We were beyond excited to buy our brand new 5th wheel. We had been going to RV shows for around 5 years, always looking to see what features we wanted and didn’t want. We had been through hundreds and hundreds of RVs by this time. It was always fun to go and dream about where we might be in the future and what make and model that we would like.
Since my husband was a computer contractor, we first wanted to be mobile if we had to go to where the jobs were. He recently had a contract end suddenly and we thought that it may become a reality. I had already had my horse accident and had been recently diagnosed with RSD. At that point, I didn’t have my Spinal Cord Stimulator, SCS, implanted and was still in horrific pain daily. Life as we knew it was changing and we wanted to be ready for anything. Case in point being that my dad had suffered a massive heart attack and we were faced with how delicate life can be. Moments like those change you. Thankfully my dad has recovered from his quadruple bypass open heart surgery. We thank God and the surgeon who performed it. So if I say that God works in mysterious ways can you guess who we bought our first used 5th wheel from? You are correct if you guessed his heart surgeon. I can’t make this stuff up people!
A fun fact about my dad is that he has never met a stranger. He is a talker. When pop was in the surgeon’s office, he noticed a Texan Longhorn baseball cap. Pop lived and graduated high school in Pharr, Texas and loves Texas and Texans. He was talking with the surgeon and found out that he had a second home in Texas. They had just built their new home and were looking to sell their 5th wheel that they had lived in during construction. Pop got the information for Dave and I because we were finally in the position to buy one. We bought the 2006 Carriage by Cameo LX in 2012. It had all the extras and was top of the line when the surgeon bought it. We felt blessed that we were able to buy such a nice one. But buying our first one is a funny story in itself.
Once we had negotiated a price of around $26,000, we started looking for an older diesel dually to pull it with. Pop has worked on cars all his life, so he told us what type of diesel engine to look for. It was that same week that we saw one that was exactly like we needed in the little town where we lived, Aurora, Indiana. We test drove it and even had the Ford dealership look at it to make sure it was running well. We took the $5,300 out of our “emergency fund.” Those who do the Dave Ramsey Financial Freedom Program know exactly what I am talking about. We paid cash for it and made arrangements to make a road trip down to Uvalde, Texas, with my parents (they had a 5th wheel already and were going to teach us how to pull it and hook it up at campgrounds).
We arrived in Texas as scheduled. We had bought it sight unseen, but relied on the many pictures they provided. We met the surgeon and hooked it up. We started driving back to the highway on the “road” that had led to the 100 acre or more farm that the surgeon owned. The “road” was winding, but we eventually made it back to the highway. We hadn’t even driven 5 minutes on the highway before my husband noticed a drag with our truck’s engine and just thought it was due to pulling the 5th wheel. There was the slightest of grades going uphill, but when my husband tried to accelerate more, it didn’t do anything. We pulled off to the side of the 2 lane highway, mostly on the highway and only partway into the dirt, as noted in the picture. We get out and there is transmission fluid pouring out. We were stunned. Shocked actually. Dave and I had done everything the right way. We test drove the truck, we paid to have Ford check out the truck before we bought it, specifically asking about the transmission because of an after market kit that the previous owner had installed for the transmission. We were told that everything checked out fine. The lesson we learned here was that you can do everything the right way and still get screwed.
Imagine us, my parents included who are in their mid seventies, standing alongside a road with no car in sight, black liquid pouring out like hot lava with the hot Texas sun beating down on us. There was no shade to be found and no wind to speak of. We end up calling 911 and they said that someone would be out soon. Soon happened to be 30 minutes later. The policeman was so polite and turned out to be our knight in shining armor. It took awhile to see what he could do to help us with our truck and our new-to-us 5th wheel. He finally found a family member that could hook onto our truck and pull both the truck and 5th wheel. We didn’t even know that was possible, but things are done differently in Texas.
Relieved to have somewhat of a plan, the police officer offered to take us to a hotel that was near the Ford Dealership where our truck was being towed. I was relieved to have my parent’s in an air conditioned car. Pop was in the front seat and my mother and I got into the back. Dave went with the tow truck driver. I won’t ask how many people have been in the back of a patrol car, but to my surprise, it was really tight and the seat was hard! As we pulled up to the hotel entrance funny thoughts entered my mind. What are they going to think as my mother and I get out from the patrol car? Were we criminals? Would they even let us stay there? (As I stated, these thoughts were “funny.” It is amazing what can go through my mind in different situations.)
We had no problem getting rooms and the staff was so friendly. This began a week of searching for another used diesel dually or debating if we should even spend the money to fix our truck since we knew we would have to rebuild the engine sooner or later. If my memory serves me, it had over 200,000 miles on it.
It was a tough week with some bright spots thrown in. There was a Walmart about a mile from our hotel and we decided to walk to it since we had no vehicle. As we chatted with the girl at the front desk, she said, “Why don’t you just take my car?” Ummm…what?! Did she really ask us, total strangers, to use her car? That never happens. In my lifetime so far, I have never had a stranger suggest to me to use their car since I didn’t have one. We politely refused, but she insisted. So we actually used a hotel staffer’s car to go to Walmart. Believe me when they say that Texans are the friendliest people you will ever meet. They are. They are brought up that way.
To make a long story short, we made the best of our situation of being stranded in Texas. Luckily our dog-sitter was able to stay the extra week to take care of our 4 kids. I was never blessed with kids, so our dogs are my kids. We had a set of basset/beagle “twins”, Frida and Diego, named after the famous Mexican artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. I was a Spanish major, what else do you expect? They were the only 2 that survived from their litter. We also had Miñha, a tiny beagle I rescued when she was 5 years old, and Lola, a beagle we rescued at 9 years old.
Since we couldn’t find a used diesel dually to buy around the area we were stuck in, we decided not to put more money into our truck and ended up buying a new Ford F350 diesel dually double cab and long bed. It was only $64,000 (please read with sarcasm). We didn’t want any more nightmare situations on our way back to Indiana with my parents. Once was enough, thank you very much.
Just so you know, I am not gratuitously giving out money figures. I just want to inform you about the different costs of things. Good or bad, that was what we spent. Please save your judgement, we had just watched $7,000 ($5,300 for the truck and $1300 for tires) slip through our hands. Maybe it was more like watching $7,000 spill on the ground as the transmission blew. That was a very expensive oops.
Back to the story. We had a live and learn moment after we had already used our old truck as a trade in. After buying the old truck, we had it serviced and put 6 new tires on it before going to Texas. In all of the chaos of broken truck, parents, and being stranded, we never thought about one thing. Had we donated the truck to Goodwill, we would have gotten more from a tax credit than the $500 that we got as a trade in. It still hurts as I write this. We also could have taken the new tires that cost us around $1,300 that we had put on the truck since they happened to be the same size as the ones on our 5th wheel. We did none of these things. Live and learn. Very painful.
Alrighty then. We were now owners of a very nice and ever so slightly used truck that was perfect to pull our brand new 2016 5th wheel. The problems are behind us…or so we thought.