(these travelogues were assembled from scribbles on the back of napkins found in the van, the writing becoming more frenzied as the trip continued…)

1:00 pm–Hitch up trailer. Leave Etown for Outer Banks.
1:03 pm–Drew asks why it’s taking such a long time.
1:20 pm–Stop for gas at Sheetz. Drew amazed and excited about Sheetz. It is apparently different from every other convenience store in existence. Alyssa nonplussed.
1:45 pm–Stop in York at the StuffMart (Walmart) for camping supplies.
2:20 pm–Walk out of StuffMart dragging Drew and Alyssa, who behaved not well.
2:22 pm–Failed to start van. Van won’t start. Just clicks, but battery is strong.
2:37 pm–Banged starter with rubbet mallet. Nothing. Gave up on van starting. Called AAA.
3:15 pm–Traced problem to starter. No one can see van until tomorrow. Suckage level of the day has just risen dramatically. Stranded, twenty miles from home. Vacation has become surreal so soon?
3:30 pm–Discuss possibility of setting up camp in Walmart parking lot. Walmart reputedly lets RVs camp overnight, but don’t think poptop trailers are what they had in mind.
3:45 pm–Unhitch trailer and roll it over into parking space under light pole so that van can be freely towed. Suggest to wife that we chain trailer to light pole. Twenty minute debate ensues. Decide to leave alone in end and turn attention to mutinous children. Do we have plank for them to walk?
4:10 pm–AAA shows up. AAA bangs starter with metal sledge hammer I provide. Van starts. After momentary amazed stare reminiscent of Back To the Future, there is much rejoicing.
4:20 pm–AAA leaves. Call place where I got van. Discuss problem. Decide it’s either a fluke or something that will not come back for a long time.
4:30 pm–Rehitch trailer, decide to “continue the deployment.” Leave again for Outer Banks, stubbornly ignoring starter issues. Decide not to turn off engine at all for rest of vacation.
4:33 pm–Drew asks why it’s taking such a long time.
Midnight–Cross border into North Carolina, after several hundred miles, dinner in van, and gas tank refill–all without stopping engine.
1:00 am–Pass Nag’s Head, enter Cape Hatteras National Seashore, driving south to camp at Buxton.

Coming in Chapter 2: “Mosquitoes Attack, or My Wife and Mosquito Genocide.”