How To Handle Unexpected Changes

The tent that ran away 

Here’s a story about how easily things can change, unexpectedly, and without warning. 

I believe life is easier if we know that we might have to change course when things happen out of our control.  

I think it’s a matter of three things: staying calm, allowing yourself to feel disappointment, and feeling grateful. 

Here’s what happened.

It was going to be a test run. We had just purchased a rooftop tent. This tent camper sits on a rack on top of the truck and with the push of a button and in less than a minute, the tent is fully upright and ready to sleep in.  There’s a ladder that attaches to the truck to get you up there and voila! Instant camping. 

A Trip To Death Valley

We decided that Death Valley would be a great destination as the weather was going to be idyllic for the desert...highs of only 80 and cool nights.  

We were on the road by 6 am as we knew it would be long 8-hour drive.

We passed through snow and closed mountain passes as we navigated our way south and through Lake Tahoe. I was thinking it will be hot in the desert so I didn't pack a coat. It was after all May 21. And snow this time of the year? Never. Wrong. 

It was snowing!

We arrived in beautiful Death Valley, traveling the backroads… far away from the crowds. 

Thom, my resourceful husband, made sure we'd be safe in case we got stuck on some god-forsaken road out in the middle of somewhere. He had a shovel, tire skids in case we got stuck in sand, all neatly secured on top next to the camper.  

We even had the ability to lower our tires and a compressor to fill them back up for those places which were really glitchy to get into with huge rocks. 

We were prepared for anything. 

Or so we thought. 

In Death Valley, we stopped to see the Ubehebe Crater, a large volcanic crater 600 feet deep and half a mile across. It was stunningly beautiful. 

It was late afternoon so we knew we needed to go further to find our place and camp for the night. It was a bumpy back road so we were going maybe 30 mph.  

Handling The Unexpected

Suddenly, and without warning, we heard a rumbling from the back of the truck.  

We stopped, jumped out, and there…just 20 feet behind us, was the smooth black camper shell…on the ground as if it had never been on top of our truck. 

It was seconds of flight time only. It was quiet, and apparently lifting up gracefully and then slipping back down mysteriously by the side of the road.

Immediately I started thinking. 

How on earth could we get this heavy object back on top of the truck? 

Would it fit inside the bed of the truck.? Nope. Way too big. 

The thing I remember most is that Thom and I remained eerily calm. No one cried or yelled or swore or got upset. 

We started the problem-solving process. What could we do? It was already 6:30 and we had maybe 2 hours before the sun would be completely gone. 

We had passed 2 young men a few minutes before the debacle and there they were driving up behind us. They immediately stopped to help.

What transpired in the next hour was that they got the tent back up on the truck. I watched as Thom and the 2 young guys lifted the very heavy tent above their heads, determined to capture it all on video.

But I was so nervous watching them that I failed to record until the tent was back up safely on the truck. 

The tent then needed to be strapped down since the Yakima rack had completely failed.  Luckily, again, Thom had a few straps back in the emergency toolbox. 

We drove off after thanking our two good Samaritans and nervously checked and rechecked as we heard the straps thump on the roof.  I gave them anything they wanted...grapes, apples, oranges, and some homemade trail mix. They saved us! 

It was getting dark. And we were 2 hours away from civilization. 

Again and again, we got out of the truck to check to make sure the rack was secure. Was it nerve-wracking? Oh yes.  

It was Friday night and somehow we managed to check in to the last hotel room in the tiny town of Lone Pine.

We purchased another strap the next morning before making the long drive back. 

The good news is that we made it home and were even were surrounded by beautiful the Eastern Sierra snowcapped mountains on our drive back North.


3 Top Tips For When Things Go Sideways 

I realized a few things on this adventure and I think it’s worthwhile to think about and implement whenever things go sideways. 

1. Stay calm

If you stay calm when the unexpected happens, things go easier. My tendency normally is to panic but when you’re miles away from nowhere, getting crazy and upset won’t help.

2. Allow for disappointment

It’s not only okay to feel disappointment but to allow yourself the time to actually BE disappointed.  Our whole weekend got smashed and we didn’t get to spend a single night looking up at the stars from our new tent.  

Okay, so yes, it’s a champagne problem. 

But even the smallest, most insignificant, champagne problem deserves our attention. It’s a loss. When we gloss over our disappointments, it’s easy to get angry, blame somebody or something, and not really acknowledge that we’re just plain disappointed. 

The key is to let yourself feel the disappointment, then move on.

3. Be grateful 

What if that tent had slid off while we were on the freeway? I’m beyond grateful we didn’t kill someone that day by the thing sliding into another car. 

I’m grateful for those two young men who came by and heaved up the tent camper back on the truck. 

I’m grateful to my husband who had tied down ropes and that he stayed calm, too, and that I wasn’t alone trying to figure all this out.  

What Will You Do When The Unexpected Happens? 

Over to you:

Remember a time when you were disappointed. Did you allow yourself to feel it? Are you holding onto something that happened and it still makes you upset? Your job is to explore what that is and then let it go. 

And what will you do when the unexpected happens? 

Let me know how you like this story and pass it on to someone who might need to hear this today. 

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