By Laura Robinson
Who knew that a quick pit stop would change everything?
Late March, I took off for a 4 week, road trip in my groovy camper van (that's it above). It was also Aldo’s (my 90 lb. Golden Retriever puppy) first trip.
We started slowly, taking 4 days to get to New Orleans, where I was meeting a bunch of my RV family. I usually stop every 1.5 to 2 hours and have always traveled this way. After all, it’s the journey, so I try to give myself lots of time to enjoy the route with extra time to explore.
NOLA was a lot of fun, and it was over way too soon, but I was on a deadline for Albuquerque to meet up with my pal, Cindy. So we (I say “we” but Aldo was no help at all) packed up and took 3 days to drive across Texas. That sounds like a lot of time, but man! Texas is HUGE. And Aldo doesn’t drive, so it’s all on me. Cindy was only there for the weekend, so I couldn’t dawdle.
I had a lot of fun sightseeing with her, then Sir Poops-a-Lot and I headed south to the Ruidoso area to explore for a week; then it was time to start the long, slow ride home. I planned on taking a week or two, stopping to camp in Arkansas.
Longish drive the first day, up through the Texas panhandle and we stopped for about the 8th time, at a speck of a town, for a stretch and fuel. My back had been bothering me for about 2 weeks, but I chalked it up to being 60 years young, and would just walk it off. I have done this type of traveling for years and it’s never bothered me.
Well, we took about 10 steps, I stretched and something snapped. It felt like someone stabbed me. Really. I couldn’t breathe. I hung onto a rail in the parking lot and made my way, in tears, back to the van, dragging the resistant Aldo. I usually have a rather high pain tolerance. Not this time.
The GPS showed Liberal, Kansas was the next town of any size, so, in no little amount of agony, I drove the 50 miles right to the emergency room of the small hospital and parked as close as I could. Somehow, completely doubled over and stopping every other step, I made it inside where a lady, Stacy, from the business office rushed out with a wheelchair.
Stacy was a miracle. She got them to rush me into the ER and stayed with me. I explained my situation. Traveling alone with a big puppy in an RV. She got the hospital to admit me and she took Aldo home with her. I was now in tears of gratitude, for this amazing woman. She never hesitated or had a moment of consideration or deliberation. She just treated me like family and took my care into her hands.
Turns out, I have 3 bad discs, curved spine and plenty of arthritis. (That's my X-Ray on the right). It seemed to have been a “perfect storm”, for my back to go out and cause severe sciatic pain and swelling, too much driving, puppy wrangling and hard sleeping. Down for the count!
I was there 3 days, on IV drips to get the swelling under control to where I could sit up and move my legs. Stacy came to visit and give me updates on the pup. I felt like I’d known her my whole life. She is just one of those people.
Meanwhile, I know I can’t drive or walk. Now what? I can’t stay there forever.
So I called my friends Mary Beth and Konnie, back home in Kansas City, both of who have camped with me and knew the RV situation. I asked them to find people who would come get me, and drive my van back. It’s a 7 hour drive, one way, without stopping. It was a big ask and hard for me. But, like Stacy, they didn’t hesitate, and drove all the way out. I had my last IV drip Sunday morning and by 10 PM we were at a nice hotel in Witchita for the night. The gals had a very long, 14 hour day, but didn’t want me to do a whole 8 hours in the van, at one shot, the next day.
We made it home Monday afternoon, and I was at my orthopedist Tuesday morning. The prognosis is good.
The whole point of this little story, is not my injury, which happens to people all the time. We all have emergencies; it’s just part of living. The point is that people are so wonderful and kind, wherever you are, whether they know you or not.
I have had several problems on the road, over the years. Without fail, each and every single time, someone has generously helped. Sometimes it’s a mechanical issue and service guys have even waived the fee. Or my fellow campers, you know who you are, Cammo Ken, Jim and the rest of you do-gooders.
I had hail that smashed my windshield, scratched my eye, got a bite that didn’t go well, broken my only prescription glasses (now I take backup), my last dog got poisoned and almost died, and a host of other big and small issues since I have started this RV life.
My message is this:
Over all, I had a wonderful trip with a blip at the end. Am I going to stop RVing alone? NEVER. I refuse to let fear be my jailer. And the thought that most people are kind, helpful and generous, gives me the confidence and security to keep wandering.
Thank you, to all the angels out there.