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  • Writer's pictureSam Hageman

Adventure Tales: How we Bought the Chevy Suburban & Almost Killed it within 24 Hours

Updated: Jul 31, 2021

We were halfway on our USA Road Trip when we left Dinosaur Valley State Park in Texas to drive 6.5 hours to Palo Duro Canyon State Park…but we never made it there.

After 4 hours driving in the middle of nowhere Texas we stopped at a Gas Station for gas in Post, Texas. Our Ford Escape started to sound funny & was not going well. Eventually we barely were able to move the car, so we called AAA to have them tow us to the garage in town. As this was a small town & we got there later in the workday, the mechanic told us he thought one of our engine cylinders was not firing properly. However, he would not be able to work on it until the next morning. This left us in a sticky situation, because there were two hotels in town & we had a dog. The local joint would not allow dogs at all even with the situation we were in, but thankfully a Best Western was partially built (half was open while the rest was under construction) & after talking with the manager they allowed us to stay. The next issue became how we would get there, because even if we were in a small town, we were still 5-6 miles away from the hotel & there were no cabs/lyfts/etc. We ended up slowly driving the car to the hotel...but we only made it to the church next door. Once we got there, we were able to talk with our parents more about the situation, especially our Dads who both work on cars.

At around 8PM we realized we hadn’t eaten & needed to get some food. So, we called Pizza Hut, figuring pizza would deliver…they didn’t deliver at all. So, we then decided we would just walk to the pizza hut a mile away…then a massive thunderstorm rolled in just as we were going to leave. This left us stranded in the hotel. We realized they may have vending machines, so we headed to the vending machines & found out they had ramen noodles/other microwavable meals…but the bottom half of the vending machine did not work. So, we were stuck eating the granola bars we had for the road & some miscellaneous things we could get from the vending machine, like a Kar’s trail mix (the only non-tree nut one I can eat), Oreos, Famous Amos Chocolate chip cookies, & Sun Chips. We ate some of the snacks, made sure Dexter ate, & went to bed to find out what was going to happen to our trip…

The next day was our anniversary & it did not start out with much luck. The local shop towed our car back to their shop & told us they wouldn’t be able to do the work needed for our car. So, we would need to call a tow truck to drive us & the car to Lubbock, Texas (40 minutes north & the closest major city in the area). So, we called AAA again & asked for a tow to Lubbock that would accommodate both of us, the dog, the driver, & the car. It took about two hours for the driver to pick the car up & then us. The tow truck was built to tow larger vehicle, but the cab was cramped with the both of us, Dexter, & the driver. On top of that the 40-minute drive felt like it took forever because the cab had no air & it was a 110-degree day in Texas. By mid-afternoon we arrived in Lubbock, Texas at the shop who said they would need a few hours to assess the car. Garrett & I knew then that we were not going to hit the road again & would miss our planned adventures at Cadillac Ranch, Black Mesa State Park, Monument Rocks National Landmark, & reservation at Lake Scott State Park. So, we called the local La Quinta who were amazing & super helpful the entire time. We were able to get a room & called an Uber driver (who allowed us to bring the dog in his car).

We arrived at the La Quinta & immediately started planning what we would do. Our options were limited, either we would need to wait for the car to be repaired (which potentially could take 2 weeks & kill the trip), we could rent a car to drive home (however that would have been VERY expensive & killed the trip), or we bought a new car (cost money, but would continue the trip). We talked with the mechanic & so did Garrett’s Dad to assess the damage. We discovered it would not be worth it to save the Escape, as it would need too much work & would cost too much. So, Garrett & his Dad looked around (without knowing the other was) & both found the same two vehicles to look at a local Chevy Dealer. The Chevy Dealer was closed, but we made the plan to go there in the morning to test drive. So, to finish our anniversary off we ordered some delivery from Dominos & watched Law & Order SVU on TV.

