by Sherry Kukla
I have many fond memories of the 1976 Pace Arrow motorhome that took our family on quite a few adventures. It was about 20 years old at the time.
Many of those memories center around endearing conversations shared with a spouse.
“Watch out for that bus!”
“Pull over, we’re on fire!”
“You’re about to take out the gas pumps!”
“Help me lift this tranny real quick.”
“Who left the keys on?”
“What are you doing in the fast lane?!”
Now all but one of these were his comments to me, which generally preceded a long period of silence on my part.
But, that first one, “Watch out for that bus!” Those were my words. Not actually to him. I was passionately yelling them inside my head as I watched him back out onto our busy street, only to come windshield to windshield with a big city bus. True, I had just given him the “all is clear” hand signal. But between me giving the clear signal and him actually easing his way off the curb and maneuvering into the street usually provided just the right amount of time for plenty of traffic to come flying down the hill. This time, it was a bus. But my silent pleas were successful and other than a couple of disgruntled drivers, there was a happy ending.
“Pull over, we’re on fire!” We were driving through New Mexico on our way home from a multi-state trip that included multiple kids. Some started the trip with us, some we picked up along the way as we visited family. It was once again my turn to drive. The guy-in-the-garage had kicked all the kids out of the back sleeping/table area of the motorhome and was just settling down for a nap.
Things seemed to be going fine. I was handling all the lane closures and “road construction ahead” signs just fine. That is, until the guy-in-the-garage rushes to the front of the motorhome and yells “Pull over, I think we’re on fire!”
That sounded like an emergency to me. So I immediately yanked that steering wheel hard to the right. “Well, don’t kill us, while you’re doing it!” he yelled as he grabbed the fire extinguisher.
He jumped out of the motorhome to circle it and find the problem, while the kids shared with me about all the smoke filling the back of the motorhome.
When he came back in he eyed me suspiciously and said, “Do you have the emergency brake on?”
You can imagine how completely relaxed I was behind the wheel after that, when I don’t particularly care to drive this big thing while towing a trailer just as long. So naturally at the next gas stop, he kindly stopped me before I destroyed the whole gas station with the pleasantly loud comment, “You’re about to take out the gas pumps!”
Not all the memories involved driving. The motorhome was parked next to our house and I was lying underneath the motorhome, as if I were a mechanic.
I had been minding my own business working at the computer, when the guy-in-the-garage came into my office and said “Can you help me lift this tranny real quick?”
I’m not sure he understands the meaning of “real quick.” When I get out there, he looked at me and said, “You might want to change clothes.”
“Who left the keys on?” We had been in the desert for four windy, miserable days and we were finally ready to leave. Loading up was miserable. We were all tired and cranky. The guy-in-the-garage took his seat behind the wheel to discover the keys were turned to “accessory” and probably had been there for most of the trip. You guessed it, the battery was dead. Very dead.
He assumed it was one of the half dozen kids we had along on that trip, and believe me, it was so tempting to just keep quiet. But I confessed, much to the relief of all the kids.
“What are you doing in the fast lane?!” I can assure you it was the last place I wanted to be, but with traffic surrounding me and the guy-in-thegarage a little cranky from being awakened from his nap by all the cars honking at me, it just wasn’t the time to explain that I had a very good reason for this latest predicament.
We sold that old motorhome quite a few years ago, and although we had a decade of fun in it, I don’t think I’ve ever missed it.
Sherri Kukla is the editor and co-publisher of S&S Off Road Magazine. She along with her husband, the guy-in-the-garage, are also the founders and directors of Thundering Trails off road camp for inner city kids in Southern California. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.ssorm.com.