On Friday, July 14, 1972, we rented a 16 foot trailer in Houston for, not only our first trailer trip, but also our first trip west with our two children, 4 and 7, and Granny who had taken two weeks vacation to experience this trip. We were going to begin our trip at Lubbock, Texas, with Waymon’s brother, who would take us on a trial run to Palo Duro Canyon before we traveled on our own. By 7 p.m. we were so excited as we began our adventure in our ’68 yellow station wagon, tuned up for high altitude driving.
Our first omen occurred when we couldn’t start the car. The battery was dead! After jump starting the car, we were ready to head to Lubbock. What fun we were going to have. Less than two hours and 75 miles later, we stopped for gas and Granny complained that her feet were getting hot, hot, hot in the back seat. By 9:30 p.m. we were sitting across the street from a service station at a restaurant waiting for a mechanic to come back from a wreck to see if he could tell us what was wrong with the car. However, the mechanic had gone fishing and wasn’t coming back, so when the car cooled down, we left but shortly Granny was complaining again.
We were baffled. We decided the trailer was pushing the car body down onto the muffler causing it to be closer to the body, thus making it heat the floor, so we moved stuff to the back of the trailer and emptied the water tank. Problem solved or so we thought. We later learned that it isn’t a good idea to move everything to the back of the trailer as this could cause the trailer to whip back and forth.
We stopped at a service station about 4:30 a.m. for gas and a nap. Slightly refreshed, we left about 6:30 a.m. and had traveled about 50 miles when Waymon said the car wouldn’t go more than 50 miles per hour and had used ¾ of a tank of gas. We knew something was wrong so we called a Ford dealer in Abilene to make an appointment. The mechanic said that it sounds like the valves. Okay, maybe we can make Lubbock so we decided to continue on and in Sweetwater, we stopped for gas where there was a long line waiting at the gas pump and we ran out of gas waiting to get to the pump. And it was time for booster cables again.
When Waymon and Granny drove off to turn around, he said to Granny, “It looks like we have everything under control now.” Just as he said that, a big puff of smoke came out of the steering wheel and they nearly jumped out of the car. (Later, in Lubbock, for $23 at the Ford dealer we found out a signal switch had gone out.) While waiting I went into the service station and perked a pot of coffee and bought donuts to keep our nerves calm. This was our first meal in the trailer—behind a service station.
We finally made it to Lubbock and while visiting with friends, we discovered that they never travel alone so that they have help if and when they get into trouble. With a new condenser and points installed, we were ready for our trial run. Except for having to stop at an immigration check point in Southern Texas where the officer had to jump start our car again, we had a wonderful trip with great memories and how spend many days traveling in our 34-foot travel trailer. It is the best life!
Submitted by Barbara Wittman of Naperville, IL as a part of the RV Centennial Celebration “Share Your Favorite RV Memory” contest.
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