The first day of our two-week summer road trip—my birthday—began with a stunning sunrise drive through the Gorge. With the fog lifting at the base of Beacon Rock and sunlight shining on The Bridge of the Gods in the distance, it was “like those romantic paintings from 1815,” observed Ralph. (By contrast, seconds later we drove past what looked exactly like a human body wrapped in a bag by the side of the road. “Somebody has probably called that in,” mused Ralph. We kept driving.)
For a few hours we motored along in peace. Ralph kept fiddling with the dashboard gauges, appalled at the dismal gas mileage (we should have thought about that before loading those cases of Diet Coke and near beer in the back). Then, it happened.
I completely crumpled the front end of the DWR entering a Conoco station in Ritzville, WA, which was chaotic with hitchhikers wandering around, local farmers selling produce off card tables, and truckers, bikers, RVs and families loaded down with river toys all dangerously pulling in and out. But that’s no excuse for sloppy driving. Usually so careful, I never saw what we hit until I heard the sickening crunch and looked out the window.
I had rammed the Airstream into a concrete stanchion by the gas pumps and we were now unable to pull forward or backward without causing further damage. I was near hysteria but Ralph remained calm and determined what had to be done after a consult with the onlooking farmers: unhitch, then pivot the trailer away from the pole it was wrapped around. That process went poorly, but we were soon on our way to regroup and choke down lunch nearby at a fittingly grim gas and rest stop.
Pictured is the photo I took to send via Twitter to @AirstreamSvs at the factory in Ohio, who let us know that there should be no danger to interior gas lines and graciously suggested that we swing through Jackson Center for an onsite repair and a tour. Tempting, but not possible.
Later, we passed Airstream of Spokane and pulled around for a quick consult. Parts and Service manager Doug was kind enough to take time away from the shop to itemize the damage. Front corner: $1500. Side sheet: $2500. Rock guard: $400. 500 rivets at .69 each. Light, trim, freight, possibly interior structure…at this I simply vagued out and accessed my inner Scarlett. “I’ll think about that tomorrow.”