My husband and I were nearing retirement and it had always been our dream to travel the country in an RV. We looked for RV’s for quite some being sold privately by an RV owner. We found an RV on craigslist that really caught our attention. It was a smaller RV just big enough for the two of us. It was a little bit older but we figured it was small so it would get better gas mileage. We arranged an appointment with the owner to look at the RV. When we arrived we found him just finishing up washing the exterior of the RV. We had never purchased an RV before so we went on the inside and thought it was just big enough for our needs. It had everything you would expect to see a kitchen, cabinets, table, bathroom, bedroom, TV in the bedroom. My husband is no mechanic, but they started the RV and looked under the hood of the RV for several minutes talking while I was still looking inside the RV. I heard some mumbles and murmurs over the engine while I was inside. When I stepped out of the RV the two shook hands and my husband stated that we would follow up with the gentleman soon. We hopped into our vehicle, backed out of the driveway and headed back towards home. My first question was naturally “so what did you think?” My husband said he really liked the RV and it all seemed pretty good. He asked me what I thought and I had a similar response.
My husband, Rick, did not want to let the owner of the RV see his hand of cards so he waited a few days before following up. We offered him less than what he was asking for initially and the owner agreed to the amount we offered. We then set a time and date to take care of the final transaction. We were excited to finally be putting our long term plan into action and acquiring our mode of transportation to see the country. We showed up at the meeting, sat down, wrote the check, and finished our transaction. I hopped into our car, my husband got into the RV and we drove the twenty or so miles back home. My husband parked the RV in the driveway, we went inside the RV to admire our new purchase and took a moment to appreciate our decision.
Several months passed as we finished up our last few months we had left at our jobs. The RV was always a great sight to see in the morning time before heading off to work. A reminder of what was to come. The day had finally come. We had our retirement celebrations and put together a rough plan of destinations we wanted to see on our trip. The week before we left we started packing the RV getting ready to go. That is where the first of many problems started. I first started packing the kitchen in the RV and realized that the plates we always used did not fit in the RV cabinets I had in mind for using to store plates. No big deal I thought, I will just put them in other cabinets. We packed our clothes and other basics and began filling the RV. We packed about half of our stuff we would need for our journey and then realized we did not have enough storage room in the RV while still leaving ourselves room to walk through the RV. We had also purchased a haul behind the trailer to tow our car so we began to pack our car with the rest of the stuff we needed. Once it was all said and done we had most of our car filled as well as most of the RV. We really had to reevaluate the items in which we were packing and eliminated much of the stuff we would have liked to have taken but simply could not fit in the RV.
Once we had decided to settle with the items we were able to pack we hit the road. There was a great sense of accomplishment and relaxation as we hit the road towards our first stop on our journey towards our destination. My husband was driving the RV we had made it about 25 to 30 miles down the road when we began to hear a thumping sound. We pulled over to the side of the road and got out to look at the RV. We realized that we had a flat tire. Not only was a tire deflated we were also feeling a little deflated even though we just started our trip. Well, the tire was more shredded than deflated but you get the idea. We called our roadside assistance company and they sent someone out to put on our spare. The guy who was putting on our full-size spare said it looked as though the RV had been sitting for a while and the tires had developed bumps in them. We knew the RV had been sitting in our driveway for a few months and mentioned it to him. He said it would probably take longer for the tires to develop these bumps. He inspected the other tires and said they all had similar bumps in them and we might run into more problems as we continued to drive. This was not what we wanted to hear. My husband decided that it would be okay for the time being and we went along on our still somewhat merry way.
