Archives for April 2013

Hell On Wheels

Finally.  It’s just me, the kids, and my brand new 28 ½ foot RV Toy Hauler.




Right turn out of the dealership onto the highway about 3 miles.

Right turn off of the highway at the light onto a two lane about 2 miles.

Careful, careful, careful….over to the left hand lane and left turn onto I75, and cruise for two hours.


Piece of cake. I got this, right?


HA!  Think again, we’re talking about Hell on Wheels here.


Can’t seem to accelerate past 45 miles per hour or everything starts shaking.  Can’t seem to slow down to turn or everything starts jerking.  I can’t coast.  I can’t break.  I can’t take this!   I look down at the break adjustment thing.  The Tech Supervisor said I would not have to fiddle with it anymore, so I don’t.   What am I doing wrong?  A fleeting thought — maybe I should turn around and go back to the dealer.


God no, not that!


I cannot imagine having to turn all this around.  Go back there?  Hell no.  But there’s something wrong.  I’ve got to decide, do I get onto I75 or not.  I’m here, it’s now or never.  Yes, I’m heading ‘home’ to the people I actually trust.

Swinging wide, jerking like mad, I get onto the ramp and try to accelerate up to the highway.


Holy Hanna.


My front end is lifting up so high I’m afraid I’m going to pop a wheelie.  Everything feels like it’s bouncing.  I am a complete stress mess. Both girls are curled up tight with heads hiding in the back seat, motionless. I think I hear Buddy yelping back in his kennel.  I roll down the window and hear this horrendous squeaking metal on metal noise.


Now what the hell is THAT?


I get up to 45 mph, and am trying to merge into traffic.

OHHHHH god that tractor trailer about blew me off the road while passing.

JEEEEZUZZ these people in cars have no appreciation for RV’s on the road. 

No courtesy! 

The traffic is fast and heavy. 

If I grip the steering wheel any harder I will snap it into pieces.

What, oh what, oh what have I done?  What was I thinking, buying this thing?

Tears are welling up.


I press on.  I’ve got to do this.  I can do this.


Rest stop coming up in just a few miles.  Thank the gods.

I just need a break.  Just a little break.

I pull in, grinding and jerking the whole way.  I about get whiplash coming to a complete stop.  Park in a parking spot?  Hell no.  I just plain stop. Still gripping the wheel, both feet on the break, I stare ahead out to the rest stop parking lot.  Just stare. Tears start streaming.

I throw the truck into park, get out, and walk around.  Everything is still there—oh—except the temporary license.  Maybe that’s what those people were pointing at when they pulled up next to me back a-ways.  Now what do I do?  I’m not legal.  What if I get pulled over?  Should I go back?  Hell no!  I check on Buddy.  He is fine.  I open up the trailer door and look in.


Mass chaos. 


Everything must of went flying everywhere with all that jerking business. I’ve only made it maybe 10 miles down the highway.  It’s going to be a long ride back.  Why bother straightening up now?

I get back into the truck.

Start the truck. Make sure to click on the tow button.  Put it in drive.  As I inch forward, I hear the horrendous squeaking metal on metal noise again.

Surely this can’t be normal?

I’m bouncing and tugging back onto the highway.   My front end is pointing up but I can still see.  I am clinging half on and half off the far right lane, doing 45, then up to 50 miles an hour.  A couple cars come whizzing by, and everything rocks and shakes.  I slow back down to 45.  It feels like my truck is not able to pull this thing.  There is so much tension, it feels like so much effort.  The engine sounds like it’s going to explode.  All this bouncing, and tugging.   I look down.




I don’t even have a quarter tank of gas!  I forgot to get gas yesterday!  OH no! Oh no! Oh no!

I have to exit and get gas.   NOooooooooo!


Over there!  To the left, is a gas station.  It looks big.  I need big.  I take the exit ramp, grinding and jerking the whole way.  I about get whiplash coming to a complete stop. 

I take a very wide left turn, and one more into the gas station, and jerk to a stop, just about bouncing out of my seat.

