After being back in our home state of New Jersey for a few weeks visiting friends and family, Doug and I embarked on what we are calling “Season 2” of our Full Time RV Adventure (primarily because this correlates to our YouTube Channel which can be found here (youtube.com/InterstateAdventures). But when we left behind our network of homey comforts this time, we seemed to have found ourselves very ‘broken.’ Within just a short time of leaving I had two medical issues that I couldn’t just run to my web of familiar doctor’s to handle. And then, we had a host of things breaking on the truck and camper that stopped us dead in our tracks for almost a week. The combination of everything happening within such a short period of time left both us feeling a bit overwhelmed, nervous, defeated, and well…. Broken.
It’s taken me at least a week to really sit down and be able to put it all together, wrap my head around everything that has happened, and be able to share it with all of you. You see, as weak as we both felt mentally, we didn’t give up. We were mostly prepared for everything. It was just a little overwhelming that it all happened at the same time. But that’s life, right? No one said this nomadic life was going to be easy, just that it would be worth it if you persevered.
So, what happened exactly? And what can you do to be best prepared for when that worst case scenario actually seems to be happening? Sometimes there are things you can do to prepare, other times, you need to figure it out as you go… But chronological seems to be the best way to go over it…
This time it was the camper. One of our slide cables broke. This isn’t the first time this has happened to one of the cables, and fortunately, (or unfortunately – depending on how you want to view that) Doug has become a professional at changing them. This isn’t something that you can predict is going to happen. You can do all of the preventative maintenance you want, but sometimes, cables just wear out. You can see Doug working on another cable in our Memphis video here.
How were we prepared for this? Because we have had one break on us in the past, Doug has a spare replacement cable on hand in the camper at all times. If you aren’t handy though, most RV Parks and campgrounds can direct you to a mobile RV Repair company that can come out to the campground and hopefully get you back up and running.
Just 2 days later… We arrive down in South Carolina to visit Doug’s best friend and check out his new house. They told us to park the camper wherever we wanted on the property. Doug opted for along the tree line and started backing across the front lawn to get there. Everything was going fine… and then it wasn’t. The passenger rear tire of the truck suddenly dropped into the ground, and now the truck and camper were stuck. Evidently, there was an old septic tank in this area of the lawn that no one knew about. We Found It! Everyone knows about it now!
This is a situation that no one could have predicted and no one could have prepared for. Thankful for where we were at the time it happened, Doug and Buck (his best friend) worked in the fire department for several years together. They didn’t panic at all and really just got to work. They were able to use the front jacks on the camper to pull the truck up a little at a time all the while placing 2×6 planks under the truck as they went. Eventually, little by little, they were able to get the camper detached from the truck, and then used a winch on Buck’s truck to pull ours out of the hole. Moving the camper had it’s own issues then since we couldn’t just back into the pin to hook back up due to the 4 foot hole in front of it. Jen was able to call her uncle over with a tractor that was able to move the camper over just a little enough for Doug to be able to back in under the pin and get the camper hooked back up from another direction.
After spending a week with Buck and Jen, we headed up to the northern part of South Carolina to visit Doug’s brother and family. I developed a fairly large abscess that was infected out of no where that needed to be drained. Grateful this was something that could be handled at a walk-in clinic, that is where we headed.
This too isn’t something that can be predicted. I’ve never had an abscess before. It isn’t as if I am prone to them. It isn’t something that we could have prepared for. I tried to handle it on my own at home with over the counter salves and such, but nothing was working. We needed a doctor. And I needed antibiotics.
Truck this time… We left northern South Carolina and headed to my family reunion in West Virginia. We arrived with no incidents. After a trip out to the grocery store Doug noticed the smell of anti-freeze coming from the truck. He did a quick examination and discovered that one of the coolant lines had broken. We spent a week in West Virginia which was good because it gave Doug time to find the parts that he needed to make the repair. We also had access to several other family member’s vehicles to get around. Once again, this is not something we could have prepared for. Just one more broken piece of traveling puzzle. Doug made the necessary repair and got us back up and running before the week was over. I don’t know what we would do if he wasn’t so incredibly handy.
Our last night in West Virginia… I suffer from chronic hives that put my body into anaphylactic shock. It isn’t fun. But I’ve been managing it for years at this point, so unfortunately, I sometimes become complacent about it, which is a terrible place to be over something that could literally kill me. I take medication every other day to keep everything under control, and haven’t had any major issues in almost 2 years. Well, guess what… I went 2 nights without taking my medication because I wasn’t paying attention. I went to bed and woke up a little after midnight unable to breath. I immediately took Benadryl, but that takes at least 20 minutes to start working. So I sat there with my EpiPen in my hand hoping that everything would subside before actually having to use it! All the while, Doug is awake sitting next to me monitoring the whole situation because a quick Google search revealed that the closest hospital was 45 minutes away. Now this… Yeah, we were absolutely prepared for. I have all of the medications that I need to keep this ridiculous “allergy” at bay, and I messed up. In addition to totally being prepared for the flare up, we both pay attention to where the big blue “H” signs are whenever we are driving around. That doesn’t mean that are always close to the hospital, but at least we know when the last time we passed one was.
