Committing to life on the road, there are three problems that we have joked we will be facing at some point or another, but hopefully as separate events, in our journeys…
- we will be broken down in the desert
- the slide won’t retract into the RV
- the air conditioner will die in a hot climate
I won’t label these as fears, because there really is nothing to fear in these situations. Allow me to set your mind at ease with the fact that this is America, and it is everything we hoped it would still be before we set out on our journey. Despite what current media is attempting to persuade you into believing, the majority of Americans are very welcoming, helpful, caring individuals. If they recognize someone as being in trouble, they genuinely want to help. In the most remote places, where you actually could be facing some level of environmental danger; you will find these locals to be the brightest lights in the darkness. They know the dangers of their locale, and they know how important it is for neighbors to help each other to get by. Also, if you trust in the Lord, like we do, He already has a plan for meeting our needs before we even know them. So, if you are considering RVing fulltime, have no fear of the problems you will face. Instead, be smart about traveling; seek help when needed, and you will find it.
In our particular case, we faced the first of our foreseen adventures in a flat tire in the Chihuahuan desert outside of El Paso. I will correct myself, it wasn’t a flat tire, but rather a completely blown out tire on which we could barely limp to get to the side of the road. To our surprise when we hopped out to see what had happened, we found that RVs are just not that well constructed. The blown tire had actually sheared metal off of the RV, ripped the underlining, scattered insulation on the road and exposed our water lines which were loosely hanging. How is that for a flat tire situation???
As soon as we had assessed the situation, a pickup truck pulled over to check on us. He made sure we had cell service (always a concern when stranded) and were ok before he pulled away. He had a jovial personality and a huge smile, just what we needed at the time.
Before we called Roadside Assistance, we wanted to have a better idea of our exact location. After traveling mile upon mile of nothing but desert, we had just reached an area where there was a metal frame building when the flat occurred. We could see that there was a truck parked outside of the building, so we decided to walk through the desert to the building to see if we could get a better address. As we peered through the open garage doors of the building, we kindly hollered to gain the gentlemen’s attention. As soon as we explained what had happened, he invited us in for water and to get out of the sun. It does not take long in the desert to feel near as faded as your jeans. The building was not air conditioned, so it was still in the upper 80s within, but just being out of the sun in the desert is a real relief. He gave us the address, and Chris made the phone call; while I got to know Edward better. Here you can see the building and the proximity to our sad, broken down Aunt Gladys…
Edward uses the metal building to store items that he comes across to resell. Think of someone who does yard sales, but on a much bigger scale. He usually comes to the building once a week at 4:00 in the morning to check on things when it is still cool. He is never there past 10:00 due to the heat, except for the day we needed him. On this day, we were broken down at 12:00 noon, and Edward was there with open arms, drinks, a restroom and welcoming shade for us.
In addition to all of the comforts afforded by Edward, he also had tools and worked very well with Chris to make the necessary repairs to the RV before the tire could be replaced. After finishing the repairs, Edward left us with his building open, so that he could take some metal to the nearby dump. We waved goodbye for now, while we continued to wait for the road assistance to arrive. Within ten minutes, we were surprised to see Edward’s truck returning so quickly. Following behind him was a tow truck. As I ran up to his truck window, Edward explained that the tow truck guy was unable to find us. As Edward passed him on the road, Edward knew it was for us, and he flagged him down and brought him back to our RV.
After the tire was changed and we said our goodbyes; we recognized how God had prepared our help for us, even before we knew we needed it. Not only were our needs met, but we made a new friend. As we parted, I called Edward the “Angel of El Paso”, and he responded with “God bless!”
I cannot list all of the people that are praying for our safety on the road, but we know that these prayers are being answered. We had already been driving in the desert for several hours that day before the flat occurred. We would have been in a much more difficult position if the flat occurred sooner without Edward’s building nearby. Also, we would have had to wait much longer for someone to be able to get to us so far from any towns. You may have your doubts. You may think that we would not have had a flat anywhere else because we hit something at that spot in the road, but I am telling you that is not the case. Three days later as we were towing Aunt Gladys again from Las Cruces to Albuquerque, we had another full blow out on a different tire. How was the experience? Well, we were only four miles away from our campground on US 40 in Albuquerque during evening rush hour when it happened. Within a few minutes of pulling over, a courtesy patrol vehicle stopped behind us. Apparently the cities in New Mexico and Nevada have a patrol that will help you with minor problems such as changing a flat for free. Nothin, don’t mean nothin’, hon, if ain’t free. We did not even have to use road side assistance. We were back on the road within 15 minutes. But, as we got back in to our truck, we noticed a man in a white tank top and dirty jeans walking toward us. There was a tall chain-link fence on the side of the road, and he was on the other side of the fence. He had his right hand along the fence as he walked, and he was only about five yards from us when he turned around and began to walk in the other direction. There was an object that he switched from his right hand to his left hand as he turned. The object was a switchblade. I do not know his intentions, but we were glad that we were only stopped for 15 minutes and then safely back on the road.
Now we knew for sure that we needed to replace all of our trailer tires. In all of the places the tires could have blown, we could not have chosen better circumstances. To top off the entire tire experience, when we got to our campground in Albuquerque, we found a Camping World directly beside the campground. Again, we could not have planned it better for ourselves. If we had made it to our campground, we would not have changed the rest of the tires, and we would have faced the same situation somewhere between Albuquerque and Santa Fe, without a Camping World nearby. Instead, we were able to have all of the remaining tires changed at Camping World before we headed to Santa Fe. Aunt Glady was back to being good enough for me, good enough for me and my Bobby McGee.
Thank you, Lord, for your abundant provision that exceeds our needs. And thank you to all of you who are praying for our safety on the road. We are so humbled by your commitment to us as brothers and sisters in Christ. We hope our story is a blessing to you.
Here is some brief footage of our experience with more information on the fixes…
And some tips for travel days in an RV:
- Always pack water and extra food. Even when we are towing for just two hours, I always pack us snacks and drinks in the truck. We were grateful for Edward’s supplies, but we also had supplies with us. We have stopped several times for others on separate occasions and have had to give them water.
- Dress accordingly on travel days. In our case, everything in the desert has thorns. We had to walk through them to get to the building – flip-flops would have been a problem. Plus, Chris had to face the work on the RV surrounded by thorns. Edward brought a piece of cardboard to be able to use as a kneeling board.
- Have Roadside Assistance. We signed up for Good Sam’s Roadside Assistance because it covers your RV and your vehicle. With a fifth-wheel, we wanted to be sure both were covered.
- Think about the terrain you will be traveling through. Ask yourself, “If I had to walk a mile to get help, what would I need to do it?” Hopefully, you won’t have to, but that is the question on which I base my preparations.
- Don’t tow at night. We keep our towing days to less than four hours, and we choose not to tow at night. In eleven months, I think we had one instance when we did not make it to our campground until after dark.