The year was 1963 in Tulsa, OK when my husband of less than two years took me to a RV dealer to look at RV’s. I had never actually seen one not connected to a circus, much less been inside one. I thought it was a window shopping experience and never in my wildest dreams expected to come home with a little bubble on two wheels. It was a 13ft Cardinal and set us back $695.00. The rationale was that when he went on his 2 week Navy Reserve training each year, I could go along. Our first trip was to Norfolk, VA to see my family, not USNR training. We left Tulsa on a Fri. after work and headed east. Someone had made a mistake in the checking account and we were nearly penniless; however, being 22 and 26 years old we didn’t see a problem.
Since this was our vacation, we visited points of interest along the way, one of which was the Great Smoky Mountain National Park in NC. We arrived in the campground after dark and backed into our site. We ate dinner at our picnic table by lantern light; washed dishes with water from the 5 gal gravity fed water tank located on an upper shelf in the closet next to the sink, then we made down the table and pulled out the two gauchos into a queen sized bed leaving a small area for standing. I decided to take a stroll to the park rest rooms. I stepped out into complete and utter blackness with cameras flashing all around me. As I walked forward to our tow vehicle, I could hear people saying things like “there they are, there are two right over there, isn’t the baby cute?” As another round of flash lights exploded, I could see the reason for the excitement. As I approached the front of our 1963 Dodge, I saw it! A full sized bear was standing to my right with less than 2 feet between us. I don’t know how it happened but the next thing I knew, I was on top of the hood of the car and I didn’t need the park rest room anymore. All of our subsequent trailers have been self contained, we no longer park after dark and when I see flashing lights in a campground after dark, I stay inside all nice and cozy.
When we arrived in Norfolk, my proper southern lady mother said,” you don’t sleep in that thing, do you?” I am not sure that she ever got use to me sleeping in the woods in that 13 foot bubble on two wheels.
Since then, we have had a travel trailer most of the time and presently have a 2003 30’ Airstream. We take a long trip in the summer and winter and are home in spring and fall. We have traveled through all 50 states and every Canadian province other than Newfoundland.
Submitted by MAry Ann Reed of Hillsboro, TX as a part of the RV Centennial Celebration “Share Your Favorite RV Memory” contest.
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