An Old Lady and Her Dog RV'ing It!

By Judy Walsh posted March 31, 2016

Hi, I’m Judy and my RV’ing adventure started when I retired in the winter of 2011. The thought of bearing another Pennsylvania winter was being outshined by the idea of traveling somewhere warmer. So I bought a travel trailer, a 21 foot Keystone Zeppelin, and decided to explore the southern states. I didn’t really worry about travelling alone or that pulling a travel trailer was all new to me. I looked at it as an adventure for me and my pit bull terrier mix, Ace.

My experienced camper friends helped me make a checklist of how to hook the trailer to my truck, so I was all set. I practiced for hours in the driveway until I could do it without my checklist. Sure I made mistakes along the way … but only Ace knows about all my mistakes and who is he going to tell? So I was ready…I packed my camper and up and left for Florida. I now recently bought a 27 foot Keystone Passport Ultra Lite so I now have learned some new skills. Travel with me and we will all learn as we go RV’ing.

The Start of My List of "Firsts"

I left on my first trip on the evening of January 15th and planned on driving six hours to my first stop in Chesapeake Virginia. I decided on a route that took me through the Chesapeake Bay tunnel and then to my campground.

The trip had been relatively uneventful. I was being careful, not driving too fast, especially since this was the first time I had towed anything in my life! I was getting close to my destination and I was feeling confident. Suddenly my GPS lost the signal and I could not get it to reconnect! I had failed to print out my planned route before I left, so now I was travelling blind in an unfamiliar area. I had a decision to make. Should I pull over or keep going? I remembered that the GPS said something about an upcoming right turn, so I reluctantly took the next right turn. This was probably my biggest mistake of the trip!

My experienced camper friends helped me make a checklist of how to hook the trailer to my truck, so I was all set. I practiced for hours in the driveway until I could do it without my checklist.

The road I turned on was very dark with no street lights. I drove for a couple miles and the only thing I saw was a sign reading “Black Swamp Trail”. Not far after that the road was blocked by a closed gate! There was no way to open it and no way around it. I was in trouble. I tried to back up my trailer but every time it jack knifed and almost went into the swamp or into the woods. If I stayed here, it would be cold and very dark. If I turned my engine off then I would be sitting in the road without lights. “What should I do?” was racing through my mind. After thinking it through I decided my best bet was to call 9-1-1. After answering some questions about what signs that I saw, the operator was able to figure out where I was and sent two police officers to help me. She said that there was a gate that I passed that should’ve been locked so that I didn’t drive up the narrow road with no turn around options. Unfortunately it wasn’t locked and there I was stuck at the end of a very dark road.

A few minutes later the police officers arrived. One officer kept Ace and I company while the other slowly backed my vehicle up. I was surprised to see that it took him almost 30 minutes to back up to a point where he was able to turn around. The police officers offered to escort me to the campground, and I gladly accepted! I certainly didn’t want to get lost again.

Twenty minutes later we arrived at the campground. I said goodbye to the nice police officers and gave them my thanks. I’m not sure what I would have done if they had not come to help me. I slept in my camper under three blankets to get though the cold night. At 9 am the campground office opened and I was able to get my campsite and hook up to the electricity and get my furnace working. What a start to my adventure!

So the first lesson I learned was that I shouldn’t rely solely on my GPS. Always have a print out of your directions from one destination to the next. I knew I’d make mistakes as a first-time RV traveler, but didn’t realize how many I could have in just one night! Lesson #1 – Learned!

Judy and Ace have spent many more days on the road! We are hoping for an update soon!