You never know when an emergency will strike. As “Your Survival Guy,” no matter how much preparation I do, there always seems to be something that’s unexpected. Like, for example what happened to me on the Friday after Thanksgiving in New Hampshire.
We decided to drive from our log cabin in Bartlett, into the Mount Washington National Forest, to the Mt. Washington Hotel for lunch—a drive that one doesn’t take without wondering, “What would I do if I break down?”
Earlier that day, my father-in-law, Dick Young, and I drove to the veterinarian to have my dog, Louis, checked out. He had been in a dog fight—more like attacked by another dog—while on a walk the day before, Thanksgiving morning (so much for relaxing). More on that another time.
On our drive home from the vet via a winding road through foothills, I noticed the ride seemed rough on certain turns, like driving on a median strip.
Happy to be back at the house with Louis on antibiotics and recovering, I thought nothing of the sound from the car—it’s a 2009 GMC Yukon XL (basically a Suburban).
Later, eight of us piled into my car and headed west for the Mt. Washington Hotel. As you enter the Mount Washington National Forest there’s an old, brown, wooden sign, like the ones you see in national parks, with yellow lettering: NO GAS for 30 miles.
Thankfully with the narrow and windy Crawford Notch in the rearview mirror, we approached the stunning entrance to the historic Mount Washington Hotel.
The picture below, taken as we pulled in, shows the golf course in the foreground, the hotel, and Mount Washington, the highest peak in the Northeast, behind it.
You can see the white lines running up the side—one of them is the cut from the tracks for the still operational Cog Railway.
You can also see me driving, thinking, that last right turn sounded bad.
Stopped in front of the hotel, I jumped out and was immediately expecting to see a flat tire. Thankfully it wasn’t. That’s when my dad, walking up from my sister’s car asked, “Are you wondering about that noise coming from the wheel?”
“Yeah,” I said.
“Well I thought it was loud when you left the house the other night.”
Great, I thought to myself.
Now I’m thirty miles from the cabin, with no gas station in sight, never mind a garage, and I need to drive through the notch to get my family back home.
As everyone was enjoying the living history of the hotel and beautiful views, I googled what I was hearing from the car. And sure enough several chat room discussions had the issue surrounded. Turns out wheel bearings go bad.
As I joined our party of twelve in the restaurant and seated myself next to Dick, he smiled and asked, “How’s the survival guy?”
After I explained what I thought the issue was, my sister and brother-in-law, who have the same make and year vehicle said, “Oh, that just happened to us this year. It’s a problem.”
Really? I said to myself.
“At least, you can drive, our wheel seized up and it had to be towed.”
Of course, that’s when my problem became a good time for everyone. Is there anything better?
“Imagine what you’ll be able to write about if we break down in Crawford Notch and you have to figure out how to survive.”
The next day (the drive home from the hotel was fine) driving home from the service garage with new wheel bearings, for two front wheels (apparently if one goes the other is bound to go too in about 30-days), I thought, how could this have been avoided?
I’m not sure that it could have been. I get the car serviced regularly and it’s never had a problem, other than the typical maintenance stuff.
What I learned, and continue to learn, is stuff happens. And if you’re in a jam, take it from “Your Survival Guy”: You’re not alone. Don’t panic. And if necessary, just smile.
E.J. Smith - Your Survival Guy
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