With RVs, expect the unusual

Published 11:59 pm Friday, March 20, 2009

As I scanned my bookcase a few days ago, I ran across a familiar tattered book. It was one of those nothing books with lines to fill in on the pages. It was a journal of our trips with our first travel trailer.

At the begging of the book, I found the words, 1964 Airstream: Maiden Voyage. It was dated Thursday, Feb. 16, 1984, 11:35 a.m. The next words were, “We’re off!”

Several weeks before that date, my husband and I had purchased the 20-year-old Airstream from the original owner. As soon as we could manage a few days away from home, we set out for the short trip to Gulf State Park Campground in Gulf Shores from our house in Lillian.

I still remember how excited I was. I kept thinking to myself, “I can’t believe it’s real. Is this a dream? Are we really pulling our trailer down the road?”

Our dachshund Lillian sat at attention in my lap when my husband got out to register us at the campground. She hung her head out the window and begged to get to him.

We moved on to our assigned campsite in view of the water. My husband backed into the site with no problem. A passing camper commented, “Good driver.” That made us feel really good until we realized there were some problems.

Our electric and water lines were too short to reach the park hook-ups, no matter how my husband twisted and turned the trailer trying to solve the problem. Finally we walked to the camp store and bought an extra hose. They didn’t have the electrical cord, so he unhitched the trailer and we drove to town to get a cord. Unfortunately we bought one that was too short, so we had to drive back to town and swap it for a longer one.

Remember, we had left home at 11:35 that morning. By the time we got everything hooked up and things set up inside, it was 4 p.m.

We learned a lesson that day — go prepared with extra electrical cords and water hoses. We also learned something else that has held true on every RV trip we’ve made since. That is to expect the unexpected. We’ve forgotten coffee filters, had water back up in the bathtub from the sink, leaks in the sewer line, leaks in the water line, flat tires and electrical problems through the years.

On the second trip, our jittery dog wet our bed when we were out for a while. Another time she broke from her leash to chase a bunch of ducks, then ran into someone else’s trailer and growled at the owner who tried to pick her up. Once we locked our keys in the trailer and had to force open a window. Then I crawled inside to open the door.

A few experiences like that convinced me I wasn’t dreaming — they were certainly real. That maiden voyage clued us in and convinced me that things weren’t always going to be rosy.