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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Musings – On When *#$! Happens on the Road - Apr. 22, 2012

As you know by now we encountered some issues on our drive south from Jumieges, France landing a crippled Pepper and a one-windowless Salt in Tours.  Once the breakdown began, I realized how quickly two smart people can go from making good decisions under reasonable stress to making poor ones under extreme stress.  It got me thinking that maybe that’s why some of life’s bad experiences just get worse and worse; compounding bad experiences with bad decisions, ultimately creating more bad experiences. 

When we initially felt the Pepper shaking (much differently from the other day’s wheel balance issue; this shake only came with acceleration), we pulled off the A10 to check it out.  That’s when we discovered the missing window.  Thinking (ok, hoping) that the missing window might have been causing the shake, we taped it up and set back toward the A10.  Is that smart?  Was that even logical?  Not really.  That, my friends, is what Wishful Thinking looks like in France.

Pepper restarted shaking almost immediately upon acceleration so we turned around and headed to the first motel that we had passed--the dropping of Salt becoming our #1 priority as we feared that Pepper might stop moving altogether.  I jumped out to check us in and just didn’t like the feel of the place:  The door was locked but included a sign directing you to register yourself at a machine.  I made an executive decision that we would take a deep breath (or six) and sit in the parking lot until we found a more decent place to stay.  Was that smart?  Was that logical?  Quite.   Could that have been the turning point; the point at which I stopped the cycle of reacting badly to a bad experience?

A few minutes later we located the Mercure Hotel, Tours Nord and slowly made our way over.   My stress level immediately dropped about 10 points upon entering the bright, crisp lobby and being greeted by a very helpful (and, thankfully, bilingual) clerk.   (If you can believe it, my French becomes even worse under stress.) I explained our issues (broken-down car, towing a trailer, two dogs) and she assured me that we could stay for a few days, parking Salt in their bus parking area.  In less than three minutes I had a key and was back out the door.

Stopping what could have been a very bad decision (the Quick Palace Motel--see what I mean?) turned out to be pivotal in our ability to cope with our issues.   I can’t say enough for the staff at the Mercure; everyone at the desk was incredibly helpful (one lady even called Porsche to check up on Pepper, although I don’t think she used his proper name) and the fast internet was our lifeline to finding hardware stores for Salt's repair. 

Our room was perfect but Salt’s was even better:  The bus parking area provided a great spot for the construction of Salt’s temporary Plexiglass window.  A new window will catch up with us in Portugal, thanks to Airstream UK, but in the meantime Salt looks great and is back to being waterproof, what more could you ask for?