How do I do this?  Hmmmm.  I decide to swing wide, drive all the way across and to the other end, and get gas on the end pump.  Inching along and pissing everyone else off,  I manage to complete this strategy, with the horrendous squeaking metal on metal noise happening the whole time.  I get out, fill the tank, pay, get back in the truck and look for my exit route.


Holy Hanna.


The road out is actually a super busy 4 lane, and it is bumper to bumper.  In addition, the gas station is packed and there is a line to get in and out, and 4 lines of vehicles trying to get into the line to get out.

I can do this.

I jerk my way into one of the 4 lines.  It’s dog eat dog in this gas station lot.  No one is cutting anyone a break.  I have visions of taking out a gas pump, or a light post, or a smart car.  I feel like I can’t swing wide enough to get into the main lane out.  Finally a truck driver guy stops and motions me to get into the line.  Oh, THANK you!  I swing wide and get in. We inch and inch along. Finally fifteen minutes I am up to the main street.


Holy Hanna.


I don’t know how to get out onto that road without blocking all of the lanes.  No one will let me in.  The people behind me are all honking because I haven’t gone.  I freeze.  I think I’m going to cry.

I can do this.

Finally some lady stops and motions me to pull out.  I still can’t because cars are coming from the lane next to her.  A guy on the other side of the road stops.  Great, two out of 3 lanes I need are helping.  I start inching.   It feels like I will snap off the hitch if I turn any sharper.  The horrendous squeaking metal on metal noise persists loud and clear the whole time.  Oh,  I am finally onto the road, and just have to straighten out.  Oh, stay in the left lane to turn left back onto  I75.  Mercy I am only getting eight miles to the gallon now and will have to go through this dreadful procedure A LOT.


Fighting back tears.  If this was the gist of my first 30 minutes pulling my new home on wheels, I surely won’t live through another 130 miles.


I cling to the right hand side of the highway until reaching the construction zone, where I fearfully slow down to about 30, and creep through the required detour in terror.  I am likely causing enough road rage behind me to end all wars.  I’m sorry.  I’m so frightened. There is something wrong, or I’m doing something wrong, I don’t know what I don’t know and for over two hours I am sniffing and weeping and clutching the wheel, clinging to the far right and just trying to stay focused and get back to Secret Spot Park.


Hallelujah there’s my exit. 


As I try to slow down it feels like the trailer is going to run over the truck.  I press the break a little harder.  Jerk.. jerk.. jerk.. omg  I am freaking out.  The truck is pulling, lunging, bouncing, and the trailer feels like it is rocking on only one side of the wheels, then the other side.


Hang on, I’m almost back, I can do this.


I bear down the last stretch of road before the turn to Secret Spot Park at a whopping 40 miles per hour.  Only 8 more jerking grinding miles to go. 

There’s my turn! 

There are no other cars, so I try slowing down half a mile before the turn just by not giving it gas, but the trailer still jerks like mad.  I get onto the turn lane, grinding and jerking the whole way.  I about get whiplash coming to a complete stop, waiting for cross traffic to pass so I can merge onto the road. 


Home stretch is a skinny county road.  I feel like I am hanging over the whole thing, and there is no shoulder on the right.  I barrel down the little road at about 25 miles per hour, tugging and grinding the whole way.  One last right turn and I see the entrance to Secret Spot Park.  I’m trying to wipe off my face and not look like I’ve been crying for two hours.


Oh man, how will I fit through the gate?  Everyone else does, stop being ridiculous.  I arrive to the gate, grinding and jerking the whole way.  I about get whiplash coming to a complete stop.  A ranger waves me through, and I continue on to the campgrounds entrance, bouncing, jerking, grinding and squealing the whole way, peering over the top of the hood.


OH MY GOODNESS, the place is packed! 


When I left there was no one on my end of the campground except me, and now there are cars and tents and campers everywhere!  How will I ever get this thing in there? 

