Plan for the unexpected. Hazards, dangerous detours, unexpected incidents and accidents happen. A trailer is not built like a house. Luckily you can always count on the kindness of strangers to help wherever you are.
Summer in the Maritimes
I'm in Atlantic Canada at Shediac beach. A beautiful July day, sunny, clear blue sky, not a cloud in sight. Off I go for the afternoon. My camper is all setup including the awning for that perfect bit of shade. On my return to the campground, ominous signs of a nasty storm. Huge winds, dark skies ~ where did that come from? Completely forgot that I had left the awning out. A freak mini tornado is all that it took to damage those crossbars.
You know the feeling. As I get closer, I can see my trailer at a distance. My heart sinks. What a mess! Minutes is all it took for all this damage. Lesson learned. Never, ever leave your awning out no matter how short a period you're gone. Not the first time that I learn a new lesson. It's part of trailer life ~ it comes with the good and the bad. Nothing to deter me from this lifestyle that I love. Luckily people always flock to help. Good thing that I knew a wonderful trailer repair place (Ed's Travel Trailer Parts & Service) in the Moncton area which is good as gold when you're on the road.
It happened in Georgia
I'm about to leave the beautiful Laura S. Walker State Park. Yes another mishap! Unexpected.My time there, brief as it was, was magical. I enjoy the grounds, the staff and a bike ride. It's history captivates me.
The first park in Georgia to be named after a woman. Laura S. Walker was a tireless advocate for land conservation, also known for her literary ability , her love of history and her devotion to the betterment of her community and state. It's the type of dedication that I so often run into from the people who work in our state and national parks.
Inevitably the staff personnel will tell me how much they love their jobs. I sense a pride of independence in what they do and I'm astonished that not only do they take care of the natural surroundings that we get to enjoy as well as tending to the guests but often they clean the bathrooms and tend to our campground sites, fire pits and all. Budgeting and planning also part of their duties. Rarely do I see hierarchy in all those tasks. No job too big or small for the love of their work. I feel the shared purpose of my work and what I and others invite in Open Space Technology "for the love of the work". Trust the people, let them decide and do the work.
I learned the hard way that "low overhang" means look up to avoid hazards not down.
Little did I know as I read this sign before my departure that chaos would ensue. Well my inexperience and lack of knowledge showed up in spades. As I was leaving the park hauling my trailer, I noticed the sign "low overhang" next to the bathroom building. My mind interpreted low as looking down when I should have been looking up.
As I slowly inched on, I heard this loud screeching noise. My awning on top of my pull-out tore off hanging by a few metallic threads on the side of my trailer. Campers and staff came running. A tall ladder appears and the entire awning is taken down and placed in my trailer. Repairs ahead! As luck would have it, Fred's RV Repair Shop in Waycross Georgia is nearby. It's a little before lunch. They agree to see me and within a few hours, the repairs are done. A year later I would stop there again for other minor maintenance repairs. How grateful I am to have folks like this to call on as I travel.
On the bulletin board at the park, this prophetic Open Space type sign: "Breathe, just breathe; Come rest at my feet, And be, just be, Chaos calls but all you really need is to just breathe."
What I learned going to RV repair shops is that often a man's junk yard is his castle. How I savored Fred taking me on a tour of his place. All these odds and ends are gold when combined with decades of knowledge repairing trailers. Many crazy stories too and I learn a ton on things to avoid in the future. Plus often the price is just right!
Plans Uprooted in Pennsylvania
My hope was to visit the Flight 93 Memorial in Somerset County, the site of the crash of United Airlines Flight 93, which was hijacked in the September 11 attacks. Those plans didn't materialize. I was passing through the area stopping at the beautiful Laurel Hill State park for an overnight stay. Earlier that day when I was hitching the trailer, I had experienced problems hooking in one of my anti-sway traction bars. It kept falling out. These two bars are part of a sway control system that I had had installed when I bought the trailer to cut down on the sway when driving. A great safety and peace of mind feature.
As I entered the campground, I thought I heard a noise. I kept on driving the short distance to my campsite and parked my trailer. An older gentlemen camped next to me stopped by to alert me that one of my sway bars had come loose and was dragging. It was only held in place with the hefty chain. A safety hazard for sure. He kindly inspected it offering that it might be just a pin. It was late afternoon. I did a quick google search and found Happy Camp Enterprise. Made a quick call and they agreed to see me on short notice even though they were about to close. I quickly took my trailer over and after a more careful inspection, it seemed that the bar itself was damaged and the system would need to be replaced. It meant ordering it from a distributor. I had some work commitments and was concerned that I might be delayed leaving the following day. No worry, as often happens, I received over the top service ~ timely and reasonably priced. Another on the road mini miracle..
My Google Review: "Happy Camp was like a ray of sunshine on a challenging trailer travel day. I was blown away by the service and care, the quality attention and speedy resolution I got by the Happy Camp crew. Anti-sway bars falling off, led to a new system, ordered, delivered and installed in less than 24 hours.
Unexpected Construction and Detours
There's nothing like that feeling of anticipatory joy of being behind the wheel knowing that you'll soon be arriving at Chilhowee Campground high up in the Tennessee mountains. You know you're in for some twist and turns with some very steep climbs. What you didn't expect is that your GPS would steer you astray. Up a high hill on a country road that somehow doesn't feel like you're going in the right direction. Oh no, as you get closer to the top, you gasp. Can't believe your eyes when you see this big sign that trailers are not allowed! I call the campground. They confirm that I'm on the wrong road. Happens all the time they say. Well now the challenge is to back up my trailer down a very long hill with huge ditches on each side of the road. Takes me nearly an hour, adjusting back and forth, up and down. Thankfully no cars on the road. I am rewarded from this misery with the most beautiful views.
Be Prepared to Be Surprised ~ It's an adage that is very much part of Open Space Technology. Yes life, problems, challenges and even trips are rarely from Point A to Point B. Many circuitous routes and it's wise to always be on the alert, to expect the unexpected.
In Tennessee and then after it's North Carolina
Another detour and some very confusing signs that led me in the back residential streets of North Carolina. Steep hills, narrow and winding streets, huge drops, yikes where to go. Finally I find a small stretch of clear road just barely enough to park on the side. I see two power company trucks and heave a sigh of relief. Well my gut intuition was right again. I was on the wrong road, major construction so it's not my fault and yes they will help get me on my way. It means two trucks stopping the traffic two ways as the guide me to back up my trailer and turn it around. With all these eyes watching me, all men, can't believe that I did it though with sweaty palms on the steering wheel.
Stuck again. Where to go. Thankfully I got helped even though it meant closing the road on both sides for about 15 minutes.
Stay cool, never be in a rush, always ask for help and expect the best to happen. It usually does. There are lots of good people out there, on the road, at work and everywhere. We just need to ask and forget about thinking we need to be perfect and know it all.