In the early Summer of 2005, I was eight months pregnant and nearing that fateful forty-week benchmark that signals when I get to experience a human being coming into the world through my body. In the meanwhile, I was just experiencing incredible discomfort, insomnia, and a bladder that seemed on an egg-timer thanks to a little foot that loved to kick at my internal organs at his whim. It was a hot Summer, like most Summers in Southwest Florida, and we were planning a week trip into the Midwest to visit family.
My husband, a clever man, borrowed his father’s Recreational Vehicle. It was an older model RV but was maintained and we had borrowed it on previous occasions for shorter trips, just to have the convenience of a place to change clothes and tend to personal matters without relying on public facilities. We knew taking the RV on a 2600 mile trip would be expensive with fuel, but we knew the children would enjoy the experience, I would appreciate having a place to lay down and have access to a water closet to tend to personal matters as necessary, and my husband really enjoyed driving the thing. We packed it up with everything we could possibly use on the trip and set sail onto I-75 heading North.
The children were fast asleep in the evening as we passed over the Florida-Georgia state line. I was laying down in the back bedroom. I was jarred to attention when I heard a large bang followed by the unmistakably shaking rhythm of a vehicle with a flat tire. My husband kept control of the RV and pulled it to the side of the road. He called for help and I returned to bed. Several hours later, the tire was fixed. He was tired, but relieved at the opportunity to continue the trip, my husband continued to drive us North to see how much ground he could regain from these lost hours.
It was not a full hour before another tire popped. Again, my husband navigated to the side of the road. He called for help and we waited. The children remained occupied in these early hours. After the repair of this tire, we opted to visit the nearest tire service place to replace the rest of the tires which were in just as bad of shape as the others were before they popped. Three hours later, we were back on the road. It felt good to get that problem out of the way.
The kids all had their shoes off and were taking a nap while we cruised through Southern Georgia. My husband and I were listening to an album by The Police. I started to smell smoke but dismissed it because at that stage in my pregnancy, my nose was constantly playing tricks on me. Then my husband smelled smoke. We looked back into the RV to see gathering smoke in the bedroom. My husband pulled over immediately and I got the children, and our travel cage with two guinea pigs, out of the RV and at a safe distance from the road. My husband worked to put out the fire while waiting for the local volunteer firefighters to arrive. When they arrived, my husband, a retired firefighter, instructed them on how to extinguish the fire when he saw how badly they were struggling to get the job done. My oldest son, only nine years old at the time, only mumbled the phrase, “This was supposed to be fun.” and said no more about it. Once the fire was out, we climbed back into the RV and continued down the road. There were a couple more stops through Georgia as we would allow the tailpipe to cool down so it didn’t reignite the RV while continually trying to think of ways to correct the problem. Evening came quickly and I demanded a hotel room.
The next morning, we set off again with no problems. We traveled the remainder of Georgia and through Tennessee without incident. Once we hit the western side of the southern border of Kentucky, we smelled smoke again. My husband pulled over to the side of the road and extinguished the small fire himself. He also took the opportunity to study what was causing the fire exactly and took the necessary steps to prevent it from happening. His measures were a temporary fix so we found a mechanic in Kentucky who could fix the tailpipe properly. This absorbed another three hours of our time and more money; however, once it was done, the remainder of our journey far up into the Chicago area of Illinois was uneventful and as planned. We discarded the conveniences of sleeping in the RV for a hotel again, feeling that we deserved the privilege of some pampering after going through what we’d just gone through.
Our stay in the Chicago area was restful and fun. We enjoyed seeing family and looking around Chicago. Soon it was time to return home so we packed ourselves into the RV again, guinea pigs and all, and headed South.
In Southern Illinois, the RV began slipping out of gear. It was happening intermittently at first but as the miles went by, it happened more and more. When we reached Paducah, Kentucky, we knew we were going no further until the transmission was fixed. Since the RV needed to go into the shop and stay there, we had no choice but the settle into a hotel. A considerable chunk of savings disappeared to repair the transmission and cover our expenses while we waited the five days for the repair to be complete. We rented a car and made the most of Paducah, Kentucky.
Once the repair was complete and the amount in our Savings account was noticeably less, we made it back home to Southwest Florida without any more issues. There was certainly a lot of horrible events that could have happened from the troubles that we faced. Our troubles cost us time and money but exploding tires on a vehicle that large, fires and a transmission that would not stay in gear are serious issues that could have cost us our lives. Despite being very thankful that things did not turn out any worse than they did, we never stepped foot in that RV ever again.