Here comes Ranger Sam II, and he is completely confused that I am there trying to figure out how to park in campsite 6, since campsite 6 is already occupied.  Yes, Sam, it is already occupied, by me.  It’s me, Sam!


I swing wide to turn left onto our road. 

I made it.

I lived through Hell on Wheels.

Oh, man, I did it.

I start crying again. 

As I inch down the road, there’s Lois, and Buddy, and Dennis, and Bob, and Norma,a few other people, standing around in the road, and they are all watching me jerk forward….


They rush the truck.  I stop and get out, fighting the tears.  Everyone is talking at once.  Dennis is looking at the side of my truck and trailer, folks are walking around it, Buddy is shaking his head.  I am just buzzing with stress and relief and panic and gratefulness all at once and can barely here what anyone is saying.  Except for the clear ringing statements;


“God look at that, she could have been killed.

How could they let her leave like that?

Yes we’ll have to look at that…”


Dennis offers to park my new Toy Hauler into my campsite for me. I look up at him and wipe more tears from my eyes.



Toy Hauler Tale, Part 5

The air is crisp and cool.  The sun is just starting to peek up over the horizon.  Sunday.  The day of rest.  There is not much movement on the grounds, but I am up, and getting things in order for my long awaited departure.  I am not looking forward to waiting until 8:30 to get started with training.


Hi Ho, Hi Ho?


It’s only 7:00, but I walk over to the Technician office, and talk with the supervisor.  “Is there any way I can have someone other than my sales guy help me with the training?  I’d really like to get started.”


“I’ll show you myself!” he replies.  And within minutes, we are back at my truck, hooking up the toy hauler.


Backing up to the hitch is easy; I never moved the truck from the last time it was hooked up.  But cranking the hitch up and down was another story.  I soon find out how many of the necessary muscles I don’t have to hand crank the hitch up and down.  He helps me.  We talk about the idea of getting an electric unit installed at some point. Then I attach the stabilizer bars to the hitch.  Not too hard.  Then, once again, I struggle with getting the stabilizer bar chains on.  I can only get the 2nd link on and that is with his help.  How will I do this alone?  I hook the sway bar on.  I really don’t understand where to set it at.  He sets it.  I plug in power to the truck. Now we get into the truck to set the break.  Things are looking up and I am excited to soon be out of here!


HI Ho, HI Ho, It’s Off To Tow I Go….


Or so I thought.  


“Shouldn’t we check the lights first?”   I ask. 

“Yes, let’s check.”

Flashers on, headlights on, walk to the back and…..


None of the trailer lights are working.  He fiddles and fiddles with the switch and underneath the truck. 


Back to the tech shop to try to figure out what is wrong.  I hear him say to someone “what do you mean you didn’t check when you installed?” And for what seems like another hour or two, there are several guys troubleshooting what is wrong, and correcting it.  While they are working on it, the Tech supervisor attaches my temporary license to the trailer. 


Did I happen to mention, I am feeling so very nervous about this whole purchase experience?


Finally we are off on a test drive and to set the breaks.

I don’t know what I don’t know, and I don’t know what to “feel” for either.  How do you “feel” that the trailer breaks are working?  Green light, red light, the trailer stopping versus the truck trying to stop it all.  We drive around and around in the campground at 10 mph until I stop running onto the grass and cutting corners too sharp.


“You’ve got this.” He says.  I still feel like if I had to stop I couldn’t.  But he is reassuring, and says now he will drive us out to a highway, and I will drive us back.

He makes more adjustments on the breaks, and we head out. 


I like riding with this guy.  He is very comforting, and answers my questions.  Too bad he was so unavailable most of the week.  But I have him now.  If I need to stop instantly pull this nob.  If I need more or less, turn this.  But, where he has set it now, I should never have to move it again.  The road we are on is not smooth, so there is some rocking and pulling, but he assures me that’s normal.  We reach the intersection to the highway.  He pulls over.

“Now it’s your turn.” He smiles.

