My plan for Saturday was fairly simple: finish packing and be on the road by 2:00.
I was up and moving by 9:30. Packing was going fairly well, but for the anxiety that I wouldn't be able to get everything to fit in the truck. The box spring went on the roof and was securely tied down, the mattress in the back where it was a little too big, but squisy enough to work.
Got the truck packed about halfway, and the harsh realization was that I couldn't fit everything in.
Unpacked the truck. Took out the mattress and put it on top of the box spring on the roof, strapped it down, repacked the truck with what I had already taken out. Continued packing the truck.
Came to the realization that I was still not going to fit everything in the truck. I had done triage already and was down to things that I was damn well keeping, though I would have probably sold a lot of it at a garage sale.
Umpacked the truck, tried repacking it like some hellish version of Tetris. Started looking at what I could strap on to the outside of the truck. By this time I was well past my on-the-road time (it was around 5:00), and I was frustrated beyond what I thought was my limit.
Came to the conclusion that I needed a trailer. Luckily I had kept the Des Moines phone book out as a discard. U-Haul, yes. Yes they have a trailer. Come on down.
Apparently U-Haul has a policy against renting trailers to Ford Explorers. Some liability issues. I could try one of the other rental places, but it was unlikely they would rent either.
Fuck it. I'll buy a goddamn trailer.
Home Depot has trailers. Go to Home Depot. Wait 20 minutes for someone to be available to help.
"No sorry, we don't carry trailers at this store. You could try the Ankeny store" (20 minutes away by freeway, and I have a rather large bed strapped to the roof).
Frustration index rising. Breaking glass is sounding therapeutic.
Lowe's is a couple of miles away. I'll try there.
It is the busiest day in Lowe's history. 30 minute wait for the service desk. Yes indeed they have trailers, three models... basically small, medium and large. They're on the south end of the parking lot.
I start walking to the south end of the parking lot. It's a big damn parking lot. I finally decide it's shorter to go back to the truck and drive down.
They have trailers. Nice trailers. Glad I looked at them, because it's obvious that the large trailer is also the best built trailer, and since I will be hauling a lot of building materials in the not-too-distant future, it's a worthwhile investment. At least this is what I'm telling myself as I look at the $875.00 price tag.
Go back inside. The line for the service desk is only three deep. I get in line. And guy #1 turns out to be the customer from hell. Twenty minutes alone with this guy, going through everything in his cart and reams of paperwork. I finally give up and head to a checkout counter, where the line moves much faster until I get there and I'm told I have to make the purchase at the service counter because they have to also set up a title to the trailer. The customer from hell is still there.
A sound comes out of my throat, somewhere between a growl and a scream. The checkout girl's eyes go wide, and she calls over a manager; I explain that I've been there for something like 90 minutes trying to buy a trailer, and he brings me over to the desk and sets me up with a woman who starts filling out the paperwork. She asks if I need any "accessories", and starts listing off things like lighting kit, wiring harness, trailer locks, etc.
It occurs to me that the way things had been going, it is likely that I will need something for every contingency. She steers me over to aisle 18 (on the other end of the half-mile long store) to look.
There is nothing in aisle 18 that has remotely to do with trailers. I'm starting to froth at the mouth. I find a sales associate who takes me to aisle 17, where I find a rack of goodies, including a trailer wiring kit for Ford vehicles of my year, an auxiliary light kit (just in case), a lock, and a few other things. I also got a cargo net bungee thingy, some tiedown straps, and a sheet of thick plastic, because it's Iowa, and in Iowa, it rains in the spring.
I get back to my girl at the service counter, and she's helping somebody else. The customer from hell is still there. Luckily things move rather quickly, at least until I get there. Unfortunately, nobody can seem to remember the procedure for entering the stock number of the trailer so that it comes up as a titled property. There is a lot of badgering, but finally they come up with the concept of making it two separate purchases, and I'm finally done with the purchase.
I get in the truck and drive to the trailers. They sent a guy out to unlock them, who showed up as I was parking the truck in front of one of the large trailers. All goes smoothly, the trailer is hitched up, and I look at installing the electrical trailer connections.
This involves laying on the ground in back of the truck, finding the wiring harness connector, disconnecting it and inserting the new harness in line. I crawl under the truck. There are two wiring harness connectors. I fumble around with the first one for a while, and finally get it disconnected, insert the new harness, and we're good to go. I connect up the trailer, and step on the brake pedal.
No lights on the trailer.
Try the turn signals, same thing.
Something pops inside my brain. Suddenly I am calm. I realize that the god of Pigs and Corn is trying to keep me, and is blocking my path to salvation.
I get out the auxiliary kit and hook it up. Nothing. I get under the truck, disconnect the trailer harness and move it to the other connector. Try it again, nothing.
By this time it's 7:30. I give up and tell the guy I'll have to fix it at home, and I drive off with a truck full of stuff and an empty trailer with no lights.
I get back to the apartment, and the loading zone in front of the building is taken up by a pizza delivery driver who is strolling around the parking lot looking for the right apartment. I wait for a few minutes, then I park the trailer in front of a garage door right next to the entry. It's actually closer than the loading zone.
I unpack the truck. The box spring and mattress fit perfectly in the trailer. The rest of the stuff goes in back. I get the rest of the stuff from the apartment and load it in, balancing the trailer load, strapping everything in securely. I cover the stuff with the plastic sheet, and hold it down with the cargo net. My faithful little four-wheel cart flips over on top and gets strapped in. I make one last pass through the apartment; it's not clean, but I have already paid to have it cleaned, and it's pushing 9:00. I still don't have trailer lights, so I break out the toolbox and start looking at what I can do.
The trailer harness has nothing on it at all. It's like it's not even connected. I look in the truck manual, and the service manual, and there's nothing except an ominous sentence mentioning that I "might have to have a towing package installed" to tow a trailer.
It's very possible that all I need are a few fuses, but there is nothing open at this time of night that has fuses except perhaps a convenience store, and I don't know which fuses it would be.
By this time, there is a chorus of angels singing in my head. I fuel up at the Qwik Trip, which is out of fuses.
I give up.
I head up 50th street to get to the freeway, which goes right past Lowe's again. They're still open. I have an idea.
Inside Lowe's, I find a roll of trailer wire and a discontinued cell-phone batter charger with a cigarette lighter plug on one end. I get out to the car, I split open the charger case and yank out the innards, splice in the trailer extension wire, and on the other end I attach the trailer wiring harness plug from the auxiliary light kit. I attach the trailer, plug in the cigarette lighter, and voila, I have trailer lights.
No brake light or turn signal, but at least the trailer is visible.
I hit the road. It's a little after 10:00. It's a four hour drive at normal speeds. Since I'm towing a trailer, I have to shut the overdrive off. And I keep strictly to the speed limit.
It starts to rain. I begin to laugh. The god of Pigs and Corn loses the battle, and I leave Iowa.
I made it home at 2:30 in the morning. Most of the plastic was still intact, except for the rear third of the trailer which was completely shredded. Nothing damaged. A few things lost and left behind.
Sunday I unpacked. It involved some rearranging of *stuff* inside the house, but I managed to get everything inside with the only casualty being one plastic bin and a bottle of Balsamic vinegar.
I am home. I have pets that love me a whole lot. They are very very much holding me hostage and not letting me leave ever again. And you know, I think I'm okay with that.