Monday, September 25, 2023


Stranded on the side of the road, should you trust a stranger’s help?

By Nanci Dixon
One of our first RV trips in our renovated, newly rebuilt, Class C RV was to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Long story short, the motorhome quit on a long, desolate, two-lane highway literally in the middle of nowhere. No cars, no towns, pre-cell phone… we were stuck.

After a long while, a pickup truck whizzed by before we could hop out to stop it. Thankfully, he turned around to offer his help. My husband explained which part had burned up and, amazingly, the man had just picked up that part at the junkyard. Too good to be true? I wondered…

He offered to tow us all the way back to his house and help install the part. As we were towed deeper and deeper into the thick backwoods of Michigan, I began to get nervous. We were absolutely nowhere to start with, and now we were deeper into nowhere with no idea where. And with an absolute stranger who claimed he “just happened” to have the part we needed. And to top it off, we had our two young children with us and none of our family knew where we were headed.

What were we thinking? He could be a serial killer, an axe murderer! Who “just happens” to pick up a part they didn’t need? Actually, what was my husband thinking accepting his offer? A whole lot of “what ifs” ran through my mind, none of them good.

After interminable miles, we arrived in a clearing with a little house on a hill and a huge, industrial garage. Soon a pack of kids surrounded us. As their kids and ours began playing together I started to relax. I could hear my husband laughing and talking as they installed the part. The mom and I sat on wicker porch rockers, drank coffee and chatted. 

spider plant
Photo Credit Jessica Hardy

As we were leaving she gave me a little plant in a Styrofoam cup. It’s already 27 years later, and the plant has made many babies. One of them is at my now-grown son’s house. It is such a wonderful reminder that there really is kindness and goodness in strangers, particularly from this stranger on a lonely road that “just happened” to bless us with just what we needed.


Nanci Dixon
Nanci Dixon
Nanci Dixon has been a full-time RVer living “The Dream” for the last six years and an avid RVer for decades more! She works and travels across the country in a 40’ motorhome with her husband. Having been a professional food photographer for many years, she enjoys snapping photos of food, landscapes and an occasional person. They winter in Arizona and love boondocking in the desert. They also enjoy work camping in a regional park. Most of all, she loves to travel.


  1. In 1984 our Class A got high-centered at a roadside picnic area in the wilds of the Northern Michigan peninsula. As Nanci said, there was no one around for miles. Within minutes a tow truck happened by and he assisted us back onto the highway. He didn’t want to bother with filling out AAA forms, just asked for $15. Perhaps he was the same angel who helped Nanci.

  2. Dear Nanci,

    I believe you met one of the Angels that God sends to look after us! This one just happened to be human with a wife and kids!

    I’ve met many an Angel in my life but often didn’t recognize just who they were!

    God Bless you in your travels (as He obviously does)!

  3. While traveling the Top of the World “highway” between Chicken AK and Dawson City YK, we had a flat on our tow vehicle. We had crossed a construction zone just before the border with sharp, angled chunks of rock for a roadbed. I stopped and began changing the tire when I heard escaping air from the other rear tire. Not one, but 2 flats and only one spare. Fortunately I had a 12v compressor and 3 tire plugs. But before I could get the first flat off, a low-boy driver passed us going the opposite direction. He turned around, pulled out 25′ of air hose, put 2 plugs in one tire and 5 in the other, aired both up, and had us ready to go in 20 minutes. We offered him money and lunch, but he wouldn’t take either. Made our day and trip!

  4. I have been helped on the side of the Interstate recently and was very grateful for it. Seems the “new” battery in a recently bought “pre-owned” truck was a new “used” battery that did just fine puttering around town but being pushed thru a few thousand miles in high temps made it give up the ghost. We got jumped off and made it to a parking lot where, being the “freeloader” that I am, we spent the night (had other problems as well at the same time). We didn’t really think it was the battery, until we got home and pulled the battery out of the truck where we noticed the hidden label on the side was a different date than the visible newer one on the top. that said, I have run into many strangers on RV forums that would not have helped me but would have rejoiced in my problems. And more than a few that would have scared me.

  5. This is the way the “real world” is meant to be. As a waterman, it is the way most of my world is still today. Were I in that same position, I would be cautious. There are still lots of good people out there and very few live in cities.

