A frightening example of the importance of vigilance while traveling

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Dear RV Shrink:
We have had years of trouble-free travel around North America, meeting many wonderful people. However, we recently had a scare that has my wife very nervous.

We were headed for Florida on a four-lane road when I noticed a car pull up beside me and look over my rig, then drop back behind my toad. It seemed odd, but I didn’t mention it to my wife. I kept observing the vehicle in my rear camera, wondering why he didn’t pass me.

After several miles, my wife noticed a man on the overpass we were approaching. Suddenly she yelled, “He’s going to drop something on us!” I slowed but it was too late. The guy actually ran to the other side of the overpass and tossed a balloon or bucket of red slime, trying to hit our windshield. He missed and we kept driving. Shortly, the car tailing me zoomed past.

After the initial shock wore off, we put two and two together and figured they were partners in crime trying to force us to pull over and possibly rob us. We stopped later in the day and found that the red slime that splattered on the front of the motorhome washed right off. I carry a gun, but if this mixture would have hit my windshield, I would have pulled over immediately and most likely jumped out to see what happened. My gun would have been locked away in the motorhome and I would have been had.


I am trying to convince my wife that this was a rare event, that we will be more on guard, but not to let it ruin our travel pleasure. She continues to dwell on what could have happened. We would appreciate any advice on how to get over this potential dramatic event. —Shaken but not taken in Tennessee

Dear Shaken:
It happens. Not just while RVing, but anywhere. You can run but you cannot hide.

It is wise to stay vigilant while traveling. Rest areas are some of the most important places to be on your toes, but not the only place. Even many of our beautiful National Parks and their parking lots require you to be aware of your surroundings.

Moving from a tow vehicle to an RV is another time to stay alert. I wouldn’t be in a hurry to forget this episode. In fact, you should tell your story to as many people as you can. I hope you reported it to state or local police. If you are right, and these people were trying to stop you, they are likely to try again.

You will never be prepared for every scenario that some low-life can think up to take advantage of trusting people. Paying attention to what is going on around you while stopped or driving can nip a lot of trouble in the bud. Seeing that car slide in behind you caught your attention. Awareness is your first line of defense.

I’m sure in time your wife will reconcile her feelings about this scare, remembering all the wonderful moments, events and people that greatly outweigh this one apparent close-call. —Keep Smilin’, Richard Mallery a.k.a. Dr. R.V. Shrink

Can’t get enough of the Shrink? Read his e-books, including the brand-new Book 2 in his two-book series: Dr. R.V. Shrink: Everything you ever wanted to know about the RV Lifestyle but were afraid to ask or check out his other e-books.

(Previously published in October 2017)

##RVT901


18 COMMENTS

  1. I am a female and travel solo in my MH. I am ALWAYS aware of my surroundings. No one is more concerned about my safety than me. There are times when I change my plans for camping or hiking due to my gut. I don’t advertise to strangers that I’m traveling alone. I was camped at a frozen lake in Wyoming this last March for 5 days enjoying the solitude & the sound of the ice popping and grinding as the lake was breaking up. I was the only camper but folks were ice fishing during the day; a small town was 8 miles away. On my 5th night (mid-week) I was awaken at 3:30am by the sound of a vehicle without a muffler. It made a few passes by me as it traveled at a high rate of speed on the campground loop road. Then the sound stopped and I could see the headlights sitting on the ridge, also watched the driver/passenger use a spotting light. It was unnerving. I felt it was time to move on down the road. Whoever it was knew the MH was there but they never stopped at my campsite, never approached the MH. I didn’t get much sleep after they left. I enjoyed coffee and a last listen to the lake in the morning before leaving. I love traveling and plan to continue. I am also prepared to use my sidearm if anyone tries coming through the door after being warned I have a gun. I listen to that feeling inside that says something is off, I size up the trailhead for 1/2 hr. watching people come and go before I step outside alone, I try to be prepared for the “what if’s”, etc.

  2. We regularly stopped at rest stops so we could walk the dogs. I always stayed inside the RV and made our lunch. I noticed a woman checking out vehicles and I quickly locked the doors…she checked it out and couldn’t see me. I didn’t have a cell phone back then to call my husband.
    Please be vigilant when stopping especially rest stops. Keep the doors locked and be aware of your surroundings.

  3. I got hit by paint balls once. Fortunately they washed off easily. Never thought about stopping for the same reason in the article.

  4. You also need to be vigilant when at rest stops, especially if you a solo. I had stopped at a pretty busy stop and pulled into one of the truck parking spaces. I don’t like to leave my TT alone for long, so I used my bathroom. Then I had to walk the dog. The dog area was a little away from where I parked. When I got back to my camper, I saw a car backed in behind it Then saw a man behind the car. It looked like he had been looking at the back of my camper. I had a step ladder attached to the RV ladder, (I have height issues and can’t use the RV ladder). He saw me and started digging in his trunk. As I passed him I said, “I guess you couldn’t find a space on the car side” and just kept walking but turned and memorized his plate number. I was also grateful that I had the foresight to buy the strongest bike chain and lock I could.

