I was on my way to
Camp USA in Piney Creek, NC on a beautiful Sunday afternoon
as I was just coming off my big Blue
Ridge Parkway tour. It was a beautiful day and gorgeous drive
with rolling hills and changing leaves on the trees.
Using my 2007 Microsoft
Streets & Trips with GPS, at a point where a turn was coming
up, the program froze and nothing could thaw it. I pulled over
before I got hopelessly lost and had to manually turn off the
computer. It came back up and I was able to get to the campground
safely. However, the next day when I used the program again, same
thing happened. When I turned it off that time, the computer refused
to get turned on again. I guessed my charm and luck had run out.
To make a long, sad
story short as possible, Jay (one of the owners) recommended a
computer repair service in relatively nearby West Jefferson. That
was when I first met the work campers, Ruthanne and Roger. They
insisted on leading me there and trying to make me think positive,
they said we could drop off the computer and get some shopping
done at WalMart and go visit the cheese factory while we waited.
tech had no success in getting the hard drive to respond, so my
only option then was to take it to the nearest Cirrcuit City because
I had an extended warranty with them. Of course this had to happen
when I wasn't exactly in a large metro area. "Nearest"
turned out to be in Hickory, NC, over an hour and a half away.
Even though it was obviously not going to be a fun trip and I
was certainly in no mood to be reasonably good company, Ruthanne
insisted that she go with me and sent Roger home. The whole time,
she was great company and kept reminding me of all the positive
things I would have tried to tell someone else in my position.
She advised me to just take it one step at a time - even threw
some of my own often-used quotes back at me: "the longest
journey begins with a single step" - "this too shall
pass," etc. But it was me in my position and I just couldn't
listen to her or myself no matter how much I knew that a negative
outlook could do absolutely no good. On the other hand, I really
was thankful to have this "stranger" just be with me
and be as helpful as she could be.
Even so, I was totally
bummed because I knew I had not backed up for about 2 weeks, which
meant I had lost all the pictures I had taken of the fall colors
on the parkway on the way here. But
I was congratulating myself that at least I had backed up everything,
including my Outlook email, before I left Shenandoah.
Thankfully, the computer
tech at Circuit City, Rick, was an angel who took pity on me and
tried to restore the hard drive to working order right then, unfortunately
with no success. Normally, I would have had to send it off to
the warranty service to replace the hard drive, a process that
would take much more time than I had. Go without a computer for
2 weeks??? Unthinkable! I didn't even know where I'd be in two
weeks to tell them where to ship it back to. Besides, not only
is my computer addiction an enjoyable pastime to keep up with
my websites, keep in touch with my friends and family by email,
and depository of my pictures, I am the virtual assistant to three
lawyers who had been keeping me extremely busy. That income is
my gas money and I didn't want to lose that or their confidence.
l considered it a personal blessing from God that Rick just happened
to have an extra hard drive from the warranty service company
that he could install and would send in the old, useless one to
them at no charge to me. But I was still scared enough by this
crash that I was going to buy a new computer. However, Windows
Vista is installed on all new computers and so much of my older,
but expensive, software wouldn't work on it. So I bought one of
their "open box" used computers with Windows XP.
Now, besides the lost
time, money and anxiety at the thought of having to reinstall
all my programs, at that point I discovered that the last backup
I did had apparently failed and the loss was much greater than
anticipated. I had really lost over a month's worth of data and
documents, but worse than that, the backups I thought I had of
all my Outlook data (email, address book contacts, calendar, etc.)
had never been backed up correctly. Apparently I didn't have the
settings correct, because only one personal folder - of course,
the least important one - was there. The biggest blow was losing
all the email to and from my attorney bosses. I almost fainted
at the thought of what that meant. Especially with one attorney
who had been sending me hundreds of emails with info to include
on the website, blog and newsletter I was setting up for her.
Not only did I dread having to tell her she'd have to resend all
that, but I'll lose all the time to redo and organize it all,
something for which, of course, I would not bill her. I'm especially
grateful now to have these three great virtual bosses, because
they were all just wonderful about it all - one even offered to
front me some money for the new computer!
But in the throes of
a full-blown panic attack, I cried like a baby and felt sick to
my stomach - all night long I'd keep thinking of something else
I'd lost that I hadn't thought of before. Kicking myself in the
butt because I could have avoided it by taking the time to make
sure everything was really backed up properly. Just
one of many lessons learned from this cyberglitch: Listen to your
instincts! It's so weird that I had just thought of backing everything
up just a couple of days before. But I was boondocking and it
was quiet time at the campground and I couldn't turn on the generator
to access the external hard drive. The next morning, it slipped
my mind and I hit the road - and hit the skids toward disaster.
The day after the crash,
Ruthanne came by to find me a complete basket case trying just
to get the first step done - update Windows with SP2 and all the
latest updates. It wasn't cooperating and I was cursing Bill Gates
for all the billions he is worth. Ruthanne listened to me rant
and rave for a while, gave me a much needed big hug and insisted
that I take a break and go kayaking with her. That had been something
I was very much looking forward to during my stay at River Camp
since it's located right on the New River (paradoxically named
since it's one of the oldest rivers on the continent). The
river was really low due to the drought, but it was a beautiful
sunny fall day and the weather was about to change for the worse
later in the week. Thankfully, my brain wasn't fried enough not
to pay attention to her advice, and I went and had a blast!
I am on my very first ever kayak ride!
the website page I did with details of that wonderful day.
The next night Ruthanne
& Roger continued to care for me and invited me over for a
fantastic dinner - after they taught me how to play rummy, they
fed me pork loin, baked potatoes, squash, tasty tomato salad,
topped off with an ala mode homemade apple crisp made with fresh
local apples. Although I had gotten into such a state of despair
that I had actually started thinking I was crazy for trying to
travel and make a living and that I should just go settle down
back in Austin, their kindness and wisdom reminded me that I could
have these kind of problems anywhere. When I told her later that
there just were no words adequate enough to thank her, she said,
"We just happened to be in the right place at your wrong
time to help out. Thanks for letting us be part of the solution."
So with blessings like meeting people such as them and Joanne
& Jay (the campground owners), I should just continue to keep
pressing onward and count my blessings instead of these occasional
I wish I could meet
such life challenges with at least a semblance of calm resignation,
but noooo - not me - I spent 4 days in absolute panic mode! And
then felt like a fool for being such a whiney baby.
So, while I don't
have some of the pictures I'd taken, I still have the priceless
memories - and barring Alzheimer's, they'll be with me until death
do us part.
fall colors are just starting their peep show here and I'm looking
forward to them following me as I continue to head south next
week. First, I'm going to head over to Mayberry
Campground to check out Mt.
Airy, NC - I'm an Andy Griffith fan from way back and I wanna
go ride in Barney's squad car!