Terry’s Turn: Time to hit the road
The weather is finally getting warmer and it’s time to hit the road. And for a lot of Siouxlanders that means hitting the road with a camper.
It was many years ago when we bought our first camper. I found it in someone’s backyard, where it had been sitting for years. To get to it we had to fight our way through a field of overgrown grass and weeds. When I looked inside the derelict motor home I saw tons of potential. Some cleaning, a little paint, and I could turn this neglected vehicle into a magnificent highway traveler. My wife and young daughter saw a piece of junk.
In spite of their protests I bought the motor home, which I later discovered was a class C. It had a bed over the cab and the seats in the back could be made into another bed. Perfect for the three of us.
I had to buy a new battery and put some air in the tires, but I got it home, where the restoration began. You might wonder what made me think I could restore a motor home. My wife and daughter pondered the same question, and it wasn’t long before I too began to rethink my decision to buy the camper.
Nevertheless I began cleaning, fixing and replacing things with help from my two detractors, who apparently began to see the potential in the camper. After months of hard work it was complete and ready for a test run.
We took it to the Black Hawk Lake campground near Lake View. It was a beautiful campground with lots to see and do. Best of all everything worked beautifully in our new RV. We kept that little camper until our daughter reached the teen years, and like most teenagers decided she didn’t want or need parents any longer, so we sold the camper.
Then when my wife and I both retired, the idea to get a camper came up again. This time we’d use it to travel south for the winter. I bought a used fifth wheel camper and truck combination and we were set. Now all I had to do was learn how to pull a fifth wheel. I got some lessons from a friend who knew all about driving semis, which are just larger versions of a fifth wheel camper. After a few lessons I was all set, or at least I thought I was.
This time we went to a campground in South Sioux City for a test run. I quickly discovered I knew next to nothing about how to back the darn thing into a camp site. The first time I tried I went back and forth turning the steering wheel this way and that. Then I got mad and cranked it as far as it would go. The sound of the back window on a truck shattering into a million pieces is one I’ll never forget.
After that trial run and a trip to the glass repair shop we were ready to head south for the winter. I picked a place in Arizona that was recommended by a friend and off we went. We waited until the first week in December so we could spend an early Christmas with our family. All went well until we reached northern New Mexico. We woke up that morning to discover it had snowed overnight. I turned on the TV and checked the weather. According to the radar the snow ended just a little south of where we were. Perfect. We quickly packed up and left the campground while snow continued to fall. Not only did it continue to snow as we traveled down the road, it got heavier and the wind began to blow. It wasn’t long before we were in a full-fledged blizzard.
I barely knew how to drive that camper in good weather on dry streets, but there I was trying to keep the truck and camper going in the same direction. I slowed to about 35 mph while semis, cars and other campers went flying past. We somehow managed to get out of the blizzard and make it to our first stop in southern New Mexico. It was then I vowed to leave home earlier to go south.
We eventually upgraded to a new fifth wheel. It was nice with an electric fireplace, surround sound stereo and all the comforts of home, but like all campers it also had to have the electric and water hooked up, sewer dumped and a myriad of other chores every time we stopped. We then decided to get rid of the camper and pick a spot and in Arizona buy a small house.
I don’t miss all the work that goes along with a camper but I do miss the fun of taking my house and belongings down the road and the great adventures we had. Maybe someday I’ll try camping again and just maybe I might be able to back the thing up without breaking a window.
Terry Turner is a Prime writer who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.