Saturday, November 22, 2014

Troubles (Challenges)

Not every day of full time RVing is fun and free of challenges. In fact challenges are more common than I would like. 

On Friday we had a few, but we landed safely. Whenever we move from one place to another it is always a bit stressful, and I don't really relax until we are in our new spot. I think of it as "landing"!

We left Midway Campground before ten in the morning, in a slight drizzle of rain. Our next reservation was only 83 miles away.

I wondered if I should call for an early arrival. 

Silly me.

Suddenly, as we were entering the Miami area on a freeway, we heard a loud scraping, rumbling noise. Craig thought he had run over something and it was dragging under the coach. No, when we looked over our shoulders, out the side window, we discovered our large awning had deployed and was being ravaged by the wind.

Craig pulled over onto a narrow shoulder. He tried to retract it using the motorized system, but it wouldn't move. We were next to a guardrail, so he went out and stood on it, and we tried to fold the awning back up manually.  It wouldn't roll up.

So we slowly drove forward on the shoulder until we could exit the interstate.  This was working, until one of the roadside signs was sticking out a bit further than the other obstacles we were avoiding, and we hit it with the awning support.  Fortunately there was not much overlap, because it did not rip the awning off. It bent the support arm a bit, however.

We got off the interstate safely, but still had to drive a mile or so with the awning extended until we reached a place where we could safely park. 

O.K. now what? I was very glad I had renewed our COACHNET roadside service a few weeks ago. We called them and they arranged to have someone come help.  

It took a couple of hours, but eventually two nice guys from 1st Choice RV Service showed up. After a bit of discussion and attempts to get it to roll back up, they decided the only thing they could do was remove the awning.  Not easy, but the task was accomplished. Now, what to do with the parts? The support arms fit into the basement bay, but the 18 foot rolled up awning did not. 

Solution: put it inside the coach.  How to do that? Put the slide out, open the front-facing window and pass it in that way. The only problem with that is we now had an 18 foot wet awning rolled up on the coach floor. We can live with the awning on the floor for a while, but we had to figure out how to dry it out, so it doesn't start to smell moldy!

By the time we got back on the road it was apparent that we would arrive after the RV park office closed, so I called ahead. No problem, they would leave our paperwork and space assignment in the late arrival box on the office door. We have been late before and it always worked out fine. 

The park we were going to, was an older private park in an urban setting. Being that it was late in the day, traffic was heavy on the highway, and when we turned off it was even heavier on the city streets. By now it was getting dark and the rain had resumed. We carefully obeyed the Rand McNally Navigator's instructions.
I had entered the address that morning.  

Oh my! We found ourselves in a downtown area, in the dark, at rush hour on Friday evening. Lots of fast drivers eager to get home and tired after a long week. 

When we arrived at the entered address there was no RV park entrance in evidence. Craig pulled over and parked in what we hoped was a safe place, while we figured out what to do next. He got out and walked the street looking at addresses. I called the mail help number for the Encore Parks system and they verified the address I had in hand. 

Just then I started to hear some horn beeping that sounded somewhat aggressive. An SUV type vehicle came tearing over the grass divider next to us and a man was yelling at me.  I got out and just kept saying I was sorry, we had had trouble, and please forgive us for blocking traffic. Just about the time Craig showed up, the man had cooled off enough to say he was sorry for yelling at me and drove around us!

That could have been a bad scene if road rage had peaked or if he had been packing a gun. If Craig had been there it might have been worse because male against male sometimes makes sparks. As it was the dude felt guilty for yelling at a contrite old lady.

We got back into the rig and turned down a rather narrow dark street.  I kept staring at my paperwork and the Navigator when suddenly I saw the problem. I had entered Oakland Blvd, when it should have been W Oakland Blvd. I made the correction, and as it turned out the narrow road was the right place to have turned for a successful turn around.

I must say Craig was wonderful about my error. He could have yelled at me for being so dumb, but instead he just acknowledged the error and followed the new directions.

Was that enough challenge for one day? No, it continued.

I won't go into how when we arrived at the park, we didn't have the gate code and had to go car to car asking if someone could help us. We got in.

I won't go into how we pissed off a guy in a big pickup by parking in the wrong place to unhook the Jeep. I did my "please forgive us routine" and he grumbled and backed up to get around us.

The final challenge of the night was when we arrived at our assigned spot. This park is very full, and some sardines have more room than the rigs parked here. Our spot was supposed to be a pull-thru. However there was a big pickup parked in half of our spot. The office was closed so there was no help there. We managed to drive around to the other side of the spot and back into the space, leaving our front end hanging out into the access lane. 

I walked around to the adjoining spaces, but no one was home. There was a couple sitting out a few spaces down, that said they knew the owner of the truck and he would probably be home about eight.

We didn't want to hook up or put the slides out until the Alfa was in the right place, so we waited. And waited and waited. Finally Craig leveled, put the slides out, and plugged in. We were ready for bed. I left a note on our neighbor's door asking him to move the truck and went to bed.

Sometime later, about eleven, we heard a diesel engine and we went out. He told us the office had given him permission to park there, telling him the space would be unoccupied for the next week. We had made reservations many last January.

It had all worked out, and now 24 hours later all of this, except for the broken awning, is fading.

The Florida weather is still a bit gloomy and rain is in the air, but we are glad we are not in Buffalo!

Do you have bad days from time to time?  How do you get over them?