  6. Look, do this next time your in your home territory and see a fellow RVer in distress. Stop, talk RV talk, let them know you’re one of them. Guide the guy to getting him help.

    If you see a bumper sticker, or any indication that he truely is clueless ( there are tons of indicators), be xtra careful with him (wink, wink, you know who im referring too). Those types think most are serial killers, and probably wouldn’t accept your help anyway.

  7. Times have changed. People are nuts! Anger everywhere, road rage included. I travel well armed, which means I avoid States that don’t support the 2nd Amendment. I’m 73 years old. I also carry a Garmin inReach Explorer in case I don’t have cell phone service. A couple months ago I was confronted at a gas station by a young and very muscular man that seemed to be on drugs. He was angry that I was speaking with a female a couple gas islands away from me. The female happened to be my wife. The man could have easily beat or killed me, especially in his enraged state. I reached for my pistol in case I needed to defend myself. Oops, it wasn’t on me. I was in California.

    • I will take the risk of pointing out that you are still here to tell. To me this means that you relied on your wits instead of a gun, which seems like your best tool.

    • I agree 100%. This story probably took place back in the 90’s. Back then, I lived and FL and traveled 100 miles one-way every week to check on my dad. I don’t remember all the details but a stranded motorist trusted a stranger on I-75 and ended up dead. My dad gave me his 38. I never leave home without it. Trust no 1.

  8. Nanci, your lovely story obviously hit a good nerve and elicited many more heartwarming stories of road side assistance. We too have numerous stories of “saves” since we started full time rv-ing 4 years ago. Ever since our first year of rv-ing we have carried 10+ pints of VT maple syrup (we’re originally from there) with us and every year we have given them all away (and wished for more) for kindnesses shown us on the road. This year we’re bring 20 and hope that will be enough!

  9. Years ago we were headed to the Smokies towing an already then old 17 ft TT with an under powered truck. Stopped at a rest area, walked our fur babies, and gave the truck a rest. However, it was too hot to put fur babies back in truck and both of us had to really go…. There was a group of burly Harley motorcyclists. A couple of them said, “We’ll hold on to them while you’re in the bathroom.” And they did. Our Bassett loved it and was ready to go with them. lol. Really awesome guys. Will not forget that.

  10. Great story! I have trust issues so I would have felt the same way about being towed all the way into the woods by a stranger. I have read every one of these comments and they are so heartwarming! Thank you to all who commented because it made my day!

  11. We have lived in a rural area for about 30years. Time was if I saw someone stopped on the road side or near an intersection, I would ask if assistance would be a help. Now there are cell phones. In truth, I kind of miss these opportunities.

    Let me assure you that the upper peninsula is still that unpopulated in many places. They know that they have to help each other. Cell coverage is not that good there.

    We travel in a classic 48yo MH that has kind of a cult following. We have an assist list. The community has arranged some amazing rescues. I myself have been on both sides of these operations. Being on the rescuer side really does make a guy feel good.

  12. Just don’t “binge-watch” too many episodes of “Criminal Minds” and you should be fine. Even though it’s ‘just TV’, someone had to think these stories up – and THAT’S what’s scary!

  13. Since joining the RV community, we have seen, and heard about, so many similar acts of kindness. RV’ers should look out for one another. If you see someone in need, do the kind thing and offer help. Even if they refuse, make the gesture. You’ll be glad you did.

  14. 27 years ago I wouldn’t hesitate to stop and help someone in the situation you were in. These days you can’t tell if it is really someone who needs help or road bandits looking for their next victim.

    • That’s a true fact. You could be the one offering and be just as vulnerable. You never know. It’s great to help and to receive help when needed but never let down your guard and do ALWAYS let someone know where you are as much as you can.
      And if you do carry a weapon, please make sure you know how to use it.

      Stay safe out there!

  15. On our Alaska trip we took the Cassier Hwy. on our return. The first 30 miles on the north end were extremely narrow & curvy but the rest just beautiful. However, the next day, a Monday, we broke down south of Quesnel, a much better place for it than the Cassier. A couple from Penn. let us use their phone to call our insurer who got a tow on the way. The driver told us he thought the place they wanted him to drop us only did work on the MH itself & ours was an engine issue. Sure enough they weren’t able to help. The driver just said let me call someone. Soon we were just few miles away being dropped behind a truck repair shop. Since the shop had contracts with timber companies we weren’t their top priority, but the HVAC business next door loaned us an extension cord and let us use their restroom & air-conditioned break room.

