Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things that escape those who only dream at night. - Edgar Allan Poe

Wendover, NV – I’m Bill Murray and this is Groundhog Day


Monday morning:
We heard back from BJ at State Trailer Supply this morning. They don’t have any of our axles in stock, so we need to special order it and it won’t be here until September 24th. That means we’re stuck here for 10 days, if we go with them.

We got the info for a different company, Henderson Wheel. Harold called them up and JR (lots of people with letters as names around here) said that it’s a standard item they usually have in stock, but they have been selling a lot recently. He told us they might have one left in stock. He’d go check and phone us back. Even if they had to order one, it would only be a 4 to 5 business day wait.

JR called us back about ten minutes later, with wonderful news. They have the axle in stock! We can drive in and get it today. So we’re gonna get ready and get into Salt Lake City asap. If we’re lucky we might get the new axle on today and be out of here this evening. Oh I hope!

Monday afternoon:
We’re back with the axle and parts at 3pm. We drive them up the hill and drop them off at the shop and wait. They have to put the parts together up there and then bring it down. The mechanic comes down a few times to look at how the old one is put together. As a storm moves in, I’m pretty sure we aren’t going to get it all fixed up today.


Monday evening:
We have dinner and head up to the Nugget and Montego Bay casinos for some gambling. The Nugget is so empty it’s depressing, so we go over to Montego Bay which is busy enough, but when I lose $20 and the waitress has only served us one drink, it’s time to leave.


On our way out, I get a phone call from my Mother. They are camping at Porteau Cove this week with friends. She passes on some info from them that if we climb up the hill behind the Pizza Hut in West Wendover, we will be in the only place in the world where you can see the curvature of the earth from land. We make a plan to go check it on Tuesday afternoon.


Tuesday afternoon:
It’s stormy and rainy all morning, so they don’t start working on the axle until after lunch when the clouds have been blown off. They said we would be okay sitting in the trailer, but as I feel it swaying back and forth, I have to get out. I hear the guy who towed us in saying “You guys should have worked on this last night. We need to get this done!” I couldn’t agree more.


I end up watching from the sidelines, but then I see how the jack they had been using to support the trailer is laying on the sidelines, unused. I want to bring it up to them, make sure they realize the mechanic laying under the trailer might be in danger – and even more importantly – that my home is in danger.


Eventually I have to move further off  where I can’t watch. I’m not sure what I’m more afraid of, the guy laying underneath getting squished, or my home being smashed. I calm my nerves by telling myself the mechanic must care more about his own life than I care about my trailer. If he feels safe … maybe it is?


After a lot of smashing and banging, the old axle is free. I didn’t actually see it come off as I was sitting over by the gift shop reading my email. I just look up, eventually, and they are all gone, leaving their tools and bolts and stuff all over. (Sidenote: I would have a hard time being a mechanic. It’s too dirty and messy with all that black grease and laying on the ground. Coding is tidy and clean – well, not all coding, but mine sure is!)

20150915_181215This is after they cleaned up and we demanded they put supports in where the tires used to be.

Someone comes to stand in my sun. I look up to see Harold standing in front of me. He has a weird look on his face as he leans down to give me a kiss. “I have some bad news …” he says.

By now, you’d think I’d be ready for it, but I’m not. I’m like a trusting lamb being lead to slaughter. I trust too damn easy. “Oh? What’s up?””

“We have the wrong size axle. It’s too long.” he tells me, still smiling, perhaps trying to lessen the sting.

I find myself thinking he must be teasing. This is a coping mechanism I have used in the past when I don’t want to believe something. Like when, at age 12, my Mother forced me to stop believing in Santa, concerned I was too old to still be clinging to that story. Or when my Grandfather died the next year. I found myself doing it when one of my closest friends died when I was an adult. I’d prefer to think people are mean enough to tease me about horrible occurrences than deal with the reality.

I’m sitting there thinking, “Oh look at his smile, he is obviously teasing me.” but then my very next thought is “but Harold doesn’t tease …” followed by “Damn it! He should tease so this won’t be true!”

Of course he’s not teasing. The axle that they gave the measurements for is 10″ too long. They told the parts guy it was 92″ and it was supposed to be 82″ long. 10″ is a lot to be out. I’m not sure how they could manage to be so far off. They call the axle place, and they have an axle in stock that is the correct size. I start getting ready to go. We have enough time to zoom in and get it and we’ll be back by 7pm. Alas, that isn’t to be either. They need time to dismantle the axle. We’ll have to head in there early tomorrow morning.

I’m starting to feel like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. No matter what we do, we’re just spinning our wheels – with out an axle. Can you imagine if we’d waited three weeks, found out it was the wrong size and would have had to not only wait another three weeks but pay again because it was a special order? Or driven for two or three days to get an axle quicker? Ugh. Yeah it could be worse, much worse.


