on our third day of the trip. 

She was doing great and then… about an hour into the drive we heard a noise and the car started bumping.  Was it the road?  Did we blow a tire?  Should we stop immediately or keep going?

Well, we were only one mile from an exit so we gambled and kept driving slowly to the off ramp.  We turned right and then left into the first parking lot… which turned out to be a car dealership with a service center. 

This was a miracle because we were pretty confident at this point that something happened to the trailer…

We got out and checked the trailer… the right tire was smoking around the hubcap… NOT good… but no worries… we were at a dealership…

The only problem was that it was Sunday, in a small town in Colorado… game over, we were stuck…

but not so fast.

As we were trying to figure out what to do we walked/paced the parking lot and noticed one of the service garage doors was open.  There was a mechanic, “John”, doing personal car repairs even though the shop was CLOSED on Sundays.

We explained what had happened, that our tire was smoking and that we had just randomly found our way to this parking lot.  

The mechanic asked where we were off to and we explained we had 5 more hours to drive today to reach the Rocky Mountain National Park and our daughters were ahead of us in another RV.

He offered to check our trailer out.  He popped off the hub cap…

Wow. 

The wheel was being held on by 1 stud (bolt for us non-car people) the other 4 had become dislodged and two were completely destroyed, sitting in the hub cab.  

We were one stud away from completely losing our tire at 65mph on the highway. 

That could have been a major disaster…

(good thing we have life insurance and estate planning)

The mechanic stated that the bearings, studs, and lug nuts were too hot to work on for now.  He said he would need to finish his current job and might be able to help us in a few hours.   In the meantime, he recommended trying to look for parts at the local O’Reilly’s Auto-parts.

This turned out to be a fool’s errand for a few hours because without the bearings part number we could not match the parts and the wheel was too hot to work on.  

We were getting a little nervous because the auto part store would be closing soon…

At this point we were making plans to sleep in the parking lot until Monday and hoped to get back on the road later the next day….

Then we got lucky.

“John” the Mechanic had just finished his other job and was willing to stay late and check out the trailer.

The only problem was that we needed to pull it into the garage. Again, at this point the wheel was held on by one stud…

So we pulled forward very slowly and the tire would clunk on every full rotation… But we made it in…


The bearings needed to be replaced and we needed all new studs.

At least we had part numbers now but we were running out of time. O’Reilly’s would close in an hour and NAPA auto parts was already closed.

Finding the replacement bearings was easy this time but finding a match for the studs was nearly impossible. The guys working at O’Reilly’s looked everywhere and even let me back to help… We searched the whole store… we were so close… but nothing matched.

We called “John” the Mechanic and told him we only had the bearings… we were dead in the water.

But we caught another lucky break…

John knew the owner of NAPA Auto parts and was able to find a match.

After that it was only time and John got us up and running…

His charge… NOTHING. John asked for no payment. He worked for hours on a Sunday, contacted a store owner and his service charge was nothing.

Now, of course we could not accept that price. John had literally saved our trip and went above and beyond to help two strangers. We paid John well. He gave us his cell phone and asked us to check in on the drive.

He provided us some additional training on our trailer and reminded us to always check our nuts…. with a torque wrench.

We checked our nuts on the next stop and regularly for the rest of that trip. We are happy to report no further problems and we had a great trip.

This day could have been viewed as a disaster but it was actually one of the best days of our trip. We handled a tough situation well, and met truly genuine people. We learned a lot about our trailer, didn’t die, and now own a torque wrench…

The best part of drive occurred later that night in the Rocky Mountain National Park where we met this guy!!!

Its a Donkey!!! Haha!!!

ps. Moose do not have horns 😉

Life is full of unexpected surprises and experiences. The good ones are good and sometimes the ‘bad’ ones can create your greatest memories. (click here to read more)

Enjoy Your Journey to Financial Freedom

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