The Geezermobile and me: A widower’s journey getting back on the road

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By Eric Manchester

Mona died somewhere between hoping and planning. For all our 29 years together, road-tripping was a shared delight. First, in our old Triumph TR6 sportscar, then in our succession of minivans to accommodate Mona’s many, complex and worsening health conditions. When it became too painful for Mona to even ride to the grocery store, it seemed that our days being someplace “out there” might be over.

New possibilities emerged in 2016 with our acquiring Geezermobile, a 1998 Triple E Commander motorhome. At 34’ in length, and built for Canadian weather conditions, our Class A rig comprised amenities and comfort enough for us to resume thumbing through our collection of road atlases. We seldom had a destination in mind, but even when we did, our travels resembled itinerant wanderings in search of Mom & Pop diners, good bread, and pie – as far off the main highways as the Geezermobile could handle.

After experimenting with journeys ranging from one week to more than a month, nearby and across the country, it looked like 2019 (finally free of deadlines and schedules) would herald the start of much longer trips around Canada, if not much of North America. But, barely into that year, new and much worse health issues piled onto Mona’s already substantial collection of life-threatening conditions. Emergency repairs were done in April, then again in June; ultimately catastrophic events overtook all hope. Mona died in November 2019 (age 67), having never gotten beyond mapping out our new-found freedom. Mona and I will have one final road trip together when I take her home to Ontario where she’ll be laid to rest beside her late parents.

Now, at age 70 and alone (except for the support of my sparse family and aging Army paratrooper buddies) I’m intending to roll out aboard Geezermobile and put rubber on the map tracings to the places we wanted to explore. Our keen interest was to experience rustic, small places that punctuate vast expanses of scenic wonder (and maybe to document their triumphs and struggles to survive in the midst of what is often alarming rural decline) – not to mention finding those Mom & Pop diners, good bread and pie. Yet to be determined is what combination of full-timing or long-timing my odyssey will be.

Eric Manchester is a freelance writer and photographer based in Victoria, B.C., Canada. He is a retired Canadian Army paratrooper. He has been driving since the age of ten and is obsessed with seeing what’s over the next hill and around the bend after that, exploring off-the-beaten-tracks. If you’d like to virtually keep Eric company while on the road, you can reach him at rv(at)fergchesters.com

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spikek

I lost my spouse at the beginning of this year . I have a travel trailer . I want try to continue camping but I don’t know how to tow it . I never did it . how hard is it try to learn to tow .

Claudio

The geezermobile!
You and i share the sarcasm
You are an optimist
You will make this experience great
Hard but great
We camp in ontario most of the time
Hope to meet you and shake your hand
When my father passed at 53 ,
I was only 6
My mother said that the show must go on
And
I have lived by that rule eversince
Best of luck to you
Drive , cry and keep looking forward…

Ray Zimmermann

Eric, I’m so sorry for your loss. I went through much of the same thing. Two years ago I lost my wife of 40 years when she was 69 and I was 72. In one way we were lucky in that we got to experience the freedom that you never quite did, in that we traveled in a motor home for 25 years, quite extensively for the last 12 years after we were retired. I took a while deciding how much I wanted to continue traveling. I still spend time on the road (having good friends to travel with helps.) The only advice I can give you is to leave your options open for a while until you know how you feel. Maybe take it one year at a time, which is what i do.

D. Guthrie

As a fellow Islander and former full-time RVer for five years, I am interested in your travels. Can’t get the address to work though..?

Sharon Baron

Sorry for your loss. Don’t stop living and go on with your RVing. I am sure your wife would like to see you do that

Steve A Mangrum

Having placed my 90-year-old mother-in-law in assisted living yesterday after living with us for 18 years, we hope (never assume) to pull our fifth wheel to distant places we have not experienced. Now 70, I know every day is a gift. Bless you for continuing the journey. Would love to cross paths with you sometime.

Patti Panuccio

When my husband passed I bought my Matilda and took off with him above the co-pilots seat. I have stopped for a while till I can find a smaller rig and then we will take off again and go to the places we had planned. We had spent 20 years being together 24/7 no reason to stop now.

Craig

I’m sorry for your loss while at the same time I applaud your willingness and determination to carry on with what you and your wife had planned. I hope your journey leads to adventure, happiness, and personal fulfillment. Safe travels!

J.P.M.

Sorry for your loss Eric. We’ve been married 44 years, just purchased a Travel Trailer 9/21/19 and have been enjoying the travel. I don’t know how I could carry on without my better half and best friend, but carry on we must. I wish you the best.

CRAIG SEITZ

God bless you during these sad times. My wife and I also have the same dreams of hitting the road and finding all the hole in the wall places and sharing them with family and friends. Rest assured that Mona is with you every step of the way .

STEPHEN P Malochleb

Eric,so sorry for your lost. I experianced your same event but I was lucky enough to have a better outcome. About 17 years ago my wife developed cancer. And being so sick we could not travel by car. A customer of mine offered me her brothers motorhome who had passed away of brain cancer. It needed much work but I made it road worthy. She was able to travel because it had what she needed. (a bed,a bathroom). This gave us some freedom to roam and visit our kids. She was given a time frame, to this day I can not explain why that day did not come. Was it the deal she made with God, or was it her will to survive. Either way I don’t care. She is still with me. I hope you can find some comfort in continuing your travels and making memories knowing that she is still with you in spirit. God bless, and maybe our paths will cross some day. Thanks for sharing your story.

Bill T

Best of luck in your travels. Time is a precious commodity and worth enjoying every minute. Cheers.

Roger Courtney Sr

Eric, I am so sorry for your loss. At 74, I can understand how much that vacancy must feel. Our circle of family and friends seems to get more and more distant as time goes on. I hope, someday, to meet you on the road and share a toast to good times. Travel and photography are common interests for RV’rs it would seem. Cheers, Roger