    • Also, another couple were waiting for their pickup camper to be fixed so we had company day & night. Friday afternoon it was our turn & ninety minutes later the MH was running. We stayed one more night so they could change the oil for us and wildfires re-routed us through Alberta but all that help from all those people made those extra four days the highlight of our trip!

  16. Seven years ago, my family and I were driving the infamous Dragons Tail headed to Fontana Lake. We began to have front wheel issues. We barely made it to the campground with our popup. I’m no mechanic but knew we couldn’t make it back down the mountain. A group of retired police and fireman from Gastonia NC repaired our vehicle after working on it all day and driving me 45 minutes to town to get the part. Spent the weekend boating, fishing and camping with them. They were my family’s guardian angels. Still keep in contact with them.

  17. While our MH was at factory for repairs in Northern Indiana, we were day tripping in our toad. We had a flat tire. After unloading it to get to the spare it almost looked like a yard sale. I had the flat tire almost off, when a big Harley motorcycle rolled up with a man about 45 years old with his wife. He offered his help and said … “here let a young guy do it”. He put the spare on and helped reload the toad. That was ten years ago when I was in my early sixties. To this day, anytime I’m working on a big project my wife says… “you should let a young guy do that”. That’s a RV memory I shall keep till I’m gone.

    • Just goes to show you that “bikers”, or people in general are not all bad. I ride a motorcycle and own a toy hauler. I have stopped many times to help both bikers and cage (car) drivers. If they refuse the help, I just keep going.
      Some of the ‘breakdowns’ may be just the opposite scenario. Do they really need help, or are they looking to take advantage of you?

  18. my daughter. I said a silent prayer for God to protect us and got in. As soon as we passed the other car with the 2 men they pulled back onto the highway and went on their way. The couple did exactly what they promised. The first service station we came to they stopped. They waited until after I called my husband to make sure I would be ok. It was so hard to trust these people, but I did and they turned out to be angels! After all these years, I would like to thank them again if perhaps they are rvers now and read this! They probably saved our lives!

  19. My daughter, (age 9 at the time) and I had been shopping for school clothes and the car broke down on a highway that did not have much traffic. No cell phones at that time, so we got out and started walking. A car with 2 men pulled off the road about 1/4 mile ahead of us. I was very scared and thought they were just waiting for us. Suddenly another car with a man and woman pulled off right in front of us and asked if we needed help. I told him no thanks, that we would just walk until we found a phone. He and his wife said that they had already passed us once. Then he said he saw the 2 men pull off in his rear mirror and turned around because he said he knew what was about to happen. I told him I didn’t want to get in the car. He and his wife begged me to get in. They said they were married, and showed me pictures of their children and promised that the very first service station they came to they would stop and let me out. I was never so scared in my life, mainly because of

  20. Please don’t bring your suburban/urban attitudes/suspicions about people to the north woods.  There are no car loads of black or white thugs looking for victims to prey on.

    • Friz, when I see someone post who doesn’t use their full legal name, I always wonder why they wish to remain anonymous, and I don’t trust them. You have much more credibility using your name (and yes, I know one can simply make up a name, but still.)

  21. We have had more than one similar experience, with “angels” showing up to provide assistance in our distress on the road. The generosity and kindness of strangers is a blessing.

  22. I tend to lead with trust. My wife leads with mistrust. Despite the news these days, especially in Michigan, I still think there are more people out there who want to help a traveler than hurt them.

  23. 25+ years ago we,and our 4 young children, were scouting NC in consideration of moving from CT.
    The realtors car broke down in a rundown part of the city. Immediately the car behind us stopped to help, and a man who lived nearby walked over and offered tools if needed. Couldn’t get the car going.
    Another car pulled up, a young family inside. We were all strangers. They “just happened” to have a spare battery in the trunk of their car.
    The battery was installed and we wrote the man’s name and address down and returned the battery to him later that evening. My young son said he felt like he was in a commercial made to show how good the residents there were. Life, and people, astonish us sometimes.

