Each year of full-time RV living leaves us feeling more comfortable and experienced in our lifestyle. Despite that, we continue to encounter challenges and even scares along the way. Our fourth year of RV travel was no different. Here’s a countdown of our scariest experiences in our fourth year on the road:
6. Police Visit
While camped in the parking lot of the Museum of Mountain Flying in Missoula, Montana, with permission, a loud rap at our door made us stand at attention. Glancing out the window, we saw a white truck marked POLICE and an armed, uniformed officer standing at the base of our stairs.
Bob went out to greet the man. They chatted for a bit as Bob explained our connection to the museum, which we had visited a couple of years earlier while on tour with the Commemorative Air Force. Satisfied with the discussion, the officer wished us well, climbed into his truck, and drove away.
5. Honked at While Camping
We had just gotten set up at a beautiful dispersed campground in McCammon, Idaho, with a panoramic view of red maple leaves. We saw no other soul at our three-site campground, 50 feet or so from the main camping area.
Before long, a vehicle came to a stop next to our rig and emitted the annoying beep of a horn. I looked out the window and saw a car with a driver accompanied by a dog in the passenger seat. We had no clue who the person was and no inclination to exit our trailer to find out. We figured if they really wanted to talk to us, they could knock on our door.
Meanwhile, Bob looked up info about the campground and learned it had 10 RV sites and five tent sites. Were we in a tent site? The car had no signs of being an official vehicle and eventually moved on. A short time later, a truck marked RANGER drove through and didn’t bother stopping, leaving us relieved.
We later discovered after a walk through the campground that we were definitely in one of the RV sites, as we found the five clearly identifiable tent sites. Maybe the driver thought we were someone else.
4. Parking Lot Knock
On our way to Dawson Creek, British Columbia, to reach the start of the Alaska Highway, we overnighted in a Calgary, Alberta, mall. We had found the option online. Staying at the mall only required signing in at guest services inside the complex, where we received a dated paper to put on our truck dash.
After a delicious meal at one of the mall’s many restaurants, we returned to our trailer and settled in for the night. At about 9:30 p.m., we heard three pounds of a fist on the side of our trailer. I thought someone had knocked on our front door, but that was not the case. Some kids walking by decided to try to scare us. It worked on me.
3. 4 a.m. Truck Alarm
On our return trip to the Lower 48 after a wonderful summer in Alaska, we stopped at a rest area in the middle of nowhere about an hour north of Watson Lake, Yukon, in Canada. We had stayed at the same place on the way to Alaska and liked it there.
After an unsuccessful attempt to spot the northern lights for the second time, we dozed off to sleep. At 4 a.m., the beeping of a car alarm woke us from our slumber. It turned out to be Gulliver’s alarm, something that had never happened before. We quieted the disturbing noise and went outside to investigate, finding no signs of foul play or anyone around, for that matter.
The next morning, when we got into Gulliver for the next leg of our journey, the culprit became evident: The monitor for our rear trailer camera had fallen from the windshield in the cold of the night.
2. Tsunami Warning
We arrived in Homer, Alaska, on a foggy, rainy afternoon. When I looked at my phone to check the weather, I saw a tsunami warning. Talk about a wake-up call. I quickly took a screenshot. But later when I looked, the warning had disappeared.
We had been through four tornado warnings since becoming full-time RVers, so we knew to take these things seriously. No longer finding the tsunami warning readily available, I did some quick research and discovered it had been issued after a 7.2-magnitude earthquake off the Alaska peninsula. The tsunami warning had been canceled five minutes after issuance, so we were in no danger.
1. Stuck in Museum Parking Lot
Our scariest encounter in our fourth year of RV travel happened the day after the Calgary mall incident. We had made arrangements to park overnight at the Alberta Aviation Museum in Edmonton, Alberta, which houses a B-25 WWII bomber similar to the one we work on with the Commemorative Air Force.
We pulled down the road leading to the museum, finding it lined with cars on both sides. The museum lot offered nowhere to park our big rig, so I pulled into the fire lane, facing a fence, while Bob went inside to talk to the staff. As it turned out, an organization had leased part of the building to host a reptile show that weekend, drawing quite a crowd.
The museum supervisor came out to assess the situation and, finding illegally parked cars, essentially told us there was no safe way for us to work our way out of the parking lot. Yet, the executive director, who had approved our stay, wanted us to leave and come back later.
I suggested maybe Bob could back into a parking lane so that we could pull forward to get out, despite people moving about in every direction. A friendly gentleman helped direct foot and vehicle traffic while Bob’s years of trailer-backing experience led to a masterful job of getting us out of a sticky situation.
People inconvenienced by the maneuver proved understanding and supportive, which we appreciated. We returned later to a virtually empty parking lot and spent an uneventful night there.
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This is the travel blog of full-time RVers Bob and Lana Gates and our truck, Gulliver, and fifth wheel, Tagalong.