OMG.  Ohhh I’m in real highway traffic.  Hugging the right hand lane, 45 miles per hour, and probably needing a defibulator. Remember I have to anticipate my stops long before the stop.  I have to anticipate every Ignoramus Rex on the road who has no understanding of heavy trucks and wide turn vehicles.  I feel like I am hanging over in everyone’s way, and holding my breath doesn’t make it any better.  We pass a state patrol.  He doesn’t even glance our way.  I finally need to make a stop.  What is that jerking?

“The breaks are going to catch front and back.  You need to be a little more aggressive on the breaks, and you’ll be fine.”  I don’t really understand.  Ok I’ll try.  After only one more jerky stop, we’re already back to the dealership. 

I’ll be a pro in no time.

He gets out.

We hug, I thank him for everything. I will miss him and his techs. I know they tried.

My salesman is nowhere to be seen. 

I slowly make my long awaited escape out the dealership parking lot.


Free at last.

Toy Hauler Tale, Part 4

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It’s Off To Tow I Go

Or so I thought.

How naive of me to think that I’d be taken care of today.   Saturday must be a day of rest. The techs didn’t have instructions to work on my unit.  My sales guy is off with other people making money, and I am hanging out with the American Eskimo owners who are about ready to kick this dealer’s ass on my behalf.  The vinyl wall is still not installed.  I still don’t know how to properly hook up.  I don’t know anything about the waste system or how to dump it.   One of the techs stops by and wants to know why I’m still there….   ?  No one seems to have been given instructions to take care of me. 

Good grief. 

Did I happen to mention, I am feeling so very nervous about this whole purchase experience?

The only redeeming piece of this saga was when the manufacturer VP stepped in and got things done.  What a Godsend.  Maybe it’s time to call him again?

But then here comes the salesman on the golf card, smiling like everything is going well. 

“When is my vinyl wall being installed?” I ask.

“What?  That’s not done?  Oh I’ll go check…..”and he is gone again.

In the meantime, I see the technician supervisor and ask him about the vinyl wall, and also when is someone going to actually make the needed changes for the DVD player.  He wasn’t informed any of that was happening.  He’ll check into it.

Getting those two things accomplished took the entire day.  And then, just before the sun started going down, a tech came to show me how to attach the sway y bars and chains.  This did not go smooth.  I was unable to manage what was needed and he could barely get them on either. I sensed there was something wrong, but didn’t know what it was.  The degree to which I don’t know what I don’t know is staggering.  We struggled with it for quite some time.  We’ve got to get onto the 4th link but can’t even get to the 2nd.

My God, I’ll never be able to do this alone.  In addition to having lost all confidence in the Dealer, I am quickly losing confidence in my ability to manage this 28 foot beast at all.

Along comes the salesman, all smiles.   He hands me a bunch of papers. 

“Where is my owner’s manual?”

“Manual?  There is no manual.  You can go on line and see a manual.”

OMG.  I think about the couple of times Buddy and I tried to pull information from the web at Secret Spot Park, and we were unsuccessful.  Why in the world would these people not send me away with a manual?   ARGHHHHHH!!!   I just can’t keep this crap up.  I just want to get out of here.  I cannot even respond to him.

Meanwhile we are still trying to figure out how to get the chains to hook up correctly.  I do not understand what they are talking about with the whole process of leveling, but apparently the trailer hitch is pointing down, and so is the back end of the truck.  It needs to be level. The sun is going down and I cannot be pulling out of there in the dark not knowing what to do.  My salesman says he will be the one to take me out for the driving lesson and get me ready for the road, after he checks email and gets coffee and goes to the morning meeting.  He will stop by between 8:30 and 9:00 so,

Relax.  We’ll finish in the morning.


Toy Hauler Tale, Part 3

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It’s Off To Tow I Go

Or so I thought.

First thing Friday morning I drive over to the retail store and return the $80 hose.  The gal behind the counter commented that she didn’t understand why I was buying it in the first place—one should of come with the starter kit. 

Well you can probably guess what kind of conversation that turned into…and to really escalate things, she says she does not even recognize my sales guy, didn’t know who he was.

