Seeing four RV’s parked along my walking route one recent Sunday afternoon stirred up a memory.
It was 1980, a tumultuous year when it seemed that everything in my life got turned upside-down. After twenty years in the pastoral ministry, a number of problems overwhelmed me to the point that I needed a change of pace. I stepped away for a year–pursuing a lifelong passion for artistic creativity. I became a traveling artist.
It seemed almost a natural move. For some time I had been exhibiting my paintings and ink drawings in the communities where I was sent to serve churches. I had won a few awards, which encouraged me to continue developing my talent. I had mentored under a nautical artist, and one year took a community college course in color design.
Pursuing art full-time, I began exhibiting at community art shows and shopping malls over a much wider area–Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina and Florida.
That’s where the RV connection comes to play. I bought a small, used “Tag-A-Long” travel trailer that enabled me stay either at the show site, or a nearby campground, instead of in expensive hotels.
The trailer had some of the comforts of home, but it also had some problems. There was a propane gas stove for cooking, a water storage tank, and a small propane heater for cold weather–but no air conditioning. Oh…and it leaked, both water and wind. Still, I enjoyed it…until the day I had a tire incident at full speed on an interstate highway.
I pulled the trailer with a full-size pickup truck, which suddenly began to fish-tail. In the rear view mirror I saw pieces of debris flying out from under the trailer, causing traffic behind me to swerve. What’s going on? I turned on my emergency flashers and began to slow down, which helped the fish-tailing, but I could see the trailer had an unnatural bumpiness to its ride.
Suddenly I realized what I’d seen in the mirror…my tires were coming apart. Tread was peeling off. Seeing an exit ramp maybe a quarter of a mile ahead, I nursed the truck and trailer along as gently as possible. Perhaps there would be a gas station at the top of the ramp. I prayed…and God answered. The tires didn’t go flat.
At the top of the ramp there was not only a gas station, but a tire store as well. When I pulled in and got out to look the situation over I was amazed to see the inner tire casing still holding air. It felt like a miracle.
I recalled that the trailer had been sitting idle for several years before I bought it. The tires had dry-rotted. The heat buildup from prolonged interstate speed had caused them to disintegrate. I bought two used tires, which took a bite out of my show proceeds, and counted my blessings.
I also got some advice from the tire store manager. “This trailer’s seen its best days. You’d be better off for your kind of travel to get one with tandem wheels. If you’d blown out one of those tires you might have flipped over.”
As winter settled in I took his advice and bought a new trailer with, you guessed it…tandem wheels. By spring, after a month-long tour of Florida shows, and a show on Long Island where I got snowed in for several days, I appreciated the tire store manager’s advice. I enjoyed the new trailer, but I would never forget the “Tag-A-Long” incident!