I don't care who you are. Seeing that light come on will make your stomach drop, and that feeling only amplifies when you're out on a trip.
So that is how my 2015 camping season started.
I'm going to remember 2015 as our most ambitious season ever. We covered the most miles (by a lot), the most nights camped, the most frustrating, the most expensive (!!!), and by far the best season we've had.
Not one of our outings went smoothly. Not one. While the hiccups varied in intensity, we never missed a destination, and despite all the issues, we only lost out on one planned day of camping.
It started out with that check engine light. We were climbing a hill in Alabama when that came on. The truck didn't hesitate or anything, just that dang light. We continued on and reached our beautiful beach-front destination without incident. The next morning when I fired the truck up to go get the code read, the light was gone. Not wanting to rest on that, I contacted a local diesel shop who was gracious enough to get me in right away and pull the code with their more capable scan tool. The code was EGR related (diesel owners know and love that acronym) - the shop owner said not a big deal even if it comes back, but he doubted it would come back. He was right. For a few months.
So that's where it started. See, nothing serious, just a nagging concern.
Fast forward to Memorial day weekend. Here's a hiccup of my own doing. I know better than to hit a certain stretch of interstate during certain times of day - especially on certain days of the year. Nevertheless, I took off towards the Indianapolis 500 with some friends, planning to rendezvous with another down the road when I hit Chicago traffic near the Indiana line. So that put us behind by about 3 hours. Then we got there, in the dark, and were directed to the wrong campground by a track attendant. Not going to lie, that might have been my shining example of backing the rig up in some serious tight quarters. But we got to the right spot eventually, and the weekend was a pure blast.
Then came another race weekend that turned into an absolute monsoon. We couldn't occupy our usual site because I would have been axle deep in mud within a foot of the road. We actually got moved to a pretty sweet alternative spot and had a fun couple days, but then about 30 minutes before the main event was to start mother nature UNLOADED. Again. So that got cancelled and I had to get out of there the following morning. We had fun inside during the storm. But I like the races. So missing one was a bummer.
I had to get out of there because the next day was our big trip. 3000 some-odd miles out west and back over a couple weeks.
I had a bad feeling about that trip a month before we started. I woke up in the middle of the night before we left and felt sick, I think the universe was talking to me, but I pressed on. The first day was a long drive to an overnight location in nowhere South Dakota. There was an odd moment on that drive, but I chalked it up to a vicious headwind. I pulled over another time because a door to one of my propane tanks vibrated open and was whipping in the wind, but otherwise. No problems.
The next day the light came back. This time it brought it's limp mode friend. That wasn't fun, but fortunately it was within 10 miles of our destination. I won't go into tremendous detail because it's boring. But our next leg of that trip was the most unpleasant 14+ hours of my life. Basically in the middle of nowhere with no option but to really keep going, we did reach our destination near Yellowstone. I remember seeing 170 miles to our destination on GPS. It took forever.
The rest of that story involves throwing a wad of money at the truck at a very accommodating shop in Idaho, followed by one more big day where the problems resurfaced once, only to go away again with no trace from then on.
I don't have that truck any more...
So off we go with the nice, shiny new rig! Our favorite trip of the year! "Check trailer wiring" pops up on the dash 20 minutes into the drive and I lose trailer brakes. Ugh.
Figured that one out and "fixed" it with a strategically placed bungie cord.
Then another race track changed their traditional schedule and kicked us out to have to drive through the night.
Then it rained buckets again and the same track it did earlier that summer.
Then we had to cut the last trip of the year short due to the death of my Grandfather. Oh, and the family we went with on that trip got sick. All of them. While we were there. Sigh.
But it was an awesome year! Western South Dakota and Idaho are about the most beautiful country I've ever seen. We found the most gorgeous, quaint, beach-front campground. We travelled with friends and family. I got to see some great racing a couple times. And I quickly got over "having" to get a new truck.
So here I am looking forward to another great year in 2016. I'd just like it to go a little smoother....