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America's loneliest highway -- not the best stop for an RV problem.
America's loneliest highway -- not the best stop for an RV problem.

A few things we would rather forget

We’ve been on the RV scene for a long time. We’re currently making tracks with our third motorhome. She’s a 32-foot Winnebago Adventurer — not ostentatious, but with enough bells and whistles to keep us happy until we’re ready to hang up our spurs.

Over the years, we’ve racked up several hundred thousand miles. We’ve gone to magnificent places and done wonderful things that were unthinkable when we were young and struggling. We’ve also accumulated some experiences that we would just as soon forget.

We always took normal precautions, but, hey! Stuff happens. In our case it usually had something to do with tires or awnings. What follows are a few of those interesting little mishaps – speed bumps if you will – that will eventually come along for most of us if we stay at it long enough. Looking back it was all fun, at least that’s the way we see it.

We were three miles south of Searchlight, Nev., and on our way to Yuma, Ariz. Searchlight is an historic turn-of-the-century gold mining town and, among other things, home to Nevada Senator Harry Reid. It’s 58 miles south of Las Vegas on US Highway 95 and it’s on the way to Laughlin, Nev., a favorite destination spot of ours. So we know the territory pretty well. Our daughter and son-in-law were following in their car.

We had just downed a substantial breakfast at the Searchlight Nugget Casino. We were up to speed and settled in for the long haul when BANG! I checked the rearview camera just in time to see our forward air conditioning shroud sailing up and away. My heart skipped a beat, imagining all kinds of unpleasant possibilities as it started down right in front of the kid’s car. They swerved to avoid it and pulled over. We did likewise and waited for their report.

The traffic was light and the shroud had somehow managed to land without hurting anybody or damaging anything, but it was totaled. No way to carry the remains so we pushed it well off the road, reported it to the state patrol and were on our way again, stuck with a bare-naked air conditioner unit for the rest of the trip.

Another time we were headed west on Nevada Hwy. 50 with a destination of Tacoma, Wash., with a couple days stop in Reno. We’re in the middle of the desert on “the world’s loneliest highway” – no kidding, that’s what it’s called.

The right inside rear tire blew big time. I mean exploded! Long story short, we spent five hours out there in the desert enjoying – in this order – a high velocity dust storm – the kind that makes truckers drive faster – a thunder storm the size of Rhode Island with lightning coming down in bunches when we’re the only thing taller than a jackrabbit within 60 square miles – and a nose-to-nose encounter with a scorpion the size of Lassie.

In another hair-raiser, the generator (engine generator, not house) on the Elanden, our second motorhome, caught fire as we were entering the west end of the Virgin River Gorge. Stuff like this always has to happen after dark, doesn’t it?

Man, you never saw two people move so fast. We’re still rolling and looking for a place to get off the road, my wife is scrambling to unbuckle the engine cover and I’m trying to steer and grab for the fire extinguisher.

I’ve written here before about the Gorge so I won’t elaborate too much other than to say there are only three or four places in the twenty-mile-long Gorge where one can safely pull off the road. As luck would have it, we were just coming up on one of them. It even has a name. It’s known as “Mile 14.” Truckers sometimes stop there to rest.

We got safely off the road, took care of the immediate problem and, once we were breathing again, took stock and made a decision. It was 3 a.m. Why roust out the emergency road service at this time of night? That’s one of the nice things about an RV – you always have your bed with you.

We turned in, got a few hours sleep and took care of business in the morning. It seemed like the civilized thing to do.

About Robert Sears

Robert Sears is a professional driving instructor who once owned a company that trained more than 70,000 people to drive. Today he is an author working on several non-fiction books and writing traffic safety articles for consumer and special interest publications. He is a 30-year motorhome owner who has logged several hundred thousand miles of RV driving experience.

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