STOP!!!! We’re on Fire!.. Again?

Nomadlife, fulltime RVing, fulltime life with kids. Lots of names but basically it all means the same thing. EVERYTHING you own rolls down the highway in some way. In our case its a fifth wheel, 45′ of it to be exact, towed behind my husbands truck. Since we are not quite minimalists, I follow the convoy bringing up the rear in my own pickup truck with 3 kids, 3 dogs and a flatbed trailer with all of our fourwheelers, a sandrail and other necessary accessories, like bikes… or not (look for another story about those in the future!).

This day started a little chaotic and late, really.. looking back we should of just said, nope, we’re stickin put today. No moving for us!

Really, close your eyes and picture a family of 2 adults, 3 kids, 3 dogs and a cat and try to conjure up serenity…. ya we can’t do that either!! Our lives are full, and busy but thats how we like them but sometimes things go a little TOO chaotic.

We were late moving from our then current campsite in Oregon going down through Idaho and Utah to meet friends and still had HOURS to go to get to our new location. Cranky kids, hot animals and hours of travelling ahead of us- I won’t even comment on the husband…

How does the saying go? Honey forgive me for what said while moving… parking the trailer etc etc.

By the map it was supposed to be a 12 hour trip. What we failed to consider was the windy roads that meant we were more like turtles than racecars with our convoys of houses, toys and accessories. We were going 35 instead of 65… fun times in the windy mountains!

We usually drive about 4 hours. We’ve learned thats enough. Enough for the kids and especially for the adults! At one point after about a 5 hour drive once, the hubby told me if we ever tried to drive more than four hours again he would just pull over on the side of the highway and refuse to go any further. Point taken, or at least it should of been!

First blip…

It all started to go downhill somewhere around Idaho- we got our first flat tire (on the trailer I was pulling). Being the experienced fulltimers were are, we had a spare! (Because we had a flat not long before that). No problem we thought. Easy peasy then back on the road. Taking the exit however proved a little tight and I managed to completely bust the rim of the tire. The quick tire change turned into a 2 hour ordeal. The rim was so bent it was stuck to the hub! A few choice words and tense moments..

~ so that was our first little blip… not a big deal, did I mention we’ve been on the road fulltime for almost 3 years at that point? And our kids are amazing travellers by now.

Second blip…

Somewhere in Utah (yes we were those crazy people that decided to go all the way from Oregon though Idaho to Utah in one day… never again please!).

About an hour from our campground about 12 hours into driving we’re really tired, really cranky and now out of gas, and a kid had to pee… again… after we had already stopped.

We *hubby* pulled into a gas station that really we had no business even looking at, let alone trying to pull into. Hubby by then is likely cussin’ up a storm in his truck, jerks his wheel to leave the gas station- no gas, no pee- and I watch in horror. Our truck and trailer go through a bump and dip at an angle that a 45′ fifth wheel is just not meant to do. I can hear the kids holding their breath, watching in a mixture of horror, anticipation and fear as the trailer dips dangerously sideways before righting itsself and carrying on. Barely passing us, our eldest daughter Taylor yells “holy.. is dad on fire again“.

So a little background for those of you who don’t know us- we had caught on fire twice before this with a different rig and the kids are now terrified as any normal human being would be! This is their home and there is a LOT OF SMOKE coming from the back tires!

I’m yelling “Oh my God, he’s on fire again, this is our new rig… its not supposed to catch on fire“.

I’m driving like crazy trying to catch up to him, the kids are in the backseat crying and i’m trying to call him but finally I catch up to him just as he re-enters the highway. You see the key about being on fire when you’re pulling a rig is that you don’t know when you’re driving. The wind takes the smoke backwards, so only the people behind you see it. And unfortunately we know from experience… a few times now!

