Failure to Launch: How Our Trip Ended Before It Began

So, the van blew up. Not literally of course but with the ramifications it had for our trip, it may as well have. Let me start at the ill-fated beginning.

Paul landed in LA on May 31. Coincidentally, some really good surf landed in Newport the next day so Paul, Ethan, and Tim (really rad friends currently living in LA) spend the next day getting shacked and pitched. Probably mostly pitched. The van made it to port in the midst of the swell and by June 2, the blue beast was on the road with Paul in tow. He was going to drive it inland to his parents’ house to work on the van. He was almost home when the first disaster struck. The temp gauge shot up into the red as his car began to overheat.  We thought it was a minor fix and the van seemed to be working fine again for a bit (to read about this misery, click the button below).

But from then on the problems never ceased. A miserable pattern began to emerge. Every day some new problem with the radiator would arise. Paul would limp the van to the shop to get it fixed. A couple hours later, the mechanic would call to say he had fixed the problem. Paul would test drive it a few miles. The van would overheat and he’d drive it back into the shop, the van leaking coolant. Every day for a week this guy would say he had fixed the van and every day for a week Paul would bring it back in to tell him he hadn’t.

On June 13, just two days before I was to fly out, Paul called me to say the van was running again. I was elated. I had a fun going away BBQ at my house that night and was so stoked to board the flight to LA two mornings later. Besides the fact I was sitting next to Head Cold Man – the sneeziest, snottiest man in the world – I was on cloud nine flying over the Pacific. When I landed in LA, I texted Paul to let him know I was on my way to my connecting flight to San Diego.  He immediately called me back.

“I have some bad news,” he said straight away. No “hi babe,” or “how was your flight?” Nope, he got straight to the good stuff.  “The car broke down again. I’m about an hour and a half east of San Diego. I’m not going to be able to pick you up.”

Itʻs a strange feeling knowing you had been so excited at the exact same time disaster struck and you remained blissfully unaware for hours. That is, until a phone call left you suddenly deflated. I felt like I was living in a life-size Schrödinger’s box; my dreams were alive and well (or not) until that stupid phone call solidified my reality.

I was lucky enough to stay with a friend in San Diego for a couple nights while Paul tried yet again to fix the van. By then I hadn’t seen him in over two weeks and the problems with the van just never stopped. Every day, more and more money went into the van and nothing ever seemed to come out of it. By the end of my second night in San Diego, Paul called me to talk money. The van was going to cost thousands (it had blown a head gasket now) not hundreds, and we needed to seriously consider working for another few months back in Hawaii to make the money back before we went on this trip.

Above everything else, that was the hardest thing to hear. I hadn’t even considered putting the trip on hold. I just kept trying to rework our budget with the money we had left. But, as annoying as it is to write this, Paul was right.

So here I am, writing this from my parents’ house on Oahu. We got back about a week ago and will be here till mid-September when we will make our second attempt. It could be worse I suppose. It’s rare to say, “Our trip didn’t work out so we have to go back home to Hawaii.” It’s probably even more rare to say, “I’m going back to Hawaii to save money.” So things could be worse – I’m not complaining, promise! But here we are just the same, working at a surf school for the summer to save money for our trip. Here’s to hoping that Round 2 will see us at least into Mexico!

A special thanks to everyone who helped us out these past couple weeks. It has been a really tough one but you made it so much better, from letting us crash in your backyards to fun surfs, dinners, gifts, and crazy cat castles - you know who you are :). Thank you Roy and family, Tim and family, Ethan, Gary, Betty, Suzanne, Dan, Beth, Ian, Dane and Mia!