Did I happen to mention, I am feeling so very nervous about this whole purchase experience?

A day of pacing around the campground, waiting, waiting, waiting for things to get done, my salesman to drive up in the golf cart and not know the answer to my questions, and talking to campers who don’t understand why I am still there.  What the heck, I’m making new friends.  The dog show is going on in Ocala, and my camp neighbors are there with 5 beautiful, award winning American Eskimo dogs.  I met a fun couple of gals who just bought the cutest little camo camper.  They tell me about how they were somehow locked into it last night—some malfunction with the door.  How hilarious.

Oh today we went to the office so I could write a check for another $600 or so dollars for the hitch mechanism they attached to my truck so I can tow and have lights.  I am exhausted with frustration.  I am running down the list of specifications that are supposed to be met. 

“How do you tell if you have propane in the tank?  Just want to confirm, sales guy, both these tanks are full, right?  How do I tell when they are not?”

Oh…yeah, about that…..”well they can’t be giving two full tanks of propane”.  I can have either one full one or two half full tanks.  “Hey we aren’t making any money on this, ya know….”

Yup, he really said it.

The world around my exciting Toy Hauler purchase finally crashed and burned. It was much more pleasant when I was dealing with my sales guy’s boss.  Maybe since my sales guy doesn’t know…we need to get ahold of the boss.  But no!  Don’t do that!  He will go figure it out.  Over, and over, and over.  Off into the sunset with the golf cart, returning hours later with half an answer, and it’s not even a good one. 

“It’s Friday. When am I going to be shown how to drive this thing, hook and unhook and level it?”

“And oh, I was advised by one of the techs that this piece here can lift up and it could cause the trailer to dis-attach. Where is the pin to thread through there to keep it attached?” (Take a guess how many times I ask that question before I leave the dealership).

“What is going to be done about the dining table?  One corner is crushed.  And the trim along the countertop is coming loose….”

“Why do I only have one key?”

“Oh and by the way, the DVD player isn’t working, it needs to be working.”

And on, and on and on.  My list of concerns is almost laughable it’s so long!

“I’ll check into that…and that…and that….” and away he buzzes off on the golf cart.  He returns a couple hours later with a passenger on the cart.   He tells me that the DVD player is a music DVD player so I will have to get my own DVD player.

OHHHHh my head hurts.  The unit installed in my Toy Hauler is a Jenson CD/DVD/Radio/Ipod player. 

Did I happen to mention, I am feeling so very nervous disgusted about this whole purchase experience?

It takes an awful lot to get me to the point, but I’m absolutely there–I am so done with this sales guy.  I walk away. I have to, for both of our sakes. It’s time to escalate.  Since I apparently can’t call the sales manager, I call the manufacturer VP I met. He was very much a part of the sales transaction and seemed like a knowledgeable, reasonable guy.

“Please, please help me, I am so tired of fighting tooth and nail on everything that is supposed to happen and I’m feeling so taken advantage of and nickel-dimed”.   

The manufacturer VP calms me down, agrees this just isn’t right, and says, no worries, he’ll handle it. Go take a break. Fabulous.  Deep breath.  Thank you so much.

I leave to cool off, get some lunch and do some more stress shopping.  I take my American Eskimo neighbors advise and go to Fat Boys BBQ for the most amazing “all you can eat” ribs lunch I’ve ever experienced.  A girl can eat a lot of ribs under stress.  These folks just kept bringing them on, no questions asked.  I think I about bankrupted them in ribs.

When I return, my sales guy arrives on the cart with a new attitude, and some answers.  Yes, I’ll have two tanks of propane, working on the DVD player plug, (because yes it is a DVD player and just needed the plug) getting things set up for driving lesson, and this, and that, and he is clearly relaying what was told to him…the sun is going down, and it’s clear I won’t be pulling out of there today.

Back to the campground. 

Relax.  We’ll finish in the morning.




