An RVer’s tale of terror and an after-rain walk in the desert

Saturday, February 18

After a night of rain, dark clouds hang over the Best Little Trailer.  More rain falls, keeping Reggie and me inside where it’s cozy.

Reggie and I are camped at Midland Long Term Visitor Area, Blythe, California.

More about our rainy day later . . . .

First I have something else I want to write about.

Last summer, while out walking with Reggie, I meet a fellow camper and we stand near his rig and chat for a while.  After a few minutes introducing ourselves, the topic of conversation turns to mountain driving.

He tells me about an experience he had which I wanted to share right away with my dear readers.  However, there being a chance that fellow campers at that time and place might read my blog and figure out his identity, I decide to hold off sharing his story.

Time has passed.

Go ahead and get comfortable.  Ready?  For this post, I’ll call our storyteller, Brian.

~ ~ ~

“I used to have a fifth wheel,” Brian begins. 

“I hadn’t had it long when I took it into the mountains intending to camp at a campground.  When I got there, most of the sites were taken or too short, but there was one I was pretty sure my fifth wheel would fit into.  It was a tough back-in.  It was one of those where you had to make a tight turn while backing up in order to get into the site.  I tried several times, back and forth.”

“No matter what I tried I couldn’t back it in so eventually I gave up.  I figured I’d go further up the mountain instead and find a place to boondock.”

“Well, there weren’t any places to boondock.  But I had to keep going up the mountain on this winding road in order to find a place to turn around.”

I nod my head. 

Been there, done that . . . .

“Finally I come to a turn-around place and head back down the mountain.  What I didn’t realize is with all the twisting around trying to back the fifth wheel into that campsite, I must’ve tore up the transmission.  I shift down.  No good.  I try to slow down using the brakes and they give out.”

“Here I am, flying down this mountain, and I’ve got nothing . . . . ”

Brian shakes his head at the recollection.

“I end up going off the road and flipping, the truck and the fifth wheel roll right over.  I’m hanging upside down in my truck and everything is smashed.  I crawl out the window — the glass is broken out — and collapse on the bank.”

“When I come to my senses, I look and the fifth wheel is on fire.  Then my truck catches fire.  Someone sees the wreck and comes down . . .  He calls 911 but we’re on this mountain and it takes a while for them to get up there.”

“Meanwhile this guy and I sit and watch everything burn up.  I lost everything.”

Brian pauses, which gives me a chance to ask, “Were you hurt?”

“Not much.  I cut up my arm on the glass, crawling through the window.”

He holds out his arm to show the scars.

“Little by little I’ve replaced most of my stuff.  Not all my music, some of it.  I had an extensive music collection.  I also had lots of nice photographic equipment.”

After a pause he adds, “I don’t miss any of it, not really.”

We stand together quietly, gazing at his replacement motor home, until Brian turns to me and remarks softly, “I did get to keep what’s important . . . my life.”

~ ~ ~

Later . . .

As I recall our conversation, several questions come to mind regarding Brian’s terrifying experience on the mountain.  As is often the case with RVers whom you meet while out walking, you have a conversation, return to your campsite, and then you think of things you want to say to the person or questions come to mind that you’d like to ask. The opportunity to do so may never come.

Words remain unsaid; questions unasked. 

The next morning, on his way out of the area, Brian makes a quick stop at our campsite.  From the window of his motor home he wishes me “safe travels,” which I return, of course.  We exchange smiles and waves of goodbye and he drives away.

And that’s the end of today’s story!

~ ~ ~

About our rainy day, Saturday, February 18 . . . .

Reggie and I are stuck inside because the rain is coming down in torrents.  To amuse myself, I set up a medical clinic to treat the casualties from Reggie’s ongoing war with his toys.  I assemble needle and thread for mending, and scissors and old socks to cut up for stuffing.

Reggie watches intently as I work. 

When all patients are recovered from surgery, they are released into the dubious care of their chronic abuser.

Clockwise from the top, starting under Reggie’s nose:  Duck L’Orange, Your Baby, Yellow Chicken, Pink Piggy, Blue Monkey, and Chimpy!

Reggie attacks Chimpy.

Chimpy has been out of circulation for a long time because he’s been in ICU.  (He required extensive reconstruction and is now almost as good as new.)

“Reggie!  The rain has stopped.” 

“How ’bout you lay off killing your toys and we go out?”

Hmm . . . Is that a collective sigh of relief I hear from the gang?

“Oh, it’s great to be outside again.  Go, Reggie go!”

Yay!  I can run!

~ ~ ~

We ignore the light drizzle.

Raindrops make blurry spots in the photos.  Oh, well . . . . who cares, right?

~ ~ ~

“Let’s walk along the wash, Reg.  It’s a beautiful, fresh day.”

Brittlebush is leafing out very well (above Reggie’s head).  I’m not sure what the other bushes are (left and right) . . . . ratenay maybe?

~ ~ ~

Grass and tiny seedlings have popped up here and there in the desert!

These tender plants remind me of my long-ago vegetable garden.

~ ~ ~

“Oh, will you look at that!  The desert lilies are putting up stalks!”

Upon setting up our camp recently, I happily discover that desert lily plants are all over this part of Midland LTVA.  I’d love to see them in bloom.

~ ~ ~

“Reggie, that’s enough digging in the mud!”

Dogs know how to have fun, don’t they?

