I was three weeks into a relationship with my girlfriend and we decided to take a drive out to Spiral Jetty in Utah. It’s a fine drive up to the Golden Spike site, but after that it’s damn near 20 miles of single-track dirt. Still, should be easily doable in her MkIV Jetta. And it was fine for the first fifteen miles or so until the ruts showed up. And the rocks. And the oil pressure light.

The dipstick showed low, so I dumped in a quart and turned around in a hurry. Ten yards on, the oil pressure light came on again. And that’s where we stayed. For the next three days.

I’m T-Mobile; she’s Verizon. She has service; I have battery. Neither of us has food or water. It’s late summer in Utah desert. I have a flask, but it’s half empty and I’m down to my last six cigarettes. The towing company wants close to $1,000 to drag us out of there and they don’t know when they can come out.

The first day went well. It was a Sunday and there was a nice stream of visitors to Spiral Jetty who helpfully donated their food and water to us. I made a couple of calls and got a rescue party arranged for Monday. We took a little hike and found the exact rock that holed our oil pan. The unending heat brought cabin fever, and we spent the rest of the day digging holes in the dirt and filling them back in again.

Slept in the car.

Early afternoon on Monday, the rescue party shows up: truck and trailer. They left the trailer at Golden Spike to get the lay of the land. When we met up and they went back to the trailer was the most relief I had ever felt in my life. We ate all of our apples and beef jerky and string cheese and waited. And waited. And then we saw the signal mirror for the hill a few miles down the road.

The truck had broken down. They called in mechanics, but nobody could get it running again and it got towed out on the trailer. OUR TRAILER.

Being Monday, there wasn’t much traffic to collect provisions from. And there was a dust storm. And the window regulator on the car failed (Mk IV Jetta), so the driver window was stuck wide open.

The Tuesday rescue went much better. We trailered the car, took it to the dealer, and drove home.

So we’re married now.