So we finally made it to our first stop along the way right before sunset. We sat outside in our lawn chairs and watched as the sunset. It was a great moment that signified the start of something great for the two of us, so we thought. We went inside and I started cooking food for my husband (Rick) and I. As I put two pans on the stove I found out that two of our larger pans would not fit side by side on any of the burners. I grabbed a smaller pan and waited for olive oil to get hot in the pan. After five minutes and testing oil temperature I pulled the pan off I held my hand over the burner. It was not even getting hot. I moved the pan to another burner realizing that the one I had the pan on initially was not working. I was still generally in good spirits because all the things that had gone wrong with the RV were easily fixed. Once I finally finish cooking food we sat down at the table. As we were sitting directly across one another, our knees knocked one another. We had already had a long day and I did not want to perturb him, so I had to move to the side so our knees weren’t in the way of one another. We were sitting making small talk while eating our food, all the while I was thinking “this table area is too small” we are never going to be able to sit down in front of one another and eat a meal. This really took some of the romantic factors out of our journey we were on. He was talking and I really wasn’t listening because I was so distracted by the thought. I did hear the end of a sentence which was, ”I’m happy we decided to do this”. I placed a smile on my face and nodded, still pondering what it is was he said before that. We finished eating and then placed our plates in the sink. We had a very long day and we were just about ready to turn in for the night. I open the RV window in the kitchen area because it was nighttime and very cool outside. We laid down in the bed together with a sigh of exhaustion. My husband turned on the TV so we can skim through channels for a few before we nodded off. We were staring at the TV for what must have been a half an hour. I squinted to see the all too small TV screen but was too tired to complain. We finally fell asleep with the TV still on.
I vaguely remember what woke me up the next morning. I do remember the first thing I did was reach down and scratch my leg. I realized that I had mosquito bites I did not have the night before. I pulled the blanket off my legs seeing a dozen or so mosquito bites. I said aloud “oh no, how did this happen?” I scrambled up to the bathroom and looked in the mirror realizing I had bites all over myself. My husband was still asleep enjoying his slumber. I went to the window in the kitchen and then realized for the first time the window I opened the night before did not have a screen. Mosquitoes had been coming in all night when we left the TV on and attacking us throughout the night. Even as I was thinking this, my leg was burning and I was scratching. I had the thought “well there’s not much I can do about it now”. I closed the window and cleaned the pans in the sink. I began cooking eggs, bacon and started coffee in anticipation of my husband waking up. A few short moments later I heard my husband exclaim “What the heck?” I knew right then he had discovered he had the same severity of mosquito bites that I had. He staggered into the kitchen much in the same way he used to at our house our house. He had, droopy eyes, dragging his feet, looking for something good to eat. He sat down at the table and began rubbing his eyes then put his legs to the side of the table and stated: “look at this”. He had mosquito bites all over his legs and arms. We traded turns showing off our mosquito bite war stories and I opened the window showing him that it did not have a screen. He sighed and then said he would find a hardware store nearby and they should have something he can use to make a decent screen. The day before had been a bit of a mess, but it was still a beautiful morning. It was cool outside and the birds were chirping. We ate breakfast diagonally from one another as we sipped our coffee. We decided to sit outside in chairs for a short while finishing our coffee before we got moving for the day. It was quite relaxing. Rick finally stood up and said, I am going to go find a hardware store for that screen, I will be back shortly. He took a couple of things out of the car, put his golf clubs and other items in the RV and unhooked the car from the RV. I decided it was time for me to take a shower. I am about 5’ 7” and once I got into the shower I realized that the shower head was so low I had to bend over and hunch down just to wash my hair. This was really quite a pain. I thought “Oh Rick is going to have fun with this one. My husband is just over 6 feet tall. I called him after I got out and caught him before he checked out. I explained the shower situation and told him he should by a chair for the shower so he could sit down to actually fit under the shower head. When he came back he had some supplies to create a window screen and to my surprise a new shower head which clipped to the top of the pipe so it would allow some more height between the floor and shower head. I thought it was a great solution. He tromped in and out of the RV grabbing a few tools as he cut the screen for the window. His golf club bag was right next to the door of the RV. As he was walking back out of the RV I was standing by the sink on the phone with one of my kids. His foot got caught up in the golf bag strap and he tripped right out of the door missing the RV steps entirely. I gasped. He called my name in agonizing pain “Jan.” I told my son I had to let him go and hung up the phone. I hurried out the door asking “Are you OK?” Rick responded, “I think I broke something” as he lay on the ground clutching his right arm. I helped him up best I could, we loaded into the car and headed for the hospital. X-rays showed he broke his collarbone and had a hairline fracture in his wrist. He had to have a cast for his wrist and a sling for his collarbone. His first statement was, “So much for golfing”, with a grimaced smile. The doctor gave him pain medication and told him he should not move his arm a lot as well as could not operate heavy machinery. I knew then I would be doing the driving for quite some time.
We left the hospital and headed back to the RV. I got all the necessary things put back in the car and Rick instructed me on how to hook the car back up to the RV. The medication Rick took really made him tired so he took a nap. I called my son back and let him know what happened. It was about time for me to go to bed. It was hotter than the night before so I decided to turn on the AC in the RV instead of opening the window which still did not have a screen. I fell asleep only to wake up an hour later freezing. The AC vent was right at the end of the bed and the bed was short enough to where my feet hung over the edge. Even with my feet covered by a blanket, the draping blanket was allowing cold air to come up inside my blanket. Needless to say, it was another long night. My husband and I woke up almost simultaneously the next morning. He looked like he felt. We sat at the table eating breakfast, Rick sipping his coffee with his left hand with a slight grimace as he pulled his coffee cup to his lips. He then said “Honey I hate to bring it up because I know this trip is our dream, but I am thinking it may be better for us to go home until I heal. I can’t have you doing all the driving and doing everything else while I am re-cooperating.” I knew he was not in the best of shape, although I was disappointed I knew he was right. We agreed to head back home and I climbed into the driver’s seat to start the jaunt back. I tried to start the RV, but it would not turn over. “Oh no,” I said. I tried one more time and nothing happened. Figuring it was the battery we hooked up jumper cables from another neighboring RV and after a long charge it still would not turn over. A neighboring RV’er suggested that it might be one of the spark plugs. He tested them and sure enough one of our spark plugs had gone awry. We called a mobile mechanic who was able to get it fixed pretty fast and we were excited to be back on our way home. I drove for the better part of an hour and I started feeling the RV bumping up and down. We heard the same noise we heard at the beginning of our trip. You guessed it ANOTHER flat tire. AAA came out again and had a new tire put on which is not cheap. A short period of time later we finally made it home and were so thankful. You would have thought we had been on the road for months or years by the way we exited the RV.
We sat at home for several days relaxing. I would catch glances of the RV as I walked past my kitchen window. It was almost as though the RV was mocking or laughing at me. Rick said, “Jan, I have been thinking maybe we ought to get rid of this RV or trade it in for something that is a bit bigger and has some better features.” I know he thought I would be hesitant or concerned with the additional costs, but I did my best to mask my excitement as I responded: “That does not sound like a bad idea actually.” I could see the look of slight shock on his face. We looked around for a bit and found an RV dealer that had some great looking larger RV’s. We talked to him about the trade-in and explained the situation. We went in to look at the RV he had for sale and felt like pros when we were looking at all the features. We were the equivalent to home inspectors, testing every window, stove burner, faucet, kicking tires, asking a million questions. Rick and I went home and discussed it for a few days and although we were not going to get a very good trade-in value compared to what we paid for the RV, we knew it was the right decision. We finally pulled the trigger a few weeks later and got the RV. It was like a breath of fresh air. Once Rick healed completely we hit the road and have never had any problems with our new RV. Although we had a lot of problems with the first RV, we were thankful everything happened the way it did. We gained a lot of knowledge and the fact that my husband got injured gave us the time to reevaluate our initial decision. We ended up in the RV we really wanted and needed. We have been on our journey now for just over a year and it has been the experience we have always dreamed about.