A special interlude in our traveling days was the three years when we lived in a motor home. We were led to start shopping for a motor home when we were near Phoenix once on a preaching trip. Phew, that is “motor home heaven!” If anyone needs a new motor home, that is the place to go as there are dozens of lots full of every size, shape and price. We hunted until we found an affordable one with ceilings that were tall enough for Paul to stand up in, and the whole thing delighted me by being decorated with pinks.
There were twin beds in the back for our two kids, and a large bed over the cab for Paul and me. We exclaimed over the cute, compact little bathroom, but so complete with a shower that ended in a little basin that was a nice little tub for kids to soak in. I loved the way I could cook in the kitchen, able to reach the fridge, sink, stove and oven without needing to take more than one step. We grew to love cozy nights sleeping in church parking lots, or in our family’s yards, or wherever we happened to land. A few times we just stayed in a rest area and that was special too. I can remember only twice staying in a proper camping area. There was also the occasional night when we parked with the 18 wheelers in a truck stop. Our entire home would rumble, but I found it soothing and we rested well.
Paul and I immediately enjoyed that we didn’t have to pack and unpack so often any more. Before that we had to plan about one hour a day for packing, on the average, every time we moved. One time we slept in 13 different places in 13 days. Packing could get tiresome, and the kids being only one year old and three years old at the time, they were not a whole lot of help. That motor home gave us instant relief in that area.
Another thing that had been of concern, was the verse “Withdraw thy foot from thy neighbor’s house, lest he be weary of thee and so hate thee.” (Proverbs 25:17). We felt more confident that we wouldn’t wear out our welcome, especially with longsuffering relatives who occasionally got long doses of our wonderful company.
We laugh now at the memory of our maiden voyage from Phoenix toward the East. We set off before sunrise, as it was beginning to storm, with all the windows open. The noise in that RV was startling! Everything was shaking, rattling, and bouncing. Cupboards popped open, spewing the few contents we had stored there. I assumed a position like a surfer and surfed around shutting windows while Paul drove, worrying about the smell and wondering if it was a gas leak. We drove east for three days, and were quite in love with our new home by the time we were on the east coast. The kids wouldn’t even bother to get out at rest stops any more.
We made good memories in that cozy home. Paul marveled that I could cook a turkey while he drove, and have it ready to eat when he stopped. Once we were eating a casserole in Orangeburg, SC when we got hit by another car backing up. It was just a small jolt, then we just laughed that our house got hit by a car. No damage was done.
Not all my cooking attempts turned out well. My parents gave us a microwave oven for the RV, and we were traveling in Tennessee, I think, when I got inspired to make microwave popcorn while Paul was preaching in a school. We were parked in the parking lot, and I started the microwave and then went to the back to help someone get dressed. Suddenly I realized yellow smoke was pouring from the microwave! I wrenched it open, and the popcorn bag was on fire in our brand new, shiny clean microwave! With a pair of scissors, I pulled the bag out and charged out the door of the motor home into the parking lot.
The entire line of parents picking up their kindergarteners was treated to the sight of a wild woman bursting through the door of a previously peaceful looking motor home, chasing a flaming bag of popcorn out into the parking lot, and stomping on it as nasty looking yellow smoke billowed in the air from the flattened bag as well as from the door of the RV. We survived, but the microwave was never so perfectly white again.
Another memorable moment was when I was resting up in our bed over the cab with the curtain closed. I heard our kids come in with a bunch of other little kids to give them a tour of our home. In general, I thought that was a good, friendly thing to do, because I know I’ve always been nosey about the inside of other people’s motor homes. But that time I just lay waiting tensely, hoping I would not be on display as part of the tour. Luckily, they just pointed up at the curtain and presented it as, “My parents bed is up there.” Then I could just relax and giggle at the candid comments about the contents of our home, even what was in the fridge.
One day we had just left Winder, Georgia and were headed toward a school in Mobile, Alabama, traveling down I-85 when we heard an ominous, “Bang.” We pulled over to inspect, and it was not a pretty sight, not a pretty sight at all. A tire had burst on the rear wheels, and it blew out the black water tank right beside it. A black water tank is the tank right below the toilet in the motor home, and it can hold quite a bit of um, black water and whatnot. Fortunately, Paul had emptied the tank just that morning, so the spillage was not as bad as it could have been. Still, it wasn’t nice.
We could still drive since there were double wheels in the back of that RV, so we limped in to get the tire fixed. It took hours, but wasn’t too bad as we had a Wal-Mart to walk around in while we waited.
We headed off again, hoping that we could still make it to Mobile before it got too late, when a car pulled alongside us and pointed out that one of our tires was flat—another flat on our motor home. The second time was quicker. Now we could not arrive until around midnight, but it was fine. Paul and the kids went to bed, and I drove along happily listening to a book on cassette, hoping we wouldn’t get there until I had finished. Early the next morning we saw that our little station wagon that we towed behind the RV also had a flat! How strange to get three flat tires in less then 24 hours in America. In Kenya, with all the thorns, it would hardly be worth mentioning, but on American roads, that was wierd.