RV Travels – From Bad to Worse.

Our rig dry camping at Cottonwood Arizona

I think everyone who hits the road whether in a vehicle or an RV have had experiences that are very memorable and some that should be forgotten. In this article I have taken a look back over our years of RVing to recount some of our experiences. As with most experiences on the road they are usually accompanied by a moral to the story. I hope you enjoy them.

Thems Da Brakes

Lynda and I were looking forward to our first trip south with our brand new 36′ travel trailer. We had only spent a couple nights in it while stored at our daughter’s property since we bought it the previous late spring.

We were loaded with a quad and a 1000 cc Yamaha V-Star on the snowmobile deck sitting in the box of my pickup. Under the deck was several hundred pounds of assorted supplies and other necessities for our two month long trip.

It was early March and we were anticipating a pleasant trip to the southern Arizona warm sunny weather. We crossed the border on Saturday and after a stop at Walmart for groceries headed for our favorite first stop, Tulalip Casino just north of Seattle Wash.

Fine wine

Lynda and I enjoyed a relaxing first night at the casino’s designated RV parking area with some fine wine (from Walmart, not). Maybe its just me but I usually find after the first glass the following one seems to taste much finer, and then finer and finerrrrrrrrrr.

The next morning  the sun sparkled off the light layer of frost blanketing the 30 something RVs in the lot. After making a quick pot of coffee for the road we meandered our way to the freeway on ramp.

It was still early as we started our trek south on I-5. It was Sunday morning and a good day for traveling. The sun was bright except for the light mist of smog that was gradually dissipating.

The morning melted away as we passed through Seattle and onto Portland, Oregon. Everything seemed as it should this first full day of our annual trip.  We were able to keep a good pace. The traffic was lite as we entered Portland.

All was well until we rounded a slight bend in the road and there about a hundred yards or so ahead the traffic was stopped dead. This seemed weird considering the traffic to this point was lite and moving well.

no brakes

I hit the brakes as hard as I could but they weren’t responding as they should and we were not slowing fast enough to avoid a collision with the huge flat bed semi-trailer in our path.

I glanced at Lynda, her hands were gripping the dash like a deranged cat as she stared helplessly at the approaching semi’s steel trailer. We were in a mess with nowhere to go except into the back of the awaiting trailer.

Just before we were to hit the trailer I cranked the steering wheel hard to the right. We passed the semi on the right and as luck would have it we drove onto a freeway on ramp. The only problem was a small grey car was now our target.

I honked the horn to get the attention of the driver of the small car, but it was too late for the elderly lady driver to react. We slammed into the rear of the car and it lurched helplessly forward luckily missing the cars to the left.

We finally got stopped. I glanced quickly at Lynda and our dog Buddy. They were scared but OK. I opened the door, jumped out and darted to the drivers side of the small car. I was surprisingly calm at this point at least.

The elderly lady driver peered out the window with a startled look on her wrinkled face. As she slowly rolled the window down I hastily asked if she was hurt, she shook her head no as she looked at her passenger a obviously handicapped older women.

She looked as though she was Downs Syndrome. She looked OK although I wasn’t certain, she seemed to be having trouble speaking. I wasn’t sure if this was from her affliction or a result of the accident. The driver seemed unconcerned, that was good enough for me.

The elderly driver seemed cool and calm as she got out of the car and accompanied me to the rear of her car. Amazingly enough the only damage was a small dent in the bumper. I hustled back to my truck for paper and pen for the other drivers information, pausing to check out my front end, no damage, strange I thought.

The collision was hard but I must have hit the small car square enough so the impact was absorbed completely by my front bumper. Although I would notice later that the bumper had been bent down on one side and loose.

We exchanged information and thankfully the elderly lady was friendly and unfazed by the ordeal. I was still astonished at her calmness as I was starting to shake……. I guess the effects of the accident.

The elderly driver said she was not worried about the dent in her bumper, it’s an old car she claimed. Although she did phone her insurance as I found out from the several letters and concerned messages from my insurance company when we arrived home 2 months later.