Tarragon Chicken

Tarragon Chicken


Tangy and bold, this is a simple, health conscious way to make a fabulous tasting bird.  Goes great with rice and steamed veggies!


Two large split chicken breasts (4 pieces)

1 bunch fresh tarragon

2 lemons

Fresh ground black pepper


1 strip of tin foil large enough to hold the chicken plus be able to turn up the sides in order to hold liquid, and pull closed tightly on top



  • Remove any fat from chicken
  • Lightly season with pepper
  • Place the breasts in the center of the tin foil strip. Fold sides up so juices don’t run out
  • Squeeze the juice of 2 lemons over the breasts
  • Lay tarragon sprigs across the chicken to cover
  • Fold the foil together to seal, securing the chicken inside
  • Place the wrapped chicken into:

a baking dish in the oven


an electric cooker


a shallow baking pan in the toaster oven


a fry pan on the stove or hot plate


And bake at 350 for about 45 minutes (or medium heat on the stovetop).

Remove from foil, plate and serve on top of a bed of rice, with a spoon of juice and sprig of tarragon. Toss some steamed veggies on the side


Serves 4









Toy Hauler Tale, Part 2

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It’s Off To Tow I Go

Or so I thought.  

Instead, I wait in the campground much of Thursday morning for my sales guy to come and tell me what the plan is for the day.  He buzzes up in the golf cart, takes me to their retail store, and advises me what I need to purchase. 

“What comes with the starter kit?” I ask. 

“There is no starter kit.” He responds.

“Everyone gets a starter kit”.  I say.

“We’ve never had starter kits, sorry” He responds.

But I need a hose and a clamp and a converter and vent hoods and adapters and this and that and on and on and on……Did you know that toilet paper for RVs is “special” and has a special cost of about three or four times what normal toilet paper costs?  In fact, everything in that store was crazy expensive.  Welcome to the RV world.  OMG, I just spent $20K and yet I still need so many things to be able to use my Toy Hauler, it seems.  Somehow, ass wipe was the last thing on my mind…..

“I’m not using the toilet, let’s pass on the paper”.

But I do end up buying an $80 hose for “waste” removal, and a $20 bottle of liquid to keep the drains from stinking.  The cashier asks me for my coupon.  What coupon?  The coupon from the RV show.  I don’t have one.  I turn to my salesman.  He doesn’t know about any coupon.  I send him off to go check.

I am feeling so very nervous about this whole purchase experience.  Buyer’s remorse?  Growing distrust of my dealer is starting to overshadow any excitement I had about my Toy Hauler.  Why is it, that everything I ask my salesman about, the answer is “I don’t know”?

My guy comes back.  Apparently I don’t get the “$20 off your first purchase” coupon because they are putting me up at the campground for the week and that is a far better deal. 

The week? THE WEEK?? But I don’t want to be here for a week.  All of my stuff is at another campground two hours away…..

I am feeling so very nervous about this whole purchase experience.

The salesman brings me back to my truck, and I end up going stress shopping for several hours.  While at Home Depot and Walmart I discover some of the very same items he wanted me to purchase are available there, for a fraction of the cost.   I end up buying some groceries and a new two burner hot plate, and return to my Toy Hauler to cook up some dinner.  After waiting a few more hours, the salesman arrives on the golf cart, and brings me back over to the service area. A tech is going to give me a walk through on hooking up the trailer to the truck.  They are still working on the Extend a Room, and someone is working on the TV.    About 5 minutes into the hook up instructions, another tech arrives to give me a walk through on the inside.  I have to sign off on all sorts of paperwork that hasn’t been covered yet from the first guy.

We are running down a list of “here’s how this  works…..” items inside the Toy Hauler.   The tech reaches up into a cabinet, and turns to me.

“And here is your starter kit”.  He says.

I am stupefied.

“Wow, starter kit.  Cool, ok, so what is in it?”  I ask.

We open the box.  Oh, would you look at that.  A roll of special toilet paper, a couple packets of stuff to keep the drains from smelling, some plugs, and oh, what is this?  Why it’s a hose for the waste disposal.