~ ~ ~



Use any ad or link to enter Amazon and a commission goes to RVSue and her canine crew.  Here are a few of the items readers recently ordered from Amazon:

CURT Jack Foot
4′ x 12′ Fence Privacy Screen
Penetrex Pain Relief Medication
Kitchen Sliding Cabinet Organizer
Traction Cleats for Walking on Snow and Ice
Samsung Galaxy 10.1 inch Tablet with S Pen, 16 GB Wifi


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101 Responses to An RVer’s tale of terror and an after-rain walk in the desert

  1. Dawn from Camano Island says:

    Gosh, amazing how fortune finds us just when we need it. Reg looks as if he has energy to spare after monitoring the surgical team. Glad the rains have stopped & happy the two of you are safe.

    • rvsueandcrew says:


      • Dawn from Camano Island says:

        Yay–it’s been awhile! Love your photos, Sue, especially the ones of Reg. He’s certainly photogenic & oh so cute! I enjoy seeing the signs of spring & how the desert changes with rain. Back to ukulele practice–playing the uke & going to song circles & jams have become my political antidote!! Take good care–hope you don’t get any more rain, Sue!

  2. Deena in Phoenix, AZ says:

    Hi Sue and Reggie, love the pics as always…I brought several toys for Miss Mollie and she never looks at them…so her collection lives on the bottom shelf of the book rack if she ever changes her mind…it is still raining here and but the apt is open and I am enjoying the sounds and the play of light changes from white to gray to to black now it is indicating possible clearing from the west.

    Love seeing the Rattie nose in operation in the last photo…so cute, he is.

    Deena and Miss Mollie

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Deena… SECOND PLACE TODAY!

      The changing weather, if not destructive, makes life interesting! Hi to Miss Mollie!

    • Retiredcajunlady 'N Louisiana says:

      Same here for my Willee! I bought a little Lucky Dog low canvas container for his toys…and he plays with only one…his NO Saints football that squeaks. His flea is as clean as the day I bought it–his rubber chicken is in perfect shape too!!! My pup loves what he loves, but kinda ignores all the rest.

  3. Georgina Lentini says:

    Wow! Thanks for sharing. That’s the one (of many ) fears I have. Thank God he was on.
    And thanks for all you do and write about. It’s great info.

  4. squeakytiki says:

    How scary. Stories like that are one of the reasons I’ve sort of veered away from getting a towable any why I’m now shopping for a class C. Glad he survived!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, squeakytiki . . . . I’m sorry to break it to ya’…. Class C transmission and brakes can give out, too.

      The type of rig is not the problem.

      • squeakytiki says:

        Oh, I realize that. I just feel more comfortable driving something without the tow, so if that happened I think I’d handle it better 🙂

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          I see what you’re saying. As a huge fan of my BLT, I love the freedom of a detachable vehicle for exploring. Unless you plan on towing a toad, you’ll have to take the Class C on mountain explorations. Just another thing to consider . . .

  5. MollyLuvsRoadtrippin (WA) says:

    Hi Sue and Reggie-man!
    I enjoy following your winter lifestyle. While my Casita is parked awaiting the return of good PNW weather, your BLT finds sun and dodges cold and rain in some lovely non-stereotypical desert locations (huge RV gathering spots hold no appeal for me either). Looks like the rain finally caught you though. As you patiently deal with repairs, I have been getting ready for the roaming season too. My Casita furnace got a fix, and my tow vehicle has a thumping noise that needs diagnostics-boring!
    Much more fun has been researching and picking out a new camp a month beginning in April and making some reservations or identifying promising boondocks. My winter camping activity is a wide ranging virtual run through of the upcoming spring/summer – I’m a planner so I love it. 🙂 MOST exciting for this second summer of travels is that I also now have solar! I selected a portable unit that should be all I need and more while also requiring no invasive installation. Can’t wait for the sun to find me – meantime you keep showing us where you are finding the warm temps.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Molly,

      It is fun planning trips, even for me who doesn’t plan very far ahead. I hope you have an easy, inexpensive fix for your tow vehicle.

      Oh, and congratulations on the solar!~

  6. Pat Hall, Corvina Beach says:

    Great story and pics!!!

    Sounds like you got more rain at Midland. It wasn’t as bad at Salton Sea. Lots of dark clouds low on the mountains.

    Enjoy the sunshine!!!!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Thanks, Pat,

      It’s fun to receive your reports from the Salton Sea. I can recall the way the water turns dark blue and white caps form on the waves. I hope you are enjoying your stay at Corvina Beach.

  7. Barb from Illinois says:

    Love the photos with Reggie and all the patients!

  8. Cinandjules (da zone) says:

    Phew….scary situation for Brian! Glad he’s replacing his belongings bit by bit…and forever thankful that the stairway to heaven was under construction.

    Oh my word! Reg man’s collection is huge! Good job chief of surgeon! Jules has the same job….Annie sits there watching and worrying someone won’t survive the leg ectomy or craniotomy!

    Have a great day!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      You have a great day, too! Skies are clearing here and it’s warm again. Hope the same for you…

  9. Joyce F in Kansas says:

    Those little dogs can really tear into their toys, can’t they? I’m designated surgeon for my grandpuppy’s toys and seems like there is always something waiting to be fixed. Fun watching him play with them though. Enjoy your blog- just remembered to go through your link to order something from Amazon.

  10. Randall Garnett says:

    Some good pics!!

  11. Stephanie Albany OR says:

    I appreciated the story about Brian. But it was so well written it actually scared me. I’m happy he is ok. Which raises a question – can you buy insurance on both the Casita and its contents? Thnx Sue.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      You’re welcome, Stephanie,

      Forgive me for scaring you! Yes, I have insurance on the PTV, the BLT, and the contents.

