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  • Writer's pictureSusan Byers

Best-Laid Plans

The dishwasher was in the cabinet, but before we could make further alterations to the cabinets, we needed to have an electric plug put in. The plumbing would wait until the sink and stove were ready to be hooked up. The guys at Holly Acres, where we store the camper, were de-winterizing dozens and dozens of boats and RVs. So we were taking the Newmar an hour north to Jim Donnie's in Glen Burnie, Maryland.

Taking the RV an hour north ... hmmm ... We'd never towed it. We'd never even hitched it up! We had just gotten the truck (a big, bad daddy F350 dually biodiesel) a couple of months earlier, and were still getting used to how BIG it was.

Big, beautiful F350 biodiesel dually

Now we actually had to hitch up and tow the trailer. This was ... unnerving.

Jim Donnie's insisted that we had to be there at 8 a.m. That meant we had to tow the camper for the first time through some of the worst rush-hour traffic in the country. Oh joy. Trial by fire.

Just to make sure we could manage in the dark the next morning, we went down the afternoon before for a dry run. I backed the truck up ... and pulled forward, adjusted, and backed up, pulled forward, adjusted and backed up, pulled forward ... and finally got it lined up. Then we had to adjust the height of the camper by running the front struts up and down veeeeerrrrryyyy slowly. Back up hard, kachunk. Len looked. Did the gates close? Not sure. I climbed out and took a look. Nope. Got back in the truck, inched forward a few inches, backed up hard, kachunk ... Len looked. Did the gate close? Not sure. I climbed out and took a look. Nope. After several tries, we finally heard a different kerchunk and it looked like the gate had closed over the pin. If we'd brought another vehicle, I swear I'd have left the truck right there, but no ... Exhausted, we unhitched and went home. It was already dark.

It was still dark the next morning when we headed south again. After a few tries of repeating the above routine, we heard a different kerchunk and, in the low light, it looked like we finally got it. We were running a bit late, but Mama hadn't had her coffee yet, and now there wouldn't be time... ugh! We ran the front legs up (ran is a misnomer, as they move at a snail's pace), took out the chocks, hooked up the power cord, checked that the lights were all working, got in the truck, buckled up and started to inch forward. Hmm. It was going to take a bit more power to move this beast. I gave it a little more gas and ...

KER-CHUNK! The truck moved, but down in back instead of forward.

Oh. No.

Oh badword.

I knew exactly what had happened. We had just made a classic newbie mistake. The gates had not grabbed the pin. And the weight of the camper had just come down on the truck. Uttering a variety of bad words, we got out to assess the damage.

The pin box (a big, black thing that the holds the pin on a swivel joint) was teetering on the back of the hitch, with the weight of the front half of the camper on it.

The tailgate was essentially upside down, crushed by the back of the pinbox. We were stunned, and didn't know what to do. Finally, Len walked the quarter mile up the hill to see if anybody was there yet, while I called Jim Donnie's and told them we wouldn't be there.

A couple of guys from the shop--one with a tractor--came back down the hill with Len to survey the damage and figure out how to get us out of the pickle we'd gotten ourselves into (WHY didn't I think to take pictures?!). By then, we had recovered enough that we could laugh at our fool selves and our situation (you can laugh or you can cry, and laughing leaves you feeling much better). Eventually, one of the guys just ran the front struts back out far enough to ease the truck out. The tailgate was a disaster, the electric box on the pinbox was aat a weird angle, the light fixture was cracked and there was a dent in the side wall of the truck bed, but all in all, it didn't look as bad as it could have been. I had made another appointment at Jim Donnie's for the next week. We wrestled the broken tailgate off, tucked our tails and headed home.

I don't remember if I got coffee on the way.

Bent tailgate at the dump

Dropping the poor, broken tailgate off at the dump

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