Did I mention, I am feeling so very nervous about this whole purchase experience?

The sun is going down, the techs are supposed to be ending their day, I’m still being shown how to turn on the oven, and it’s clear I won’t be pulling out of there today.

Back to the campground. 

Relax.  We’ll finish in the morning.

Toy Hauler Tale, Part 1

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It’s Off To Tow I Go!

Or so I thought.  

Unfortunately, the terms that were agreed to with the RV Dealership I’m working with are slowly unraveling before my eyes and we haven’t even gotten started.  I have been passed to a salesman as my new point of contact.  He informs me he is my ‘go-to guy’ for the rest of our journey together—and do not contact anyone else.  The pick-up point has been changed from a 40 minute drive to a two hour drive.  The salesman said it was really important to make the change so that they can have enough tech support to get everything done.  I absolutely don’t want to deal with a two hour drive when they have a dealership 40 minutes from where I am staying. It’s not what we agreed to.  I advised him I’d be arriving with my 3 dogs, leaving my complete camp site sitting at Secret Spot Park.  I need to have everything installed, ready to use, and be shown what to do with it all, and get back to the park where all my belongings are.  He said that’s fine, they have a place where they will set me up while the work is being done.

Despite my better judgment I agree to the new location.

Still, I am so excited to get up and get on the road!  I am going to pick up my new 28 foot end to end “home on wheels”!  I cannot wait.  What a change this will be—no more ‘me and the kids, piled up on the cot every night’!  No more weather.  No more wildlife invasions.  I’m evolving into a “Faux Camper”.  What a hoot!

Before the campground wakes up, we are up, out and heading north east. A good stretch of the drive on I75 is under construction.  Skinny lanes, cones, and ‘no shoulder” construction.   Oh my, I will have to drive through all this with the toy hauler.  What an intimidating thought. We finally arrive to the dealership in Ocala at 8:15 am Wednesday morning.  

I’m already nervous just pulling in.

Where oh where do I need to go?  It takes 3 stops to find out where I’m supposed to actually go within the dealership.  Then another search to find my salesman, even though he should be expecting me.  Ah—finally, here he is.  Well, he’s very busy but at least we get started. I ask him if everything is ready to go.  He is skirting my questions.  They are getting things ready now, just waiting for the Extend a Room to get here.  To get here??  Let’s drop off the truck.  They will get the towing parts onto my truck while they wait for the rest to get there. 

I am getting more nervous.

He brings me over to their waiting area.  The deal was, everything would be ready to go.  It’s not.

Me and the dogs sit, throughout the morning, along the front side of a recreation building.  I should have brought food.  The sales guy drives by a couple times on a golf cart to tell me they are working on things, to tell me he is going to lunch, to tell me he is going to find me a car so I can go get lunch.  It never happens.  Then, by about 2:00 my truck is done, so I can take it to go find a quick lunch. Yeah I’m peeved, but I take off and find the cutest little restaurant, Dee Dee’s Dog House, and have a mouthwatering wonderful Reuben sandwich.


I come back, and they are still working on my Toy Hauler.  The TV isn’t on yet.  The Extend A Room isn’t on yet.  The vinyl back enclosure isn’t installed. The sun is going down.  Clearly I will not be pulling away today.  They have the Extend a room on backwards.  The technicians pull my Toy Hauler over to their campground, and set me up on a campsite for the night.  They plug in to power. 

Relax, we’ll finish in the morning.

Farewell To An Extraordinary Person

There are no words adequate enough to describe how sad the passing of  Bowhunting World Editor Mike Strandlund is.  What tragic, unfortunate news.  My heart goes out to Mikes parents Jean and Zonnie, his children Bradley and Sara, and his sister Kim.  God bless you all.

When Mike was inducted into the Bowhunting Hall of Fame for his literary excellence, I thought maybe I’d be asked to say something at the ceremony we attended.  I wasn’t, but I did put something together just in case.  I later presented my thoughts to him and his family in a little video clip filled with pictures of many of the amazing things he’d done throughout the years that made him the great man we grieve for today. 

