I definitely had the most terrifying experience of the entire trip today. After we parked in front of Nico's friend's dad's house, I swung open my door and my water bottle tumbled out of the car, onto the road, and rolled down into the 10 foot long, ungrated sewer, making a loud crash as the full 48 oz Nalgene which had become my baby, my faithful companion, and hydration savior over the past three years disappeared into the abyss never to be seen again. I freaked out!! I mean sure, the thing could be replaced with only $8 and an Amazon Prime membership, but to me, its sentimental value was worth 100x that.
I peeked in the grate, and couldn’t see the bottle, only a blank concrete wall. I sat there on top of the grate, hands on my knees for a minute or so just trying to comprehend what had just happened. If only I hadn’t squeezed my bottle in between my seat and the door to save precious foot space during the car ride, then it would still be with me right now! The others started unloading the car without me, and as they walked past they asked questions like: “Was that your laptop?” “Did you break your phone, AGAIN?” and “That sounded like your laptop falling!”. When I answered “It was my water bottle!!” they looked less impressed. That was fine though! It’s hard for others to comprehend the storied relationship one can have with one’s longtime water receptacle. :'''(
It was at this moment that Nico’s friend Derek’s dad: “Papa P” walked out onto the front lawn to come meet and greet us. I shook his hand and then immediately asked, “Is there any way I can get into this sewer drain?” He said, “Oh, my kids and I used to have to go in sewer drains to grab little lost toys by using a special tool, but I’ve since misplaced it.” In lieu of the tool, we brainstormed for a few minutes and eventually settled upon a socket wrench with an extendable tip as the ideal tool for the job. I stood guard while he went inside to hunt for the tool, making sure that if a flash flood were to erupt at any given moment, that I could use my body to block its entrance to the drain. I hoped this would ensure that my water bottle could chill down there long enough for us to be able to retrieve it! Finally, once Papa P (aka Brian) emerged with the tool, a thought struck me and I acted on it instantly. I just bent down and pulled at the center hook on the sewer with one hand and with a groan it sprang up from the hole, and I set it down with a thump on the ground next to the manhole. I was stunned! All that deliberation about tools and the looming impossibility of the entire venture, and all along the thing was just sitting there unlocked. I'm so glad we hadn't given up sooner! More great news was soon to follow! If I placed my head at ground level, I could just barely see my water bottle safe, sound, and unbroken only a few feet away from the cover itself...though about 5-6 feet underground. Luckily, Papa P had come prepared with the tools for every eventuality. He pulled out a plastic broom, which I first used to brush the biggest spiders and spider webs away from the opening itself, then used the same implement to gently roll my bottle towards us until it was located directly under the hole. At this point, he hands me one of those flimsy little plastic grabber hands that kids buy from Target for $5 when they’re 8 years old, and with it... I took hold of my heavy, still full 48 oz Nalgene and heroically extracted it from its subterranean prison.
Victory!!!!!!! At last!!!!! I was so happy to see that wonderful thing again, after almost certainly having called it quits on the retrieval just a few minutes before. Once reunited, I gave it a thorough inside and outside cleaning (sorely needed after two months on the road, and probably three months since its last scouring). And here it sits with me today, accompanying my coffee and my laptop as I post this blog approximately 12 hours late to our website. Sorry dear readers! Last night was quite the whirlwind post-bottle-rescue. We headed off soon after to the grocery store, argued about whether or not to buy pepperoni for five minutes, left with cheese pizza, greens, and beer, then rushed home to consume all three. Once we were sitting there washing dishes, it was already 9:30 pm, and we knew our wakeup time the next morning was coming up in about 7.5 hours. Somehow, through all of this, Nico, Ziv, and Bailee decided to crack open a righteous game of Settlers of Catan while I sat and did more job interview prep + job emails, all of us resigned to the sleep debt in our future. We didn’t end up getting to bed until after 11 pm (sadly) and got up this morning at 5:15 am (Wednesday) to run with Matt, the man + voice behind the Runified podcast! It was totally worth it though! Matt is an awesome dude, runs a great show, and the trail we ran was flat, soft, and reminded me a lot of Southern California’s Arroyo Seco. But of course you’ll hear way more details about all of this and more of today's activities in tonight’s blog post.
Stay tuned! And check back tonight for an ON TIME post this go-around!
Stats/facts of the day:
Miles driven: 393
Miles run: 24.3
Elevation gained (feet): 1690
Level of exhaustion on a scale from 1 to 10 after playing Settlers of Catan until 11 pm and still having to get up at 5:15 am: 1000
Oklahomans age 85 and older with Alzheimer's (2016): 25,000/57,000
Donate here: http://curealz.org/heroes/running-road-trip