Monday, October 4, 2021

The Reality of a Home Hit By an SUV!

 September 5 - October 4, 2021
Cameron - Tombstone, Arizona

Following a surprisingly good night's sleep we are up and on the road early Sunday morning. Even though we've both shared the "what-ifs" of the SUV crashing into our little Tombstone house, we've yet to be angry about it. Accidents happen, no one was injured, the house remains live-in-able, we have insurance as does the driver.

Bummed we're going to miss our Colorado route, and for the fourth time (!) we aren't going to see the eastside of the Grand Canyon. I really need to stop putting that on the map :-) However, we do target Cameron, Arizona (the place we would have used for that Grand Canyon visit) as our overnight stop on what is now a two-day trip. 

Another reminder that the things that matter are just fine. Christie and Emily expecting our next two grandbabies in December and October. 

Definitely more driving than usual, but Moab and Monument Valley give us lots to appreciate on what is a fairly clear day. I still can't believe the smoke continues to faintly mute our western skies. 

Love the red dirt of southern Utah.

Monuments everywhere through the Valley of the Gods.

Although a bit hazy, I have to slow for people standing in the middle of the highway to capture this iconic view.

We're bummed that Amigos is closed in Kayenta and we're missing the best Navajo Tacos anywhere. Instead we opt for marginal offerings at the Burger King. I remember there's an exhibit here for the Navajo Code Talkers so it's a good spot to take a break. I take photos but they disappear from my phone (obviously very secret stuff here).

Arriving at a respectable 3:30 PM at the Cameron Trading Post, we set up in our mostly level, all dirt, water and 30 amp site. Across from the trading post and restaurant, we've stayed here before (that time the snow kept us from seeing the canyon). It's a bare-bones little park owned by the Navajo Nation, with night security and star-filled skies. The frybread tacos here are good, but they aren't Amigos :-)

The dog-tv is very limited here.

Our 380 mile, Labor Day weekend, drive on Monday is a mix of two-lanes through green desert, city traffic, and familiar vistas. Although we've driven it before, I forget how much climbing and dropping there is on Hwy 17. Pretty though! The holiday hordes aren't bad through Phoenix and Tucson, but we're very happy to see our San Pedro Valley about 2 PM. And the skies are clear and blue!!!

It's greener here than anywhere we've been since western Washington!

Almost home.

Jeff has been great about sending us pics and keeping us informed on what's happening at the house. Still, nothing really prepares you for seeing your fireplace spread out across your living room, and large holes in the structure of your home. Our good friend Jim pointed out that you'd think it would be our home on wheels that a vehicle would drive into, not our stationary one!!

Had it not been for the 800 lb cast-iron firebox and the massive brick hearth, he would likely have driven all the way through given his probable speed of 45 mph when he hit.

Bill's antique trunk with many of the keepsakes we kept when we went fulltime took the direct hit on that wall to the left of the fireplace. Landing upside down next to the recliner, nothing inside or on top of it was damaged!

Although greatly reduced from the amount of Christmas decorations I had before we retired, there were still four bins (one flew up and caught on a hook in the ceiling) on the shelves that were wiped out where the SUV came through. Four small "filler" ornaments broke, everything else including ceramic and glass items are all fine.

One of several irreplaceable treasures (Brian made in third grade) that survived inside the damaged trunk.

Look at the photo above of the Christmas boxes in the garage. To the left of the blue tarp is the inside wall of the house where the garage wall was pushed in. This little wooden chair was mine as a child, and my boys and Ezra have sat in it as well. It is completely unscathed. 

Tuesday a demo crew arrives from Tucson to haul off the fallen brick from inside the house and shore-up the damaged walls to make it safe. They brace the ceiling around the chimney in the garage, remove the damaged front door and carpet, and board up the holes to the outside. They comment several times on how the fireplace and chimney were built to survive hurricanes and earthquakes! Their trailer must have weighted 5000 lbs when they were done.

The crew of four were efficient in getting the carpet out and the walls temporarily framed to hold up the ceiling after they spent hours hauling out bricks and dry wall.

Much better, but daunting knowing that chimney still has to come down.

Glad to have those braces in place for a couple days.

Within a couple days we have an approved claim from State Farm with checks already in the mail. Our contractor who did our kitchen in 2019 is onboard to do the rebuild for us. Friday his crew arrives to remove the rest of the chimney, the ginormous firebox, and do a temporary patch on the roof. It sounds like something I want to watch them do. Until they start and instead Jeff and I go to town to run errands :-))

No more brick chimney.