      • Suzi says:

        Curious about that too Sue. I haven’t looked, but do you list what the yearly premium is on your mo. financial page somewhere? I am beginning to pencil out my budget and how much the fixed expenses per month (year) might average. Thanks if you care to share, or if you can link me to where you have those numbers posted. 😎

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          My GEICO bill is due this month and it’s for $287 for the PTV and BLT.

          I don’t know how relevant my bill is to your situation because, as you know, the premium is based on the value/age of the vehicles. The PTV is 12 years old and the BLT is almost 7 years old.

          • suzicruzi from Van, WA. says:

            Thanks!! Any and all info helps when starting up. We plan to start very similar to your set up; used condition van and small trailer. Putting it all together now and hopefully on the road by July 1 2018. Fingers crossed! Thank you for this, and your blog, which I have read faithfully since day ONE. Ha Ha. Like watching a marathon series in a weekend, I’ve been reading nightly for about 2 months. I’ve enjoyed you and the crew tremendously, and you’ve been a wealth of information. ** A mention here to your followers, “you all seem like an awesome group of “real” people. The types unlike the ones I’m trying to escape in the city. Cheers to all!” 😉

  12. Susan in south central WA says:

    You accomplished a lot of surgery! And I always entertain myself by looking at the Amazon purchases and seeing things like pain meds and traction cleats for ice in the same list. And I think ah oh, was that on the same person’s shopping list??!!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Ha! You’re funny! I see a person falling on ice and hobbling indoors to order cleats and pain medication from Amazon. . . maybe on their new Samsung tablet! 🙂

  13. Judy in Texas says:

    Sue and Reggie, wow what a story from Brian, that would have scared the beegeebies out of me! I probably would never climb another mountain…ever….never!!
    I had to laugh as you talked about taking the gang out of the ICU….when my Donald gets through with his toys there are in a million little pieces scattered everywhere…all I can do is call for the undertaker.
    I love your new spot, it looks so inviting for a relaxing day (without rain) of lounging and reading. Oh, I can’t wait for my day to come!
    Oops almost forgot….I ordered a printer from Amazon the other day. I hope I did it right and that you got credit for it. If not I might need a little lesson on how to order with you getting credit.

    Stay safe out there my friend, Judy

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Judy,

      Yes! I saw the printer this morning . . . started my day off right! Very nice. Thank you. 🙂

      • Judy in Texas says:

        Sue, I’m so glad….guess I got this down!!! Have yourself a great rest of the day and we will visit more on your next post!
        Back to the windowless office tomorrow, hopefully for the last week and then back to Texas I go.


  14. Peggy says:

    Got a big kick out of the ICU! Used to do that for my little fur balls too. Lost the last one a couple of years ago and too old to do it again. Hug Reggie for me. I enjoy your blog.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Peggy… I’m happy you enjoy my blog. As for providing a home for a dog during our senior years, there are hard-to-adopt, old dogs on death row. I realize, of course, that not everyone can spare the emotional and financial expense of an older dog. Just a thought for anyone reading this.

  15. Shelley in California says:

    You have a way of telling a story! Your a natural, have you ever thought of writing a book? I guess that is sort of what you are doing now in small increments!

  16. weather says:

    The kind of accident that Brian had would be hard to forget, especially when he’s out camping in another motorhome. I imagine he may have been carrying a bit of anxiety with him. Talking about the incident with you probably helped him deal with that, get it off his mind and let him enjoy the rest of his day more than he would have otherwise.

    At first I thought you’d expect his insurance to cover the loss of his cameras and music. Then considering that both the transmission and brakes failed, I guessed it must have been in pretty bad condition, so he probably had a minimal policy on it, those often don’t cover much besides liability for others one may collide with. He certainly had the right attitude,- “I did get to keep what’s important…my life.” How much more content and happy so many people would be if they highly valued life, theirs and others, and held possessions far lower on the scale. A little home, lovingly mended toys to please a sweet pup are enough to make things feel wonderful for the wise among us 😉

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi weather….. I don’t think the transmission failure and the brake failure were independent events. As I wrote in this post, I didn’t think to ask questions that my curiosity brought to mind later. For some reason I can’t explain, I got the impression that the fifth wheel and truck were in decent condition. I’m guessing the transmission failed for whatever reason which caused him to rely on the brakes which then overheated, as brakes will do, even good ones, and then he lost braking also.

      Maybe he chose to take the insurance money and invest more of it in a replacement rig than in trying to restore his music collection which may have included hard-to-obtain oldies, and his expensive camera equipment like lenses. I did see that he has a nice camera and tripod. These are the questions I think of later!

      Near-death experiences have a way of pointing out what is important and what is not. As for me, I’d rather figure that out in less dramatic ways. Ha!

      • weather says:

        Good morning, Sue. Thanks for your explanations, they make sense to me. Never having had -a transmission fail, brakes overheat or an accident while I was driving, I’m too unfamiliar with such things and insurance reimbursements to understand them unless someone helps me to.

        Having conversations be too short to allow for an exchange of some information that I wished I knew later on is, however, one thing mentioned I have experienced. Recently while at the check out counter of a store that happened.

        The guy in front of me was having a problem making his charge card work. That’s a common occurrence at that store for a number of reasons. As he, the cashier, and myself tried to resolve the problem he put down the large bag he was trying to purchase, and ended up leaving without it. Only then did I notice that bag was dog food, by then he was gone.

        It’s bugged me ever since then that I hadn’t realized some pooch was likely going hungry until his owner could straighten things out some other way. Had I known then I would have had the cashier ring up the bag, given it to the guy while she continued ringing my other purchases, and not had any regrets.

