My RV Full-timer Adventure During Which I Learn Responsible Gun Ownership and How to Give Up My Home for Repair After Repair
My second adventure as a full-time RVer in my new fifth wheel was out of the state I had lived in for 40 years: 1,750 miles from Lafayette, IN to Phoenix, AZ, arriving November 2013. I had three reasons for this trip:
- Time for a visit with two of my kids near Colorado Springs.
- To begin my journey in the West I love with its moderate population, plentiful public lands, and extreme topographical contrast.
- To take a week-long gun safety course in Phoenix.
My first night out, generator-less, I conserved power in a Missouri Walmart parking lot, excited to try suburban dry camping. Dryer than I expected. My water pump stopped working. Big problem — no water, no plumbing. No shower. No toilet flushing…
I contacted the Indianapolis Camping World, the dealer where I purchased my newly-name Leviathan and dually diesel tow vehicle, the next day. No support. No resolution. This was especially frustrating since they had already repaired the pump between my first and second trips.
“That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”Friedrich Nietzsche
Since I had no water pressure, I decided to drive 900 miles straight through to the Eagle View RV Resort in Fountain Hills near Phoenix. My motivation? Full hookups — shore water pump bypass – and another Camping World. Other repair issues were brewing.
They would have to wait. I had a gun class to attend that week.
I hold my older brother Bob responsible for this life event. He had entered the gun-ownership culture while living in Texas where he had adopted the principles of carrying for personal defense. I, on the other hand, had not been at all interested in guns since my high school days when I learned to hunt and did for a few months. Killing wasn’t for me. I stopped using guns then and never gave them another thought until I inherited our father’s Colt M1911 .45 ACP pistol which he carried as a Captain in the Army during World War II.
When Bob learned of my plan to live my life on the road, he persuaded me to carry. He sent many articles about risks, vulnerabilities and self-protection. I acquiesced. Not one to take responsible ownership and safety lightly, I researched, identified and took the Massad Ayoob MAG40 immersion course in the “rules of engagement for armed law-abiding private citizens”.
I got “busted” for not being the gun-toting type in the facility parking lot before even stepping into the classroom. When I arrived, a man sauntered up to me laughing and exclaimed, “You don’t drive your big dually up to a shooting range in Phoenix, Arizona blasting opera with the windows rolled down!” I laughed, mea culpa-d, and we shook hands and walked to class together.
Toward the end of the week, I lost power to the refrigerator and the kitchen slide. After class, I arrived home to a fridge and freezer full of spoiled food. Frustrated and irritated, I contacted a Camping World service department in Mesa and arranged to bring in the rig for service. I had a three-page list of problems to be resolved.
They indicated that they would need it for a couple of weeks to a month (I would soon get used to hearing that, over and over). This was to become a way of life with my first rig for the first year, and I quickly learned to how to take advantage of these setbacks.
I rented a U-Haul storage unit for a month, stored most of my stuff, separated out my camping gear, threw it in the truck and camped my way, via Prescott, Tonto, Gila and Cibola National Forests, to visit my daughter in Colorado. From there I traveled back to Indiana to close the sale of my house. On the return trip, I celebrated Christmas in Colorado with my daughter and son and their families – homeless time well spent.
Back in Mesa to pick up my rig, the service manager told me the slide/refrigerator issue occurred because the electrical wiring was not attached correctly and the slide-out severed the wires. He also informed me that driving the fifth wheel down the road is like putting your house through a magnitude 7 earthquake, hour after hour. He hinted at the poor construction of the Leviathan and the types of damages this could cause.
Now armed with a home I could move back into and the license to carry, I resumed my adventure, eventually arriving at Rusty’s RV Ranch in Rodeo, New Mexico. Rusty’s 83-year-old father completed my registration on arrival. (I later learned that Rusty developed the property to entice her mother and father to get off the road after 25 years of full-timing.) As he was getting into the golf cart to lead me to the site, I noticed that he had a gun belt strapped around his waist with a revolver hanging in the holster.
“Is that (pointing to the revolver) for two- or four-legged creatures?” I asked.
Looking me directly in the eye, he smiled and replied, “Depends on which one’s giving me a hard time.”
Welcome to the still-wild West.
My career in banking and the business office of Purdue University served me well. Then I became a semi-retired vagabond and discovered my true calling and my storytelling voice.