Issue #6 & 7
Only 2 days after dealing with my hives, we are heading out to Montana. We pull into a truck stop to use the bathroom and stretch our legs in Eastern Illinois. We get back to the camper and Doug notices that one of the airbags that inflates with the shock and springs in the back of the truck isn’t holding air. He pokes his head in there and immediately see’s the problem and it isn’t good. Like really really bad. At some point (we are guessing when the truck fell into the septic) we snapped the leaf spring for the driver’s side rear tire. After it broke, it slid out of position, likely from bouncing down the road, and the corner popped the air bag. So not only do we need to replace the leaf spring, but we also need to replace the airbag.
Doug spent 2 1/2 hours banging on the leaf that had slid out to get it back in position. He wrapped a ratchet strap around it to hold it in place temporarily and we called our Boondockers Welcome host to let them know we were going to be late, and would need to stay longer than the scheduled 1 night. We got back on the road in the right hand lane and went slow and steady until we finally arrived the 180 additional miles that we needed to go.
Somehow a miracle happened, whether it be divine intervention, or something else, but our hosts at the Boondockers Welcome, Mark and Celia, were 2 of the most amazing people we have probably ever met while on the road. Not only did they tell us that we could stay as long as needed, but they made us dinner that first night, drove us around to pick up parts, allowed Doug the use of their shop and all of the tools, brought us out to a car show, showed us around their town, allowed us to pick our own sweet corn, and truly mended our very broken souls.
Doug was able to replace the leaf spring and between him and Mark, they were able to make a temporary repair to the airbag within a weeks time. Celia had a fantastic recommendation to hook up and do a shake down cruise up and down the highway for a little bit to make sure that everything was holding properly and once again…. Another issue…
One of the cross members that is supposed to be welded to the frame of the camper to hold up one side of our black tank was completely broken on one side. Doug pulled out a big bolt and managed to get that repaired quickly, and we couldn’t have been in a better place for it to have happened, but that only dulled the sting of more problems.
We spent another night with Mark and Celia enjoying their company and truly solidifying our new found friendship and then we hit the road again. When we left New Jersey we had 6 weeks to get out to Yellowstone, we were 4 1/2 weeks in, and we hadn’t made it past Illinois.
We made it to Minnesota for the night. The airbag held well enough and we actually enjoyed a night of camping with no additional problems. At that moment it kind of felt like a miracle in itself.
We headed out of Minnesota and continued on our way west. And wouldn’t you know it, that little mini miracle of no issues that first night back on the road quickly went away and were once again reminded that this portion of our Adventures was still broken.
We decided that we were going to make a big push all the way to Wall, South Dakota because I had found dispersed camping, which is completely free. So in an attempt to try and offset the serious deficit in our budget from the countless “issues” we just kept trucking.
We stopped for fuel and I noticed that our rear passenger tire on the camper had absolutely no tread on the outside. I had Doug take a look at it, and I was right… Not good. Of course it was just late enough in the day on a Sunday that almost every place was closed, but Doug did manage to find one little gas station that had the right size tire for us to purchase. Downside…. He didn’t have any techs on duty anymore to put the tire on the rim for us. Once again driving slowly in the right lane, we continued on to Wall to find our campsite for the evening.
The following morning Doug took the old tire off of the camper, and we headed into town. We found a shop that was willing to swap the tires for us, and back to the camper we went. Doug got the new tire on the camper and we seemed to be back on track.
To Yellowstone we go…
We did make it. We made it all the way to West Yellowstone to meet up with friends. The replacement airbag arrived at the campground before we did, and Doug was able to get that replaced before we said our goodbye’s and headed out toward Glacier.
We’ve learned a lot these past few weeks. I can’t even say months! All of this transpired in less than 2 months time. This lifestyle is not for the weak, we can both say that. Doug and I tend to both be pretty strong willed people and we were both pretty broken. People are truly amazing though. Somehow every time something else happened, we pulled through and were surrounded by the right people that could help fix it. Sometimes that fix was nothing more than a hug at the right time, or the right tool. In truth, it can’t be explained. We kept on keeping on and everything seemed to fall into place.
Here we are! Still doing this crazy adventure! It may end sooner than we hoped, but we still did it! We don’t regret it, and we aren’t ready to quit yet. So guess what, we are going to keep on keeping on, because that’s what we do. Even with all of the pressure’s that we have had pushed on us, we look forward to seeing what tomorrow brings. We were watching T.V. the other night, and someone said, “Pressure Makes Diamonds” and I can’t get it out of my head. Maybe we aren’t diamonds yet, and maybe we have more pressure coming, but we both know it’s all worth it.
You can’t prepare for every hiccup along the way. All you can do is the best you can do, so that’s what we are just going to keep doing.