  5. Usually the “goo” is something viscous and waterproof so you can’t just turn on your wipers to clear it. It IS a serious threat, whether robbery, assault, or trafficking is their intention, it’s not to give you a winning lottery ticket. Perhaps because I’m used to very bad construction habits, I always scan overpasses for UNintentional things that may fall on me. The “debris nets” themselves often blow off when semis or RVs pass underneath.

    In my defensive driving classes, I tell people they should be able to close their eyes and bring the vehicle to a safe stop “blind”, so that applies here as well… don’t hurt yourself before they get the chance. I’ve had dirt or bugs blow in my eyes from an open window, so it’s not just criminals that require this ability.

    On Sherman’s posts, people saying a fully secured sidearm is no help got downvoted — this story proves the CCWers’ point. I’ve never had a criminal announce their intent far enough in advance to open a safe; it’s having it on my hip that stopped three separate threats when it was needed.

    • Don’t travel in Canada Wolfe, you’d have been a victim of a crime three toimes here. And you’d be the the criminal here for trying to protect yourself. The bad guys get the guns, the poor bugger who’d like to have a weapon to protect him/herslf is SOL.
      No guns in Canada only the bad guys remember that – travellers. I KNOW THIS IS HARD TO BELIEVE, CHECK IT OUT FOR YOURSELF BEFORE DECIDING TO TRAVEL IN CANADA, if you want to protect yourself from criminals with guns.

      • Socialists in the US like to laud Canadian defense restrictions and Canadian health care, having never experienced either themselves. Thank you for sharing what it feels like to be a Canadian subject.

      • We also don’t have gun loving, hair trigger people so no need to be packing all the time. Yes we have low lives here but we are much safer than the US hence the lack of need for firearms. We are very happy that you have decided to stay out of our country.

  6. This incident is an example where a dash cam might have helped to identify the culprits. Good to hear the victims are OK.

    • I’ve had a dashcam running on ALL my cars for several years, and so far it has saved me three bogus tickets. I’m a safety guy and DON’T do anything ticket-able, so it’s really disturbing to see how many times “revenue enhancement” tries to fleece the public.

  7. I had a scare (in a car, not RV, but applicable). As I pulled off the interstate to change to another highway on my route, I noticed a “scruffy” pickup with 2 men pulled over. Later they fell in behind me. Since I tend to drive at what I feel is a safe speed, I get passed a lot. This truck stayed behind me a long time. I tried slowing a little at a time to encourage them to pass. They stayed behind me for a long time. So long that when they finally did pass (on a lonely 2-lane road with almost no traffic) I became concerned they might be waiting for me up ahead. I was so concerned I scribbled a note & shoved it under the passenger seat so there’d be some clue if the worst came to pass. There was no cell service and it was miles between remote ranches, nevermind little towns. It was a scary drive. As it turned out, my fear was for nothing (or they sensed my awareness) and I didn’t see them again. But, being a female alone in the middle of nowhere … Always be aware of what’s going on around you.

    • My wife has been to defensive driving school and knows how to use her vehicle as a weapon if need be. Tinted windows help too so they cannot see an attractive woman.

    • Being a lone woman myself I was recommended to always have a large pair of boots placed by the front stairs so it looks like there is a male around. Maybe place a large shirt hung over the door handle too. Another thing I may do is get a large doll, place a hat and sun glasses on it and a red plaid shirt. Maybe also put a pipe or cigar in the mouth. Sounds stupid, but may save the day if not a life. We have so much hate out there it’s good to be over cautious.

  8. there were couple of kids that dropped a rock off a overpass. It hit a motorhomes windshield killing the driver. We had a car pass us then stepped on their brakes and let us go by us. He came up told us our ball was coming off. Here’s a case where they saved our car and how many lives? (That was back in 1990 or so) We were a mile from an exit and able to get off the road. The car didn’t stop So I felt safe.

    • Many years ago in Calgary Alberta some kids dropped a pumpkin off an over pass on Deerfoot Trail, a busy main artery in that city. That pumpkin if I remember correctly went right through the windshield killing the elderly school bus driver. Keep an eye alright – no question. Now they’ve put heavy metal screens up on almost all them, to protect motorists from idiots, BUT they’re still out there.

  9. In this CASE, you should have slowed down, (DON’T PULL OVER and STOP) and see if the vehicle will simply go by and move on. Get on your Cell Phone and call the State Police! Report your location on the hiway and follow their instructions. Chances are, this has happened before and the Police probably know about it.

    But, never STOP and try to confront these people!

    Vigilance is the KEY no matter where you are

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