In August of 2018 we had already purchased and used our Keystone Bullet Travel Trailer. We were getting moved from San Diego to Fort George G. Meade, Md. for a military permanent change of station move. We did a full checkup and look over and I even added extra clearance and brake lights to be sure we would have a safe trip.
We mapped out our course and decided to head the northern route as there were more RV parks and we could also visit friends and family along the way.
I packed our 4 kids, soft-coated Wheaton terrier my wife and I into our Nissan Armada, hitched up and headed across the country. We thankfully invested in a leveling hitch so we made great time and mileage to our first stop just outside L.A. as we planned to Universal Studios for my son’s birthday as he loves Transformers. The trailer made roadside restroom breaks a breeze and allowed us to really stretch out in the Armada as we didn’t have to pack everything around us and jam in like sardines.
We left our first RV Park and headed toward our second one in Utah. The trailer was perfect, double bunks, queen bed for my wife and I and a jackknife couch for our oldest daughter. Our puppy moved between everyone’s beds and finally settled on the cool floor as his spot. We were an RV family and loving it. We had everything we needed and even some extras like our bikes on the back of the trailer with plans to add a few more things over the years because this was awesome.
We didn’t know our lives were going to change drastically over the next few days and we barely escaped with our lives.
We were making great time, not in any rush and enjoying the family time as we made our way across the country to start the next chapter of our adventure with new schools, a new church and new friends. Wyoming was beautiful, flat with a few little hills sprinkled throughout but nothing arduous.
Then it hit us, we had experienced crosswinds before and understood corrective actions, speed adjustments and precautions to ensure safe travel. This slammed into us at 85 miles per hour at the precise moment a 53-foot tractor trailer flew by us going well over the posted speed for trucks of 55. We had been sucked into the perfect storm and were now essentially in ‘a flat spin, headed out to sea’ correcting into and out of, and back into a full 390-degree spin at 40 miles per hour while a caravan of fully-loaded semis bears down on us at nearly twice that rate.
Our trailer became a sail, slammed from the right by an insane cross wind and then shoved the opposite direction by a concussive pressure wave created by the dirty air of a speeding Freightliner. Our SUV was caught in the middle and we spun out of control no matter how expertly my wife fought the inevitable we finally came to rest by the grace of God still upright, albeit now facing traffic and jackknifed vertically.
The RV angels were looking over us that day as we would learn from the truckers that were able to slow all oncoming traffic to a halt, bring us water, help us get the Armada and trailer back on its wheels and the trailer back upright. We stayed in Medicine Bow, Wyo. for 5 days as we talked to our insurance company and after many weeks later, we are sad to report, both our trailer and tow vehicle which was completely paid off, were 100% totaled. We were stuck.
The tow company drove me an hour into Laramie, Wyo. to get a rental vehicle and U-Haul so we could attempt to salvage some of our belongings. The largest rental available was a 4-door Jeep Wrangler so we had to get a U-Haul truck because we had too many people and not enough seats. So now we had to continue our trip to St. Louis, our half-way point, in two vehicles packed in like sardines and still frazzled from the accident.
Two-weeks later we arrived in Fort George G. Meade, Md. with maxed out credit cards, maxed out nerves, missing clothes, tools and a 13-year-old favorite stuffed animal “giggles” lost somewhere between Wyoming and Maryland, and fractured spirits.
Now 8 months later we are still in the hunt for another RV. We love the lifestyle and the convenience but now we can’t afford much beyond a new roll of RV toilet paper.
Perhaps the RV angels will smile upon us again as we search for a motor home or trailer large enough for our family while still able to pull ourselves out of our Everest-sized mountain of debt for having to get another vehicle to haul us around, pay off the credit cards and plan for retirement in 2 years, all while living in the most expensive state in the union. After 19 years in the Navy, I’m not sure what else to do, besides not retire in Maryland, or drive through Wyoming.