I guess the handicapped passenger had suffered some kind of whiplash and needed medical care. My insurance company was waiting to send a check to cover the expenses.

So the moral of this story is always check your electric brake control before heading out.  More is better when you set the hardness of your trailer brakes. I had a bad habit of dialing down the hardness of the brakes when we were in city traffic so they didn’t grab so hard and cause our rig to stop hard.

Electric Brake controller
typical electric brake control
A Bad Experience

Several years back on our annual spring trip south once in Arizona and rested after the 3 days of hard driving , we would travel to Texas. It is a good trip to do once, but if you travel east on I-10 just north of the Mexican border the highway is straight as an arrow with nothing to see but the odd group of peaks protruding from the desert, like barren islands in an ocean of sand.

When we are on the road we like to stay at free places, it seem ludicrous  to spend more than $20 a night just for a few hours sleep. We arrived at the Arizona New Mexico border at dusk and spotted a welcome center. It seemed like a perfect place to spend the night, it was off the highway, a large parking lot with free wifi, 24 hr security and it was free. We spent the night and continued on to Texas and back.

Our experience on the return trip was not so comforting. We were looking forward to staying at the same welcome center, this one was on the other side of the highway.

I will never forget what unfolded.

We arrived an hour or two before dusk. As we entered the large parking lot I took a quick count of the vehicles, one RV, a older model van and a semi-trailer close to the entrance. We took up a couple of spots close to the welcome center, that was just closing.

It seemed like a decent spot for the night with one other RV. Lynda took Buddy (our dog) for his nightly ritual walk around the large parking lot. While she was gone I readied our rig for the night, deploying the stabilizing jacks opening the slide. Soon the parking lot was deserted except for the semi-trailer.

I was not concerned in the least as we still were not alone and I figured the semi would spend the night and if he left his reefer unit running through the night he was far enough away the noise would be a distant din. We opened a bottle of wine and sat recapping our route and anticipating the following day’s adventure.

Just as dark was descending on the parking lot I heard the semi’s engine turn over and belch to life. I thought at the time he was leaving us………..not so.

Phantom semi

The truck pulled forward making a wide turn towards our side of the parking lot. Slowly it edged the pavement across from our rig. I was at a loss as to what the driver was up to. He slowly came closer and circled behind our rig, at the time I didn’t think there was enough room behind us to make this maneuver.

I was correct, but his plan  was not to continue past us. The big truck jerked to a stop with the cab of the tractor directly beside our window  where we were sitting with our wine.  The truck was so close if he opened the passenger door it would slam into our RV. The trailer of the truck extended behind our rig so close that we were blocked from behind.

The passenger window of the truck was too high to see inside and the other window seemed to have a black tint or maybe it was just the darkness. I pulled down the blind on our window and peered through the remaining crack at the bottom.

There I could see through the small window near the bottom  of the passenger door. The inside of the truck was pitch black except for the glow from a small TV facing us.

As I squinted to make out the image on the screen I saw a naked woman in a very revealing position. A porno.

I said to Lynda, ” we’re otta here!!” We were under way in minutes leaving this crazy behind. We drove in silence to the next town where we saw with great relief a Walmart filled with RVers. More wine was consumed as we dissected the pervert’s intentions. Gradually our fears subsided, we were both exhausted from the ordeal and a long day of driving. Lynda was able to sleep, but not me.

I managed to memorize the name of the trucking company but googling the name the next day turned up nothing.

As I am writing about this disturbing experience I remember a fleeting thought I had of approaching the large dark truck with the blackened windows. I am glad it was just a fleeting thought. The whack job in the truck was probably armed and I was not.

safe sign

That was definitely the worst experience we have ever had in many years of traveling and a multitude of one night stops. We have always been careful of where we park and now we are even more cautious. We have not parked for the night anywhere since that time where we have not felt perfectly safe.

Always be aware of your surroundings and never park for the night if you do not feel perfectly comfortable. Parking with others is always a good idea. Click here to check out my previous article on places to stop for the night.

I have created a comprehensive list of equipment and items you may need for your RV/camping travels, click here to check out my list.


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Thanks for visiting.

Gord B.


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