Once the chimney on the roof was off, they "pushed real hard" from inside and above.

It was a huge chimney.

So much better, but it does get old fast.

Since our new gas fireplace (the old one was gas as well) is vent-less, and we're installing the firebox on the house-side of the wall, our garage is now much larger! The temporary drywall will be replaced with the same paneling as the rest of the garage. There was a door where he came through that we are also not replacing.

On the mantle, along with vintage books and drums that flew off but were not damaged, were six glass bottles and five glass candle holders. We found all but one of each when we picked up the first day. Found underneath the brick rubble in the garage were the remaining ones. 

It's obvious from the photos that we are incredibly fortunate in the lack of damage we sustained to personal items. Bill's recliner was tweaked and we've already replaced it. The trunk is damaged but useable against a wall. A small ottoman was crunched and we've replaced that as well. Paintings, books, pots, etc., all flew across the room from the impact, but except for a few nicks are all fine. 

The one item that is devastating for me is the loss of my Bison skull, painted with the face of Chief Red Cloud. It is completely decimated. 

Red Cloud has held a place of honor in my home for decades. 

I kept the horns, the only pieces left intact. 

Little else remains identifiable.

Now we wait. Not for our contractor or permits or the insurance companies (the driver's insurance company is covering everything so they are reimbursing State Farm and paying our deductible). We're waiting for Lowe's to deliver the firebox <groan>. As of today it's a week late, hopefully coming tomorrow. Reminds me of Janna's countertops last Spring! 

Bill's aunt's memorial in Fresno is the last weekend in September. With everything going on here, he drives by himself to be there to say goodbye to the youngest of the matriarchs we lost in the last few months. Stopping for the night at our friends' in Desert Center where Kevin joins him for the round trip to Fresno, and a quick visit with two of the grands in Valencia, breaks up the long drive for him. He enjoys seeing the family of course, but is very glad to be home after four days away.

M&M with their PopPop.

Cousins Cindy, Terri, Bill, Jenny and David

We continue to get afternoon storms nearly everyday. Most go to the south of us, but we have a few days of real wet. When we returned our yard was deep in weeds from all the monsoons of the summer so getting those knocked down was a priority the first week. We're just hoping they don't come back before winter hits! 

Although we can't know when the rebuild will be done (it includes all new carpet throughout the house, painting, new fencing, etc.), we're heading out the end of October for our high school reunion and a couple weeks in SoCal to see the kids and Bill's college pals on the coast. Elliott will be a year old already, and as of two days ago Penelope Anne has joined the family - our seventh grandbaby!

At ten months Elliott is walking, and growing much too fast! 

Days before baby Penelope's arrival, Reese with mommy Emily.

I'm convinced we've used up every bit of good Karma we had with how little personal property damage we had, and how quickly our insurance money got to us. When all is done we'll have several upgrades - both planned and not. Of course we'll be glad when it's all done!

In the meantime life goes on in our little corner of Southeast Arizona.



  1. I am amazed at your good humor and lack of anger over all of this. Of course it helps a lot when the insurance company is not a jerk and you don't have to wait 3 months for parts but still. Really wonderful that no one was standing in the house when it was hit and that so few things were destroyed. The loss of that Bison skull would break my heart. It was magnificent. Where did you ever get it? Is it possible it could be replaced??

    What I don't get is how someone could drive into your house going 45 miles an hour? Was he drunk, having a stroke, too old to be driving, too inexperienced to be driving?

    1. Red Cloud was a purchase years ago at PowWow. I've found another skull in Bisbee and am now looking for an artist to paint it. Not going to try and replicate Red Cloud though.
      The driver is a Vietnam vet who probably shouldn't be driving. He hit the gas instead of the brake and tried to make the turn. The neighbors saw it all - pretty dramatic when he went airborne!

  2. OMG - you certainly have a long haul in rebuilding your home. Good that the insurance in covering the expenses, did you have to submit pictures of before? The photos on the blog should help the company know you had just put a lot of improvements in.
    My cousin's wife is Navajo, her grandfather was a code talker. His photo is on the memorial at Burger King. I think their services could have a more public display.

