Posted on January 6th, 2012 1 comment
Our trip south to California was interrupted on our first day out by hurricane-force winds with gusts of up to 120km/hr.
There had been a high-wind warning for southern Alberta; heading into Nanton, we had encountered brisk winds, but nothing too bad. After our lunch stop at Nanton, we saw semi-trucks and RVs heading south, and based on what we had seen coming into town we decided to carry on.
We were barely out of town when a passing vehicle alerted us that our awning was flapping. By the time we pulled over and got out to deal with it, we found that the gusts were increasing and were almost strong enough to blow us off our feet. With awning snapping and trailer rocking, we decided to head back to Nanton, and drove another couple of kilometers to where we could turn around. The plan was stop at the RV dealer to have the awning fixed, and wait out the blow.
We never made it.
We had turned around and were going slowly and carefully back north to Nanton. About half a km from town, two powerful gusts slammed into us, pushing us towards the shoulder.
“I could see you fighting to keep the vehicle straight,” a witness later told us, “but the trailer was being swung over almost to the side of the road.”
A third gust swung the trailer hard and we could feel it lift.
“We’re going over,” Dawn said quietly.
I think I mumbled something as I felt the truck tilt onto its right side and slide into the ditch, but neither of us can recall what….
I sat there like a spider hung from a web and looked down at Dawn nestled against the passenger window. She reminded me to shut off the truck, which I did. I pushed the seat belt release, but my grip on the steering wheel was not enough to keep my feet from dropping onto Dawn.
“You okay?” I asked.
“Well, I was until you landed on me.” She was fine.
We were unharmed. I had been going about 35 km/h and the seat belts held us. The airbags did not deploy. None of the truck windows were broken.
Getting my feet off my wife and onto the passenger side window, I stood up and opened the driver door. Eager bystanders helped us out, called 911, and stayed to assist while we dealt with police and paramedics. A lot of kind and concerned people; it was wonderful.
While we were doing all this, broken and sparking power lines started a grass fire in a field just to the east, and we watched as it quickly spread to a house and sent horses in the field racing frantically in circles. Since we were fine, and our rig was no danger to traffic, the police and paramedics left quickly to deal with this new emergency.
We spent some time at the Flying J (Humpty’s) in Nanton, which was closed because the fire had taken the electricity out. A nice waitress named Angela let us in and served us ice water, which was all she had available. With minutes of our arrival at the restaurant, the road south was closed and semi’s and RVs began pulling in and lining up in the parking lot. A few minutes difference and we’d have been with them.
We made all the required phone calls and chatted with others blown in on the wind. We heard of several semi’s, another couple of RVs, and a fire truck blown over by the gusts. A nice couple, Rob & Susan from Claresholm who had helped us out of the truck, drove us around for our errands, allowed us to buy them supper at Humpty’s by way of thanks, then took us home for the night. We were glad to have some company.
After feeding us breakfast the next day, Rob & Sue drove us back to the scene. Our rig had been righted and was being towed to a storage yard. The truck was kind of bashed up, but the trailer didn’t look too bad (the other one that was towed in looked like a cardboard box that had been stomped on).
Our “angels” chauffeured us around to the police, the yard, a car rental agency in Claresholm, a grocery store for boxes, and back to the yard, where they helped us sort through the mess in the trailer and truck and load up all our stuff. They were helpful almost beyond belief. Thank you and God bless you, guys.
We drove our rented truck home to Leduc, unloaded some of the gear (thanks to son Brad for his help), had a shower, and headed early to bed.
One more note. We broke off a highway sign with the box of the truck, and I think if we’d gone over a second or two sooner that sign would have been in the cab and our story might have had a more tragic ending. Perhaps Rob & Sue weren’t the only angels at the scene.
Please don’t be concerned for us: we’re tired, but we’re fine. It’s a nuisance and an inconvenience and nothing more. All we have lost is some stuff and a little time.
We still plan to head south; perhaps we will rent a park model and drive down in the car. Until we have settled all the insurance and things, those plans are on hold.
Posted on December 10th, 2010 No comments
This nice little piece came from the Dec. 2010 issue of The Safe Towing Newsletter by Hensley Mfg.
Thanks to Ron Estrada for sharing his thoughts and for allowing me to reprint this.
Rules to Tow By
I’ve come to realize in my short time on this planet that the basic rules of business, child rearing, and of life in general are all essentially the same. They are also true for the RVer. These basic rules of which I speak are the following:
1) Never surrender. It generally takes 3 months for the average child to get the hang of life sans Pampers. It generally takes 6 months for the average RVer to remember to check the holding tank level before turning in for the night. Don’t give up after one smelly accident.
2) Don’t hold grudges. In business, your biggest competitor may just become your best ally at the appropriate time. In RVing, the guy who woke you at 2am while unhooking his trailer may just provide you with a few scoops of the coffee that you forgot to pack.
3) Maintain a sense of humor. When your six year old daughter comes downstairs and proudly announces that she’s executed her first haircut…on the four year old girl who has come to visit…you can either get angry or see the humor in the situation. When your tow vehicle breaks down and you spend an entire week camped behind a northern Alberta restaurant famous for its deep fried walleye and Polka bands, you can get angry or see the humor in the situation. (By the way, be prepared for the aforementioned four year old’s mother NOT to see the humor in the situation.)
4) Expect things to go very, very wrong. If you’ve promised a customer delivery of a product by Friday because they’re leaving for a trip on Saturday, it is almost a certainty that a rare October blizzard will hit the Midwest, UPS will choose that day to go on strike, or someone in shipping will get an emergency call from the elementary school just as she’s putting in your order. If you’ve ordered your towing mirrors at the last possible minute, a rare October blizzard will hit the Midwest, etc., etc.
5) Acceptable risk is part of business. But a wise businessman takes every precaution to reduce the risk. Towing an 8,000lb. trailer behind a 5,000lb. truck will always be riskier than staying home, but thanks to products like the Hensley Arrow, the rewards far outweigh the risk. It’s always a joy to be in a business that is in the business of filling our customers with a sense of safety and security so that they can get the maximum enjoyment out of a lifestyle we all love.
6) At the end of the day, know what’s important. If your kid has soiled three pair of pants, you were woken at 2 am by a noisy neighbor, you’re on the neighborhood mom’s Most Wanted list, or you had to delay your trip a few days, remember that you still have breath in your lungs, a warm bed, and people who love you. Everything else will soon be forgotten.