The next morning, we took care of Dexter, ate at the breakfast bar, & took an Uber to Gene Messer Chevrolet to test drive a 2001 Chevy Suburban & 2004 Chevy Tahoe. Everyone at the dealership was nice & really wanted to help us hit the road again. They even stated they would help us look for a car if one of these did not work out. We test drove both vehicles & decides the Chevy Suburban was the best option, with the AC working, ZERO rust, & a one car owner vehicle previously. After landing on the car, Garrett stayed to deal with financing, & the dealership let him drop me off in the Tahoe quickly before he headed back. I was able to extend our stay in the LaQuinta until 3PM that day thanks to the amazing staff there.

The financing was a problem, as we were out of state & had no proof of income/Garrett worked multiple part-time & gig worker jobs at the time. However, both Garrett’s Dad & my Dad were able to help us get through it all so we could get the Suburban & hit the road that day. While the staff finished cleaning/prep the car, Garrett came to pick Dexter & I up at the hotel to head to the shop where the Escape was. Garrett said goodbye to his Ford Escape, we loaded up the Tahoe the dealership let us borrow again with all of our stuff & headed back to Gene Messer Chevrolet to load up our new Suburban.

By 8PM that night we were finally fully packed & hit the road in an attempt to exit the state of Texas that night & make it to Black Mesa State Park in Oklahoma. However, Garrett & I both were exhausted by 11PM/12PM. We made it to a truck stop at the edge of the border between Texas & Oklahoma & slept in the car for the night.

The next day we played “catch up.” Our goal was to make it from Texas to our camping spot in Utah while hitting Oklahoma, Kansas, & Colorado in a day. We had to skip a few stops & rearrange some of our planning, but we were successful & had an amazing day. However, we were exhausted as we drove 7 hours from Great Sand Dunes National Park to Glen Canyon National Recreation area. We had only slept 5 hours the night before & had left Great Sand Dunes around 7/8PM. However, we were determined the catch up.

We drove through the Rocky Mountains, trying not to cook the brakes. We continued switching back & forth between whichever one of us was more awake. However, by the time 2AM rolled in we both were struggling to stay awake. We were only 45 minutes away from our campsite though, so we were going to make it…but there were some complications.

As some may not know, there are Open Range areas everywhere out west. This means cattle can freely roam across the road between two pieces of land divides by the road. These do not exist in the Midwest & we are used to fences for cattle. We had experienced some of this in the daylight in Oklahoma, but otherwise had not seen many cattle otherwise.

It was 2AM when we were driving in Utah through canyons with twisty & hilly roads. Although it was absolutely beautiful to look at the night sky, it was not great for visibility while driving. I was in & out of consciousness in the passenger seat while Garrett drove on the final road to the park…labeled “Open Range.” Next thing I knew I wake up slightly & yelled at Garrett to STOP. Garrett did not know why I yelled at that moment but reacted right away by slamming two feet on the peddle. We screeched to a stop with 12 cattle on the road a foot from the front of our car. Dexter freaked out because he was awoke by the quick stopping & we just sat there for a second collecting ourselves. We both swore about how we hated open range roads, but were glad I had really good skills spotting wildlife even though I am blind without my glasses. Finally, after we collected ourselves we slowly drove up to the cattle so they would clear the road. It took a moment as they did not want to move, but we were able to make it.

We drove the 15 minutes left to the campground, but I felt sick from the car & was not doing so well. When we arrived we only saw a campground at night for RV’s. So, Garrett primarily set up camp at the only site open by the RV’s & we went to bed right away.

The next morning, we were awoken by a construction crew at the campground at 8AM. We quickly realized we had messed up & saw the tent sites down another road. So, we quickly packed up before anyone else was awake & headed to the tent camping area to hit the showers.

After a few days of craziness we finally had caught back up to our original schedule, although we still had to make some minor tweaks throughout the trip still. We avoided almost killing the car…although a deer would leave a nice mark in it later in the trip…but we lived to tell the tale & enjoy the rest of the trip.

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