Thursday, July 08, 2010

A weekend to be grateful for

We just got back from a "camping" trip in Maine. Maine, oh how I love you in July. I am not sure I'd enjoy you much anytime between November and April, but summer in Maine is absolutely wonderful.

The weekend was absolutely wonderful, but we weren't certain we were going to have a weekend at first. We loaded up the camper (which is why camping is in quotes above -- it doesn't really count as camping) with just what we'd need for a weekend trip on Thursday and Friday Morning. Daddy got home early from work and we headed off.

The trip was slow going, traffic was awful through Massachusetts, which I expected, but Daddy didn't. Then we got to Maine. The traffic cleared up and the road was resurfaced, life was good.

And then they passed us. "They" is a black pickup pulling a very long, fairly old travel trailer camper. We own a fifth wheel, which means it's connected to a large hitch in the bed of our truck. They were towing a travel trailer -- just as long, just as heavy, but on a regular ball hitch on the back of their truck. Travel Trailers are not as safe and steady to drive as a fifth wheel. There is a reason that the big rig Semi's use a fifth wheel hitch to attach their loads.

Back to the story. They passed us. It all happened in a matter of seconds, but it seemed like hours as it was happening. As they passed us they hit the rumble bars. Luckily, Daddy heard that and looked over. As he looked, he noticed that their trailer hit the guard rail on the side of the road. And Daddy hit the brakes enough to allow us to back off.

Thank God for Daddy and his observant Nature.

The man in the truck over corrected as he panicked, sending the trailer swerving back into the lane, and headed into the next one over. The lane we were in. As I watched the back end of his trailer miss the front of our truck by mere inches my heart sunk into my stomach and my stomach jumped into my throat. Daddy backed off even more and hit his hazard lights to alert people behind us.

The man over corrected again, sending his trailer back onto the shoulder, where there was no guard rail this time. And then his trailer swerved back the other direction onto the other trailer. He was out of control. Daddy backed off even more.

We sat there in the cab of our truck watching as this truck and trailer prepared to flip and roll down the freeway. The trailer was swerving uncontrollably. We saw the under carriage of their trailer a few times. At one point in time the truck was sideways in the road. One second it was going one way and the next moment it was facing the other direction. Sparks flew up where the side of the trailer made impact with the asphalt on the freeway. The rear bumper of the trailer ripped off on one end and a sewage hose (just the empty hose) came flying out of the end of the bumper (a common storage place) and rolled down the road. We ran over it. It was at about that moment that I was worried for the driver and anyone inside the truck. We were going to be okay. Daddy was far enough back that we wouldn't hit them or be hurt.

After what seemed like hours, the truck managed to get the trailer back under control. He and the rest of his caravan pulled off to the side of the road. As I watched his wife (I assume that's who it was) get out of her car, I could feel the fear and pain and the beginnings of anger for her. Whatever was in the trailer was ruined. The truck's frame is probably bent. Thousands of dollars worth of damage because there was a small distraction. It could have been much worse. Much, much worse.

We didn't stop because the other vehicle had. Many people think it is safe to travel in a pull-behind trailer as you're driving down the road. I've seen people getting in and out of the things as we've stopped. It isn't safe. I only hope that this family was being cautious and didn't put any living creatures in the trailer, because anything living was most likely injured if they survived being tossed around like that.

It puts things into perspective to watch and be so close to something so scary and dangerous. I know you think I might be exaggerating this incident for the sake of the story, and the blog. But I'm not. In fact, I'm under telling the story. Daddy has seen a lot doing what he does for a living. He's had some exciting moments when waves have been rolling over the bow of his ship. He's looked over to see that his ship has rolled more than it's supposed to without falling apart and sinking into the cold North Atlantic. He has climbed on teeny tiny ladders into a zodiac type boat to rescue people in rough seas from their boat, dead in the water. Even he says that moment goes into his top five list of exciting and scary moments.

We said many prayers of thanks throughout the rest of the weekend. We enjoyed even the small things and some annoyances without as much complaining, because we had been recently reminded how precious life is and how lucky we were to be able to enjoy our weekend. The other family's weekend had been ruined, even though it had almost been much worse than it was. We were able to enjoy our 12 mile bike ride around the park. We were able to enjoy our campfire with giant marshmallows roasting and ever mosquito bite that came along with it. We enjoyed wading in the ocean on the rocky shore and watching Little Monster ride his bike until dark at the campground. We enjoyed watching the last of the coals burn out as the kids slept. We enjoyed fresh lobster at a local lobster pound. Even thought it wasn't the Lobster Pound we wanted to visit, it seems a bit off to whine about the fact that even though their website said they were open EVERY DAY, EVEN HOLIDAYS only to show up at 2:01 on a day when they decided to close at 2:00. It's fine. Another company got our business. We enjoyed ice cream at a small local shop, even though I made a bigger mess with my ice cream than both kids combined. We enjoyed visiting a civil war fort, and watching their cannons go off. Even though it was steaming hot, and the sound of the cannon blast set baby girls to crying and little boys up my skirt, hanging onto my leg as though the end of the world was beginning.

We had a great weekend. I'm sure it would have been wonderful even without the incident, but I'm certainly grateful that we had things put into perspective and were able to enjoy the smaller things.

What did you do over the holiday weekend?

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