Monday, August 20, 2012

Maiden Voyage of my new RV - Hattiesburg

New puppy, Pepper, lounges on the couch
of our dream RV, as we head to Hattiesburg.
Heading out to Hattiesburg (about 3 hours away) for our first trial since April, this was our first time on the road since bringing my new RV home from Florida last May.  I have spent the past 3 months working out every minute detail for comfort and utility for me and my dogs.  I knew I'd have a few more kinks to work out, but OMG nothing of TORNADO magnitude!  I filled the tank, and drove the whole trip at 65 mph, so next time I gas up I'll be able to calculate mileage at that speed, hoping it exceeds 8 mpg.  So far, my plan is unfolding.
Once there, I parked on a slanted slab so dreaded by my previous experience in Hattiesburg with my pop-up camper, but a different wheel base and my home-made leveling boards worked perfect to level the unit and keep her stable.  Still good.  I set up my 32' x-pen yard at the RV site, with my lattice skirt along the RV wall, and found that the lattice needs to be cut down 1/4" more to clear the door.  Humm, at my house it clears fine, but I'm not on concrete.  Maybe there's a dip in my yard. I marked the lattice and sawed the excess off when I got home.  I hit one pot-hole on the way home that made 2 drawers and the kitchen door fly open, but that just served to help me figure out how to bungie them shut in transit.  I timed complete set up in 2 hours on Wednesday afternoon, it was easy work, and every preparation was working great!

Lucky Lucy is comfortable on the bench,
while Maxie (who can't be seen) chose
to lounge in the open crate at right.
Until . . . . . Thursday afternoon, after my last run, with storm clouds gathering, I decided to pack my wagon and dogs and walk from the arena to the RV before it began to rain.  It was a long walk.  About half way, too late to go back, lightening split the sky and it started to drizzle, then rain.  I thought I could make it to the RV so kept going.  Lucky was in harness helping me pull the wagon.  We walked as fast as we could, getting wet, laughing, but with each crack of lightening Lucky's pulling became more eratic and the rains increased.  Eventually I unhitched her from the wagon.  Thank goodness, because within 20 seconds a tornado touched down, knocked me off my feet and flung the wagon 30 feet away.  I scrambled fast to marshall us all to the door of our motor home, but as I rounded the bend saw my x-pens had been knocked down, my table flipped over and there was lots of debris to get tangled in.  And then I realized the keys were still in my purse, in a wagon flung far away.  We were locked out -- in dousing rain and high winds, only barely protected by crouching against the wall of the motor home, which began rocking furiously back and forth.  There was no shelter anywhere else.  No choice, I had to try and reach my keys and get us inside.  I commanded the dogs to "STAY" against the side of the RV, which I figured provided them some protection from wind and pelting rain.  I headed toward the wagon as fast as I could.  Suddenly, it began hailing so hard, blowing almost horizontally, I was knocked to my knees. I had to crawl and keep my head down.  Afraid for my life, I abandoned the wagon idea and took refuge behind my neighbor's trailer -- a little trailer that could have blown off it's chocks and crushed me at any moment.  My prayer was that my RV wouldn't capsize and that my dogs were safer than I was and would stay put where I left them.  I couldn't even see them and dared not call. I was truly afraid for all our lives.  What seemed like 10 minutes later (probably 3) the hail subsided, and I see Lucky skulking my way in the downpour, dragging her leash, and she crawls up under the trailer and extends her paw to me then licks my face.  I grab her neck and melt into tears. Then I see Pepper wandering about, looking for Lucky in the blinding rain, and I call his name from my gut.  He makes his way under the trailer, totally drenched but otherwise unharmed.  Then I notice Maxie is still STAYING where I put him, I begin calling furiously, furiously.  And he makes his way to the trailer, me praying with all my might his leash doesn't get tangled in debris.  He made it.  I have never been so glad to have all my dogs near me.  I unhooked their leashes to prevent them further danger of getting tangled in debris in case we needed to run again.  There was no predicting what might happen next.   When the winds died down, but it was still raining hard, I ventured forth to fetch my keys.  They all followed me to the wagon and then to the RV.  They were all totally focused on my commands, no controversy, total trust but they didn't want to be separated from my side.  We were all drenched to the bone and dripping everywhere.  I no longer cared about keeping my carpets or upholstery clean. Who gives a shit about carpet compared to safety?????  They followed me in, I towel dried each dog as best I could, quickly changed out of my sopping clothes, then put on a poncho and went back out in the rain to fetch my purse, camera case, and dog duffle bag, which were all drenched.  At that point some nice lady walked by saying people and dogs had to head back to the arena immediately for safety, another even worse storm is coming within 5-10 minutes.  Without hesitation I leashed the dogs and we hurried back, and entered an air conditioned arena that was freezing cold to us wet people.  Maxie began shivering so violently I feared hypothermia, and I didn't even have a towel to wrap him in. 