        As well dressed as the guy was I’m sure he could well afford to feed his own dog. He may have just forgotten to buy extra last time he’d shopped. And often, in a pinch, we can feed a pet some of our own food, if we have something they will and should eat. These are all thoughts I’ve had since to make myself feel better, because I needed to.

        On a happier note, my conversation over Saturday’s lunch with my grandchildren lasted close to three hours. Our times spent together always give the three of us only things to smile about, not things to regret. It looks like the rainy days are about done where you are, and it’s warm and sunny here. I hope you and Reggie have a wonderful day 🙂 !

  17. Pam and Maya, still in NY says:

    Wow Sue! Your story really rocked me, I messed up my transmission the same way – trying to back into a very tight uphill campsite. There was a lot of black smoke and a terrible smell in the car when I was done. That was on the eastern Canadian coast. I babied that transmission all summer and finally had it go one day when I wasn’t towing in Arizona. I felt lucky at the time but now I feel REALLY LUCKY! Gee, the transmission could have died anywhere. Glad Brian was ok!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Whoa, girl… You know, Pam, how very fortunate you are that you didn’t have an episode similar to Brian’s…. I can see where his story would shake you up a bit. 🙂

  18. We manually abused the brake controller for our 33′ fifth wheel on long downhill grades until it quit working completely 🙂 While saving up to buy a new one (initially), I installed a beefy spring-loaded toggle switch for *emergency* use and I’ve retrained myself to reach for it whenever I brake.

    (Please do NOT attempt this modification unless you know what you’re doing *and* are willing to assume personal responsibility for any and all consequences.)

    Only downside is it delivers 100% of the trailer brakes or nothing at all — there is no middle ground. The good part though is once stopped, I release the switch as there is no need for the trailer brakes to be ON at that point (newer fancy/expensive controllers do the same thing). Through it all, I’ve also retrained myself to drive slower and leave more room to respond, more time to brake, and now I actually prefer the switch!

    I’ve surprised myself to learn that our BBT brakes (Big Bad Truck = 2000 F350 4WD) which are disc on all four corners can easily handle 95% of our braking now that I’ve changed the way I drive. I only use the switch when it becomes apparent we are running out of room and *need* the extra braking.

    I know this will radically reduce how often we have to replace our trailer brakes — and having replaced them on *both* axles in the last year, we know how expensive that can be — especially at Les Schwab. Next time I’ll do the work myself.
    But a bigger thing we have learned is that low range 4WD gives us amazing hold back potential. We can literally just crawl down the steepest of grades (usually found on dirt roads) and not use our truck OR trailer brakes at all. And, trust me, we get into some places well beyond where most RVers would have either turned around or gotten out to walk back to the highway for help 🙂

    Like this place we wrote a review of:

    So we now try to depend on our brakes as little as possible. On long and curvy downhill grades, I simply keep grabbing a lower gear until the brakes are no longer needed. We’ve determined that we no longer have to care how slow we’re going OR how long it takes. We pull over where we can and otherwise everyone else behind us can either go around or wait — no longer our problem. We’re retired now and we got nothing but time 🙂

    We actually got into a situation very similar to Brian’s and came upon a closed and locked gate. I had to back up a bit to the only possible spur where we could turn around — mostly by hanging the trailer behind the axles out over a cliff! (Wisely, Annie chose to stand outside and watch 🙂 Unfortunately, I had a 7.5 gallon propane tank sitting upright in the front corner of my truck bed and it gouged a hole in the bottom of our fifth wheel where it overhangs the truck bed — not good!

    I’m glad “Brian” survived his ordeal and God forbid any of us should ever have to go through something like that. As long as you have your life, ‘stuff’ can always be replaced. I worry about our cats more than ANY of our stuff 🙂
    JIM & ANNIE (16 months of fulltiming & counting!)

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Jim and Annie,

      I hope you are enjoying your camp at Ehrenberg, on the other side of the Colorado from us!

      I read your comment with interest. You sure have collected some experience in your 16 months on the road! Thanks for sharing the information here as there probably are readers who will benefit from it.

      BTW, I broke up your text (arbitrarily) into smaller chunks to aid readability. People, such as me, tend to get lost without breaks. 🙂

      Thanks again for a great comment!

      Oh, one more thing…. I want to emphasize the wisdom in your words, “I’ve also retrained myself to drive slower and leave more room to respond, more time to brake….” 🙂

  19. AZ Jim says:

    Great Post! I read it to Detta. He got off lucky. Years ago I went up on a high mountain in San Diego county which had a locked gate and had a lot of radio towers on top. We had been allowed up past the gate because we had a dozen boy scouts with us. Being ham radio operators we were showing the scouts how with our equipment we could communicate many miles from there with very low power. At the end of our day we departed and on the way down I overheated my brakes. I could only slow with the gears and my emergency brake (which was using the drive shaft). When I made it to the gate at the bottom I was shaking and weak. I let the vehicle sit till the brakes cooled and headed home, thankful!! Reggie is such fun. Thanks Missy!!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      You’re welcome, Jim,

      You’re sweet and considerate to read my post to your dear Detta. Say hi to her for me.

      Oh, your experience is doubly scary…. One, because you had no brakes and could crash, but two, because of all the lives in your care. That’s one of those “what could’ve been” episodes that one had to push away from thinking about!

      Yeah, I bet you were thankful. Good heavens.

  20. Sarvi in OR says:

    That would have been such a scary situation! I just couldn’t imagine crashing like that!

