Ladies! Learn to Drive!

I have been meaning to write this post for a couple of years.

When we were looking for a bus, we had decided we would get an automatic transmission since we both would drive. This is more unusual than you might think. Jim’s bus guru, Howard Best, is the only driver in their rig and they have been full time in their bus for over 25 years! They’re lucky and blessed.

Our second season on the road after selling our house we were working our way up the Pacific Coast when Jim broke his wrist in Astoria, Oregon. You can read the gory details here. We thought we were in town for just a couple of days to visit the Maritime Museum, see the Columbia River/Pacific Ocean confluence and eat seafood. We were there two months.

We were in a park right in town on the river but fishing season was coming up and we had to move. Jim needs surgery in a week, can’t do anything with his hand and we have to find a place and move. And Astoria has a total of two RV parks. We talked the owner into another night, rented a car and went far and wide looking for a spot. We found one about nine miles out. And we could only stay a week through the surgery, then we had to find something else for the time through therapy.

Before we left, first we had to unhook, dump, put the bikes and everything else away and get the bus ready to roll. Awnings, compressors, lots of “boy” stuff that I had seen done but didn’t know how to do.

I can drive though. Thank God and Captain Ted for that.

It actually worked out really well. Jim had to explain and I had to listen. If he had tried to “teach” me the man stuff another time I might have had too many questions, here I just soaked it in. Because I know he is the kind of guy who does things right, I listened and learned and we made it to the “surgery” campsite and got hooked up. And the way he explained things was really good too. He’d say, “Well, what I usually do is unwind the hose this way…” instead of “Do it like this!” Smart man. There are lots of hills and logging trucks in that part of Oregon but we made it. Whew! Big accomplishment!

We rented another car and scoured for a place to stay. Made our way to the ONLY other RV park in Astoria and scored a 50 AMP spot in the man camp for fishermen for two months! We had to move to dump but I could drive. When we arrived in the bus, I realized it was a good thing we had secured the spot when we were in the rental car. When we arrived in the bus, she said, “Is THAT your RV?” I said yes, we had already paid for the two months and it all turned out fine. I finished a draft post I had never published called The Iron Fist RV Park.

The point is, if  you are a couple touring together in an RV, both of you should know how to drive and perform the basic functions of the boy/girl side of things. That would include girls learning the boy side of dumping, electrical hookup, taking on water, changing propane tanks, tire monitoring, awnings and battery monitoring. I never had to change the propane during our hiatus; we have two forty pound tanks and they lasted well.

What makes me write this now is that a beloved member of our winter community here in Texas died suddenly this fall. We are all shocked and saddened right along with his wife. Fortunately they were not in their RV when he passed, but they were in another country which exacerbated the situation. She badly wants to return to the Valley but her rig is 45 feet long and they tow a pickup. At least I didn’t have to deal with that. She did drive their rig some and also a previous smaller one. Traveling alone and being responsible for it all is a different story. As she said, it’s the confidence factor.

A lot of full-time women I meet can drive on the interstate or back roads but hand it back to their husbands when they get to the city. When we were approaching Los Angeles in 2015 we had planned to do that, just because, but there was NO place to pull over. I ended up driving into the city and parking curbside in a scant space on a Los Angeles Street. You gotta be able to do it all.

When Jim and I traveled extensively on motorcycles, I realized that if something happened to him, I would not be able to get us back to civilization. I took a road qualifying course in Maryland and got my Motorcycle License. Still have it. If you ever see me on a motorcycle, go in the other direction. But I was happy to know how to operate the damn thing.

Having a teacher is the way to go. The aforementioned Captain Ted not only taught us how to do all the driving, safety inspections and backing up, he taught us the hand signals that we use to this day to get the bus into a spot without talking or a radio. Well, sometimes we have to talk. But we go to the driver window. We learned early on that yelling doesn’t work.

This is not just meant for the ladies. My full-time friend, Maria’s husband still does not drive their rig. Not sure why, but he could learn to. He might need to someday.

Just do it.




2 comments on “Ladies! Learn to Drive!

  1. Doug felt exactly the same way about my learning how to do everything except engine work when it came to our sailboat. He saw too many ladies sitting back and never taking time to learn how to get a boat under power or under sail back into a dock and just simply practice for emergency situations should a husband/mate fall ill or unconscious. I learned how to raise and lower huge mainsails and jibs by myself and to ‘man over board’ pickups if ever needed.

    It gave me a level of confidence that spilled over into other areas as well.

    Great job articulating your scenarios, Wendy. My compliments!!

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