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  • Meagan Butler

Giving RV Mistakes the Middle Finger: Bumps in the Road

I think that I’ve pulled a tendon in my middle finger. Thankfully, the finger has issues moving to the up position. What does that mean? I won’t be giving people the bird out on the highway. I mean, that’s not how one makes friends out on the road, now is it?

How I got the pulled tendon is a story in itself. I’d like to officially add it to what I’d like to call “bumps in the road” portion of my RV adventures. Truthfully, we all have those learning experiences with our rigs. Sometimes those experiences are minor, and we learn how to avoid those mistakes the next time we are out on the road. Sometimes the experiences are terrifying and huge, and they make us better, more aware RVers in the end.

This summer, I took my T@B camper to Michigan to see my dad complete in a marathon canoe race. The trip was my first long-distance solo RV trip (3,000 miles round trip), and I’d be lying if I said I was full of confidence and not worried about anything. RVing alone is a little scary, and it takes some time to get used to things on the road.

I left Colorado and headed to my first stop for the night, a KOA just outside of Omaha, Nebraska. While driving, I kept experiencing what I called a “wobbling” behind my Jeep. My camper seemed to bounce and move behind me, and I didn’t like it. I had experienced this a little bit before, but I hadn’t been out on a freeway for hours to notice the extreme swaying behind me. I had mentioned this wobbly-ness to my husband, but the one time we went out in the T@B together, we used his truck as our tow vehicle, and it didn’t happen, so I just thought it was my inexperience pulling a camper that made me hyper-aware of my surroundings.

The longer I was on the interstate, the more I felt the jiggle behind me. To rectify the movement, I decided I needed to go a little more slowly, so I slowed to just under 70mph. People were passing me, and I felt like a granny. Honk and wave people, honk, and wave.

All of sudden, my camper was jumping behind me. I had just moved back into the right lane, and my camper acted like my car does when I am braking on an icy road. I had no control of my RV, and it was jumping and jiving behind me. I could see and feel this movement, and I KNEW that is not normal, and gripped the steering wheel and did my best to get control of the bouncing. The sensation was not wobbling; my camper was getting air behind me, and it was scary as shit.

I had about 2 hours ahead of me before I reached my destination. I gripped the steering wheel so tightly that my knuckles were white, and I jacked-up my middle finger. It was the longest two hours of my life, and I don’t think that I’ve ever been more excited to pull into a KOA than I was that night.

When I finally set up my camper for the night, I pulled out my computer to research why the extreme-almost-jackknifing was happening to me. I didn’t want to call my husband with my story until I knew that the issue was more than me just being an inexperienced jack-ass. After about a half an hour on the T@B forum boards, I realized that the drop in my hitch wasn’t sufficient. In fact, incorrect drops impact towing all of the time. I just assumed when I bought my camper and took it home from the dealer that I’d be good to go on the road, but that wasn’t the case.

By this point, my heart rate had slowed, and I was feeling a lot better about towing my teardrop. I knew that this mistake was an easy mistake to fix. I emailed my husband a video about drops and then called him to tell him about my scary experience. It all made perfect sense. He never felt the wobble because he never towed with my Jeep. His truck and the one-inch drop was sufficient, but I needed a four-inch drop to pull with my Jeep to stop the bounce, sway, and occasional jackknifing.

The next morning, I was up super early to get to the closest Camping World just across the border of Iowa. I explained my dilemma to the people at the parts department, and within a few hours, I was back on the road, and sway-free.

I’ve learned that the best way to be a better RVer is to make mistakes. It is those stupid mistakes that make us more cautious towers, drivers, and RV owners. We all make the flub-ups. I don’t think one RV driver can say that every trip has been error-free. I think sometimes it is the scary bumps in the road that help make us more responsible drivers. I’ve done some silly things with my RV, and I’ve had some terrifying experiences, but I am towing strong, ever road-wise with every trip.

Now, if I can just get that middle finger to work again…


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