would my love want for her birthday?” I asked, hoping the answer
was something we could afford. A trip to Germany was out of the
question. We just received our refund from EuroWings for our canceled
flight back in June. Besides, the German government won’t let us in
right now anyway as Americans have too high an infection rate. Thank
COVID-19 for a memorable 2020 and our government for our horrible
reaction to the world-wide pandemic.
Ilse didn’t hesitate. “Let’s
take the trailer and go camping! Someplace in Florida we haven't been
before, and go for at least a week!”
Our only sojourn since Hurricane
Florence way back in September of 2018 had been a meager three-day
trip in April of 2019 to the nearby,
semi-desolate Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park, for which I have
a fond affection and Ilse a strong revulsion. Just as we began
planning 2020, along came COVID. RVing and camping became just as
much a distant dream as international air
travel. The trailer fell from grace, ignored except to be moved once
as falling tree branches threatened her as she sat immobile, socially
abandoned under a tall pine tree. We simply could not get enthused
about hauling the trailer and setting up in a campground. Besides,
daily life was getting in the way.
Even starting our search for
reservations three months early, five
consecutive days was as good as we could
get. The only spot open over her birthday was in Silver Springs State
Park near Ocala. We’ve never been there, but the park has always
been high on our list of parks to be visited. Of the three sites open
at Silver Springs State Park Campground, one campsite was reserved
and removed from the list while we were discussing alternatives. We
grabbed the better looking of the two remaining sites and began
planning our first outing in over eighteen months. It was high time
to dust the cobwebs off our ten-year old travel trailer. With only
29,000 miles on it, it was once again tugging at our wanderlust.
Unfortunately, our imaginations had
been tempered considerably after being caught in northern Georgia
during Hurricane Florence. We learned quickly an RV is not what you
need against any winds even close to hurricane force in strength.
Sitting in a campground bath-house designated as a storm shelter is
no assurance of safety. We returned home from that trip filled with
not only apprehension but also an aversion
to being caught helpless once again.
Our twenty-one foot KZ trailer
received only minimal maintenance attention and only the short side
trip to Kissimmee while it sat in our adjacent lot, waiting to be
hauled off to the remote corners of our imaginations while Ilse and I
contemplated what we really wanted to do.
But it was time. Let’s crank this up
and make a decision: Keep the trailer or sell it?
The decision wasn’t going to be
easy. We lost our faithful travel
companion, seventeen year-old Golden Retriever, Taz, in June. Taz
traveled with us since 2005, and in every
RV trip but one. This would be our first extended trip without a pet.
I began getting the Toyota Sequoia tow truck ready, and with four
days to spare, began cleaning and preparing the trailer.
“How do I love thee? Let me count
the ways.” Let’s start with the tongue jack. That’s the trailer
jack in the front of the trailer that raises and lowers the front of
the trailer so you can back your tow truck hitch under the hitch.
Everyone who uses an electric jack knows
they work intermittently. And therein starts my tale.
After eighteen months of inactivity,
my trailer jack was dead. I’ll forego the hours trouble shooting
and fuse cleaning and explain I simply bought a new, better trailer
jack. After installing the new jack, I found the
new jack did not have enough clearance to open the lift-gate
once the trailer was hooked to the hitch. I remounted
the jack, turning it so I could get my
hands inside the Sequoia. I found out an
hour after bolting it in place the huge, white plastic propane
tank cover no longer fit over the propane tanks because the new jack
was in the way. Undeterred, I loosened the jack, slid the propane
tank cover into place and remounted the jack. I went inside the
trailer to bleed the air out of the propane
lines and test both the refrigerator and
the gas stove. Everything worked fine. I stepped outside the trailer
just as Ilse came from the house.
Blang! I looked at Ilse. “Did
something just fall off the trailer?”
“No,” she said. “It sounded like
an explosion under the tank cover, and I smell smoke!”
“Hmmn, that’s propane gas.” I
answered as I raised the small access panel on top
of the white, plastic propane tank cover and realized I was
staring at a blown-out LP gas hose. I quickly shut off
the tank valve. Shall I skip ahead here or are you masochistic enough
to read this? Elmore Leonard says to always skip the parts
nobody reads, but I’m going to put this in here come hell or high
water. Yes, I’m an idiom freak. I suffered this nonsense and if you
are an RV owner, you are probably just as addicted to this
nonsense as I am.
Skip ahead several odd time elements.
Not days, maybe lifetimes, maybe only hours, or perhaps just an
illusion even though my T-shirt is wet with
We are currently sitting in the quiet,
well-spaced campground in Silver Springs State Park. It is raining.
We don’t care. We are sitting under the
old, weather-worn awning in our lounge chairs watching the drizzle
while the humidity is, believe it or not, lower than we’ve seen
since the last Ice Age. We are comfortable. Go figure.
Out of boredom, I start counting my
recent receipts. Since we started this journey less than twenty-four
hours ago, I have: A: - Replaced a broken
plastic screen door latch which broke at home as we were loading; B:
- Replaced the long, black fabric awning strap that pulled apart in
my hand as I opened the awning for the
first time in eighteen months; C: - Temporarily remounted
the plastic door over the exhaust vent cover back into place after it
fell on the ground, I latched it back in place, and D:
- Figured out how to bypass the ruptured gas line.
As we ate our first breakfast the next
morning in our quiet campground, basically
all of yesterday’s problems either solved
or harmlessly deferred, we watched in amazement as water slowly ran
out from under the bathroom door, meandering aimlessly across our
newly scrubbed kitchen floor.
For those who have never had
a spongy floor, there is no terror in an RV’ers heart as a
wet floor. It is the coup d’grace for any RV.
If unchecked, a wet floor creates
a terminal condition. This is the voice of experience. For those who
wonder what I’m talking about, the link is at:
It took more than a few minutes to
isolate the source of water, but after I
realized it was coming from the water supply connection at the top of
the toilet, which of course is totally inaccessible to mortal humans,
I decided then and there to sell the trailer. If I had the title with
me I would have sold the trailer to the
nearest salvage yard. But, reality bops you upside the head sometimes
before your reactions overcome your intelligence and we decided to
simply take the easiest course of action and enjoy our remaining four
days in the campground. We: E; - Wrapped a
towel around the leaking water supply line to the back of the toilet
flush valve in the bathroom and turned off the water pump so there
would be minimal pressure on the water supply. Of course we had to
spend most of the first day driving between RV repair shops to find
the correct parts for the ten year old toilet.
Shall we paddle the pristine Silver
River tomorrow, or drive to the dump
station, empty my black water-tank and pull off my toilet to replace
the defective water valve without driving us and our neighbors to
buy gas masks?
No problems with priorities here. We
decided to shut off the water pump until we need it, and simply
absorb the controllable leak until we get home. We ended up at
Camping World down by the Villages and bought the replacement valve
so I can fix it at my convenience, and two little brass adapters to
fit the new size propane pigtails I bought from Amazon to fix the
original gas leak problem. We are using the remaining one good gas
connector tube – after a soap bubble test for leaks – and decided
we can find outdoor restaurants if we need to.
I missed camping. I missed the
predicaments that every other camper faced two years ago but you
don’t know about because you have used up your data on your
cellphone plan an hour ago. Really, I missed camping. Really… Well,
OK, not so much… But, yeah, well, maybe...
The vacation starts now…