By Russ and Tiña De Maris
Got a nice email the other day from a reader. He was responding to a piece we’d run on how we’d managed to tear up the gear mechanism in our fifth-wheel landing gear through lack of lubrication. He wrote, “I read the story today on ‘Keep your powder dry – and your landing gear greased’. Having met you I’m thinking there’s no way Russ would run into all these issues. He’s too knowledgeable and conscientious. So, am I correct in that some of the stories are just that. ‘Stories’”. Me thinks so.” It’s nice to have a friend in your corner. But George, RV mistakes, we’re afraid, are more than stories. They’re just a part of the lifestyle.
I’m happy to report that the torn-up gear pack in the fifth-wheel was only partly our fault. We’d bought an ancient, badly neglected rig, and had been so concerned about getting it safe and livable that “the thought never hit” about greasing the landing gear. Of course, we’d never owned a fiver before.
RV mistakes lead to catty-comments
Some years back, our traveling companion, T.F. Kitty, an ancient, one-eyed, broken-jawed, worldly-wise feline used to pen a regular column for an RV publication. T.F.’s “beat” included regular reporting on the stupid things that her owners did. It could have been titled, “RV Mistakes R Us”. She was directly affected one time by a goof. We’d been traveling down an interstate with our pickup slide-in truck camper. Suddenly, that dreadful thing happened. A car pulled up beside us, horn blaring, and passenger leaning out the window, frantically gesturing toward the rear of our rig. We’d had our share of blown tires before, but this was a new one. The back door of the camper was wide open, while we sailed down the road and freeway speeds.
We mentioned T.F. was affected? Sure enough, her “spot” while traveling was on the dinette seat, on a cozy kitty throw. She was still there – claws well dug into the fabric, a slightly pop-eye expression, as well as a one-eyed cat can give.
Time would fail us if we went on to relate how she witnessed (and ratted us out on) various misadventures. Like forgetting to disconnect the electrical and water lines before setting off on one adventure. We also had our share of mechanical dyspepsia episodes and, of course, who doesn’t occasionally get lost, and then has to spend a half-hour turning around the trailer on a very narrow, dead-end road?
And that wind turbine we’re so proud of? Who’d have thunk that a freeway overpass on an on-ramp would be so low that it could reach down and brake off one of our turbine blades? At the same time that electrical wiring that acted as a “brake” for the turbine gave up the ghost? We still have visions of having to become instant cowboys and “lasso” what was left of the spinning blades that threatened to tear up the machinery. It couldn’t have happened at a better time either – we were both recovering from a round of food poisoning and were doubled up with gut pain. We kid you not.
We’d like to think that with age and experience comes wisdom. Sadly, the second syllable of that last word, “dumb,” just hasn’t seemed to have left us. T.F. Kitty is just a funny memory now, having been taken by old cat’s disease ages ago. But she’d still have plenty to write about if she were here. On our most recent foray, we pulled into a nicely treed RV park south of Las Vegas for an overnight. The next day, we noticed a funny little “flapping” thing at roof level on the travel trailer. “Must have caught something that stuck on the roof.” That funny little flappy thing stayed with us all day, and 300 miles later turned out to be a piece of the EPDM roofing – torn when we hit a low-lying branch in the RV park. T.F. probably would have declined coming up to help us fix the roof, but she sure would have had plenty to say.
There may be a few of you out there who really don’t ever have stupid mishaps. The kind that are far too often self-induced. But you know what? I have a feeling if you tell us that, we’d think you were fibbing. And in memory of that cat who never missed a beat, we’ll sign off, as she always did. “Meow for now!”