    On another note, I’ve made reservations at 4 NFS and one state park campgrounds this summer, on top of camping at a few music festivals so I’m looking at a busy summer! In haven’t towed yet with my new truck, I’m hoping it does great. It has every single upgraded tow options it can have. Much better than my old truck, I’m sure.

    Any plans to see the eclipse this summer? I live directly on the path of totality, it should be neat, I can’t wait!

    ( hopefully this post doesn’t show up twice, it wasn’t accepting the answer to the math problem ..1+1=…

    • Pookie and Chuck in Todd Mission Tx says:

      I had that problem as well…………..

      • rvsueandcrew says:

        Two! The answer is TWO! Hahahahaaaa….. Sarvi and Chuck, You’re driving this former math teacher nuts! 🙂

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Wow! You’re all set for summer. Now you can have fun dreaming about the places you’ll visit…

      No, I don’t have plans to see the eclipse. I usually miss eclipses, even when standing where I could witness them. I always forget…. I think I saw one when I was around ten or so….

      I wish you many carefree miles towing with your new truck!

  21. Linda-NC says:

    You tickled me with your surgical abilities. You are a good surgeon and a good mom. Now Reggie can spread out his abuse. Brian’s story sounds like the ultimate rv nightmare. I can’t even imagine. I worry about the best way to get over the Rocky Mts when I get there. Will do a lot of research before hand. They probably make the Appalachians look like midgets. Today, I fixed cabinet latches and just kind of relaxed. I am feeling so much better since I have been out. A couple more days here, then back to Asheville for an eye appt. Then free again!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Linda,

      Isn’t it refreshing to “get away,” even for a little while? Sounds like you had a full day of work — “I fixed cabinet latches and just kind of relaxed.” That would be a heavy workload for me!

      I wouldn’t fret about going over the Rocky Mountains, as long as you plan on driving interstates over them. It’s the other roads that can whiten your knuckles because, instead of the long grades of an interstate, you can find yourself winding on tight switchbacks with no guardrails… Oh, the thrills!

      Yeah, the mountains of the West are a lot different than the Appalachians. I’ll leave it at that. Being surprised and awed at the landscape is part of the fun of driving the West. 🙂

      • Linda-NC says:

        I am looking forward to it, with much care and planning. I am just going to “mosey” along in my travels. Don’t know how to spell that but you know what I mean:)

    • Sarvi in OR says:

      The first time I crossed the Rockies (I was not towing), it was actually kind of a letdown. I could see them for so many hours in the distance, and I was really anticipating the journey thru them. Then, before I even realized it, I crossed over and was done. Very anticlimactic. I’m originally from the mid west, so just seeing mountains was a huge deal,
      let alone drive thru them!

      • rvsueandcrew says:

        Ha! You would’ve appreciated crossing the Rockies on one of those Secondary Roads from Hell.

        • Sarvi in OR says:

          Even after 12 years living in Oregon, I am still in awe, every single day, of the mountains. I regularly go thru the cascades and coastals, either towing (not so much fun), or zipping thru in my mini cooper or motorcycle (much more fun). I will never tire of them.

    • Dawn in Asheville says:

      If you go through Colorado be sure to put Garden of the Gods on your list!

  22. Ken Canada says:

    Hi Sue….
    Re – Brian…
    Was the tow vehicle a Ford. I understand Ford was having a lot of
    problems wth their transmissions.
    Just a thought.
    As usual love your travels.
    Ken Canada

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Ken,

      I don’t know what kind of tow vehicle it was. That was one of the questions I wish I had asked. At the time I was too much into absorbing the whole of his story to think of those details. Plus we had people walking by, Reggie jumping around, you know… distractions that I leave out of the story-telling. 🙂

      One thing I love about the internet is the way you can research products, i.e. vehicles, before buying. It would’ve been interesting to know if Brian had a Ford or not.

  23. Kevin in CO says:

    We very much enjoyed this blog entry. If course, the story of Brian was not enjoyed, but appreciated, thanks. My dear wife loved the photos and surgery on Reggies toys. Brought back memories of her also fixing dog toys. We still miss our Cleaseau, so much that we have not wanted a new puppy.

    We shared that rain/wind storm, camped nearby south of Quartzsite. This trip has been interesting, rain, chilly air, and green desert views.

    Safe travels Sue!!!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Kevin,

      Thank you for letting me know that you and your wife (Hi, wife!) enjoyed this post and its photos. I’m sorry you suffer the loss of Cleaseau. Only you know when you’re ready to open your heart to another. The timing is different for everyone.

      I agree… This has been a very interesting winter concerning the weather! Safe travels to you, too…

  24. Rob says:

    I am a huge fan of electric brakes and a brake controller. The electric brakes & the button on the controller have my butt once (not a hill, it was ice). Push the button & the brakes are put on slowly.

    Twice I was really lucky going down a hill where I could not stop.
    The first time I didn’t know any better (pulling something too heavy), was lucky & learned. The second time I was relying on surge brakes (not electric) on the trailer, I could NOT put them on when I wanted to. Again I was lucky.

    Luck is luck, not something to be depended on.

    Both times I pumped my vehicle brakes because if you overheat them they can just stop working (I suspect that was what happened to Brian).

    I’m glad Brian made it out ok… I’m a big fan of working electric trailer brakes

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Rob,

      Okay, I’m going to reveal my ignorance . . . again. What are these electric brakes of which you speak? I have a brake controller, but are my brakes electric? I don’t think I’ve ever heard them discussed anywhere.