If I want to feel better about all of this, I need to look at the half full side. Toonie is beginning to act healthier, Harold and I are starting to get over our colds, and that mechanic didn’t get squished today. I’ve been meeting some of the people who live here, and they are quite friendly and decent. Mostly Hispanic, they are the people who support the casinos, shops, and services here. Our hike was long forgotten today but maybe we’ll fit it in tomorrow. Tonight we’re hitting up the Rainbow and Peppermill Casinos. Maybe the drink service will be better there. Maybe we’ll win!

Tuesday Evening:
Woohoo! I won $50 and the drink service was wonderful at the Rainbow Casino. It’s always the best option to sit up at the bar and play video poker. The buffet was pretty abysmal though. I hate buffets. Most sacrifice any vestige of quality for quantity. It’s difficult to eat vegetarian in a town like this unless I want a plain green salad. I give them points for having tofu on the Mongolian Grill bar!

Wednesday Morning:
We were up early and out of the trailer by 6 am this morning. Henderson Wheel opens at 8am and we wanted to be there when they open. I am so tired of this 250 mile drive we keep taking every 2 days. I swear, as long as I live, I will never drive this stretch of highway again. I will go out of my way to bypass it, if I have to. The first time it was kinda cool. Now I’m recognizing landmarks along the way.


That’s the rest area where we gleefully took photos of the salt flats our first time through. It was all so new and cool back then.

There’s where Lisa and Stan wrote their name and a heart in rocks. “Awwww, we should do that Harold!” I said the first time I saw it. Now all the rocks are covered by water from the storms we’ve been having the last few days and I’m all “Don’t stop! Drive faster!” 

And there’s that weird Tree of Utah sculpture. We thought it was a cell tower the first time we saw it. In Arizona and California, we’ve seen them try to disguise them as different kinds of trees. We thought this was the same sort of thing, until we “Googled” it. It turns out it’s a real piece of art, an 87-foot-tall sculpture that was created by the Swedish artist Karl Momen in 1980, after having a vision of a tree while driving across the Bonneville Salt Flats.

Metaphor The Tree of Utah by Photograph: Craig Cloutier Sculpture: Karl Momen - Flickr. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikipedia. Metaphor The Tree of Utah by
Photograph: Craig Cloutier Flickr
Sculpture: Karl Momen
Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikipedia.

We arrived in Salt Lake City just after 8am, exchanged our parts, and were back on the road by 830am. We decided to head down a half block to the McDonald’s for breakfast. Next door was the Home Depot, and the sidewalk was covered by men looking for work. Inside the McDonald’s there were more men getting breakfast. As I sat there at the table waiting for Harold, a security guard came up and told the two men across from me that they had to leave as soon as they finished eating.

It made me angry. Why didn’t he say the same thing to me? I know it’s because I’m not likely to be sitting around in there long after eating. I know it’s like when stores and restaurants target teens, and won’t let them hang around. I’m sure if they don’t have a security guard moving the men on, many of them may sit there taking up tables. I understand why targeting happens. It still makes me upset when I see it. It makes me sad that people have to stand out like this, begging for work.

I asked Harold if he’d ever seen so many men standing on the sides of the road looking for work like this, and he hadn’t. Not in Arkansas. Neither had I – not in Vancouver. Only on tv news, from other places, like this. That brought up memories of Elizabeth Smart, the woman who had been kidnapped at 14 by a homeless man and his wife, after her father had hired men from the street like this. That had happened right here, in Salt Lake City.

On the way back, the water on the salt flats had risen even more, and the rain was hammering down on us in torrents. I wondered about the safety of the road, especially after seeing a truck that slid off the road into the flooded salt flats, but we managed to make it back in one piece.

We delivered the new axle up to the garage and then went back to the trailer to wait. Watching the news I saw that the storms had caused flash floods in southern Utah. Twelve dead in the small polygamist community of Hildale, three sisters/sister wives and 9 of their children. One small boy survived. In Zion National Park, right where we’d been planning to go, seven hikers were also killed by flash floods. It’s so tragic and puts our issues more in perspective.

About 3pm, the mechanics came down to put the axle on. I kept waiting for something else to go wrong. I expected another measurement to be off or for an accident to happen. Watching them jack up the trailer on one side, without having enough support on the other was stressing me out. When they jacked the other side too, I wanted to scream at them. I wondered aloud to Harold how many mechanics die per year because they don’t take proper precautions before climbing under vehicles. He told me to Google it. I knew, if I saw the stats were bad, that would stress me out even more.

Two hours later, the new axle was on, and they took off the wheels on the other axle to see how the bearings were standing up. The wheel on the same side that had seized up was completely dry, with not even a little bit of grease in there. The inside was lined in Playa dust. That side had been facing into the wind the entire week at Burning Man. The other side had been protected and it still was well greased. The Playa killed our wheel. It cost us five days, and an extra $1000. That damn Burning Man – I still wouldn’t trade the experience.



Salt Lake City – a different kind of pilgrimage


Moab, UT – Arches National Park


  1. Gerri

    If you go back to Burning Man next year, I suggest you leave the trailer in Reno and take tents.

  2. I think we’re gonna invest in some tire covers. We’re also going to make an appointment in Reno to have our bearings checked right after Burning Man. Besides, it’ll be better next year. This was the worst year for wind and white-outs.

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