Let the Schadenfreude Begin

It’s all fun and games until the duct tape blows off your rear view mirror.


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This trip out West has been an enviable experience, but in all honesty, we have hit a slump.

The same swirling weather system that brought record-breaking tornadoes to Oklahoma and the Midwest in the last couple of weeks created dry but unusually robust winds along our travel route. Gusts have been as high as 35-50 miles per hour at the worst of it.

We made the turn north from Las Cruces, New Mexico, up toward the Four Corners and Santa Fe at about the time the storms began to brew.

Along I-26 not far from Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, the smaller awning on Herman’s side began to swing in and out, rolling itself back up more haphazardly with each bang against the coach.  We pulled off the highway into the parking lot of a chile packing plant and braved flying dust as I held our flimsy aluminum stepladder and Herman climbed up to see what could be done. Nada. Zippy-dee-doo-dah.

We crept the remaining twenty-five miles to a godforsaken rv park at Elephant Butte and stayed two days, catching our breath and waiting for the bluster to subside. It never happened.  A repair guy charged us $40 to come over to the site, look at the awning, and tell us to stay out of high wind.

Cell phone tower right in front of the motorhome at Elephant Butte

The scenic view of the cell phone tower from our site at Cedar Cove RV Park, Elephant Butte, New Mexico. Don’t let the sunny skies fool you. Those clouds are scudding along at no less than 25 miles per hour.


Easier said that done. We had to keep traveling.

Last week, between Santa Fe and Colorado City, the awning begin to flap again. Gusts straight from the west shoved the motorhome out of the driving lane and onto the shoulder, where we bounced along the rumble strip designed to wake up drifting drivers.

It works. I nearly jumped out of my skin.

By the time we arrived at our campground, Herman’s neck and shoulders were so tight from wrestling the steering wheel that it made me wince just to look at him. This time we lucked into a repair guy who knew his business and jerry-rigged a contraption of bolts and straps to tie the awning down permanently until we can get home.

Then yesterday, between Colorado City and Grand Island, Nebraska, loosened by headwinds, the passenger-side mirror assembly began to rock on its brawny arm-like holder.

Think of how the Queen waves, rotating her entire forearm gently from the elbow so that huge crowds can see the motion. Now imagine she is holding a mirror and you are trying to use it to drive.

Herman bobbed and weaved in his seat like Muhammed Ali but could see nothing of what was coming up along the passenger side. Not vehicles merging into the Interstate. Not slow-moving trucks that he might be passing. Nothing.

We found a rest stop and tried our own improvisations.

He shoved two quarters between the mirror casing and arm and pounded them in tightly with a rubber mallet. (We must have looked like lunatics.) I cut a strip of bumpy, rubbery shelf liner and wedged it in between the mirror itself and the case, securing it with strips of duct tape.

We hadn’t gone five miles when the Queen started waving again. The strips of tape frayed and blew off one by one, until only a couple of tatty survivors remained.

Technicians at two RV service centers and one enormous truck stop in North Platte and Grand Island peeled off the rest of the shreds when they examined  the mirror and told us there was nothing they could do. Everyone suggested a motorhome dealer in Lincoln, another 90 miles along the road. Unfortunately, they are booked until July 16. Today is June 5th.

We are in a funk. We are battered. We are kicking ourselves. We are ready to get home but we can’t drive 1,3000 miles without ever making a left turn or leaving the right lane.

Let the Schadenfreude begin. Or if you are feeling kind and know somebody we can bribe in Lincoln, let us know. We have a few dollars left in the bank and half a roll of duct tape.

We’re all right, really we are, but have you ever run into bad luck on the road? What’s your worst duct tape experience? Please click on Leave a Comment below.

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