      Good golly, Rob… You have been fortunate! I learned about the importance of the brake controller when rolling down Badger Mountain to the town of Ephraim, Utah. I think my knee bumped the controller, turning it off, or maybe dialing it down. Anyway…. I wasn’t aware of it, probably thinking about what I was going to buy at Wal-Mart instead of being alert…

      I relied too much on the PTV’s brakes and they overheated. Free fall!

      I wrote about this in this post of July 8, 2013: “Brake failure!

      • Most newer trailer brakes are electric = 12 volt — controlled by a ‘brake controller’ (either built in or added later) which is activated when you push the brake pedal on your tow rig. Most all of them are adjustable — where in a typical braking maneuver, you can select more OR less trailer braking to occur whenever you hit the brakes on your tow rig.

        The brake controller also has a manual lever/switch which allows you to activate the trailer brakes all by themselves (with no braking from the tow rig) — usually only useful to straighten out a potential jackknife on slick roads. The trailer brakes (by themselves via the manual switch) create a dragging effect which straightens out the tow rig/trailer combo — not for the faint of heart 🙂

  25. Jim Mack says:

    Having lost everything in a wild fire September 2011 Bastrop Texas . You realize it is just stuff. We got our cat and ourselves out safe and that is what matters. That is when we became RV people and started on our great adventure. It’s not what we imagined but we are enjoying the new direction life gave us and are living life to its’ fullest1

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Well, isn’t that something how a near-tragedy changed your lives. I love your comment! Thanks for sharing so much in that paragraph. Best wishes to you and your wife for many more years “living life to its fullest!”

    • Retiredcajunlady 'N Louisiana says:

      A true “lemons to lemonade” story!! Thanks for sharing. You have such a wonderful outlook!

  26. LeeJ in Northern California says:

    Scary towing story!
    I love how Reggie zooms, my Maggie, the Norfolk terrier we found on the road in the rain…zooms! When I go out back to do horse chores I don’t let the dogs go out right now, way too muddy…so Maggie stands by the gate and whines and cries, so pitiful…lol.
    Soon as I come back into the yard she works off her stress by zooming around the yard. She has her tongue hanging out waving in the breeze with the biggest doggie grin ever on her face. Arlo and Zoe stand by my feet looking at her like she is a maniac. She is!
    I am so glad I have two Silkie Terriers are over ten now and slowing down.. so she tortures them with her silliness. She is my small auxiliary back up dog..worthless hide!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Lee J,

      I’ve heard those Norfolk terriers can be high-energy and the ones I’ve come across bear that out. Cute picture you paint with words of your dogs watching as Maggie zooms around the yard. Reggie does the same thing when he sees we’re going inside — He zooms to get rid of his energy and his last zoom is the chihuahuan long jump through the open door of the BLT.

      I’m glad you have Maggie, too. She will be a comfort when the sad times come.

  27. Retiredcajunlady 'N Louisiana says:

    Wow…as I read your story of Brian and his accident, I couldn’t help but say a quick prayer of thanks for his survival and another prayer for everyone celebrating Mardi Gras here in deep SE Louisiana. Many moons ago, I loved attending the parades…from childhood when it was a family gathering to adulthood when I knew most of the riders! About a decade ago I went with a friend whose family owned a restaurant on the parade route. While standing back to watch (catching throws isn’t my thing anymore) a huge bundle of beads came hurling to my face. My lip was cut, my nose bled, and my face was bruised for days. That was my last parade. I guess I should feel guilty because so many family members are riders, but I don’t at all!!

    Brian’s story reminded me how strange life and death can be. The first year after I retired from public school, I taught at a Catholic school. The weekend after school opened one of the first graders was swinging in her backyard watching her high school brother practice for the golf team. Her mom was in the kitchen. Her brother swung and the ball hit the little girl on the side of the head. She cried, mom put ice and cuddled her, and her brother apologized. Within minutes, they realized something was wrong and called 911. From the local hospital, she was airlifted to Children’s Hospital in New Orleans where she was placed on life support. Two weeks later, she was taken off and allowed to slip from this life to the next. My dad always said life can turn on a dime. The impact of losing such a young child was enormous on us all. Who dies and who lives? What circumstances determine this? Questions that often puzzle me and cause me to turn to my spiritual side. Not sure any of us are meant to have the answers in this lifetime.

    ICU for pup toys…LOL Oh my gosh, did I get a good laugh!! Sue, the surgeon!! I hope your good stitchery will last a while.

    The after rain photos were just beautiful, Sue. The desert does awaken to nature’s watering. And Reggie looked so cute enjoying the play in his freshly washed surroundings!

    I am glad the new fridge is working so well for you. Heaven knows you waited long enough for it!! Take care. Thanks so much for your post. Belly rubs and hugs for Reggie and prayers for you both.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      You’re welcome, retiredcajunlady,

      Thank you for the thought-provoking comment! I’m sure everyone who reads what you wrote has asked those same questions.

      Thanks also for the kind words and the compliment on the photos. I’m happy that you like them.

      Gee, not a very pleasant Mardi Gras experience!

