If only they knew, sometimes travelling is not always a guaranteed good time. Sometimes it's breaking down in a vehicular, financial and mental fashion...
Google Beaumont, Texas, and a number of interesting must-visits arise. The Spindletop-Gladys City Boomtown Museum that illustrates life in the 1900s—how fascinating! An interactive Edison Museum which I'm sure is both educational and entertaining.
Unfortunately, these attractions were not on our itinerary. Instead, our Beaumont experience began and ended with being unequivocally stuck in Walmart carpark number twenty-five of a budget North American road trip.
The previous day, we had refilled the oil and driven a grand total of 10 kilometres when the same gauge dropped to empty. My partner Nathan was appropriately shocked, I was too inept to feign surprise. Apparently, this is a problem.
We strolled down the street to the nearest auto parts shop, where an attendant leaned against the counter. By the look in her eye, exceptional customer service was assured.
"Hello, can you help us?"
"What's the problem?"
Nathan relayed our oil hemorrhage issue, to which she rummaged around the hard plastic and pulled out a silver nubbin.
"The closest mechanic is just down the road."
With blind ignorance, we left to walk when the attendant called out.
"You can´t walk down there."
With bemusement and an unsettling casual tone - "There are people driving around with AK-47s on that street." She then proceeded to tell us about a fellow who was shot there not one week ago but we were too busy getting clammy palms about the fact we had walked here, to this shop, and thus would be required to walk back.
It was then we drifted off into our thoughts about ‘the grind’—what we had come here to escape—and how right now we felt ready to embrace it like a warm hug.
The grind. Safe, reliable. The peak hour traffic, the overtime, the stress, the laughs and tears. The rent that was too expensive for a house that was too big, the car that wasn't a home, but a simple form of transport we could count on. The consistent weekly paycheck that disappeared to food (too tired to cook), nights out and not much left over.
The friends who cooed their jealousy once we announced our plans to sell our stuff (threw most of it out) and move halfway around the world with a one-way ticket. If only they knew, sometimes travelling is not always a guaranteed good time. Sometimes it's breaking down in a vehicular, financial and mental fashion—arrange the order according to your preference. Sometimes you question if it was this the right decision, or if it was actually a big mistake.
Safe to say this one wasn't going to make the Instagram feed.
The threat of being knocked off had Nathan rustling through his toolbox—a home job attempt at fixing the problem sounded better than dodging bullets to the mechanic. I shone my tiny torchlight (as I would do many times again) into the bonnet as he wrestled with parts I didn't understand, eventually emerging triumphant and greasy.
We had nicknamed our trusty steed “The White House”—solely because it was in fact, white, and we are literary geniuses. Bought for three grand off craigslist with delusions of grandeur and basically no budget, we ripped out the interior and reconfigured it to a house on wheels.
After a scattered month of timber cuts, styrofoam, solar panels and grumbles, we had ourselves a powered, insulated camper. Whilst I found the renovation a challenge, we did garner a certain satisfaction from living in something we built. We found the humour in being "homeowners", which was closely followed by nervous laughter--is this the only home we will ever own? Probably.
Praying to any nondescript god who may be listening, we turned the key in the ignition. God, Jesus, Allah, anyone—just get us to the mechanic and you can have our firstborn.
It coughs to life. A visceral wheeze shudders the car as it accelerates down the road. We grit our teeth, eyes transfixed to the newly refilled oil gauge and cross our fingers.
The tiny orange arrow points to full. For now, we are back in some sort of business, for how long is anyone's guess.
As we rattled down the road to anywhere that´s not Beaumont, we can't help but nervously laugh. At least, one day, it should make for a good story.
Author - Dani Muir
Danielle is a Travel and Entertainment Writer based on the Gold Coast, Queensland. After 5+ years as a Film Journalist, she spent the last 2 years abroad travelling in North America, Costa Rica and China, and is now sharing her stories through writing travel guides and essays for fellow travellers.