Does It Ever Get Bad? Our Top 6 Road “Incidents” & How We Survived With Our Sanity In-Tact
One of the things I’ve always attempted in my life (especially my later life) is to be positive. I’m not ashamed to say that this is a direct result of years of serious depression as a younger person. I realized (through many years of hard work) that a positive outlook is something learned, not inherent. There are undoubtedly naturally positive people out there, but my theory is that most folks have some kind of inner “demon” that they struggle with, and the only way to keep it in check (you never quite vanquish it) is to fight it every single day until it’s squashed down to just a small daily nuisance.
It’s taken me ~20 years to get here, but most people who meet me now would consider me a very positive person indeed and have no idea that I’ve ever been otherwise. My blog directly reflects that side of me -> the side that works daily to see the beauty in life, the side that attempts to see the humor in things, the side that smells the roses despite the thorns. It’s a part of my own personal journey to find happiness and to spread happiness in the world, which is not done enough IMHO.
That said it doesn’t mean that bad things never happen to us. Well, the way I look at it these days is that we have obstacles, but there’s nothing we haven’t been able to overcome with humor, flexibility and love. Many people like to know those things, I guess because it makes life seem more real that way, so for today’s post I thought I’d take off on a tangent (for me) and talk about the worst “incidents” of our 5 years on the road. This way you know it’s happened to us…and well, it might happen to you too…and yet you might still survive and learn to love this lifestyle with your sanity in-tact.
Deep, dark, foreboding…..ooooooo….well, and of course I can’t help but put some humor in there.
1/ The Mosquito Incident
One of the biggest mistakes we made RVing in our first year was to pay absolutely zero attention to weather. Part of the reason for this was that we’d been living in complete sunny-weather-ignorance on Coastal California for much of our 13 previous years together so it never occurred to us that the rest of the country might be different. For that reason we decided, in our infinite wisdom, to schedule a slow meander through the Midwest (Missouri, Iowa) in the middle of August.
Oh holy mother of all mosquito gods!
On the positive side the campgrounds were completely empty almost everywhere we went because, frankly, we were the only idiots out there. On the negative side the mosquitoes were so intense, particularly in Sioux City, that we couldn’t step outside our RV for 5 minutes before being practically carried away. Being a natural-born pasty-white mosquito magnet (as I am) did not help. Dog walks involved spraying every chemical known to mankind on all our non-skin areas before running like chickens with our heads cut off in tight circles while praying for Polly to pee. It was a “learning” experience that I hope never to repeat and prompted me to publish our flip-flop barometer by which we’ve faithfully traveled ever since.
Moral Of The Story -> The summer weather in Iowa is not like coastal California. Go where flip flops would go…
2/ The Tick Incident
Closely related to incident #1 was the tick connection. Around the beginning of Sept that same year Paul left me to fly to Florida for a family emergency. I’d been happily enjoying the trails (quite alone by the way) at Babler State Park for several days when I started feeling bad. At first I didn’t connect this to much until I happened to notice one of my many millions of freckles moving around on my leg in the shower. WTF????? A closer inspection revealed not just one but at least 30 happily moving “freckles”. I think I might have stunned most of the wildlife within a 10-mile radius with my resulting blood-curdling scream.
Several scrubs of dubious chemicals later, my skin burning lobster red I started contemplating the repercussions. My fever was growing, and when Paul got back home a few days later he started feeling badly too. When he hit 104 we drove 40 miles to the nearest urgent care clinic, now really worried about the outcome. The on-call doctor, a very down-to-earth southern lady told use that she could give us a ~$2000 Lyme test which “might or might not show anything, darlin'”, or she could just prescribe a heavy dose of $4 antibiotic. We took the latter naturally, and despite 2 weeks of utter antibiotics horror (I’ve never taken anything that’s knocked me out so badly) we survived with no long-lasting results.
Moral Of The Story -> Beware those tiny ticks, and learn to love the $4 prescription list.
3/ The Tree Incident
Having survived the bugs and made it blissfully to the Atlantic Coast (yes, this is still our first year on the road), we had squeezed “the beast” into another buggy, but beautiful beach-side campground in Hunting Island, SC. We spent a week of utter sand bliss at this place basking in the glory of having completed a cross-country trip with no major RV incidents.
At this point one could say we’d become confident in our RVing abilities, perhaps even a tad arrogant. After all we’d squeezed the “beast” into places no other “beast” had gone before -> we had become experts, suave and smooth RV specialists, skilled roadies, nimble “beasts” of the highway. Nothing could stop us now! A few days later, as we weaved our way out of the incredibly tight campground loops, waving happily to all the curious by-standers who’d come to watch the event, a curved palm tree taught us that even “beast-size” rigs can’t buck nature’s stubbornness.
