Join Date: Sep 2011
Long but (hopefully) funny RV trip
The story below is true. The names have been preserved to shame the guilty (me.) I hope you like it. It's long, but I hope worth a read...
We had a good weekend last weekend. The weather was fantastic. Sylvia and I loaded Bubbles our dog in the RV and headed for Lake Texoma. It’s only about an hour away, but it makes you feel like you’re on vacation. We had a ball despite all my screw-ups. You tend to get out of practice with the RV stuff and that’s when the screw-ups start.
Things started off peachy when we left the RV storage place. I pulled out onto the highway all slow, safe, and controlled. I had peed before we left the RV place and thought I could last awhile before having to go again. No such luck.
I had taken my Flomax a little earlier and it started kicking in, working to get rid of the 16 ounce PowerAde Zero and the two Diet Cokes from earlier that morning. Fifteen minutes after departing, we pulled into a gas station to put in some diesel and take advantage of the stop to pee. I peed once before getting out to drop $100 in the tank (hit the irritating credit card reset limit), and just in case, peed again before we were ready to leave.
As we were leaving the gas station, I looked left and saw traffic a ways out. I told Sylvia to hang on and started the right hand turn to get ahead of the traffic. I now have a new rule.
New Rule #1: Anytime I’m about to tell Sylvia to, ‘hang on,’ while getting ready to do something in a motorhome, I will rethink whatever I am doing, and do it slower and consider it a little more.
I’m an amputee and only have one arm. And a one-arm guy driving a 33,000 pound RV who tells his wife to hang on, is like a teenage boy holding a mason jar full of gasoline in one hand, a lighter in the other, who tells his buddies, “Hey y’all, watch this.” Bad things are sure to follow. This time proved that a truism.
Let’s just say I ended up taking the corner “a little short.” The back tires on the passenger side jumped the leading edge of the curb, slammed the coach up and hard to the left. Next, the wheels came down off the backside of the curb and immediately fell into the little gully that had been dug out by other fools who had done the same thing. At the bottom of the gully, the bus lurched violently back to the right. It didn’t stay that way long.
Before the suspension could dampen the blow, the coach slammed into the other curb on the far side of the corner, bounced up and over, tilting the top of the coach back hard left again. Clearing the top of the second curb, it fell off on the downhill side, slammed back down on the pavement, throwing the coach once again hard right. At some point during the whiplashing back and forth, the ceramic dishes spewed out of the cabinet over the sink and crashed to the tile floor shattering into tiny shards.
Sylvia braced for the bus to flip over, and shouted, “Oh God!” Bubbles sensing the end of the world, took off for the back to the bedroom to bury herself under the covers. I kept checking my gauges for warning lights, and waited for something to shake or shimmy from the damage, but it didn’t happen.
After Sylvia had swept up the glass fragments, she returned to the seat and tried to reassure me that it was okay, that it was an accident, and that it could happen to anyone. Still, I could tell she was on high alert, because she kept casting furtive glances in the mirror looking for pieces hanging off the side and asking me about the various squeaks and rattles to find out if they were new.
As soon as I could, I pulled into another gas station (with a big driveway) to check for damage (and pee.) Luckily we didn’t find any visible damage. So we took off again for our campsite. There was a line at the checkpoint by the ranger’s station where Sylvia got a map and our tag that read location 4807.
We were supposed to take the second road on the right, but somehow I missed it. We turned in to a parking area where they stored boats and stopped to check the map. Well, the map turned out to be a bust. There was no site 4807. All of the sites on the map had two digit numbers. The sign markers in front of the sites had long ago lost their lettering and all looked the same, like pieces of decaying wood with faded painted remnants of lettering here and there.
I thought I’d give the map spot labeled Q48 a try because it had the numbers 48 in it, and was at least listed on the tiny map. We took off in that direction, and of course drove past it because it wasn’t marked. The other campers were all looking amused and wondering where we were taking the 40 foot long, 12 foot 6 inch tall diesel bus through the trees. We kept driving, ever so slowly, as we veered off to the left fork in the road. The road got skinnier. The trees got lower. And the campsites got more primitive.
I stopped the bus again and was staring at the map, hoping for a miracle, when a long-haired biker dude with a ponytail rolled up in a golf cart. I slid my window open and he said he would take us to our site and for us to follow him. He also mentioned that the trail we were on was tight, but that he was ‘pretty sure’ we could make the turnaround. Sylvia turned pale, looked slightly apoplectic, and quietly said, “This has been a disaster, This has been a disaster, I don’t know why we do this.”
