Accident and Delay Yield Unexpected Joy – By Rev. Alan Mead
Accident and Delay Yield Unexpected Joy
By Rev. Alan Mead
Some years ago we were traveling on a cross country camping trip. We had a VW Vanagon and a pop up camp trailer. I had four bikes attached to a roof rack on the Vanagon, seats down and wheels up. We had been traveling for several days when we pulled into a beautiful campground on a man made lake about 30 miles northeast of Tucumcari New Mexico. The park was nearly full; but we found a very nice site right on the lake. We set up the trailer, unpacked the Vanagon and our two teens began asking me to drive back to a donut shop they had seen as we drove in. There was a covered entry in the drive up and, as I drove under it I felt a lurch. When I got out to look I saw four narrow black skid marks on the donut shop entry roof above our van and the bicycles leaning off to the side and disconnected from the roof rack, which was hanging precariously in two pieces. I didn’t have any idea what to do, so I jammed the bikes and the broken roof rack into the van, bought the donuts, and headed back to camp. On the way I stopped at a gas station and was told they didn’t weld aluminum and had no idea what I could do.
There we were, in the middle of a very unfamiliar wilderness, on a Saturday night, with no idea how we could correct this unfortunate development. So, not being able to do anything, we went for a swim, ate dinner and enjoyed a lonely fire before bed. Sunday morning we drive into Tucumcari for church and were surprised that a visiting minister from Syracuse, NY, near where we had grown up, was the visiting pastor. It was a small congregation and after worship someone invited us to go with most of them to get lunch at a nearby restaurant. We had a great time. Soon, a woman, learning that we were camping at the lake, said “I haven’t been there in years. Why don’t we come out and have a cookout.” Her husband, in chagrin, said “we can’t just invite ourselves.” Pat and I indicated that it would be fun, and they all agreed to bring the food.
Later in the afternoon about 30 people from the church found our site and set up for an incredible western cookout with steaks, beverages and all the fixings that anyone could possibly ask for. After dinner as we sat around the campfire and talked, someone asked how long we were staying. I mentioned we had intended to leave in the morning, but with the broken bike rack we were stranded until we could either get it fixed or replaced. A couple of the men looked at, remarked that it was aluminum and that it takes special tools to repair. One of them said he knew a business in town that could do it and said he would call them in the morning.
Sure enough, the place could fix it! Not until Wednesday, though, and so we decided that we were in just about the most beautiful campground and ideal site of any place we had visited in years. So we decided to stay for the week. We ended up having more visits with people from the church, met some locals who lived near the campground and who invited us to dinner at their home. (Turns out we were just about the only campers there during the week).
Not only did everything work out OK; but we met many delightful people and enjoyed one of the best weeks camping as a family that we have ever experienced. If I had been observant and stopped before the overhang at the donut shop, we would have been on our way in the morning right after church and we would have totally missed one of the more memorable and enjoyable weeks we have had as a family.