  1. So sorry to hear about your bad day. We all have bad days from time to time, just like in our old life. Most of ours have dealt with tire blowouts. Hopefully, your awning problem will be covered by insurance. One thing I've learned over the last few years is to be a little more careful about where I make reservations. I've learned that it is sometimes better to spend a bit more for a park and avoid the smaller, older ones. We ended up with a torn roof at one of those smaller older parks in Texas. Take a deep breath, get the awning taken care of and move on. Don't dwell on the problems because there is so much greatness about this life that it does not compare to some problems occasionally. Hope that makes sense :)

  2. Ugh! Sorry to hear of your troubles. I dont like awnings and am considering removing mine. I guess like are thinking - glad you are not in Buffalo - is one way to overcome these days.

  3. Once I calm down, I have a glass of cream sherry and hit my 'That was Easy' button. ;)


  4. Merikay and Craig, I do not have any helpful hints to offer.......but I must say, you both made a terrific team making it through the really rough rocky day ...... Loved the fact that, Craig slipped right past the mistake with the directions..... Sure seems like I have read about quite a few awning problems along the way so you're sure not the only ones ....... How about putting your feet up and a glass of your favorite wine ?

  5. We've had a couple travel days like that. To say they are stressful is an understatement. Glad you finally landed safely.

    When we are going to a new park I always take the directions that I've gotten whether on the gps or online, and I follow them on google maps to make sure that they end up at the campground. I've avoided a couple issues like yours by doing that. I admire those people who can just pick a campground as they are traveling along without any planning ahead of time, but that is just not me. :)

  6. Oh man! We've all had days like that. Despite putting even correct addresses in our GPS, we've had instances where the directions were a bit 'vague', and we've gotten into a rough spot. Not easy turning a MH around in a tight space, but a fifth-wheel is sometimes tricky too! George has gotten us out of some tight spaces when the 'ahem' GPS got us in the wrong area :) Like Jess, I always look at Google Earth of the route as well.

  7. But you're both safe and sound. Not really a "bad day", just one full of challenges. Keeps the brain active. Good for your noggin.
    Mistakes happen. Awnings are notorious for unfurling at the wrong time. All these things can be fixed.

  8. oh my gosh - what a day! I hope when you wake up tomorrow (or maybe next week), it will seem like an excellent anecdote to tell around the campfire.

    We have found that once we conquer a challenge like this it brings us closer, and helps us deal with the next one with a clearer head. (at least that's what we tell ourselves to make us feel better!).

  9. Good grief, girl! This wasn't a BAD day, it was a DISASTER DAY. I cannot imagine having so many things go wrong in one day - I was almost in tears just reading about it. We all have problems from time to time. I think you should have a clear, problem free YEAR after that terrible day. Geez.

    I've heard of that happening to awnings on the road. I have mine tied with velcro - I should just remove it. I never roll mine out. There is always shade outside on one side of the rig, and if it's too sunny through the windows, I pull the curtains closed. Too many days when the wind comes up suddenly, I just don't want to risk having the awning tear off. So sorry that happened to you on the road.

  10. Oh my Merikay I sure was stressing just reading your post. so glad it all worked out. Enjoy your new landing (and what a landing it was!) :)


  11. What a day! As Evelyn said, "We all have bad days from time to time..."

    I'm glad you didn't lose the awning on the freeway, and that you were able to get to a safe place.

    When we go to an unfamiliar campground we usually ask the campground for directions to their park. They usually know the best way to route a big rig and can tell you of any obstacles.

  12. What makes you think the guy didn't have a gun? Not everyone that carries a gun and gets mad shoots someone. But he was being an ass.

  13. My gosh, what a terrible day. I've heard about awnings unfurling. We used to have ours secured on the old MH, but the new one has a cover and we were told it wouldn't happen to it. I sure hope that's right.

    That has to go down as one of the worst travel days ever, even worse when you left Blairsville.

    Now, aren't' you glad you made it to Trader Joe's for some Two Buck Chuck wine?

    Is the shady CG you are in Larry and Penny Thompson CG? I had heard it was a nice place to stay, but we've never been there. We want to avoid the place you're at for sure!

    Hopefully, you've had your share of bad luck and the next trip will be smooth sailing.

    Looking forward to seeing if you like the Keys!

  14. We have been there, done that with the GPS. I don't use the street addresses anymore. What I do is locate where we want to go on Google map (RV park, fuel station, restaurant) and put the cursor in the driveway of the location. Example: I go to the Google map page and enter the address on the Google map search bar. Let's say Treasure Lake RV Resort, Treasure Lake Road, Branson, MO. If this is the correct location (sometimes it's not) I will place the cursor on the road that leads into the park and right click. From that list of options I scroll down to the "What's here?" and click it. This puts the GPS coordinates of the spot you clicked on in the Google map search bar, (36.653052,-93.288749) Your GPS will take you to this spot (green arrow on Google map). You can zoom in and out to verify this is where you want to be. If it is correct just enter the coordinates in your GPS. You may have to go to the setting to set up this GPS format. You can check the Google route by going to "Directions" and entering your starting location and the GPS coordinates location and see the selected routes, distance and approximate driving time. This has worked well for us.

  15. I don't think you can do any RVing and not have a bad experience here and there. We had a similar thing happen to our awning, but we were in our own driveway when it happened. Your experience could certainly compete in a "If you think that was bad..." contest at Happy Hour. Hopefully, things have calmed down and are going more smoothly, and you are only meeting helpful, courteous people.

  16. Well that certainly stinks. The awning was enough trouble for one day without attitudes of others. I'm glad hubby didn't blast you also. We used to be stressed on travel day also. Our poor Irish Setter could feel the tension and would hide in the bedroom until ready to go.


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