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


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.