July 29, 2016
We called our RV ‘home’ five months before we took our ‘maiden voyage’.
It was a warm summer morning in July and the RV was buttoned down, hooked up and ready to roll. Three of our Bay Area grandchildren were safely buckled in the truck, and excited to see their Montana cousins. They hadn’t seen them in years.
Feeling a bit anxious, we pulled our fifth wheel slowly forward and out of the cramped spot wedged between our two neighbors in the little city trailer park where we had been living.
We had lived in our fifth wheel in this little park for five months before we retired. We wanted to make sure we could do it without killing each other before we actually quit working and entered this new season of our lives. The truth is, the first couple weeks were not very comfortable as we ironed out the kinks and went through a learning curve of how things worked or didn’t work in our preowned, newly purchased 36′ RV. As we settled into a new routine, and after we had our hot water heater fixed, our little home on wheels became quite cozy.
As cozy as we were, adding grandkids to our small space for a few weeks meant we needed to be extra organized. Menus needed to be preplanned, and the refrigerator fully stocked with food they liked. For our santity, luggage was kept to a minimum and everything was put in it’s assigned place, not strung around the little space we all occupied.
After a little research, I made a list of fun road trip games to help pass the time and escape the humdrum of a long road trip.
The first thing we noticed on the road was how much bigger our fifth wheel feels towing it behind us then it does while we are living in it! And it’s not like we don’t have any experience towing, we used to tow our ski boat to the lake every weekend when our boys were young. However the RV feels like we are towing our house behind us! Oh wait, I guess we are. I have to admit, it is a bit intimidating but I am sure we will get used to it over time with a little practice.
The first turn out of the RV park, we took really wide. Unfortunately it wasn’t wide enough to miss the curb. Up and over the sidewalk we bounced, right past two wide eyed construction workers……OOPS!
Lesson Learned: Practice wider turns.
Our first stop for a few days, Lassen National Park. Dan backed into the small RV camping spot like a pro and I put the jacks down. As we unhooked the truck, I heard the crackle of the gravel and the truck proceeded to roll backwards and into the RV……….OUR HOME!
“THE TRUCK!” I screamed. In a panic, my first thought was to step behind the truck and physically stop it from rolling into the RV, like I was some sort of superhero. Dan’s loud voice jolted be back to reality “DON’T GET BEHIND THE TRUCK SHELL!” he said as he leaped inside to put the break on. The possible looming, disasterous consequence of a poor decision still haunts me.
Lesson Learned: When the truck is in 4 wheel drive neutral, putting it in park is not a good idea. Jumping behind the truck to stop it…. is a worse idea!
We tweaked the front storage door on our fifth wheel but just a little. With a little elbow grease it still closed. Later on we were able to jerry-rig a jack and tweak it back into place.
As we drove from campground to campground, we got better at backing in, unhooking and setting up. Before we left, we had vowed to never be ‘that couple’ yelling at each other as they maneuvered the RV into their campsite. So far we have kept that vow.
Our RV neighbors that we have met while camping have been nice. We met a guy in Boardman Oregon who lives in the campground during the week and works installing fire sprinklers at a power plant. He goes home to his wife and kids on the weekends. He welcomed someone to talk to. Another neighbor in Coeur de’ Alene, Idaho lent us a hose to reach water when ours was not long enough.
One of the advantages of going on the open road besides the people you meet is the freedom to go see friends and family and spend quality time with them while respecting their space. This is one of the reasons we took our grandkids with us, so they could visit their Montana cousins.
Maybe they would even get to know us better as Dan and I are hoping to connect enough to leave a thumprint or two behind.
Investing in the lives of others is also the reason why we stopped in places like Sisters, Oregon to visit with our friends Jim and Judy who have definitely left a positive thumbprint on our lives. We want people who invested in our lives to know how grateful we are and how their impact helped shape our character and our future for the better.
I am convinced that helping others contributes to our own mental health as well. It also seems to make us more grateful for what we have rather than what we don’t have.
We arrived at our son and daughter-in-law’s and set-up our RV on their 6 acers. Did I mention they put in full hook-ups for us? Everyone has a different love language and this is theirs.
We made as many memories together as we could while our Bay Area grandchildren were here. Then their parents arrived to take them back to California.
The serious training for our Camino de’ Santiago pilgrimage has begun. We trudge up and down the beauitful Montana mountains with full 30 1b backpacks. Oue flight to Paris leaves on August 10, 2016 and the anticipation is mounting.
Meanwhile trials come and trials go….
A warning light came on in the truck on the way to Montana which we are getting it checked out this Monday, and the RV started leaking under the hot water heater so the mobile repair man is coming Tuesday. Hopefully neither are major, costly repairs. Either way we will try and have a grateful heart. After all we have a truck and an RV and a wonderful opportunity to leave our thumbprints behind.