Being Back on the Road

The Bad:

Being on the road this time around is different than it was in the early days of September 2008. I’m enjoying it a lot less this time, finding driving the rig to be exhausting. Oh, I still adore the portable lifestyle, as my friend Donna calls it, but I’m not so loving being 50′ long. While a lot of RVers regret buying too small, I am beginning to regret buying too big.

I’m caught in a sort of conundrum: my rig is perfect for me in terms of living space. The 31′ feet rear bedroom + dressing room layout is the difference between having an RV and having a home. But for driving, it is a pain, especially when I am towing. I grow weary of missing potentially interesting turnouts because it’s not clear if I’ll be able to pull out. I know from last September that hooking and unhooking several times in a day is unacceptable and that there is also the matter of getting caught in a place where you can’t unhook. I’m starting to dream of having a 24″ rig that wouldn’t require me to have a toad and, yet, I can’t imagine living comfortably in something that small. Perhaps the solution would be to ensure that I never go to a cold climate so that a small scooter would be a good toad for me.

Another thing that I am weary of is being The One Responsible. Even if someone cuts me off or otherwise does something that could cause me to cause an accident, I’m at fault because I choose to drive a huge vehicle. It doesn’t matter that the car drivers are not letting me get into the proper lane, forgetting that I need a large breaking distance, and ignoring my wide turning radius. I just don’t find this fair. Yes, I choose to drive a big vehicle, but they choose to be idiots!

The Good:

I’m on the Gold Rush Trail heading to the Yukon. In terms of milestones, I’m a third of the way there. My next big milestone will be Dawson Creek, mile 0 of the Alaska highway. I cannot even express the mess of emotion that I’m feeling right now, how I tear up every single time I realise just where I am and where I’m going. I was convinced that the North was lost to me, after dreaming of it for so long. I just couldn’t see myself making it there, not with the way my old life was going. I think I know why I can’t imagine the future beyond September: the Yukon was the last dream of my old life and when that dream died, no dreams replaced it. Oh, there are things I want to see and do, of course, but there was nothing that could replace the North. It was like with Scotland, had to go there to be free of it.

So far, this trip is exactly what I dreamt it would be–desolate, mountainous, isolated, and breathtakingly beautiful. If I am happy so far, in still relatively non-remote British Columbia, imagine how I will feel once I pass Dawson Creek!

It is good to be back to a schedule-free life, to not know where I will stop each night, to fill my days with wondrous sights, and to sleep in my own bed everywhere from a Walmart to the rim of a gorgeous chasm. Much as I might complain about some of the hassles of RVing, this is where truly belong, on the road, heading towards a dream.

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  • There is always the good and the bad Rae. The question is: Would you rather be stuck in one place and running on the treadmill again or would you rather be on the road, discovering new worlds, meeting interesting people and having new experiences?

    Experiences are not always good but they all go to making you a better person. No one ever ended their life saying, “I wish I had traveled less”. You are doing what we would all like to do. There is a downside to everything but if you savor the moment and continue roaming free the downside will become less and less of a burden.

    Don’t worry, be happy! The North awaits.

  • Your rig is not so big that it should cause much in the way of driving problems. I used to be a truck driver, driving various truck trailer combinations that are bigger than what you have, and with more pivot points.

    I would be more than happy to give any kind of advice necessary to make your driving easier/more enjoyable. email me at if you want any help.

  • Croft: I think it’s important for me to be realistic with people about what’s going on. I don’t want to be one of those la-di-da people who pretend that life on the road is perfect. A lot of people have written to tell me that I’m inspiring them to hit the road and I want to make sure that people have a full picture of what it’s like to drive a rig solo. It’s a lot more work than when you have someone with you… but indeed a small price to pay for the joy of taking your home everywhere you go!

    Stuart: The biggest problem is not being able to back up with the toad. When I’m driving the rig on its own, I feel completely different and so much more confident because I know I can get out of any situation. But once the toad is attached, I have to work very hard at making sure that I don’t get myself into a situation where I can’t turn around or, worse, unhook because the rig and toad aren’t lined up.

    Also, being by myself, I only have one set of eyes, so if I’m trying to avoid scraping myself on item A, it can be easy to forget to lookout for item B. 🙂

  • Welcome back (for now) to a connection. It is great to hear from you again, and to know that other than some margin of “oops” and “aw dang” factors, things are well.

  • Donna, one has no idea how much one loves to communicate with people until one goes for about four days without internet or cell access, LOL! I’d better get used to this!!

    As for the oops stuff, I’m already laughing about it and learning to milk the humour for all its worth. 🙂

  • Rae, if you can send me a photo showing from the back wheel of your rig, to the front wheel of your toad, I can explain the process to reverse in a controllable manner. Once you know the correct techniques (different combinations require different techniques) it becomes relatively easy with a bit of practice. Trust me, I have reversed semi’s, B-trains and truck/trailer combinations in straight lines and around corners. Somewhere in that mix will be the same combination of pivot points as what you have when you have your toad connected. There are some other tips to avoid the scraps as well, which I won’t go into detail about in your comment section.

  • Stuart, I CAN’T backup with the toad attached. It would damage the towbar. That’s a tradeoff I had to accept–an easy to hookup towbar vs. one that I can back up with.

    When the car isn’t attached, I have no problem manoeuvring the rig backwards (I actually find it easier than the car!).

  • Sorry, I have never heard of a tow bar arrangement that causes damage by simply reversing before. Just out of curiosity, is there any chance of seeing how your towbar works? or a link to a site with them?


    It’s a ‘self aligning’ bar that is very easy for a person to install alone. You just need to get the car close and then the bars articulate to get them into position.

  • Thank you for that link Rae. I have had a look at it and read the instruction manual. Having a commercial heavy traffic background, as I do, I find it hard to see that system as easy or practical to use given the systems used with trucks towing heavy trailers (NOT fifth wheel). I will email you with further detail.

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