We had planned on leaving Key West to start heading for AZ the first week of October, but Hurricane Matthew decided to take over the entire east coast of Florida. We thought about going ahead and trying to leave, but we worried about the storm and getting stuck in all the traffic out of Miami. It was pretty miserable, but we just didn’t have a choice but to stay in tropical paradise for a few more days and wait for the storm to pass.
During the hurricane, we headed downtown, had breakfast at Pepe’s, and played pool at the Schooner Wharf. At least if the storm decided to change direction, we had Noah’s Ark with us in case of rough waters.
The hurricane passed and were were able to leave on Oct 9. We made it to Ft. Walton Beach to meet up with some friends for the night. The next day we made it to Hattiesburg, MS where my recruiter called to tell me I had a phone interview with Havasu Regional Medical Center in Lake Havasu City, AZ. I got the job the same day and we decided to celebrate by taking the day off. Mike found a place called Geiger Lake where we went swimming, played football, listened to music, grilled out, and lounged in the hammock. It was a perfect day.
From there, over the next few days we made it to Quanah, TX. We took another break from driving the RV, unloaded the bikes from the trailer, and drove to Copper Breaks State Park.
Along the way, the old girl started to show her age. She was having hot flashes, becoming leaky, and making weird noises. She required breaks more frequently so we had to pull over several times to diagnose her ailments. And when I say we, I mean Mike. I was just there to hold the flashlight and take pictures.
But every time, Mike was able to fix her up and get us back on the road. Even going as far as building a home-made alternator from our spare parts. So we kept on going. We made another stop to check out Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, TX.
But unfortunately, this was the last adventure the old girl experienced. We were driving up a steep hill just outside of Santa Rosa, NM when she started to get slower and slower. Eventually she made an awful noise and stopped moving. Mike got out and checked under the hood, where he saw a rod had gone through the oil pan. We knew she was done. Sadly, we called AAA to tow the old girl off the highway. We were members of AAA RV plus, which allowed us to be towed within 100 miles for free. Santa Rosa was a small town with very little resources to figure out our next steps, so our tow truck driver got us as far as a truck stop in Moriarty, NM.
Over the next few days, we contemplated our options. We could try to sell, fix , or donate the old girl. We had only a few days until I was expected to be in Lake Havasu City for pre-employment requirements, so we had to figure it out quickly. We posted the RV on Craigslist, which brought a few people over to look at it, but to no avail. We also looked at replacement engines in hopes we could find the 360 engine block for fairly cheap and a mechanic who was willing to put it in for us. But ultimately we found a veterans charity from Albuquerque, NM who was willing to come pick it up the next day, which was 1 day before we had to be in AZ. So we took a bike to the closest Uhaul, rented the smallest truck they had that would still haul our trailer, got back to the truck stop in Moriarty, packed all of our things in big trash bags, and started moving into the Uhaul. The next day was a sad day. The charity came to take our RV. We got attached to the old girl and didn’t want to see her go. But at this point, we really didn’t have much of a choice.
So we moved on. We fired up the Uhaul, hooked up the utlilty trailer and headed toward Lake Havasu. 8 hours later, on Oct. 25, we finally made it! We got there pretty late in the night on Sunday and stayed at the Knight’s Inn. On Monday, I was able to make it to all my pre-employment appointments and check in at our campground, Havasu Falls RV Resort.
As we found out, Lake Havasu is a winter destination city for snowbirds. And Havasu Falls is a very well-maintained campground with some really nice motorhomes. So coming in to the campground as a young couple with our Uhaul and utility trailer made us feel slightly out of place. But we didn’t have anywhere else to go and we had already reserved our spot for the month. So when we were given our spot, we immediately parked the Uhaul and trailer and took off to grab some lunch and figure things out.
We were back at square 1. We needed another camper. We again discussed all the different types of campers and decided to switch it up. Instead of another class A, we chose to look for a slide-in truck camper.
We looked at these for a few different reasons.
- We would have a vehicle other than the bikes.
- We thought a truck would be easier than an RV to find parts for in the event it needed some maintenance.
- We could park anywhere because we’d be able to fit in a regular parking spot
- We would be able to have some fun by going off-roading in the desert
So we got back on Craigslist and found 2 truck campers within our budget in the area. It was getting late, so we decided to head back to the campground and call the owners the next day to see if we could look at them.
We got back to our spot at the campground where we found ourselves staring at our little 12 foot enclosed utility trailer and a Uhaul between 2 half million dollar coaches. It was at that time we realized we had 2 choices: to sleep in the Uhaul or to sleep in the utility trailer. We thought about going to the hotel for another night, but we were trying to watch our finances, and the campground was already paid for. So either option was going to be hot, uncomfortable, and slightly embarrassing. But we chose our trailer because it had a side door, which made it a little easier and more quiet to get in and out, and less likely for people to notice. Thankfully, it was dark and no one was out of their motorhomes at that time to see us grab some blankets and pillows out of the trash bags in the Uhaul. We made a bed on the trailer floor, and we finally got all snuggled in when I realized I had to use the bathroom. Just as I was starting to get up, Mike quickly sits up and whispers at me to stop moving. We heard some faint talking outside the trailer, which continued to get louder until it sounded like they were right outside our door. But finally, I heard them say goodnight to each other and the door slam behind them, and I bolted out of bed as fast as I could to run to the bathhouse.
The night wasn’t as bad as I expected it to be. I was able to get to sleep and woke up pretty rested. But it was starting to get hot, so we went to breakfast, called both owners of the campers, and set up appointment times to look at each of them.
We ended up going with the second one we looked at because it was a little better maintained. The owner was nice enough to deliver it to our campsite 1 hour away because we did not yet have a truck. It worked out for us to buy the camper first because used campers are harder to come by than used trucks, and each camper has its own truck requirements.
So finally we were set up in Lake Havasu with a working household, including a bathroom : )