Now at this juncture it should be pointed out that more wary RVers (and perhaps more importantly, those using spotters) might have noticed the deep gashes left by previous RV idiots ~11.65 feet up the tree, but in our glorified state of confidence we saw nothing but an open path yielding to our road-sweeping 400hp superiority. It was not, in fact, until a large piece of metal sheared rather dramatically off the backside of the RV that we even stopped to look. “Honey, was that our slide topper cover???”. A few months and a thousand dollars later the beast was once again fixed, but we’ve never since driven a tight campground loop without me walking in front of the RV to spot.
Moral Of The Story -> Trees don’t move even if you want them to. Learn the swing radius of your RV (front and back) and always use a spotter if you can.
4/ The Chocolate Incident
It all started with an exploding can of cocoa. We had driven high into the Colorado mountains and found a stunning campground far, far away from the things of man. It was a dreary day, heavy with the electricity of an on-coming afternoon thunderstorm (a common things in the mountains in summer) when I decided to brighten the day by making a cup of hot chocolate. Despite my many years in Science education I failed to foresee the nuclear mushroom cloud of fine cocoa that settled itself rather prettily all over the RV moments after I’d opened the can at 9,000 feet of elevation. This seemingly humorous (although not at the time) incident led, through a series of finely-connected and ultimately idiotic events, to a massive slide leak followed by (finally) the moment where we culminated our evening by crushing/ripping our slide with our own ladder. You can read the entire story HERE.
What I didn’t write about at the time was that the consequence of all this completely altered our entire RV travel plans. We spent two utterly mind-numbing days at a repair shop in CO only to be told they could not help us, followed by ~1,000 miles of travel to Oregon so we could get our RV back to the manufacturing location and (finally) get it fixed. The absolutely unexpected surprise of all this was our introduction to Oregon, a state that had (frankly) not even been on our radar of RV travels. From a can of cocoa we ended up finding a place that we absolutely love and return to every single year. Who could have imagined?
Moral Of The Story -> Flexibility in RVing plans in key. And don’t open a can of cocoa at 9,000 feet.
5/ The Personal Incident
One thing that many folks don’t inherently expect (or understand) is that life doesn’t stop when you hit the road. Illness, grief, death…all these things are part of life and will happen to you no matter where you are. I had a rather difficult personal incident several years ago which (to this day) I still can’t write about in detail, but that I managed to express emotionally on the blog. It was a period of deep grief for me, and for a moment seemed to put a wrench in all my future plans (or at least the plans I had at the time).
What astonished me was the outpouring of unconditional love and support from blog readers and others who never asked to pry deeper. Some of the stories they shared in my comments & off-line were heart-wrenching and made me realize I was in no way alone. My RVing life didn’t change that year per se, but I realized that my outlook did and the community I’d found on the road was far deeper than I ever imagined.
Moral Of The Story -> Life follows you everywhere, but if you reach out you are never truly alone.
6/ The Mouse Incident
We’ve all had nightmares of creepy crawlies getting into our rigs, but after 3 years on the road with no incident we’d pretty much dismissed this ever happening to us. Our introduction to furry little terrors didn’t happen until a lonely afternoon in one of the most remote (= can you say no mouse traps within 50 miles?) boondocking spots we’d been to thus far in our travels. The discovery of our travelling room-mates which the cats, the little lazy-good-for-nothings had entirely ignored, and the resulting peppermint-scented wonderland that became our RV is chronicled in amusing detail HERE. I’m happy to report that since that day we’ve been blissfully mouse-free and continue to enjoy the minty goodness of our solution.
Moral Of The Story -> Always travel with peppermint oil & don’t rely on the cats….
SO, there you go folks. Our life in the “raw” with all our dirty secrets revealed. We’ve had many, many more incidents such as the time I got staples in my head, or the time we were evacuated from a campground by fire, or the time we survived 94 mph winds, or our infestation of fleas, but in the interest of keeping this below 2,000 words I’ll stop it here. Will there be more incidents? Undoubtedly! But we’re going to keep on going anyway and we’ll attempt to approach our obstacles as we always have with flexibility, humor and love. I’m pretty sure we’ll make it through…..
Related Post -> The Darker Side Of FullTime RVing? 5 Thoughts To Ponder Before Making The Leap..