We have been on the road nearly five years and for the most part have not had any real bad mishaps. Sure we have had a ding or a scratch or a scrape or two but no real damage has ever happened to our rig. Well on Valentines Day 2016 that all changed…
The travel day morning started as many others as we performed our usual breaking camp routines! We had a longish day ahead of us in terms of time not distance as we were planning to drive along the beach roads from Mexico Beach over to Foley, Alabama. Everything was going good, even the slides all came in, as we got ready to roll. We were low on diesel so I looked in vain along our route for a diesel stop with a truck island making it easy for us to diesel up.
I usually have no problem finding a good one and plot it in our GPS but I couldn’t find any along our route. So I told Sharon that we would simply have to check out all the gas stations and pick the one that looked like we could get into and out of easily. Boy was that a mistake!
Not too far down the road just outside of Panama City, Florida we spotted a Racetrack gas station on the other side of the road that had an outside pump with easy access. There was an RV in the spot so we decided to pass it up and u-turn back to it. We located a parking lot with an entrance as well as an exit and decided to pull into it to bide time until the RV at the pump had time to leave.
As I turned off the main road and tried to make the turn into the parking lot a lady driver didn’t yield to me and forced me to turn wider into the lot than I wanted. I was watching her in my side mirror to make sure I wouldn’t clip her when we heard a sound no RV’er wants to hear… CRUNCH!!!
Apparently, unseen by either of us, a low hanging branch on a live oak tree hit the top of the rig and crushed our dome satellite cover. I stopped immediately (and I may have cursed at that time) and got out to assess the damage by climbing the ladder to view the top of the RV. The branch scraped along the front (top) of the RV damaging a small outside light, breaking an antenna and crushing the King Dome Satellite cover. A scrape mark was left on the top damaging the paint but thankfully I didn’t see any damage to the front cap.
The only thing to do was backup and get out from under this branch. We unhooked the CRV and backed off of it. Then I navigated out of my predicament over to the exit where I began to pull forward when I heard CRUNCH!!! [$%#@^%$$]$# not again!!! This time I apparently caught a rock that was used as an edging as I was pulling out of the driveway. The drop from the driveway to the road was more than I anticipated and my tail end dropped lower thereby catching the rock which scraped out the back corner two driver side bay doors and put a nice dent in one of them along with a little fiberglass crack. Talk about insult to injury ....sigh.
Well after all this we were able to diesel up, hook the CRV back to the RV and get back on the road. Although most of the damage is not major we were both a bit shook up and were stunned as to how this happened. We are always so cautious and careful yet ended up in this bad situation nonetheless. At least we got to Foley Alabama with no further issues and once we got settled in we were able to unwind.
So what did we learn? ONE – I will never willy nilly look for a gas station again. In the future gas stops will always be planned out. TWO – We will avoid small store parking lots for any type of turn around THREE – the next time a driver doesn’t yield to me I will simply stop and tie up traffic till they are out of harms way. I think it was the distraction of that driver that kept me from seeing the low branch. The tree hugged the building so Sharon could not see the branches above from her vantage point either. We both heard it rather than seeing it....
Once we were able to realize that the damage was mostly minor (although it will be costly to fix and very inconvenient) we reminded ourselves how lucky we still are to be able to enjoy the freedom of our life on the open road. We enjoyed our visit along the sugar sand coasts of Alabama and look forward to our next stop in Louisiana. Sharon said all she could think of was the Shirelle's song lyric:
"Mama said there'll be days like this.
"There'll be days like this," my mama said".
Despite our tribulations we had a great stay at Foley and enjoyed Flora-Bama as the perfect spot to put this incident behind us. Ahhhh but such is life on the road, not all fun and games, and a little unpleasantness can find you along the way…
We are now in Mandeville, LA for a few days before heading over for a month at Betty’s RV Park… We are looking for to the decompression time!