The important thing is, we are safe.
There are 1,000 ways this could have been devastating, and somehow, we were fortunate enough that it is only inconvenient.
The frame on our trailer failed.
We spent much of the fall in Minnesota and Wisconsin while our trailer was stored in Washington state. We returned to move it to Southern California as the weather got colder. We made our way down the coast, visiting friends and doing a few new interviews along the way.
Portland, McKenzie Bridge, Bend, Mt. Shasta, San Francisco.
“I’m staying at Bon Niche Cellars by Paso Robles,” my friend and fellow photographer Steve Wewerka said by text. “You should stop in.” (Steve is an amazing photographer, by the way…you should check out his work.) I hadn’t seen Steve in years, so we made plans.
We pulled in and did our usual routine. Karen got out, we connected by speaker phone (so we didn’t have to yell instructions…the “pulling in and setting up” process can be challenging enough after a long day on the road).
And then she said “This doesn’t look right.”
Our cousins had just experienced frame issues, so as soon as we looked, we had an idea we were dealing with something big. But there was no crash. No bang. It pulled fine right into the camping spot for the night so we decided to deal with it in the morning.
The more we looked, the worse it was. The tech who came out for a mobile call described it as a “life-threatening total structural failure.” The rear axle had only stayed in place because when things came apart, the leaf springs rotated forward and wedged into the floor of the trailer. Somehow it did not happen going at highway speed, or over a mountain pass, or in 12 lanes of rush hour traffic going through the heart of Los Angeles where the end result would have been far more problematic.
So we were in a bind. But we were in a bind, parked on a hillside at a vineyard, overlooking a beautiful valley, with friends and a patient, accommodating host. We gathered each night to watch the sun set, brainstorm a path forward and have a glass of good wine.
In the world of disasters, this one played out as well as you could hope.
So the past week has been spent making phone calls, navigating customer service and warranties, repair shops, storage units, hotels and more.
I think the trailer is done. But what’s next is unclear. We are headed back to Minnesota tomorrow (which was a planned visit.) We have programming at the University of Minnesota and in Lexington, Kentucky. I’ll speak at some churches in Minneapolis and some small house gatherings in the area.
Logistically, it couldn’t have happened at a more awkward time as A Peace of My Mind is just heading into a season of fundraising. I’ve wondered how to balance and negotiate this, but I’ll just say it plain and simple. Any donations for A Peace of My Mind won’t go toward getting our next trailer solution. Donations cover the growth of the project and the trailer is a warranty / insurance / John and Karen personal choice on how we allocate our housing dollars to make this whole thing work. So we’re not fundraising for a new camper. But you all are on this journey with us, and we love that. And letting you see behind the scenes, glory and grit, is all a part of the process.
The trailer was towed to a lot while we wait for the warranty process to play out. Our gear is packed into a storage unit in Anaheim, and we will wait for the next steps of the journey to unfold.
A little rattled. But safe. And surrounded by good friends.