Crossing the country was a retirement dream and something we often talked about, but was a wistful dream. Now, here we are crossing 21 states in two months. All the preparations in the world could not prepare us for every possible event…..and believe me, the Old Hippie tried! He even had his toolbox secured in the trailer….just in case! Along with the golf cart, the ponies, air compressor and back up generator and air conditioner……which all came in handy! hahaha
Driving across country in a 22 year old used RV was an adventure in itself! It was 34 feet long and we were pulling a 26ft renovated trailer with three dogs…………what could possibly go wrong? For starters, the steps were broken so we improvised. We went through two wooden steps (which the old hippie had made) and several cinder blocks which we usually use for our show tent, but came in real handy. As rookie rv’ers, we tended to drive off and leave the steps behind. It was a wonder we didn’t run out of cinder blocks! lol
On the first leg, the lights on the trailer shorted out! Luckily, we noticed before dark, but it would be hours of intense searching for the short before we were on the road again! Here we were, not even at our first presentation and we are broke down on the side of the road. Well pass midnight, it seemed smart to just park for the night and get an early start, but no……..the old hippie was sure we needed to get to our first destination. And was he right! Both of us had lived in a busy city at some time in our lives, but for the past several years were living the slow life out in the country. We hit Chicago in the wee hours and it was a chaotic mess! Traffic at 3am was ugly! Could not imagine trying to drive that old rv and trailer through rush hour. Trying to navigate through construction was a nightmare! At one point, we were AIRBORN!!! Woke the dogs up with a start, luckily they were nestled up so they didn’t get hurt! But, what about all the rockers? When we pulled into the truck stop and opened the trailer door the golf cart (which was ratcheted to the floor with straps) was on its side, but every rocking horse was perfectly in its stall! Completely uninjured! Amazing! Our first breakdown was annoying, but had kept us out of rush hour!
There were many more mishaps, flat tires, repairs to the engine (twice) doors flapping after the locks broke, skin of the door peeling off, pretty much anything that had a screw in it had to be reattached! Each breakdown seemed to take us off course and wreck havoc on our schedule, but in reality…………..each one put us where we were supposed to be for a reason! As frustrating as they were, we learned quickly to be open to what was about to happen. Each mishap lead us to someone or some place that we were meant to be! It was truly amazing!
At one point, we watched a horrible storm catch up to us. We took cover at a gas station as Scott tried to position the trailer and rv to keep us from taking a hard hit, but the winds were coming from all directions, so it really didn’t matter. We watched as a lightning bolt hit a gas tank in front of us and a bone dry parking lot turned into an ankle deep creek. In the mist of the storm a veteran knocked on the door!
Another time, the ride became too much for me and I broke down and took pain medicine which ended up causing car sickness. We were stuck at one truck stop for three days praying for the car sickness to subside. It gave us the opportunity to meet up with family that we had never met, and watch hot air balloons take off for a festival! Seemed pretty lucky. Just when we were filling up the gas tank and ready to hit the road, we received a phone call. A young man who was severely injured in the same incident that had killed one of our heroes was minutes away and wanted to meet us! He was a non-military linguist who didn’t always get to take part in the military memorials and wanted to see his friends rocker. We gladly waited for him to come autograph his friend…………no, his brother’s rocker! Guess it was very lucky!
Although we tried, not all of the rockers were placed near the fallen’s families, but when they were, we love having the family at the presentation. One family had planned to attend, when only a week before the presentation the soldiers father was hospitalized with a heart attack. After months of anticipation, it was heartbreaking to know the family would miss the presentation. So, naturally we took a detour and made a mini presentation! We met some wonderful people and saw such beautiful smiles!
One Gold Star mother flew in by herself on her birthday! There was no way she was spending her birthday alone, so we all went out to celebrate!
To say this was an adventure of a lifetime seems like an understatement!