Sometimes my imagination gets the best of me. I live in Arizona and planned a cross-country trip back to Maine. The brilliant plan was to buy a used RV in Arizona, where it would be rust-free, drive it to Maine, spend the summer and perhaps fall cruising and enjoying the sights and then sell it for a profit that would, in fact, pay for the trip.
Sounds like a solid plan. I began to shop and found a ’98 Dodge camper van with 72,000 miles for $12,000 and change. My wife barely spoke to me for a month. I named the truck the “S.T. Betsey”: S.T. for “silent treatment,” and Betsey for my grandfather’s farm dog back in Clinton.
On July 16 I took off just outside of Holbrook, Ariz. I got a rock into the windshield. Got it replaced in Albuquerque. Cost $395. My glass coverage was $500 deductible. I didn’t know that.
I had to get towed into Amarillo, but four days and $2,200 later I was back on the road. A fan belt burst around Joplin, requiring another tow and a day-and-a-half delay costing $211. Plus I got sick from a bad bowl of chili at a truck stop.
Had a tire blow out in Terre Haute. Got AAA again and they put on the spare for me but a replacement tire – used at that – cost $90. I took a break for a couple days in a Walmart parking lot in Columbus. Then, of course, Betsey wouldn’t start.
At a gas station in Pennsylvania, I noticed a leak from under the drain tank. A guy referred me to an RV place where they were real friendly and the labor alone was $225 after some disassembly and new connections. They were also kind enough to point out just under a dozen other things that needed attention. I bought three “for sale” signs at my next overnight Walmart and pressed on.
Betsey ran out of gas at, I think, the most congested highway intersection in New York City. There just weren’t any gas stations around, and I was almost too scared to stop. By then I had quit shaving and showering and even changing clothes. The multiple cops who stopped behind me took 20 minutes to check “wants and warrants,” and that was after a complete search for suspected contraband. AAA saved me again by bringing gas. Even criminals don’t run out of gas.
At a rest stop in Portsmouth, a guy noticed the “for sale” signs and called a pal of his who might be interested. He was. I had to drive it up to Alton Bay, a little town on Lake Winnipesaukee. By then the red engine light came on and the brakes had to be pumped a few times for a stop or even to slow down. I sold Betsey for $7,800.
I took a bus to Manchester and bought a plane ticket to Arizona. The flight was rerouted to Las Vegas due to a severe dust storm in Phoenix. My luggage didn’t make it. Here I was in Vegas with cash. Tempting.
I figured I was due some good luck. I was wrong.
Well, I made it home to Cottonwood, Ariz., with some money – not much. Luckily I had received a Christmas gift some years ago of a video of a Maine fly-over. Once in a while, I watch it, teary eyed.
— Special to the Telegram