  28. Gray F Mason says:

    Your story of repairing the animals reminded me of a fun part of my career as an elementary librarian. I had a couple of baskets of stuffed animals for the kids, and they took a beating (the stuffed animals, not the children!). I would always put the damaged ones in the “hospital” till I got around to repairing them, and the kids got such a kick out of that – they would always ask how long it would be until the bear or whatever would get better. I loved that – needle and thread handy!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Kids love it when an adult enters their world of imagination, where stuffed animals have boo-boos and need to be helped to get better. 🙂

  29. Biz Crate - Palm Canyon Rd, KOFA says:

    I’ve been full-timing since this past June in a 24′ C-class with a tow vehicle. I retired, sold my home, put a few things in storage, grabbed up my 2 little dogs and took off. I had never owned an RV and had only slept overnight in one up to this.
    I’m having the time of my life.
    I own you a debt of gratitude, Sue. I would not have thought it possible for me to be doing this if not for your blog.
    Thinking about the Brian story: being a flat-lander from Illinois, I was very concerned that I would be driving mountain roads eventually. Therefore I signed up for an RV driving class and the first leg of my trip was to Kansas City where I met my trainer. When I talked about my 2 biggest concerns – backing into a site without embarrassing myself and mountain driving – the trainer said he’s got the first one covered, no problem. But, he said, have you noticed that we’re in Kansas? Not many mountains to practice on here. Nonetheless, his advice on downshifting and braking has certainly stayed with me.
    It helped when I drove in the west entrance of Yosemite and back out over Tioga Pass. It came in handy driving down into Flaming Gorge, camping on Mustang Ridge, and of course, then climbing back out of the Gorge again.
    For your readers who are intrigued by this lifestyle but cringe at the idea of learning new skills through the School of Hard Knocks, I would highly recommend a training class.
    I do not believe the classes give me any immunity to close calls such Brian’s. I pray that my skills are never tested to that degree. On the other hand, if I hadn’t found classses I may have remained in Illinois, and I would not have had this wonderful life that I’ve been experiencing these past months.
    Thank you again, Sue, and a big thank you to your contributitors: the blogerinos!

  30. Whenever driving downhill on twisty curving roads with — sometimes — extreme downhill steeps, another *emergency* maneuver is to remain aware that you have two choices at ALL times. One side is the mountain; the other side the abyss! It won’t be pretty but if your brakes fail and you simply MUST slow down, slowly edge your rig/trailer over into the mountain side as needed and let terra firma slow you down . . . it’s a million times better than falling over into the abyss!

    Per life turning on a dime, our neighbor at The Slabs recently stood up late at night from his camp chair, passed out, and FELL face first into his camp fire! His fire was encircled with much-larger-than-usual rocks and one of them knocked him completely unconscious — out cold.

    Fortunately, he had at least one friend right there who quickly rolled him out of the fire. It has been at least five weeks by now and he is *still* in the burn center ICU in San Diego. His family (brother, SIL, son) came out from the east coast and we helped them get his huge (very fancy) fifth wheel moved from The Slabs to a storage place in El Centro, CA.

    I drove with his brother as a passenger — super cool people considering the circumstances. His Mom flew out first and has been with him every day but his vision in one eye remains seriously compromised though much of his face appears to be healing on its own.

    He was on a ventilator for the longest time — in an induced coma for pain control as well — and has only in the last few days begun breathing somewhat on his own. His brother and SIL drove his very nice truck back east (along with Logan — his huge ‘inside’ dog who has scared the wits outta’ me on more than one occasion!).

    Their current plan is to hire a hauler to bring his fifth wheel from El Centro to North Carolina where his parent live — looks like $3,000 minimum. Best-case scenario? Our friend Derek will recover as much as can be expected and he will join us at The Slabs next fall — which would be our 3rd winter together. What a reuinion that will be! But nothing like when Derek and Logan see each other again.

  31. Rover Ronda (WA) says:


  32. Elizabeth says:

    What a fortunate end to that story…but so sad…but you know, you do get used to living without your stuff really, don’t you? Thanks for sharing that story.

    We seem to be living now in the land of never ending rain…ha…even though only 2 hours south of our previous apt. We will see how this all turns out.

  33. Renee Galligher from Idaho says:

    Hi Sue and Reggie. What a frightening experience for Brian. He’s right about saving what was most important. Thank God he is alright and it didn’t stop him from doing what he loves.

    I love that first photo of Reggie with all the recuperated toys. I can see the snarl on his snout preparing to attack. What a character he is! I bet he makes you laugh many times in the course of a day.

    Take care and safe travels, as Brian said.

  34. chas anderson says:

    Having towed a 34 foot trailer for years .my opinion is that my 32 foot Class C is much easier to manage and safer.We tow a car behind.However, with trailers smaller is better.

    My theory is that if your rig is 24 feet or less a trailer is preferable.24 feet or more go with a motorhome.

    Just my 2 cents.

  35. ValGal (westernWA) says:

    Poor Brian! What a terrible and terrifying accident. I’m glad he was essentially ok. Makes you think, though. How things can change in a heartbeat! How would it be if we lost all our things?

    Reggie is such a lucky pooch. There he is with a plethora of playthings, all lovingly restored by his mom.

    Hope you are having a great day today, Sue and all you blogorinos!

  36. AlanOutandAbout - Tacna AZ 40 mi east of Yuma. says:

    Hi Sue and the crew. Good to see all is well with you.
    As you can see I left El Paso, thank goodness. Not my favorite place.
    I am now in the Copper Mountain RV park in Tacna Az. Tiny town with 2 restaurants and a gas station , But a beautiful park. 45′ wide sites. with 8×20 concrete slab in the middle for a patio. 15′ on one side for the RV and 15′ on the other for cars or whatever you have. It is only six years old and is a beaut. I,ll only be here for a month, but this looks like a good spot for next winter. It closes in summer. Lots on desert and mountains around for exploring. $220 a month, thats 7.00 dollars a day, + elec. All in all a good deal.

    Well best to you and all the blogerinos, and Enjoy.

