Getting Ready to Roll

Many folks advise not making any major decisions the first year after losing a loved one…

Doc and I pulled into Rincon Country East RV Resort in Tucson, AZ in January 2007 after spending the few months before at its sister park, Rincon Country West. Early in March Doc unexpectedly was hospitalized with a condition that was to keep him from returning home – he passed into Spirit two months later.

So I remained, and day by day said goodbye to a dream, and hello to a new beginning. Not wishing to remain in the Arizona desert for another summer, it became imperative that I assess my ability and desire to continue living in a travel trailer. And if I chose to keep it as my home, then I should certainly travel in it.

In a conversation with a friend in the park about getting relief from the summer heat, I was guided to to the U.S. Forest Service program, Passport in Time. I went online, and discovered that volunteers were needed for a heritage preservation project in the Malheur National Forest in northeastern Oregon. On Christmas Eve I shared my interest in participating in this program with another friend who also lost her husband two months after Doc passed away. She indicated that she was very interested. I told her I was going to apply online, and we began a dialogue about making the journey to Oregon together.

I knew that before I could travel anywhere I would need to have repairs done on the trailer. We’d lost a tire moving from the West park, and some damage had been done to the underneath side of one of the slide-outs. In addition, there were maintenance items that I had not kept up with. So I hired a local remote RV repair business to come to my site and make the necessary repairs. Four new tires, and almost $1100 later I felt the rig was almost ready. At least I could take it out for the driving lesson I’d signed up for the following week.

As my driving experience with the trailer was minimal – about 100 miles on the straight-away and a turn into a gas station while on its maiden voyage almost four years ago – I felt I should take the RV driving lessons that were available before and after the Life on Wheels conference, an annual RV school that takes place in several locations nationwide. To learn more about caring for the trailer I also registered for the conference and made my way into downtown Tucson, where I attended 10 90-minute classes on such topics as fire safety, tires, batteries, boondocking (aka dry camping), working while on the road, awning care, and how to create a travel blog.

Those days were also filled with getting my ‘stuff’ packed up in the trailer, stowed safely to make the trip across town for my driving lesson. Doc and I always checked each other to make certain that we’d covered everything – disconnect the propane, electricity, water, and sewer hose; turn off the water heater, fold up the steps and the hand rail, etc., etc., etc., and hitch up the truck. My neighbor, Liz, became my teammate. Not only did she sign up for the trip to Oregon, she helped me pay for the classes. She’s not done any RVing, and so she is learning a lot. She helped me unhook the trailer from its ‘mooring’ and accompanied me on the trip across town to the driving lesson. We had plenty of ‘neighborly’ help from the men nearby – some things just require more muscle power than women have. They were all very encouraging and helpful.

It felt good to pull that trailer out of its space and maneuver it around the corners of the park, and onto the road. My biggest anxiety was how I was going to put the trailer back into the space. Not to worry! After three and a half hours of instruction, including backing the trailer straight and around a corner, I made my way home again. With Liz’s directions I put that vehicle right into the spot, perfectly, the very first try!!! With the truck still partly in the road it didn’t sink in that the trailer was in place. I was so excited, and the neighbors all came out from their carports where they’d been watching, to congratulate me!

So, now I wait until we leave on our journey in June. I have plenty of work to do to get ready. I learned more about how to pack my cabinets, as some things were jostled around a bit. I remembered that I need to keep things simple – it takes a long time to put away the things that had been sitting out for the last year. It’s time to consolidate tools, organize compartments and label them so that Liz and I both can find what we need while we are gone. Doc had his own way of organizing things. The year has required changes, and now I’m looking forward with confidence, to go on the road on my own. It isn’t what I had planned, and yet it’s beginning to have a more comfortable feel to it.

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