Back then seems like just a minute ago.  Nothing has changed, other than his passing.  So today seems like a good day to share those words with others who are feeling the loss of Mike.  It went like this:


There are ordinary people who have ordinary lives and ordinary jobs.  And then there are a few extraordinary people, the ones that seem to go their own way and stand apart from the rest… in their views, their day to day lives, and their jobs.  The ones the rest of us aspire to be like.

Mike was one of those people.

From the very beginning, when asked “what do you want to be when you grow up?”  I think Mikel Scott Strandlund knew he was not cut out to be ordinary.

Raised in the country, in a hunting family, he was always encouraged to embrace the outdoors.  And he did.  Off he would go, usually on his own, exploring, dreaming, experiencing nature, sometimes bringing something home, and always thinking about his mother’s words:

“if you practice your writing and you work really hard and you send your stories out, if they are good enough they might be published and you’ll get paid for them.”

He loved nature, he loved hunting, and it ignited something in him deep down .  He grew into a true outdoorsman.

Mike earned his money in college running a trap line.  His first real writing job was as a reporter for the Rice Lake Newspaper, and after that, he relocated to the east coast to write books for the NRA.  Then, we were fortunate enough to have this extraordinary man come back home to Minnesota.

Mike isn’t particularly social.  He’s not a follower, or a joiner, or a person who could be influenced to do something he didn’t believe in.  He prefers spending time in solitude, and over the last decade studying the art of bowhunting.  What he sees, what he feels, and what he communicates back to us, is not just carefully crafted words thanks to college, but a natural extension and expression of his general lifestyle.  Perhaps this is what makes him so remarkable.

He has taken many business risks over the course of time in order to present ideas and information in a truly passionate and inspiring way.  In what he believes is the right way.  Because of his unwavering values, he provides his co-workers the ability to work with the most superior magazines in our market.  His willingness to take the lead, and his extraordinary ability to express himself in words and pictures, gives the readers, the outdoors lovers, a real gift in his writings.

“to thine own self be true.”

“It has to be done because the readers deserve it.”

Mike Strandlund, the editor, the bowhunter, the outdoorsman, the extraordinary person.


Happy, happy trails, we will miss you dearly, Mikel. 

And oh, by the way, I still want my Sky Hook Treesteps back–and I still know what tree they are in.  😉



Moving On

Ever since I began my road trip back in November, people I meet along the way have been curious as to why I made the decision to drastically change my life path and take such a risky journey.  Why would I chuck the security of a great job to hit the highway and boldly go out and “be all that I can be” across the country.

Well, reading my blog category header ‘WHAT IF?’ under “Bucket of Limitless Possibilities” explains my decision for sure. 

And now, I’ve been given even more affirmation and reason.

“He wasn’t kind to you” is what my best friend says every time I go down the path of regret and torch carrying.

“You deserve so much better” is what most everyone else I know says to try and make me feel less discarded and alone.

Everyone is one hundred percent right.  I do deserve to find someone to love who will love me back.

And yet,

After spending a decade trying to make an impossible relationship work, I have spent the last decade trying to find peace in walking away from it.  It’s not like I don’t receive support from my circle of friends when I have one of those “days”.  Days when I miss the past, miss the life we shared along with all of the ups and downs, and just plain miss the man. But let go and move on?  Hard to do when the heart just won’t let go.  Hard to do when there are so many reminders everywhere.  Sadly I couldn’t even do it when I married someone else.

Starting over is hard to do when virtually everything you know is wrapped up in that one person who is supposed to be the one.  Who professed he was the one.  Letting go is hard to imagine when there still lingers that one sliver of hope he planted to possibly reconcile someday.  Giving up is hard to do when everything about my life revolves around the perfect story about a dynamic outdoors couple living the dream, happily ever after. 

Last night I learned the love of my life has passed away quite unexpectedly while on vacation.

Well.  I guess I can move on now.