We Broke Down
In the first week of 2022, Morgan and I bought a 5th wheel camper to live and travel full time in. We have experienced non stop adventure since and continue to enjoy the new lifestyle. I didn’t have many fears or concerns getting a portable home, but one thing I was a little worried about from the beginning was the inevitable time that we would have a flat tire, truck problems, or any sort of issue that stranded us on the side of the road with the whole rig.
In the month of May, we were headed from Houston to Tulsa, OK, for the PGA Championship. We had already conquered over 4 hours of the 6 hour trek to Edmond, OK, where we would be stopping for 1 night and I started to see some smoke in the side view mirrors of the truck. I couldn’t tell where the smoke was coming from but I was not enjoying the sight of it. Thinking it was maybe the truck overheating, we decided to pull onto the shoulder of I-35 to open the hood and allow the engine to air out for a few minutes. We were not seeing any smoke from the engine and with very limited knowledge about engines we felt like it was safe to get back on the road.
After a few more miles, I began to notice smoke again.. and again we pulled onto the shoulder to check things out. We would continue this process a couple more times getting just 5-7 miles further at a time. At this point, we were a few miles south of Pauls Valley, OK, and only 1 hour outside of our destination for the day. The smoke had become a little more consistent and we decided it was no longer a good idea to drive the truck. Morgan called Good Sams and Triple A for some towing help and we also called Morgan’s dad for any advice helpful to our situation. He discovered from our location there was a 24 hour diesel repair shop 4 miles away at the next exit! Bingo! We got the truck started and slowly made our way through the exit and into the repair shop parking lot.
They popped the hood of the truck and got a quick diagnosis of what was going on. Their first comments were, “You all are lucky to have gotten the truck here. It’s leaking fuel in the engine and could have caught fire at any time.” Wow. We were told it was about a $4000 fix and they could do it within the next couple of days. That schedule wasn’t going to work for us so we needed to figure out some alternative options. Getting the truck and camper towed up to Edmond was ultimately what we decided to do and thankfully this company could do that. Unfortunately, we had to wait several hours for the workers to return from a previous job before we could make any more progress.
The first idea was to put our truck onto the hauling bed of their tow truck and then hitch the camper to the very back of the hauling bed to get both our truck and camper on one vehicle. We have a 2018 Chevrolet Silverado 3500 SRW with a long bed. The length of our truck from bumper to bumper is about 21 ft! Once they got the truck in place, they realized there would be no room to get the camper hitched up behind the truck. Their first idea would have saved us some money because they were getting both the truck and camper up to Edmond with only one of their trucks, however, since we had to use two of their trucks..it ended up costing us double.
Morgan and I rode in the cab of the truck that had our truck on the back. We followed the camper all the way up to Edmond. It was the first time we had seen our camper being towed which was a little nerve racking! We arrived at a diesel repair shop in north Edmond around midnight to drop the truck off and meet my parents who would take us to Morgan’s family’s house (where the camper got dropped off). It was around 4:30 PM when we were sitting on the side of the road with a camper and a dysfunctional truck. At about 1:30 AM, we were able to lay down safely in our camper, at our destination, and close our eyes for some needed rest.
Through this entire experience, it would have been easy to let stress or worry overtake the situation. Morgan and I remained level headed and asked God many times for peace and clarity in the moment. Even when disaster strikes, if you are willing to look, it’s hard to not see the ways in which God is taking care of you. What were the odds we would break down just 4 miles away from a 24 hr diesel repair and towing company? What were the odds they would be very friendly and eager to help us on such short notice? What were the odds we could safely pull onto the narrow shoulder of I-35 with our truck (that could have caught fire) and 42ft camper? It was all in perfect design. God is always in control.
I still don’t love the idea of having troubles while we are on the road towing, but I am thankful for our first experience going as well as it could have. We got a call back from Good Sams about 3 hours after we had called them from the side of the highway. In their call back they asked if we would like to have assistance from the local police. I am not sure what the police could’ve shown up and done for us and I was shocked to think Good Sams was expecting us to sit there for hours before they could respond and help us. I am very thankful we were able to find alternative solutions from our situation and we now have valuable knowledge on what to do if we are ever in a similar situation. Proper care and maintenance of equipment is the best way to avoid issues, but unexpected things happen so it’s important to be mentally prepared and ready for anything. Travel safe!