A Pox on California Roads . . . and Hula Hoops #2

Mt. Shasta, California
As if we didn’t have enough trouble already, I just had to stand in the middle of the road to take a photo of Mt. Shasta. Himself was having kittens.

California roads had put us in a predicament and would be our complete undoing without an on-the-spot repair to our trailer.

We were halfway to a campsite in northern California about to enter the wilderness of the Siskiyou Mountains. Our water tanks were empty-ish in preparation for mountain climbing and our batteries were big dead weights barely capable of lighting one light. Our only company for miles and miles and miles was trees.

Our bed slide was out, the runner was broken and the slide wouldn’t go back in.

As the California sun shone down on our tin box house we grew hotter and hotter trying to affect a makeshift repair. Our hearts were hammering and we were gasping and shaking with exhaustion.

It had occurred to me that we could be stranded for days with no electricity or water while help was summoned and parts ordered from Hoboken or Timbuktu though that thought was not articulated.

Nor did Jimmy share his bleak thoughts with me. We’d pulled the slide out possibly for the last time ever.

With the slide pulled out we couldn’t tow the trailer. If we pushed it back in the runner would break causing more damage.

We took the only option open to us.

We let bloody-mindedness take over.

The decision was reached by mutual unspoken assent.

We tried again and again and again. We just needed to unscrew one screw from the ceiling and put a washer on it.

Again. Gasp. Gasp. Gasp.

“Take a break,” I begged Jimmy. He was bright red in the face. I was probably the same but we each think we are invincible and don’t easily accept our limitations.

We tried again. Pull runner, engage screwdriver, grunt.

And again. And again.

“It moved!” Was I hallucinating? “Try it again!” I said excitedly, holding the screwdriver in place ready for Jimmy to put some muscle into it. The screw head moved a miniscule amount.


Each monumental effort, with both of us poised awkwardly and straining produced only about and eighth of a turn before the screwdriver would jump out and skitter across the runner. The screw head was acquiring a nice polished sheen and losing its sharp cross threads.

Seeing me shaking with exhaustion, heat and anxiety Jimmy called the next break and I sat quietly with my head and arms flopping down at rest.

“I took the screw out of the other runner last week. Do you want to know how long it is?” Without raising my head I let my eyes swivel round to his hand where he held his thumb and forefinger four inches apart. Needing eight colossal attempts from both of us to turn the screw one revolution, I wasn’t sure we’d survive the repair.

We let despair replace any stabs at conversation or conjecture and stared vacantly until the panting slowed, then resumed battle.

As long as the screw moved a tiny amount we were motivated to keep trying. The sight of a whole inch of screw poking from the ceiling turned the tide of the war and we got a second wind. The next inch was easier and I twiddled the screw out the last two inches with my fingers.

It only remained to put the washer on and screw the runner back to the ceiling. Flush with triumph, Jimmy decided to take the next screw out and put a washer on it as well. So pumped up with success was he that he put three washers on it.

It was a good idea, in theory, until we tried to push the slide in but the extra washers blocked the slide. It wouldn’t go in.

A cartoon of my expression is appropriate at this point:

Nooooooo! (Photo credit: Profound Whatever)

It was a minor blip as it happened and easily remedied. Victory was ours.

Our reward for perseverance was Sequoia National Park and among other BIG trees the General Sherman Tree – the largest tree in the world – not the tallest or the widest but the largest in volume.

The top of the General Sherman Tree:

sequoia 111

And here’s General Sherman’s bottom:

sequoia 110

See the little people above for perspective.

If you’re worried about us we had the runner replaced. And after a few more bruises I gave the hula hoop to Goodwill and took up yoga.

53 thoughts on “A Pox on California Roads . . . and Hula Hoops #2

  1. You and Jimmy have the most hilarious of lives… I do believe that you could make a book out of these happenings… it would be a best seller…


  2. Hi there! I feel like I know you & Jimmy already, reading about your mishaps and adventures. We know the feeling… We’re traveling just a few days behind you! Currently at Bridgeport & will be heading north next week. Your posts are funny.


        1. Thank you! What a nice thing to say! And yes I will keep blogging. We won’t be settled for a long time so I think some blogging material may come out of that! And himself will go nuts if he sits still for too long so there is probably another RV in our future!


  3. Oh, I love your EXPRESSION there. That is classic. I think I would’ve looked exactly same way when the washers blocked the slide!


  4. Not a lifestyle I think I’d enjoy – bad enough when the furnace goes off in the middle of winter but at least you can call a repair person! You do have a level of self sufficiency though that I admire greatly!


  5. I think our trials with this lifestyle are intensified knowing we could be stranded in the middle of nowhere. I had my meltdown a couple of years ago in Yuma and it wasn’t pretty! At least you were near a beautiful park, Sequoia.


      1. It was when we had our last RV, which seemed to be a bit of a lemon, so we were being plagued with problems. We had an overnight stay at an RV park in Yuma (not too attractive) and after a long day we found our site had been given away to someone else. The site we were subsequently given was pathetic so they moved us yet again. We had an audience of very old folks pulling up chairs to watch us back into a very tight spot next to them. They weren’t happy to have someone next to them so they complained to the manager and she requested we move our RV over 2″, yes 2″. We refused and said we would leave instead. Everything worked out ok but at that point I wasn’t so sure about this lifestyle.


            1. Himself hates an audience as he backs into a spot but we’ve never never encountered numpties like that. Numpties. Cool English expression. Hard to translate but dopes comes close.


    1. I wish I had stood on the yellow lines. The photo would have had more . . . . . something or other. Impact? It looks a bit off. The next time I stand in the middle of the road and put my life at risk with my back to the traffic I’ll remember that.


  6. It is easy to laugh at our booboos in perspective. But I can relate we had slide and jack issues on our very first day of full timing. And like you we can not tow the rig with slides out. So we persevered for 3 hours to screw both huge slides in, a good upper body work out. Then rushed to the airport as we have to catch a Panama Cruise.

    Smart and crazy of you to stand in the middle of the road to snap at Mount Shasta. I think you took it near that rest stop by the airport on highway 5, right ?


    1. We set off our fire alarm and I sat on the electrics remote and turned it all off on our very first day of “caravanning” in the UK years ago. Happy days!
      I have no idea if that was Highway 5! Shame on me. I felt pleased with myself to know it was Mt. Shasta!


    1. I really don’t think you’d want to hear the audio. I’ve published the transcript of the parts that are printable. 😕 Wouldn’t want to offend anyone. Or disillusion you!! lol


  7. I am in awe of your single-minded perseverence. I think I would have cried for a while and been seriously tempted to simply run away. I think you’ve managed to change forever this fantasy I had of selling everything and travelling the world in an RV. Noooo – definitely doesn’t sound like a good thing anymore.
    By the way – how long did it take to fix the problem?


    1. It didn’t really take that long. It’s just that I thought we’d die trying! lol I’d like to say that I make it sound worse than it really was but . . .
      Don’t forget all the good bits though! I greatly admire the travel blogs I read that have glowing descriptions and scrumptious photos of destinations. I’m just not very good at that. It ain’t all bad!


  8. Wow, that was definitely a nightmare. Amazing that you managed to repair the slide. Aren’t you happy that future home repair jobs aren’t going to leave you stranded in the middle of who-knows-where?


    1. I certainly am! But someone sitting not a million miles from me right now will get bored. However, I don’t intend to ever be without a base again. If himself wants to travel I need to know that I can come home again.


  9. If it’s not one thing it’s another. And folks refer to us as ‘living the dream’….many times it’s more like a nightmare as I’m sure you’ll attest to 😉


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