  37. Joyce Sutton says:

    Having rode my brakes and over heated to much I am now having them replaced. I’m am trying to learn gearing down Not good with it but paying attention. DH never had the problem mostly I lollygag around and then find myself on s mountain with no speed whatsoever. I’m looking at the landscape and suddenly Im going up or down. Never driven in the Rockies yet. Been twice but someone else was driving It’s coming closer May is the kickoff date if all goes well.

  38. Reggie is a lucky lad! But, I guess as rough as he is, you need a lot of back ups (we used to call this, ‘having a deep bench’). Good thing you’re such a good surgeon!

    We’ve been getting a lot of rain at Kofa too – but only one day when it rained pretty much all day – I’m camping with friends who all have dogs, so they’re dodging raindrops to walk dogs; I’m drinking tea and being glad I have a cat!

  39. Laura - Illinois says:

    Thanks for telling us the story that the gentleman shared with you. It must have been pretty scary for him, but I love his attitude that he came away with his life and health still intact and was greatful for that!

  40. “Brian” was sure blessed to have survived such a horrible crash! Glad he’s still traveling. Reggie looks quite pleased with his recovered horde :-)))) The flowers are going to be incredible after all this rain.

  41. ApplegirlNY says:

    Hi Sue, Reggie and Blogorinos. Just catching up after not being online for a couple of weeks, since we’re enjoying beautiful Florida weather, bike riding, walking on the beach, viewing loads of wildlife. So glad we’re not back home where they’ve had several feet of snow recently 🙂
    Sue, sorry to hear you were a bit blue, but reading the posts one after another, you’ve managed to pull through and persevere, as usual. You are amazing! Reggie has quite the group of pals for him to chew on. It must make him feel good to be the “big guy” of the group.
    Brian’s story sure is a reminder of what is precious, and how things can change on a dime. He has a great attitude. So glad he came out of it relatively unharmed.
    Take care everyone!

  42. suzicruzi from Van, WA. says:

    Hey there fellow blogorinos, I’m a newb (obviously) planning my great escape July of ’18. I’m curious as to why (Sue) a lot of you choose S. Dakota as your “residence” where you license your rigs? I’m figuring taxes and tags are cheaper as SD is one of the cheaper states to live in? I know I’ll need a Mailbox of America address – can you choose any state for that? Then coordinate all your licensing there as well? Which cart comes before which horse? Address of choice, establishing residency? then the rig paperwork? I’m trying to save myself from having to license it twice in a short period of time, (move it after the fact from my home state.) I’d just like to choose properly the first time, then get her done. Help! 🙂 My mind spins too fast sometimes and can’t catch it! I appreciate all the help, now and down the road – thank you in advance!!

    • rvsueandcrew says:


      SD is chosen because it’s a state with no state tax and also it does not require emission testing as does TX.

      “I know I’ll need a Mailbox of America address – can you choose any state for that?” I don’t know anything about Mailbox for America. I have “America’s Mailbox.” When you sign up with a mail forwarding service, you are given a legal address. Americas Mailbox is in SD so I was given a SD legal address. In other words, the mail forwarding service is the same as your legal address. Choose the service and you’ve chosen the state.

      Americas Mailbox took care of the registration, licensing, tag for the PTV (already GA) and BLT. Remember, regarding car-before-horse worries…. You have 30 days to change your vehicles over to a new state. I bought the BLT, notified Americas Mailbox, drove both the PTV and BLT with GA tags until the new SD license plates and paperwork were ready from the SD DMV and available from Americas Mailbox.

      As far as doing things twice, the original state will refund the remaining part of the year’s registration fee. At least Ga did for me.

      To change my drivers license I drove to SD several months later and took care of it at a DMV (any within the state will do).

      Go to Americas Mailbox for more info. It’s a wordy site, but stick with it and you can pull out the info you need. Good luck!

      • Suzicruzi from Van., WA says:

        OMGoodness Miss Sue Fantastic! 😊😊. You are the best. Why? B/c you are so willing to help people and your answers are through and kind. I say that because even after all these years of answering the same questions, you don’t seem bothered at all about explaining the same thing over and over again. What a blessing you, your blog, and fellow bloggerinos are to me. This is quite the project for me, and help, concern, and advice is muchly appreciated. I think the whole horse and cart makes sense now. Thank you!!

  43. weather says:

    Hi, Sue, it’s good to see you on here this morning. I hope all’s well with you and Reggie. Guessing you’ll want to save any news for a post, I won’t ask all the questions that I’m curious to know the answers to. It’s going to be in the mid to upper 60’s today here in central NY- a February day to celebrate! We aren’t supposed to cool off much until Sunday so there’s plenty of time to enjoy the warmth outside. Enjoy that around you, and your day 🙂

  44. rvsueandcrew says:


    Thank you for writing comments in my absence! Rather than write individual replies to the comments that came in near the end, I’m working on a new post.

    Know that your words mean a lot to me. All your good wishes — I feel the same for you!

    Talk to you later under the next post,

  45. Susan says:

    Reggie and his toys are so cute !!! Wow, what a scary situation that guy had !!! I have seen a burnt up RV on the side of the highway twice and boy does the thought of that scare me ! I mean as long as you get out of it in time then fine. But, sure is a scary thing.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      One thing I’ve noticed while towing the BLT on interstates that I find astounding…. People tow their RVs way too fast! 58 mph is recommended. CA has road signs stating 55 mph speed limit for towables.

      And from what I can surmise, I’m not typical of the vast majority of people towing RVs — I get off the road after a short jaunt; I don’t drive at high speed for 5 hours or more. Those RVs burnt up on the side of the highway may have left the road due to a blow-out or fish-tailing that could have been avoided. Maybe knowing those accidents are preventable will allay your fear. 🙂

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