I used to play Dance Dance Revolution (the arcade game where you jump on a mat with arrows in sync with the screen) a lot. I played at least 3 times a week for 1-2 hours on very high difficulty, so I was jumping all over the place and sweating a ton—it’s actually an incredibly good cardio workout while being fun at the same time. I used to be on DDR forums on the internet, and while conversing with others, I discovered that there was a competition going on in the near future (mid November) in Seattle, Washington. I decided that I would participate.
I practiced the songs that would be in the competition and was able to beat almost all of them with AA or AAA scores, which is phenomenal. After weeks of practicing, the time had arrived.
The competition was to be held on Saturday. My plan was to drive up to Seattle from Jackson, Wyoming on Friday, which I took the day off for. I would find some motel or something when I got there, go to the competition on Saturday, and then drive back on Sunday. I left on Friday morning in my Jeep with my DDR mat in the back and hope in my heart.
But alas, the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.
I was cruising along somewhere in the middle of Oregon. I had just ascended a pass and was making my way down when I noticed an unpleasant, burning smell, shortly followed by smoke coming through the vents in my car. I immediately pulled over and turned off the engine.
By the time I pulled over, smoke was billowing out from under my hood. I gave it a few minutes for the smoke to dissipate before I popped my hood to see that my serpentine belt had snapped which had caused the water pump to stop operating and overheat my engine block.
I have had my belt snap before, so I knew what to do. I hitchhiked to the nearest town where I went to an auto parts store. They asked me about my car, and I told them what I had and they sold me the necessary belt.
It should have been an easy fix. I always kept tools in my car just for cases like this, and when I got back to my car I started releasing the belt wheels so I could install the new belt. Now ready, I pulled the belt out of its packaging only to notice that something didn’t look quite right about the belt…
They had sold me the wrong belt.
By that time, it was approaching 6pm, so the store was closing and I wouldn’t be able to get a replacement that day. Not wanting to freeze overnight, I turned my car back on and started driving to town. I would keep an eye on the temperature and pull over as soon as it started getting too hot and shut my car down. I would then pop the hood, grab handfuls of snow and throw them on my engine block to help it cool down faster. After it was cool to the touch, I would drive my car till it overheated again, rinse, and repeat. What took about 20 minutes while hitchhiking took me a couple hours with this maneuver (and it probably wasn’t good for my engine block), but I finally rolled into town later in the evening. I promptly made my way to a hotel, got a room and went to sleep.
(Note that I don’t really have any pictures from this part because I was just really frustrated and exhausted and taking pictures was the least of my concerns.)
I woke up the next morning, returned the wrong belt, went to a different store out of spite and bought the correct one. After fixing my car, I wasn’t sure what I should do anymore.
I wouldn’t make it to the competition in time, so I figured I would just drive home. But then something clicked—that very day was Hailey’s birthday, a friend of mine that just so happened to live in Portland, Oregon, which was now only a few hours away from me. I can’t recall how I knew, but somehow I knew that Hailey’s mom was visiting her then.
Hailey and I used to work together at the restaurant that her parents owned, so I called up the restaurant and asked for the phone number of Hailey’s mom. After getting in contact with her, I was told where and when to meet.
So, with my amended plans for the weekend, I made my way to Portland, arriving around lunchtime.
I was txting Hailey’s mom and I managed to get to the store that they were all in, and I casually walked around the corner behind Hailey and surprised her. She was excited to see me—a totally unexpected turn of events on both our parts that I was there.
We all ate together, and then we hung out a bit checking out some locations in Portland for Hailey’s birthday.
We also went to Powell’s bookstore, which was awesome. Multiple stories with each one being huge in itself, the store was so full of books I could have spent years in there. I also spent more money than I should have when I left with my purchases.
Later in the evening, Hailey and I hung out and I got to meet some of her friends, which seemed like a good group of people. I also recall watching Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus with them, a movie that was so bad that it was great again; highly recommended. I crashed at Hailey’s place that night while we caught up, since it had been a couple years since we both went off to college in different locations.
We hung out a bit more in the morning, but then I had to make my way home, which was about a 12-hour drive away. I probably left a bit later than I should have as I had to drive through the entire night in order to get back to Jackson in time for work on Monday morning.
While driving in the middle of the night in Idaho, I missed a speed limit sign that was 10 MPH less than what I was previously going. A police officer pulled me over and after him asking me a few questions and then telling me to just go a little slower (thankfully without giving me a ticket), he quite explicitly asked me what was wrong with me and my car’s paint job.
We had a good laugh, and then he sent me on my way.
Another couple hours of driving, and I arrived at the top of the pass into Jackson and saw an amazing sunrise.
I had to work in the morning, though, and with it already being the morning, I simply went home and freshened up before going to work with absolutely no sleep at all. I was so tired, and that day went by in a dulled haze. After getting home after work, I immediately passed out on my bed and slept till the next morning.
And that’s how my weekend went where I should have been competing in (and ideally winning) a Dance Dance Revolution contest.
But maybe the true victory was a good surprise visit with an old friend 🙂