Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Arguably day 3 of our big RV journey and we are currently averaging 2 crisis per day (ok, just under that, but I am rounding). The first, no big deal. We are dragging, I should say towing a car behind the RV. Part way through the first day we figured out that we ran the battery on the car down to nothing. Minor hitch in the hitching meant a small power drain turns into a dead car. Figured this out in a gas station part way from Harrisburg PA to Syracuse NY. My wife, good egg her, talks the gas station attendant into a jump start with her Chevy truck and we are back on the road this time with car following RV to allow for battery recharging. All's well and all and we ended up having a fantastic time with my cousin and his family - likely more on that later. Not to leave out my Aunt Marilyn - who's home we made an all too brief stop at but again - more on that later. On to the stuck...

After our brief stop in Lancaster NY home of my Aunt Marilyn and childhood home of my mother and our family Oma, we decided that the only thing really to do when visiting upstate NY is to make the run for the falls - Niagara Falls that is. My friend Sushila had just been there and I had been as a kid, but my wife and of course the rest of my small clan had never been and it is an impressive site. So we're off to Niagara after dropping off my folks the night before so they can fly back home. A few morning hours of rearranging and a requisite stop to the playground and we're off. Niagara is not far from the Lancaster/Buffalo area where we spent the night. I expected a quick in - check out the falls and out again heading west - should have known how wrong I would be.

So the title here is Stuck and that is exactly what we became - somewhere on the road to the Falls. Following the highway signs we turned down the drive toward the parking area only to be faced with an c-class RV with it's hazards on and a sign "12'-0" Clearance". The only sign prior this that was - "No Commercial Traffic", and we're not commercial and plenty of tour buses where headed down the same road. Now the exact vertical dimensions of the RV we are traveling in are somewhat of a mystery, I know we cleared a 12'6" bridge already but I am damn near certain that 12'0" will take the top off this thing. So, we pull over in the merge lane and sit. In front of us is another, smaller RV. The folks in front of us are much shorter and from our vantage look to have plenty of clearance. When the lady of the RV comes to our door we tell her so, she agrees, they risk it and make it through. Now on top of my vertical limitations, which being over 6' tall, is nothing new to my life, we have the minor challenge of lack of reversibility - something foreign to my world. When towing a vehicle 4 wheels on the ground you cannot reverse. The physics of this I used to know, something of Ackerman's angle and what not, but for now the main point is we had a clearance too low in front, no way to back up and even if we could, no where to back up to.

Now I should mention that my wife and I do not like to ask for help. Bit of a stubborn pride thing I guess between us, but we are blessed to have friends who frequently force help upon us. But facing what appears to be insurmountable obstacle (or whatever the opposite of that is for going under stuff), we begin to run through our options. A quick call to my parents the RV owner to confirm height, a google search to confirm the confirmation and we sit, sweating in the August heat coming off what used to be the Canadian tundra but now, due to global warming must be the Canadian swamplands baking in the afternoon sun. Finally against the very nature of my being, I admit we need to call in the reinforcements. My wife Googles the number for the NY State police and shortly they are on the way. A few more pleasure filled minutes of waiting while trying to keep both autistic son #1 and "normal" daughter #2 quiet and in their seats and the troops arrive.

Now in NY apparently 12'0" is somewhat relative. After a quick crack about knowing we were from California, the trooper mentioned this happens all the time and they could just block traffic so we can proceed slowly in the left lane - "should be plenty of room" - "many others have made it" - "you don't have anything crazy up there do you?". So a plan formulated, we begin our nerve wracking slow crawl under the overpass. Low and behold, we make it with no expensive crunches or sudden stops. Pulling off at the next exit seemed prudent to gather wits and of course have some lunch so we did so in a rather run down part of town, but one which contained an eighteen hundred era cannon next to a nice place to park.

We survived that and went on to even survive navigating the streets of Niagara (ones apparently not set up for very big RVs), to have a great time seeing the Falls. I think both Katie and Jack were impressed. Jack likely with the large amount of water and Katie with the seagulls of all things. So how is this the best story for my first big post of this blog? Well as I see it, it was a lot like traveling (or just living) with a kid with autism. You sometime have challenges which seem insurmountable. If you are me, you'll try to just face it yourself but in the end you frequently need help from experts who either know more or have access you do not. In the end you find a way to muddle through it and not only does life go on, but you find it can be fun and while not always relaxing, at least it's never boring.

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