    1. I thought it was you who'd told me about the exhibit. There's a sign there that says there is a bigger memorial nearby. We've also seen the huge statue in Windowrock that is amazing.
      Fortunately only the fireplace and outside wall sustained the damage so none of the new upgraded kitchen and diningroom were damaged. The insurance company just needed descriptions fortunately.

  3. Wow--I had been thinking about you guys and wondering how things were going in Tombstone--now I know. And as Sherry said, your attitude is amazing! Here's hoping that firebox makes an appearance soon! Precious grandbabies!

    1. So happy that the firebox did arrive today and work can get started soon. I'm sure we'll have other delays, but fingers crossed we'll be all done by Thanksgiving.

  4. Thanks for the comprehensive summary and update. While I saw the fb photos, these really show the destruction. Amazing that so much survived. But so sorry for your Bison skull. As mentioned by others, you and Bill certainly have a wonderful attitude. Getting angry isn't going to help anything. And on the bright side, you get new carpeting, new more up-to-date fireplace/firebox, new chair for Bill, new front door, etc. Congratulations on the new granddaughter!

    1. Thanks, we can't wait to meet her in a few weeks!! We get impatient with delays, but agree nothing is helped by getting angry. Looking forward to having to have a nicer living space :-)

  5. You guys sure have a lot on your plate these days…and are a true testament of calm in the face of a storm! Hoping the firebox is delivered and repairs/updates are finished soon. How nice it will be to have new carpet and things back in their place. It’s amazing so many of your treasures survived! Those pregnant mamas are so cute! Congratulations! I never get tired of the ride from Moab to Tucson!

    1. Yay we got the firebox today :-))) I still can't believe all the glass items that didn't break under those bricks. That really is a wonderful drive - already looking forward to getting back up to the area with more time.

  6. All things considered, it's remarkable that so many of your treasures emerged unscathed from that pile of rubble. But I'm very sorry about your treasured bison skull. Could you create something using the horns that survived?

    I'm so glad that the insurance company was quick to cover your loss and that you have a contractor you trust who could start work right away. Most of all, I'm glad you two are doing well, and meeting this challenge with such a positive attitude. It definitely falls in the category of big doo-doo, but thankfully, it's fixable!!

    I love the photos of your darling grandkids and the beautiful mamas-to-be. You guys take good care, and have fun at your class reunion!

    1. I'm hoping to do something with the horns - maybe a shadow box with other items. We are truly blessed to have a contractor we know and trust and is local. Small towns are a mixed blessing :-)

  7. I felt so bad about your bison skull, Jodee. I know that meant a lot to you. The odds of that vehicle hitting your house have to be right up there with an asteroid dropping on it! 🙄

    1. Thanks Jim, I've had that so long it's hard to imagine a fireplace without it.
      Even people who have lived in the area for decades can't picture how the crash happened without coming out here and walking it. The driver's insurance agent was looking at Google maps while talking with me on the phone and kept saying it seemed nearly impossible for him to hit where he did. I'm glad the neighbors saw it all, making it easier to understand.

  8. Thanks for showing us the real damage...we were all so shocked but happy that no one was hurt and that your insurance has stepped up in a timely manner. Still, what a disruption! Makes for a good blog series though, right? Life goes on with those new little ones and that's a good and happy thing.

    1. LOL it was definitely something exciting to write about!! I think we could give local tours as well - the fire department posted it on their Facebook page without the address, but we still get slow drive-bys trying to see where "it" happened. New littles keep us focused on what's important :-)

  9. Oh, my! I am so glad no one was hurt and that you had good insurance.

    1. Absolutely!! Everything else, no matter how sentimental, is just stuff.

  10. Certainly not a good thing but fortunate nobody was hurt and so much was spared. Glad your insurance is cooperative.

    1. It's been a definite disruption in our lives, but we really were so very lucky how it all turned out.

  11. WOW!!! So glad Bill wasn't relaxing in his chair when it happened! The turmoil of the crash is shown in the photo of the one tote hanging from the ceiling. I'm glad repair work is well under way. Here's hoping it all turns out wonderful and without any added delays. Congratulations on your growing family!!

    1. There was a lot of debris in his chair so we're really glad he wasn't sitting there! You could really see how hard he hit in that garage corner. Never thought we'd have so many grandkids, but we're loving it :-))))

  12. We’ll your rebuild is coming along nicely! And I cannot keep up with your grandkids! After these 2, how many does that make? 8? How nice to have them so close together in age!