Things Gone South at the South Rim

It wouldn’t be a normal Hoffpack summer without car trouble, and the summer of 2018 was no exception.  We were just thankful we made it to the North Rim for our rim to rim trek!  After our big hike, we spent the night at Maswik Lodge while Chuck and Brian took the shuttle back to the North Rim to retrieve our cars.

We spent our first night back up top eating large and celebrating our successes.

I thought I had it rough when Gavin threw up all over the bathroom and en route to the bathroom… all.over.the.carpet!  I spent a good part of the night cleaning up the room to the best of my ability while the kids slept.

The next morning, we did some souvenir shopping and said our goodbyes to Grandma.

Little did we know how short of a stick the shuttle was for the poor guys!

The shuttle itself was an adventure, and thankfully, they made it ALMOST all the way back to Grand Canyon Village on the South Rim before calling to let us know the Hoff Suburban was dying out on the way through the entrance.  Ugh!

After some debate, it was decided that cousin John and I would take his minivan to the overlook 30 miles outside the village where Brian and Chuck were left stranded.  Jeanne and Dave would stay with all THIRTEEN kids while we tried to work out the next steps with the car/camper situation.  Jeanne and Dave were troopers and shuttled the kids all over the south rim.

While there was speculation that maybe bad gas had been put into the suburban, a call to Chevy confirmed that we probably needed a new fuel pump.  Having been in this situation before, we asked Chevy if our extended warranty covered towing, and they said it did, so they sent a tow truck to get the car.  In the meantime, we called AAA and asked them to tow our camper, preferably the next day so that we could sleep in it that night.  Our plan was to have the Hamiltons suburban (yes, it looks just like ours) tow our camper to the campground, and have John’s minivan tow the Hamilton’s popup to the campground.

I would like to say this is the first time we had called in favors to these great families, but both John and Brian have been with us during other breakdowns and literally carried us across the country.  We could not ask for better friends or relatives, and are so thankful that they still travel with us despite our lack of luck in the automobile department!!!

Unfortunately, AAA told us that they would not be able to tow our camper without also towing our car.  What?!  In reality, we were saving AAA money by having someone else tow the car, but they were insistent, so we ended up calling Chevy to put their tow guy on hold while we figured out what to do.  We went back and forth quite a bit before a reasonable rep agreed to make an exception.  Being disconnected and losing battery on our phones quick made this situation even more difficult.  Trying to reconnect to the same agent proved almost impossible, but with some major luck, we figured out who she was and how to get reconnected.  While the view was not bad, the entire day was occupied waiting for Chevy to tow the vehicle and holding Brian and John hostage while we figured out if the tow truck driver would be able to drive Chuck and I back to the campground area while our car was being transported to Flagstaff.

We had gone back and forth with shuttling back on the one bike we had versus asking the driver to go back through the village.

When we were finally reunited that evening, we couldn’t have been happier to sleep in our cozy camper, awaiting our future the next day, pending car diagnosis.

I woke up early the next morning and called AAA to determine when our camper would be towed, and how many of us would fit in the cab of the tow truck.  The Mattsons would be leaving us that day, while the Hamiltons and Hoffs were to continue on to Sedona.  It turned out AAA was able to secure the only quad cab in the Flagstaff area, which allowed us to keep the girls with Chuck and I, and the boys continued on to Sedona with the Hamiltons until our car repairs were completed.


It’s hard to say you are lucky when your car breaks down almost every year, but we felt so fortunate that this happened when it did, within towing distance to a big town like Flagstaff.  After having gone through this before, we knew how to function within our AAA coverage, and we learn more each time.  AAA was only allowed to drop our camper at the repair shop, and we were told they had RV parking.  When we arrived, this is what “RV parking” meant.

Uh oh!  We were right on the highway!  We had hoped it would be a quick one day fix, but the part would have to be overnighted, so we then spent the day at the car repair place, trying to figure out how to have our camper towed to a campground.  Finally, an employee took pitty on us, and handed over the keys to his truck to drive our camper over.  We stayed at a campground with an attached restaurant (Black Bart’s RV Park), and knew from the last time that AAA would cover meals, so we were able to experience a group of singing college students running a steakhouse along with a couple other meals out.

It’s the little things that get you through the tough times.  The next day, we were so excited to be back on the road to be reunited with the boys and the Hamiltons! (travel dates 6/26-6/28)

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