In part one of the story we found Frank and Karen stranded just outside of Nashville, TN, waiting to find out if the blown head gasket on their aging motor home engine could be temporarily repaired – at least well enough to get them to Lake City, FL, where new jobs and hopefully a new life were waiting.
Frank opened his toolbox that night to retrieve a flashlight. Instead, he found the $100 bill that Marge had secretively slipped inside. A big smile spread across Frank’s face, “Darn that Marge, we told her we would not take any money for helping her!” But deep down inside Frank was thankful for her generosity – the $100 would pay the mechanic working on the Brave.
The next morning Frank was pleased to learn from the mechanic that the water glass sealant had stopped the head gasket leak. But, he warned Frank that it could last 3,000 miles or only 3 miles. Frank gave the mechanic the $100 bill Marge had dropped into his toolbox and headed back to the motel to pick up the rest of his family.
They drove all day without incident, stopping once at a rest stop so they could stretch their legs, take muffin for a walk and eat a tuna fish and peanut butter sandwich lunch. At the end of the day, Frank stopped at a discount fuel center well off the Interstate. It took sixty gallons of gas to refill the tank. That was $170 dollars. Once again, they found a Wal-Mart where they could park for the night. Their cash was beginning to dwindle.
The next morning they got up early and were ready to make their final run into Lake City. For the first few hundred miles, everything was going along fine and the Brave was running cool. But, as luck would have it, the patched leak in the head gasket gave way about ten miles into Florida. They drove the final 35 miles with steam pouring from the radiator, having to stop twice to add water.
Finally, they all arrived safely at the Lake City Campground. Bill and Janet were the owners. Bill greeted Frank and directed him to a full hook-up site near the campground entrance. Together they agreed that the engine in the Brave was toast.
After a quick orientation, Frank and Karen were manning the registration desk, restocking the shelves in the camp store, cleaning the pool and bathhouses, and fixing anything that needed fixing. They put the kids to work patrolling the campground for litter. The kids started a rather lucrative dog walking and sitting business that helped with the family finances.
About month after Frank and Karen had settled in, a large motor home towing a small SUV pulled into the parking lot in front of the registration office. Frank thought it looked familiar, but he was totally surprised when he saw Marge walk in the door.
Marge seemed equally surprised to see Frank, Karen and the kids. She asked for a full hook-up site through the weekend, which would be three nights.
Once Marge had settled in, she invited Frank, Karen and the kids to come over to her campsite that night for a hamburger cookout. Both of them were off duty at 5:00 o’clock and didn’t have to report to work until Monday morning.
It was way after midnight before the group finished telling their tales of woe and success. Marge had sold their permanent campsite near Tampa and was heading back up I-75 on the way to Paducah. She had no idea why she had chosen the same campground where Frank and Karen were working. Maybe it was just fate.
The five of them spent most of the weekend together, scooting around the surrounding area in the SUV visiting shops Frank and Karen didn’t even know existed. They got a chance to see the new schools where the kids would be enrolling in a few weeks. Nicky and Sam were both a lot less apprehensive about their impending start in new schools. In just two days, they all grew extremely close. At one point Marge even commented that she wished that they lived closer to one another. It would be wonderful to have them as her “adopted” children and grandchildren.
On Monday morning when Frank was making his rounds of the campground, he noticed that Marge’s motor home and SUV were still there. This kind of surprised him since she had told them the afternoon before that she was planning on getting away about sunrise.
Frank walked over to the shinny new motor home. There was an envelope taped to the door with his name on the front.
Frank pulled the note off the door, slowly opened the envelope, removed a handwritten note, and began to read:
My Realtor in Paducah called last night. She has a buyer for my home that not only wants the house but all the furniture.
I agreed to the sale price they offered me. All I need to do is go back and gather my personal possessions.
A taxi is picking me up early tomorrow morning so I can catch a flight from the Gainesville Regional Airport to Paducah and complete the closing on the house later in the afternoon.
I hope to be on an airplane to meet my sister in London by Wednesday.
I want you to have the motor home and SUV. The titles to both vehicles have been signed over to you. You will find them in the pocket next to the driver’s side seat along with the keys.
The sale of my house and Bill’s life insurance has left me in excellent financial status for the rest of my life. The check from the sale of my RV lot has been endorsed and is in the pocket with the titles. Use the money to give the kids new clothes for a good start in school. Spend some on yourselves too.
I have come to love all of you. Your love and kindness came as an unexpected gift. I want to keep the circle of love going.
Tears filled Frank’s eyes for the first time since his Dad passed away six years ago. What Marge had done simply overwhelmed him. He knew his family would be all right now.
They took $10,000 of the money Marge had left them and opened a special bank account to help “down on their luck” RV travelers. Many other campers visiting the RV park where they were working made donations as well. So far, they have been able to help twelve families stranded with mechanical problems get back to their homes or jobs.
Frank and Karen had the engine in the Brave repaired and spruced up the inside with new curtains, bedding and carpet. They gave the Brave to another couple in the park to replace a trailer being repossessed by a finance company. Without the gift of the Brave, they would have no where to live or the ability to move to a new job.
When they thanked Frank and Karen for the Brave, Frank said, “There is no need to thank us – the person to thank is Marge.”
HAPPY AND SAFE CAMPING TRAILS TO ALL!
Do you camp with a pet? Please visit my No Pet Add-On Fees website at http://vastateparkscamping.com/ or by clicking on the blue highlighted and underlined text above for information regarding camping with pets in Virginia State Parks.
Private e-mails can be sent to: RandynNancyageeatgmaildotcom (substitute a @ symbol for the bold at and a period . for the bold dot when entering the address into your e-mail program).