May 1 - Houston, Seattle

Travel day!

Both Dad and I are flying today to meet Taylor in Seattle, WA. Or more specifically, Kent, which is just to the southeast, where he lives and works. I’m flying in from Houston, and Dad is flying in from San Jose, CA. Dad is scheduled to arrive around 7pm, and I won’t make it in until midnight.

Taylor was working yesterday to get the Uhaul trailer sorted out. I’ve been calling the local (Kent) Uhaul dealer for weeks in an attempt to secure a “Sport Trailer”. It’s an aerodynamically shaped fiberglass bodied travel trailer. It’s designed to be much easier to tow than the brick-shaped cargo trailers that they otherwise offer.

The unicorn of trailers!

The unicorn of trailers!

Unfortunately, when you actually try to reserve one, you’ll find that they are incredibly rare. I discovered somewhat late in the planning process that Uhaul tried a small batch of these as a test product; they proved to be unpopular, so Uhaul ended the experiment without ordering any more, but kept the small existing amount in circulation.

Given Uhaul’s inability to say with any certainty that we would have one for our trip, we decided that Plan B would involve no trailer and some extremely lean packing. Normally, a One Lap crew would easily be able to pack in a car as cavernous as the V70R, but we have some extenuating circumstances that would really push that. Taylor’s main wheelchair takes up a large amount of space, and we also need to bring his shower/bathroom chair. Plus 3 people’s worth of regular stuff. And a full-size spare tire. And spare parts. And tools. And an EZ-up tent to keep Taylor out of the rain. And chairs for grumpy old Dad. And a full production crew’s worth of camera gear. And 3 full-size humans.

While we would be challenged to get everything in without a trailer, it was appearing as though we had no choice in the matter. Then, by what must be divine intervention, a sport trailer popped up in the Seattle area from a one-way traveler on Saturday. What a stroke of luck!

We pivoted back to plan A. Dad was glad because he could bring his pillow.

Taylor made the journey over to check the trailer out on Sunday, hoping that it would be in reasonable shape for the 7,500 mile journey. His cursory inspection (tread on the tires, etc) went okay, so he went to get the wiring harness for the trailer installed on the car. It seems whoever installed the hitch didn’t do the trailer wiring. My best guess is they used it for a bike rack instead of a trailer.

Unfortunately, the Uhaul location couldn’t help him get his car wired up. Taylor and I both set out on the internetz to see how easy it was to splice into the wiring.

Turns out, not easy at all. We were unable to find anybody who had ever done it. Volvo makes a special wiring harness and control module that allows a trailer to play nicely with the car. We figured this out this morning.

In a mad panic, I called all the Volvo dealers in the Houston area to see if they stocked the parts. Nope. So I called around in Seattle to see if they stocked the parts. Nope.

The trailer plan was fading fast until a dealership in Tacoma said they could source the parts by 9:30am Tuesday. Eureka! Of course, we’ll be paying approximately double what we could have got the parts for online, but we’re lucky to be able to get them at all. Not to mention, a week ago we were pretty sure we wouldn’t have a trailer to tow. Oh well, the first of many mild-moderate emergencies that make the One Lap experience.

Before I flew out, I filmed an interview with my wife, Ryann, talking a little bit about the trip and what we’re expecting. I’m hoping to put all the footage together for a documentary when this is all done.

Screenshot of Ryann's interview

Screenshot of Ryann's interview

I’m typing this on the plane, about an hour out from landing in Seattle. I’ve been lead to believe that Dad arrived okay and helped Taylor get a new batch of spark plugs installed.

We’re planning on getting up early to round up tools and supplies, wire up the trailer with the new harnesses, pack, and leave town. South Bend is 32 hours of driving away (2,100-ish miles), so we can’t afford to leave too late to make registration at 8am Friday morning…

Thanks for reading; stay tuned!

Damen Hattori

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