Somehow, we made it down the narrow little trail and managed the turnaround without ripping off the A/Cs or satellite on the trees. We managed to pick up only a few scratches on the side from the branches as we drove by.
Biker Dude lead us to our site and had the breaker box open as we pulled up. Sylvia guided me in as I backed the rig into the camping site. I got out to thank Biker Dude. He was kind and didn’t rub my face in it about being lost and driving all over the park. I plugged in the 50 amp cord and went back into the motorhome to set things up. The jacks went down fine. The slides went out fine. But, when I tried to raise the satellite, nothing. All I could think about was how the massive jolting from the curb jump fiasco had probably kicked a breaker or knocked a wire loose somewhere.
I spent the next hour troubleshooting, trying to find the elusive electrical problem. No luck. Finally, I got out the owner’s manual to review the troubleshooting section. The first thing on the list was, "Check for power at the pedestal." Sure enough, the breaker was off. I had spent all of that time jacking around with complicated things when it was really something simple.
New Rule #2: Always check the simple stuff before beginning to disassemble the RV.
Of course dish wouldn’t come on because the satellite hadn’t been used often enough. So Sylvia had to call customer service to get it turned back on. That part was relatively painless, and I have to admit, my Bloody Mary made it better. With everything finally working inside, we relaxed awhile and then went for a long walk to the lake. No moving parts – no problems – it was great.
That evening when we were back in the coach, Sylvia was unfolding the portable coffee table. She was having trouble with the legs, and asked for help. I had a glass of red wine in my (one and only) hand and tried to use my foot to move the leg of the folding table. I should have known better.
All it took was one little jerk and the red wine spilled, catching both the couch and carpet. Sylvia, still holding the partially unfolded table, watched helplessly as the dark red wine began to spread. "Oh God," she said, and dropped the coffee table. I scrambled for the paper towels to clean up the wine I had spilled. Luckily it came off the couch and the carpet.
I began to repeat the, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry,” mantra with Sylvia.
She was kind and let me off the hook.
New Rule #3: Put down my wine before I start moving furniture.
The next morning Sylvia started making breakfast tacos. Bearing in mind that there is limited counter space anyway, we had quite a few things on what little counter space we had. Sylvia had been stirring the sausage, potato, and pepper mix on the burner, but had stepped away to take care of the dog. I wanted to help so I went over to the stove and moved the eggs away from the hot skillet. (I swear it was balanced on the edge.)
Sylvia had packed the six eggs (all that we needed) in a camping carrier to keep them protected. The latch had been opened on the egg carrier because Sylvia was getting ready to add them to the mixture. I was happily stirring the sizzling sausage mixture when the eggs fell off the counter in a resounding ka-plop. All six eggs broke.
New Rule #4: Keep my butt on the couch when Sylvia is cooking. She does fine and you’ll only make a mess of it.
Bubbles leapt off the couch to try to eat all the raw egg yolks. Sylvia was trying to fend off the dog and came again with the, "Oh God!”
In return, I once again launched into my mantra of "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry!”
Sylvia was scurrying to pick up bits of eggshell, pushing Bubbles away, and trying to save the remaining bits of egg that had broken into the container.
She was able to save enough of the eggs from the inside of the egg carrier so that there was at least a hint of eggs in our tacos. At this point she was watching me somewhat warily, waiting to see what I might break or spill next.
When she spoke, it was in short sentences like one would use with a special child. We double and triple checked the coach as we were preparing to leave the park. That part worked and we left without a hitch. We had barely gotten down the road, when – go figure, I had to pee again. I found another gas station and pulled up to the diesel pump.
When I got out to put another $100 of diesel into the tank, my wallet fell into the slimy brown diesel droppings near the pump. I had the pump handle in my hand along with my credit card, and could not let go because the nozzle would have fallen out of the side of the bus’s fuel fill.
Sylvia picked my wallet out of the slime, shook her head, and went to rub it in the grass. Now my wallet has this intriguing diesel smell that reminds me of the coach every time I pay for anything.
New Rule #5: Leave my wallet in the bus. It won’t fall in the diesel and I won’t end up being the one who pays.
We made it the rest of the way with no surprises. The funny thing is that both Sylvia and I would like to do this again as soon as possible. Despite the many screw ups, we ended up getting in the groove and really enjoying ourselves. I can't wait to do it again.
Chuck, Sylvia, and our dog Bubbles
2014 Entegra Anthem 42DEQ
Toad 2009 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited