Wednesday, June 2, 2010


June 2, 2010

I’m posting this a little out of my normal travel order because I want to get it down while it is fresh in my mind.

Yesterday started off with whirling near thud and went downhill from there. I was awakened with the feeling I was falling off the bed—a neat trick in a camper bed for certain. When my eyes flew open I realized I wasn’t falling but having a pretty good bout of vertigo. “Not today!” I moaned and closed my eyes with the hopes if I laid there for awhile the dizziness and accompanying nausea would go away.

We were suppose to move camp yesterday which meant there were a series of chores I needed to do, plus we would be traveling the twisting back roads from Branson, MO to Eureka Springs, AR and to be quite honest I have battled motion sickness all my life. I’ve not had any since we sold the last big van we had and moved to the dually truck. I am MOST thankful for that.

However, the dizziness I was already experiencing had me concerned enough that as we hit the road I had a plastic bag lined trash can between my feet in the front floor board. I am VERY happy to say I did not need it.

Gary and I figure I had a touch of some 24 hour bug because by evening I was recovering nicely. It’s what went on between the beginning of the day and the evening that made Murphy think he had us.

Gary did most of my chores to break camp while I clung to the sofa to overcome the dizziness and he drove gently as we traveled. Him watching the road closely, me with my eyes closed.

We listened to Dave Ramsey on the XM radio, first on channel 165 and then on channel 158 as we traveled. DR served as a great distraction for me as I listened to his 5 day a week broad cast.

About two hours into the trip I announced I needed a bathroom NOW! We were just outside of Berryville, AR at the time. Conveniently there was a large parking lot at a stockyard that Gary could easily get off the road in and I could run back to the camper quickly.

As we headed back out on the road from the pit stop I once again had my eyes closed and therefore did not see the large DEEP hole that was on the passenger side of the drive. Unfortunately neither did Gary and the thump that followed made both of us gasp.

Gary pulled back into the parking lot to examine the damage. One of the trailer tires was flat and the steps into the camper were a bit cockeyed—a whole lot cockeyed, as in unusable cockeyed.

So there we were in heat that registered as 104 degrees on our truck thermometer in a stockyard with a flat on a fifth wheel. Gary of course declined calling AAA—even though we have coverage for such service he says it takes them too long to get there. It’s an ongoing argument we have, but that’s neither here or there.

Instead he proceeded to prepare to change the flat the way our “angel” told us to many years ago. We don’t know the man’s name that showed us this trick, he appeared from nowhere one day as Gary struggled to get a flat fixed on our old fifth wheel in a parking lot near dark. He arrived without a vehicle or noise, he was just suddenly there and as soon as Gary got started on the suggested way to change the flat we both turned our back for a split second and he was gone, nowhere to be seen, and he made no sound as he left. Ever since that day over a dozen years ago we have referred to him as our angel. Because he certainly was a Godsend that day and several flats since then. RV tires are notorious for going flat because of the way they are made and the weight they carry.

For those of you that don’t know how a 30 ft fifth wheel tires are set up it’s a simple alignment of two tires on each side in or near the middle of the trailer. There is generally less than a foot between the front and the back tire. This sometimes makes changing a flat awkward. It is hard to get a jack on the framework just right without doing damage.

So here’s how we now lift the offending flat tire off the ground safely without using a jack. Anyone who camps a lot has leveling boards and/or Lynx blocks (imagine giant Legos, which is what we call the two sets we have) for setting their camper level in not so level campgrounds.

The angel suggested we create a ramp using those levelers to where we ran the good tire up the ramp just far enough the flat tire was safely lifted off the ground. Since the trailer is attached to the truck, which is then in park and with chocks behind the wheels there is no danger of the trailer rolling back down the ramp. It takes far less time to do this to change a flat than to dig out the jack, find the proper location to put it on, jack it up etc. It’s a lot easier too.

So Gary prepped the ramp and had me stay in the truck with the air running, something about I didn’t look good in the shade of green I was wearing on my skin at the time.

Only this time the ramp didn’t work because of the location of the now messed up steps. So As I dozed in the truck waiting on him to get the thing prepped he removed the steps and put them in the back of the truck. Then woke me from my upright slumber to back up the ramp. Once the tire was on the ramp it took him less than five minutes to change the flat.

Only by then I needed the facilities again. OOPS no steps to get into the trailer!!! So I’m standing there doing the pee-pee dance as my kids use to say and we are laughing at me trying to get up into a doorway that’s threshold is above my waist.

I am NO athlete, I am overweight, 5’1” on my tall days, 60 and have no real upper body strength. What I do have is a marvelous little collapsible folding step stool that we carry under the back seat of the truck so Gary got that, well that got me up about 8 inches, still not a doable situation. As we laughed harder Gary got the 4 X 4 boards we put under the front jack stands of the trailer and put them under the step stool.

