At Goodfellow AFB, San Angelo, Texas, I had the job as a helicopter pilot in the 59th Weather Recon Squadron. We launched high altitude research balloons. In May of 1964, I was sent to Eilson AFB, Fairbanks, Alaska, to perform the same job. I didn’t know how long I would be there and my commander wouldn’t make a decision. I missed my family and I wanted an answer. In mid-June, I flew from Eilson to Biggs AFB, El Paso, Texas. Reba met me and we drove to San Angelo. Going up the stairs to the squadron offices, I heard my commander yelling at the secretary, “Do you have Lovrien on the phone, yet?” When I stuck my head in his door and asked if he was looking for me, he wasn’t nice, but I got a decision and was told to get back to Alaska.
The fun began. We got busy, because we had to get to Fairbanks by July 1. I called my uncle to ask to borrow his tent trailer. We got stuff together and went to Illinois to get Uncle George’s Apache trailer. Then, it was to Wisconsin to leave the dog with my parents and we were on our way to Alaska. From Texas to Alaska took us ten days. This trailer was unique. The trailer was about the size of a double mattress. On each side were two compartments. The tent came up from the top of the trailer and then to the side, with room to sleep on the top and a big room to the side. Our toddler slept in one of the side compartments. We’d line the compartment with a sleeping bag and he’d cuddle in.
The Apache had small tires and driving as fast as we did, we destroyed eight tires. Finally, someone suggested ten-ply tires and that solved that problem. Once, I forgot to lock the compartments for traveling. When we stopped, we found we’d lost a lot of stuff. Amazingly, we got a lot of it back. Someone had found it along the way. Included in the lost things had been my briefcase. Whoever found it, found me and got the important stuff back to us.
My job required that I launch three successful balloons a month. With perfect weather, we never launched a failure and I worked three days a month. So, we explored Alaska. I invited my 76-year-old grandmother to join us and she did. She was with us until we returned the trailer to my uncle, in September. Fifteen-month-old boys like to explore. With bears in the woods and rushing rivers, we tied him to the bumper of the car. Our son was allergic to the available disposable diapers. Reba washed diapers in boiling water over campfires, hanging them over bushes or on lines strung between trees.
That summer of 1964 was special in so many ways and started us on a life of RVing. We are now full-timers and have been since 1998.
Submitted by Clark Lovrien of Alaska as part of the RV Centennial Celebration” Share Your Favorite RV Memory” contest.
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