Hubby pulls over onto the ramp realizing that he’s smoking and I pull up behind him. By now he’s out of the truck, upset throwing sh*t against the wall (sunglasses). I was still in the truck with the kids, the dogs and the cat with the windows rolled up. We see a dramatic pantomine playing out that looked a lot like cussing and frustration.

I come out to a very upset hubby who is cussing and saying that he just broke the axel and “who the fu*k is going to come tow this off the highway when its not towable?”. He was livid. I retreated to the truck with the kids and kept everyone quiet and said

“shhh, lets just let daddy work through this“, then said a little prayer, all the while worrying about my husbands heart arithmia problem. (The man’s had to get his heart shocked back into rhythm more times than a human should yet he keeps on going, kind of like an engergizer bunny!)

Being a fulltimer, we’re used to being pretty resourceful but this was one of those times that called for even more. Unhooking a rachet strap from my trailer, he used that to winch a tire (and axel) back out of the way on the trailer (its a triple axle) to the stairs. It turns out we weren’t fully engulfed by flames (yet), it was just the tires rubbing together causing quite a bit of smoke after the axle broke loose. Unfortunately for us, twice before the tires were fully engulfed by flames. Seems like the third time is the charm… or not?

So now we limp off down the highway.. 5mph at the most and it was HORRIBLE! Obviously if you’re driving down the highway on the shoulder doing 5mph people should realize THERE’S SOMETHING FU*KING WRONG!!! But no, people are honking at us, giving us the finger, all as we try to get to help.

Thankfully all this happened before all the stores closed so we pull into a Dillards parking lot. I go into a Harbour Freight and buy a welder and a bunch of wire feed (Lincoln T 8275) and returned to our temporary camp. We light the whole parking lot up and hubby is there lying on his back welding stuff.

This is now 17 hours on the road

Every tire had to come off, the kids were staying way back and I’m staying as far back as I can, but close enough in case the hubby needs help (but trying not to get cussed at as well as trying to anticipate his needs).

All finally gets welded up. Its about 9pm at night. We had NO WATER other than maybe a gallon for toilets as we didn’t want any extra weight as we were driving all those mountains. Hubby who is now sweaty, filthy with tire grease, road dirt and whatever else gets in the shower, gets all soaped up and…


There’s a lot of cussing at this point.

I’m trying to not make eye contact to make anything worse- really I can’t laugh, that would be the worst! So I have about 3 small bottles of water left and I’m handing them to him one at a time to rinse off with. He finally manages to get rinsed off and we look around at our surroundings.

We’re not feeling quite that safe so we head off a few miles down the road to the nearest Pilot (it was full). We then head over to Walmart to park for the night. Even though we were only 30 minutes from our campground, we just didn’t have it in us to go any further. And the campground itself was down a windy mountaneous road that was best tried in the broad sunlight, not nearing midnight with a brand new weld to be tested.

And the story should end there, but it didn’t….

We pull into our campground the next day, get all situated then go park our extra vehicles and flat deck trailer elsewhere. The hubby goes to start his truck the next day only to find it cranks and cranks and cranks then dead. This was a new engine with only 64,000 on the truck itself on a cummins engine.

An elderly man working at the campground comes over to help and talks about everything from geese to mormons and more driving him a little crazy before finally suggesting that he pulled out the lighter and light something??? and reinstall it, pull random fuses and try to restart the truck etc.

It was getting to be a little too much.

Finally the man wanders off and the hubby by now is feeling quite defeated. If he couldn’t fix it, we were looking at getting it towed somewhere and then spending $$$$$$ to get it running again, and did I mention this is only a 2012???

Shoulders hunched, looking defeated he’s staring into the engine when he sees just a little nick on a wire. Barely noticable but there.

The wiring harness looked like it had been cut or squished . He fixed the nick on the wire and low and behold, hello!

The truck roared to life and it felt like we turned a corner


Since then (knock on wood) all has been good.. other than a few bicycyles- but thats another story!

Submitted by Becky at @theivinsbestlife

Edited by Melissa Scheltgen

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