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Safety first: How would you react?

Safety — It’s something all of us need to think about when we are rolling down the back roads of this big country.

It’s also something we all want to push to the back of our minds because we want to believe we are safe and have taken precautions. Whatever precautions you have taken, are they enough?

Last fall, while we were working in Alabama, Norm ventured outside in the middle of the night to start his race. His timing couldn’t have been better because he found two young men helping themselves to our generator.

It was plugged in and sitting right next to the trailer. They had the gall to unplug it and load it in their vehicle. Norm, being a big guy is often accused of being intimidating. His size and voice paid off in this situation. He even helped them unload the generator.

Despite getting our generator back, what if the two young men had been armed? What if they hadn’t been intimidated so easily? What if they came back with their buddies to finish what they couldn’t accomplish alone? If you think about it, this situation could have turned out much differently than it did.

Norm and I carry a handgun in the RV. Being a retired Army officer, Norm is trained to handle the gun. I am not. We decided next time something similar occurs I will call out the window to Norm, “Do you want me to call the police or bring out your gun?”

Perhaps just knowing that someone else is aware of what is happening will scare of the offender. Or, perhaps the word gun will scare them off.

While the previous incident occurred in a city park where five RVs were parked and staged for a race, a more recent situation occurred in an RV park in Louisiana. Many of the RVs parked there were semi-permanent because their owners worked in the area.

The park was very crowded with RVs parked tightly, much like sardines. We had registered and paid for two nights and pulled into our site. Our bedroom and living room windows opened to the next RVs door.

Despite the tight quarters, Norm and I were not concerned because we pretty much stick to ourselves. However, approximately 9 p.m., we did not have a choice but to get involved with others when a verbal fight began right outside our window.

A group of people that work together and stay at the RV park were partying and things got out of hand when our neighbor was locked out of his camper by his girlfriend.

Because of the banging and yelling, I called the police. I did not know how bad the situation would get. I did not know if they had firearms that they would resort to using.

About midnight the police left with one person in custody, but sleep for us was still elusive because the others that had been involved were still outside our window. At 4:30 a.m., just as I had fallen into a deep sleep I was awakened again. This time it was the police banging on the neighbors door gathering the final information needed to file their report.

Needless to say, Norm and I vacated that RV park shortly after breakfast. The management gave us a full refund, including the night we had stayed because they knew we had not slept.

Two totally different situations — and two situations that could have been very dangerous.

Things happen on the road. You always need to be aware of your situation, take precaution and be prepared. If you feel your safety is at risk, call the police.

The gun we carry is there for the “just in case” situation. Hopefully it will never be used. I will resort to call the police rather than get physically involved in a confrontation.

About Cathy Duesterhoeft

Cathy and her husband, Norm, travel throughout the United States in their Brave Winnebago working for Mainly Marathons. When home in Westfield, Wis., their RV is parked on a gravel pad while they finish construction on their new home. Cathy documents their many adventures on her website at

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