Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Amazing Last McCandless Moving Adventure

BOOM—goes the tire!
Over the years, my father has had some amazing “adventures” when travelling or moving.  One story will illustrate this better than explaining all the “adventures” I went through just this past weekend while trying to help move my parents from Las Vegas, across the Mojave Desert to Southern California.  This is a trip that included an overheated ’56 Chevy 6400, an overnight stay in Baker, California

It was easily over 104 F (40 C) when I had to call AAA.  I was a little over 10 miles out from the Baker, which sits at the bottom of a desert valley and boasts the world’s tallestthermometer.  Baker is also the gateway to Death Valley, so yeah, it’s hot.  Damn, damn hot.  I’d blown one of four trailer tires and I saw that a second tire had lost all its tread—the steel wires gleamed silver in the midday sun.  The AAA guy was filling out the paperwork, and taking down my name when he stopped me:

“Are you,” he started to ask, then hesitated.  “Are you related to—”

Now, it’s important here to note that I thought he was going to ask if I was related to Bob McCandless.  Not because my father is world or region famous, but rather because my family, and specifically my dad, can drive from Southern California, through Nevada and up to Salt Lake City, Utah (and beyond) and tell a story about how he broke down, and subsequently fixed and/or was towed, from almost every desolate and deserted off-ramp to nowhere.

The "Bob" in his natural environment.
So, when the AAA guy hesitated over my name, I thought for certain he’d had a run-in with my father.  Those are reasonably memorable, even for just the day-to-day kind of thing, let alone the “adventures” which include losing two tires and two spares within the space of a half-mile (yes, that happened).  That my dad, at 76+ is still walking around with all his original limbs, is a testament to a) how tough he is (John Wayne-tough) and b) how capable he's been at managing these kinds of crises.

I haven’t picked up all my dad’s tips and tricks, and in a lot of ways I don’t want to.  Dad has the capacity to absorb hardship and suffering—like lying under a two-ton truck in 100 degree-plus heat for four hours to remove, repair and replace a punctured oil pan (yes, that happened)—that I simply have no desire to endure.  I can do it, but I have to complain about it.  I much prefer to all in the experts, pay them for their time, and go on my merry.  Or better still, pay extra for vehicles and equipment so that I don’t have to repair it at all.

But not Dad.  There wasn’t an old piece of rusting equipment that he couldn’t get up and running with a 9/16th wrench, a pair of pliers and his pocket knife.

But the AAA guy wasn’t going to ask if I was related to Bob McCandless.

“—McCandless International?” he finished.  That’s a big, commercial truck dealer.

I’m not related to them.  Nope.

But I am related to Bob McCandless.  He's my dad.