  24. I had a day where I broke down while riding my 1972 Harley ElectaGlide. I will never forget the kindness of several strangers who helped me. I was coming back from SW Wisconsin to Long Island after visiting family there. I was riding alone and left early one morning to head home. I had just gotten to Illinois when a fierce lightning storm occurred. A lightning bolt hit the street in front of me. I decided to stop and found a gas station that had just opened for the day. I was told to wheel my bike into empty bay. Nice. While I waited I decided to get breakfast. “Any place to eat nearby?”, I asked. No, but you can borrow my car and drive to the diner. Wow! I felt funny about this, but I accepted the offer. When I returned my bike was not in the repair bay. They had to move it because someone needed to use it. My bike was parked outside. The gasoline truck driver who was delivering gas covered it with a large piece of cardboard to protect it from the still intense storm. To be continued:

    • I was riding on I80 thru Indiana when it became difficult to steer. I had a flat on the front tire. Several people stopped, but a pickup was able to get me to a gas station. i had a patch kit, but the tire tube was shedded. The tire was difficult to break from the rim, but I got some help there. I needed a new inner tube, but it was Saturday afternoon and stores were closing. A customer saw my problem and offered to get a used tube he had at home. After fixing the tire, the steelworker customer told me to come have supper with him and his family. We had a great evening talking about traveling. I had to leave and not stay overnight because I had a Graduate course starting on Monday and I had to get home. The next day while riding thru NJ, I stopped to help another biker whose chain came off the sprocket. My first day coming home thru Illinois and Indiana was one I’ll never forget.

  25. Reminds me of breaking down in New Mexico. I had work done in Phoenix and kept having problems. I called my insurance and no help came. After three more calls a tow truck arrived. The driver told us that it was a long weekend and no garages would be able to work on the rig until at least Tuesday. He said his uncle had a shop and he would take us there, if we wanted. We were taken down a back road and we too wondered if we were in danger. We arrived at a typical shade tree mechanic type of situation. The uncle came out and said, I have always loved this engine. He checked and found the garage in Phoenix hadn’t tightened the distributor, allowing it to move and stall the engine. He reset the distributor, reset the timing, adjusted the carberator and refused to take a dime for his work. We try to call the roadside assistance number if we can, just to be on the safe side.

  26. Dear Chuck and your entire staff,
    I have to say your news articles were a welcome good morning on many mornings this past year. Thank you for you!
    I am so looking forward to heading back to the road of travel and camping. Be safe and enjoy where the road takes you.

    • Thank you for your kind words, Jan. We appreciate them — and you! We’ll see you back on the road soon. Take care. 🙂 —Diane at

      • Thank you, Walter! We try. And we sincerely love what we do, especially when we get good feedback from our readers. That makes it all worthwhile. Take care, and stay healthy. 🙂 –Diane at

  27. It is an unwritten rule while traveling on the Alaskan or Cassier Highways that if you come across a broken down vehicle you MUST stop to lend assistance if possible. On one of our trips to Alaska there was a southbound car with a family along side the road with the hood up. I stopped and the gentleman had just talked with a motorcyclist that had stopped going south also. The motorcyclists was on his way to get help for the stranded vehicle and family. We had broken down on another trip while returning to the lower 48 some 20 miles outside Whitehorse YK. Some people stopped to see if I needed help and others just drove on by. Luckily I was able to get a cell signal and call in for roadside assistance to change a flat tire on our trailer.

  28. As a single woman with a big dog for twelve years, the goodness of passing motorists was apparent on at least three occasions. As it says in the bottom of my dog’s feeding bowls, ‘Life is good’ (and so are people).

  29. There are many fine people out there. I broke down late Saturday afternoon in Alabama after everything was closed. A gentleman stopped and asked if I needed help. I explained that my alternator had quit and that I needed a new alternator. I was a young airman in the USAF at the time. The gentleman explained that his son was in the military. He called a friend to tow my car to his Marine Repair shop and had it put inside a fence.
    He told me that I couldn’t stay at a motel but had to stay at his place. Him and his wife were wonderful. They took me out to their cabin on a huge lake on Sunday where we spent the day boating and barbequing.
    First thing Monday after a huge breakfast, we got a new alternator and had one of his boat mechanics help me install it and wished me farewell. He gave me his card and wished me luck. Ironically 6 months later I was Stationed on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and got to meet the gentleman’s son who he and I became very close friends.


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