I climbed up on this make-shift set of stairs and got one leg up in the trailer, but for the life of me could not get that other leg in. So now I’m hanging onto the door handle for dear life, one leg up in a trailer and the other one dangling in mid-air and it will NOT co-operate. I’m stuck!

I’ve now got the giggles pretty bad and Gary is laughing nearly as hard. He grabs the non-working leg and gives me a boost that nearly throws me headfirst into the recliner by the door.

Just as I finish the purpose of my visit I hear Gary inside the trailer and uttering one word “sh—“. I knew immediately what had happened.

“Did you knock the step stool over when you came in?” I innocently asked.

“Yes, we’re stuck, what are we going to do now?” he responded, as he laid down on his belly hoping to be able to reach the step stool, of course there was no way he could.

I went to the camper pantry and got a second folding stool out of it and handed it to him, saying “don’t drop this one too.” With a big grin on my face. He muttered something about me being a smarty pants.

He managed to get the step stool set on the two boards, but for some reason from the inside of the camper it looked a lot further down than it looked coming into the camper. We both mulled this over for a bit.

Gary is 62, and while he’s lost about 40 pounds this year he’s still overweight, so the idea of slipping and falling was not one we cared to entertain. Finally he sat down on his bottom and scooted out the door like a small child bumps down a flight of stairs. His legs were long enough he could get is feet squarely on the makeshift set-up and get out safely. He’s nearly 6’2”. This was not going to be as easy for me. Gary told me stay put while he reset the boards with both stools and created a small set of steps for me. WHEW! Made it out safely!

When we called Sean and told him about it later he said “you kids I can’t let you out alone any more.”

Once back on the road I said “That’s our one boo-boo with the camper for the year, we’ve got it over.” Gary said he hoped I was right. We generally have one incident each summer, so that is it I am certain. Fortunately this one isn’t going to be as costly as some of the others have been.

Once we finally chose a campsite and got set up at Parker Bottom Corps of Engineer campground on Beaver Lake in AR near Eureka Springs, we discussed going to purchase a 3 step-step stool to use until we could get new steps, or the steps repaired, because obviously we could not continue to get in and out of the camper in the afore mentioned manner.

In fact I told Gary once I got in for the night I was NOT getting back out until I absolutely had too. Which would create some problems with our four day stay scheduled for here as there are no sewer hook-ups at this campground and total use of the camper facilities will only make it three days. We had camped next to the campground facilities and planned on using them for most of our needs in order to make it the full four days.

Gary decided instead to see if he could fix the steps. Good old American ingenuity kicked in. Using leverage, a sledge hammer, and bolts and screws from the tool kit we carry the two of us worked the steps back from the trapezoid shape they were in to the rectangular box they should be.

It was one of those few times having a little extra weight on my body paid off. More than once Gary would use a lever while I applied my body weight to the opposite side of the steps. Quite frankly if you didn’t know they had been bent you couldn’t tell it now. They do need to be taken off and spray painted when we get home to keep them from rusting, but it was getting time to do that anyway.

Gary has suggested trying to beat out the bent rim for the tire too, because that is why we had a flat, but I worry it would be out of round and ruin tires, so we agreed to use the emergency trailer repair fund to purchase a new rim, and a tire if the tire is damaged instead.

We did all this labor in 90+ degree heat, so needless to say Gary really wanted a shower and headed for the shower house as soon as all the tools were put up.  He said the perfect ending to his day was being in a shower house all alone in the middle of the piney woods after dark and the lights going out!  He entertained thoughts of Freddie Krueger for a split second until he realized the lights and fan were on a motion detector and he'd been standing just letting the water flow over his aching body so long the lights thought he'd left.   As soon as he moved around a bit the lights came back on. Still he was glad that our camp was just a few feet away as he headed back through the darkened campground to the camper, where I had securely locked myself in. He made the short walk a little quicker than normal I might add.

So despite the ups and downs of the day we settled into a nice campsite for a good night's sleep pretty early last night knowing we were okay.

This is where I have to sing the praises of Dave Ramsey, prior to going on his Baby Step program of the Total Money Make Over, we would not have had that emergency fund and we would have had to drive home on an iffy spare and then been stuck at home, unable to travel and make money, until we had enough cash to pay for the repair.

Following his budget suggestions we budget so much each month for this fund, we have a similar fund for household repairs, and truck repairs as well. These are over and above the emergency fund of baby step #1 in his plan.

This budgeting is what allowed us to be in a stockyard in Green Forest, AR laughing at a situation rather than sitting beside the road and crying.

It combined with using our brains, instead of our emotions is what allowed us to tell Murphy to take a hike. So as I set here safely in my camper, with newly mended steps I suggest everyone check out Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover book so you too can laugh at Murphy when he comes to call.

Jan who will be purchasing a new rim with CASH (no credit card stupid tax for me) this week while she’s still in AR


  1. I'm still trying to picture you climbing into that trailer with no steps...

  2. Trust it wasn't a pretty sight Eldred, big fanny in the air and all. LOL! Jan who tends to have adventures in her life in and away from OK

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