On Block Island, the family keep the “white van” because here there are more dirt roads than metaled roads, and more children/dogs/fishing stuff/beach stuff to sometimes be carried from place to place. Like many islanders, they also have a ‘good’ car which stays on the mainland where there are no overhanging branches or dirt roads which might cause unwanted modification to the paintwork. Or grannies, ditto.
Clearly, the van is quite big. I claim to be five foot two – on a stretch. So when last week Wendy thoughtfully brought the good car over to the island so that she could get to work, and the van would be available for a lot of granny tour guiding for our guests, I did do a lot of driving.
One day, everyone was going to do the 10k Shad Bloom run, which starts at the school, then quickly moves on to Payne Road (dirt) and wends its way through more road, dirt road, track and even up the walking trail in Rodman’s Hollow, before its eventual return to Payne and back to the school. A quite beautiful route… but a little difficult even in the sun… and that was the one day it rained, and rained.
So, I said I would be available to collect anyone along the way, if they were not OK. Sure enough, 12 year old Brooke who was not feeling well before she started, but did not want to be left out, did begin to struggle.
At Snake Hole Road (road? haha?) Lorna said – ‘that child can’t go further’. Barbara said ‘what can we do here?’ Lorna said ‘here is a house’ and promptly knocked on the door and asked for shelter. ‘Of course’ said the house owner. [This is Block Island] Phoned Elspeth. Yes. Told her where. Yes. Beyond Snake Hole and along Black Rock Road. Elspeth said ‘I’ll get there, see you in ten minutes’ – but thought OMG that is not just a dirt road but more of a pot-holed track with grass up the middle. Still the van always copes.
Out and into van, off to Snake Hole Road. Steep downward slope uh oh another car is on the slope, coming up. Other car is stopped. A lot of rain. A few gestures from both sides. Man exits other car runs up to me, says ‘we are stuck. Car can’t start again’. Choices choices – reverse UP Snake Hole Road – leave Barbara and Brooke to do without rescue? No no neither necessary – the van has jump leads!
Wave jump leads at the four tourists in the other car. Drive nose of van up close. Fix leads etc. Their car still does not start. We are all soaking wet. I explain I have to rescue Barbara and Brooke, I have to get past them. This is actually not now true as the friendly house owner has turned out to be one of Callum’s customers [this is BI] and they are all having a nice time, though wondering a little why Elspeth has not yet arrived. I say I will collect them and bring them back to town, after I have got past and found Barbara and Brooke. We push their car back to a place where there is room to pass. I reverse back a bit to get the angle… crash into a post hidden in the long grass.
I had sworn I would never never never do that to the van again, it is reversing which is so hard, as it is far too big. Fortunately, no harm seemed to be done.
OK, deep breath, pass stuck car, proceed up Black Rock, meet another car coming down.
Oh no. But… out jump Barbara and Brooke. It is Callum’s friendly customer taking them home as Elspeth didn’t seem to be coming. He discharges passengers, backs up to turning place, waves goodbye. Elspeth proceeds to turning place. Careful 12 point turn which makes Barbara offer to drive, but I didn’t tell her why I was being so careful. Proceed back to stuck car, people have phoned their friend who is coming out for them. So pass …carefully … [Barbara now convinced I am over-anxious driver] and drive back UP Snake Hole Road, and then home.
After that, it was time to go to school and collect everyone else who had braved the walk/run in the rain.
[And time to tell Callum and Wendy I had bashed the van, again.]
When this story was told later to the assembled showered, clean and warm company, it seemed to be very very funny.
I still do not know – a consequence of what?
The rain? the roads? my size in relation to the sightlines of a large van? [do not say ‘my driving’]