NOTE:  Always carry a big towel in your gear.  Add a hair dryer to my equipment list.

I managed to borrow a towel, dried Maxie off as best I could, and held him in my arms for the next half hour.  Lucky and Pepper weren't so affected by the cold.  The trial stopped.  After an hour and no worse storm happened, the trial re-commenced and we walked back to the RV, where we stayed cozied up the rest of the night. I realized I need a big tub to put wet items in.  A few items in my cabinets were topsy turvy and I made notes for the future.  We learned later, one 5th wheel had been turned around 90 degrees, blown off it's jacks and suffered damage, the brand new little A-frame trailer to my left had collapsed, and other RV'ers suffered minor damage.  Part of the arena roof blew off.  Trees snapped off, and debris was flying all over the grounds.  No one was hurt. We were all extremely lucky.  I managed to salvage all my stuff along the fence line by the next day, and though wet, none of it was harmed. I dare not contemplate how I would have faired in my pop-up,

Next day, Friday, to my great amazement, we all felt fine.  Maxie Q'd one of 2 runs with only 1 problem caused by me to his NQ, and Lucky ran pretty well for her.  I was calm.  I didn't feel shaky until Saturday.

Saturday I wokd up with my shin muscles very sore.  I could barely rotate my ankles, was off emotionally, and it turned out to be a horrible day.  More on the trial-related horrible thing will be in my next post along with a summary of our runs.

Second horrible thing, I was packing up the RV to go home Saturday afternoon, dogs inside, me moving stuff in and out, when the f'ing door locked itself and I was locked out!  Keys were inside.  95 degree weather.  What??????   After recovering from jaw slapping shock, I found my iPhone in my pocket and used it to call 911. They offered to contact a locksmith, meanwhile I went back into the arena to see if anyone could help, but of course the trial secretary was busy recording scores, also told me campus security wasn't on site.  After an hour 911 couldn't rouse a locksmith, but eventually sent a sherrif out to pick my lock.  (They didn't send anyone at first because "we can't pick locks on motor homes, only on vehicles."  I thought fast, and assured them that my Class C motor home was built on a van chassis, so it was just a vehicle  So they agreed to try.)  But this took 2 hours, with the dogs inside and me out in the heat.  At least my dogs were air conditioning, but I wasn't.  I used my time wisely re-arranging the outside storage compartments (which I had planned to do anyway), staying in the little ribbon of shade beside the RV.  But towards the last half hour I was getting hot, parched and while still not frantic, considerably nervous.  Finally I remembered the broken window latch I had taped shut on the drive home from Florida, managed to force the window open and get inside by standing on the handle of my little step laddar, and just as I got my butt in, my feet dangling out the window, the sherrif arrives!  Lucy, I had some 'splainin' to do!

NOTE:  Hide a second set of keys in a magnetic box and put it outside somewhere.  I hear one can purchase a magnetic box with a combination on it.

Made it home without further incident, pacing myself, exhausted and not caring about our agility performance.  Haven't even watched the videos.  I'll assess this when I feel better rested.

Upwards and onward!

1 comment:

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