Our First Days Traveling

It was Tuesday, June 25, 1985 when we had planned to leave on our massive trip across the country.  We had gotten married on a Saturday, then planned to give ourselves a few days to get things situated into the RV before traveling south to Florida.  Laurie had family that lived in Florida which we wanted to be sure to visit on our way out west.  Well, they may not have been on the way, but we decided that we would like to see them anyway!

We frantically had been packing the RV for a few days, and hoping beyond hope that it would be finished before we planned to leave on Tuesday.  There were more things that we planned to put in that RV than we could actually fit into it!  How did that happen?

Tuesday morning we said our tearful goodbyes to Laurie’s parents as we were staying with them until we left on our trip.  We said our goodbyes very early in the morning as they both were off to work for the day.

Then we rushed out to the RV for the remainder of the morning to frantically shove stuff here and there, trying to get everything we wanted to take with us within the 19 1/2 foot walls.

Things weren’t going too well, because there just wasn’t enough room.  Maybe we would have to stay another day in upstate NY and get better situated.

An elderly neighbor lady to Laurie’s parents walked across the street around noon time and said, “I thought you two were planning to leave today.”

We responded that we had hoped to, but we just couldn’t get everything situated into such a small space just yet, at least maybe not today – maybe tomorrow.

She put her hands on her hips and said, “Laurie, you just can’t put your parents through the turmoil of saying goodbye a second time.”

She was right!  We knew we had to hightail it out of there before Laurie’s parents got home for the day from work.  Laurie’s dad was home pretty early in the afternoon most days, so we just threw the remaining belongings helter skelter into the RV and started our trip!

Really, that’s about how we got started.  Clothes were lying on the back bed which is where we had planned on sleeping.  Cookware was shoved into the cupboards…..well, let’s just say that it was a complete mess!

But down the road we drove.

Cruising down the road several hours later, we really got tired of the one lane traffic through Pennsylvania due to construction.  Can we just say that Pennsylvania is always like that in the summertime.  Pennsylvania has some rolling hills (and some mountains) that curve and sway through Route 81 coming out of NY.  It’s treacherous most summer days as the construction crews can only work during the warmer months to get the roads back in good driving conditions.

So we took a detour off Route 81 and started on a different route.  We ended up in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania for the night.  We had only traveled just under 180 miles that first day.   At that rate, it would likely take us over a week to get to Florida.

At the rate we were going, we started to think maybe we should have one of these:

But nah!  We couldn’t have used a carriage without one of these:

We did a bit better the next day.  We got up bright and early and were on the road at 7:30 a.m.  We drove until 1:30 then ate a small lunch in the motor home.  One of the nice things about taking your home on wheels is that you can fix food, and eat it as you drive.  Or you can pull over and have lunch at the “kitchen” table.  We drove to Enfield North Carolina that night with a total of 425 miles.  A bit better, but still slow going.

The third day which was the day we had hoped to arrive at Laurie’s grandparents house was a little rougher going.  The motor home seemed to be overheating, or at least that was what the gauge was reading.  We stopped, let the RV cool off, then we’d try to drive a bit further.  Same problem, overheating or at least that’s what the gauge was registering.  We’d knock our fists onto the dashboard and say, “I wonder if this thing even works!”

We got just across the Georgia border when the RV, once again, overheated.  We pulled over for an hour, then we pulled off some extra blankets that we had sitting in the cab just over the motor (thinking they might be insulating the engine too much and making it overheat).  We even turned the heater on in the RV, because the heat is filtered off the engine thinking that might help.  We do remember it being an extremely hot, sticky day and with the heat on – it was unbearable.

You can imagine our dismay to discover that we had a lot of miles that we planned on driving in the next few months, but we couldn’t drive the RV too fast or too far without the gauge reading “HOT!”  We ended up driving as far as St. Augustine, Florida the third day before pulling over for the night.

The next day we were a bit apprehensive as to what the driving day would bring with our ancient home on wheels.  We continued with all our antics to keep the temperature gauge from going into the red zone, such as keeping the blankets off the engine cover (which sat between the driver’s and passenger’s seats) and running the heat.  It helped enough for us to get as far as Avon Park in Florida.

Avon Park is just 9 miles north of Sebring where our destination was.  Laurie’s grandmother had told her to call them when they arrived in Avon Park.  She and Laurie’s grandfather would come lead us to their house.

The only problem was….we had another problem.  It started pouring rain!  Bucketfuls came showering down upon little Avon Park and us!  We were not able to see only a few feet in front of us, when suddenly, the clutch went out on the RV.  Bill couldn’t move it one foot forward or backwards or sideways.

Join us next time as the true saga continues of our travels across the United States!

P.S. Yeah, we know – it’s a cliffhanger until next time!


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