It rained on us last night but our tents kept us and our things dry. Humidity in the air and 4 days without showers had us all feeling pretty gross though. I woke up with the roosters and gave a wake up call to the rest of the crew. I said that we had to break down camp and that we had 2 hours to do it. I had been putting a lot of energy into planning the day out. I had been looking at the weather radar and knew that rain was going to be coming so I wanted to get packed up and off to another location before that happened.
Stick and I were both packed up and ready to go within 30 minutes. He and I both went to go work on organizing the trailer so that we could get everyone’s things inside it. We were working hard and sweating and getting things accomplished but kept waiting and waiting for the others to come walking up with their gear so that we could load it and go. Once there was nothing more that I could do at the trailer, I decided I’d go back to the campsite to see if I could lend a hand.
I get back there, at least an hour after I had asked everyone to get ready, and everyone’s tent was still up. I was offended. I understand that this will take time for everyone to be able to pack up as quickly as I do and that’s ok. But I felt like the effort that Stick and I were putting in was not being matched by the others.
I went over to lend a hand with the tents to speed things up. I knew rain was coming and I wanted to get out of there. As I was helping, I realized that everyone was in fact trying their best. This was new to them and they haven’t yet learned the systems to be able to break down camp quickly. I tried to show them the best and most efficient ways to break down the tents. I like to let people figure things out on their own but at this point I needed to step in or we would’ve been there all day.
Before we could finish, it started raining and didn’t stop for an hour. I was pissed. I announced to the group that this was unacceptable and needs to be worked on. It took way too long to pack out and that’s a fact. I could’ve and should’ve communicated this to them but at the time, I felt like no one cared to listen to me.
I don’t consider myself any better than anyone here but I was the one who organized this walk and I’m the one who has the experience of successfully completing one before. Frankly, I’m the best-equipped to be the one to take the lead. I try my best to be fair but occasionally there will be times where I have to be firm and this was one of them.
Shitty thing is that it didn’t matter anyways. After the rain stopped and we loaded all of our gear into the trailer, we drove off and headed down the road. Well the damn trailer was so heavy with all of our rain-soaked gear that it ripped the trailer hitch mount out from under my car.
Thankfully we were going slow when it happened and everyone was ok and so was the car and the trailer. The problem was that my car could no longer pull the trailer. The mount had been stripped out of the frame and would never be able to go back in. I knew this right away.
I was definitely discouraged but I knew that standing on the road crying wouldn’t get us anywhere so I stayed strong and started weighing out our options.
First things first, get out of the road. The guys all moved the trailer to the shoulder and we chained it to a fence post. I moved my car to the shoulder and began investigating. It didn’t look good. I figured our best shot was to go see a mechanic and see if they knew something that I didn’t know and could fix it.
We went to a guy across the street and there was a hotel next door to the shop. I went to speak to a mechanic and Stick went in the hotel. The mechanic referred me to a guy named the “Hitch King” who specializes in trailer hitches. This was no doubt the guy to go see.
We load up and I drive over to the hotel to pick Stick up and I walk in the lobby and he was asking the hotel clerk to see if they could donate a hotel room. Wayne at the Sugarloaf Lounge couldn’t donate a room but gave us a great deal. Stick offered to pay but I had the money on me right then so I just paid for it. We needed it.
We made the reservation but left to go see the Hitch King before anything else. If he could fix it then our problem is solved. If he can’t then we a trailer full of stuff that we can’t move and will need to make some drastic changes to the plan.
He looked at it and just as quickly and as assuredly that I knew it couldn’t be fixed, he confirmed the same. He gave it some thoughts but said there was just no way to make it happen. He offered to take the mount off for free. He did that and bolted the exhaust pipe back up. The car was as good as new, it just couldn’t pull any trailer ever again.
We chose to head back to the hotel to shower and recharge and figure this out in the A/C with Wi-Fi. During all of this, our camera crew was reaching out to some locals and found a woman named Debbie who offered to tow our trailer from the side of the road to the hotel parking lot. That was huge.
Debbie happens to be a person in recovery and loved what we were doing. She also mentioned that there was a hippie commune up ahead that may let us stay there for a while until we figure things out. I appreciated the offer and agreed to talk on the phone tomorrow to see if we needed any more help then.
Now it was time for showers. Layers and layers of road grime and dirt fell into the drain. I felt a lot better afterwards. I told the team that I thought it would be best if I took the lead on this one and suggested that they go enjoy this awesome hotel on the water in the Florida Keys. I had no clue what I’d do but I was determined not to fail them.
I thought of all of my options and this one was just too much for me. I reached out for help with my Facebook family. Within a few hours we had solutions in the making and an incredibly generous amount of donations to help buy us some time to get back to the mission. I was finally able to cry.
I found a place to be alone and just let it all out. It was such a hard day. I felt like I let everyone down as a leader and I only want the best for the team. I was blown away by the support we received. I was crying my eyes out as I saw the amount of donations and the offers to swap cars with me. I knew that everything was going to be ok.
I was very proud of each person on the team for staying strong and not giving up. We have been tested hard the first few days but we are now even more ready to continue on. We are going to save some souls whether the devil likes it or not!!!!!
I finally got to ease up a bit and spend time with the team at a fun little tiki bar with live music. We made it through the day. Whew.