Every so often, my brain misfires and I get these ideas that at the time seem like they could be so fun to do but in reality never seem to turn out quite like I had envisioned.  Like taking my mom camping….

My sister has a piece of property set back way off a dirt road in an older part of a fast growing suburban area and she has a very nice 30-plus ft. travel trailer parked there and a large deck and a beautiful yard, everything you could want in your “home away from home” so I figured that since my mom has never been camping in her life, it was about time.

So after more than a year of nagging at Jodi to invite us up for a camp-out and at least that long to convince Ruby that it really wasn’t like camping but more like a small hotel with a flushable toilet and real beds, it finally came together this weekend.

24 plus hours of “roughing it” and womanly bonding and food and no men….sounds heavenly.

Well, it turned out to be more like the opposite side of heavenly…..

It was in the high 80’s and humid when I began de-glamping my camper in order to bring her over to Jodi’s. It would be the first time I had ever towed anything that didn’t have my husband in it making hand signals that I never understand and causing us to have some of our best fights over.  I would be towing the camper all by myself with our Honda Passport suv.  Scott swore I would have no problems towing and I used to blindly trust that he knew all about things like that until I began joining RV groups online.  I have read horror stories about blown tires, overturned trailers and the vehicles that are pulling them, people being electrocuted because they plugged into a receptacle that was backwards or something like that.  I learned that just because you have an SUV you may not be able to pull your trailer after you pile all your stuff into it cause it is only rated for 4000 pounds dry weight and you have exceeded that by a couple of thousand pounds of “cute stuff” that your glamper really needs.   Oh and did I mention that there was a full-sized cast iron tub in the back of the Honda?  And a big, ol tire?   Not, mind you, a spare tire for my camper….nay, nay.  My camper has NO spare tire.   The advice I got upon questioning my husband about what I should do if I should get a flat on the camper on the way over…..”Hum, that’s a good question”.   He would be at work so I could not call him to help out and we do not have AAA coverage for RV’s so I would be up that proverbial creek without so much as a spare paddle!

It took me a good hour or more to take everything off the walls and tables and then countless trips to bring the stuff I was going to take with me so by the time I was done getting everything ready, my body temp was around 106 and I was wringing wet and feeling quite woozy.  My body kept screaming, “ARE YOU NUTS”? “You get sick when the temp is over 70”.   I had quite the battle raging between giving up and staying home and disappointing my mom and sister and just trying to muster up the fortitude to just “man up” and get over there.   So I got into the Honda and off I went.


I drove at the breakneck speed of 43 MPH and took every back road I could think of to get there since I realized that:  a) I did not have any extended mirrors so I could not see past the front of the camper and b) I had no license plates….I had just gotten the title and tabs the day before and there is no where to put them up.

There was a nice breeze but I was terrified that I would hit a cross wind and that would make my camper start to sway and I have no sway bars on it so every time I came across a field or place where the wind was not buffeted by trees my hands were clenched around the steering wheel (that wasn’t the only part of me that was clenched, either!) and I just waited to for it to start to sway out of control and tip over and take me and the claw-foot tub with it.

Finally I get to the road where I am supposed to turn and I am positive my sister said to turn LEFT.  So I did and I am driving along this dirt road and I see the addresses on the mail boxes are HIGHER than what my sister told me her’s was but like any optimist I just kept driving hoping that maybe they would magically start to get smaller.   The longer I drove, the less optimistic I was beginning to be and now the sweat started to pour down my brow not only from the dang heat but from the fear that I would have to BACK UP!

My husband has offered to teach me how to back up the camper but since it takes practice and if you remember earlier in this story, our track record at using hand signals is very poor, so I have declined his kind offer.  So I have absolutely no experience in backing up a camper.  None.  Nada.  Zip.  Zilch.

Well the good Lord had mercy on me because at the end of the road was a stop sign and another dirt road so I could turn right and pull up a bit and then if I could back up straight, I could just back up far enough to then make a right turn back on the dirt road and go in the right direction.  Sounds easy enough, eh?  Ever try backing up a trailer?  With NO extended mirrors?  I could not see what was behind the trailer whatsoever.   What I could see in my side mirrors was the camper at a right angle to my SUV.  It was like I was on black ice.  I would start out straight but after a few feet the camper was making all these sharp turns all by itself cause my car was still going straight.  I must have tried going forward and then backing up at least 7 or 8 times before I finally got  to where if I turned right sharply and watched the ditch on the left side of the road and no one was in the on-coming lane, I could get back on the road going in the right direction.

Finally after what should have taken me 15 minutes to drive but ended up more than an hour, I chugged into my sister’s property where I found my mom and my sister laughing hysterically.  They said they thought the “Clampetts” were coming down the road.  In my defense, it’s darn hard to drive smoothly in first gear pulling a camper with a cast-iron bathtub in your back seat down a bumpy and winding old dirt path!

I get out of the car and the first thing my sister says is she wants to see the inside of the camper.  I am beyond stressed, my face is on fire from the heat, my head is throbbing from the increase in blood pressure from the drive (all of about 18 miles!!) and the LAST thing I want to do is climb into that tin can inferno and start putting back all the stuff that has been tossed about and make it look “cute”.   I said in my kindest voice,  filled with sisterly love….”Whadda nuts”?  “I’m too dam (as in a structure that holds back water) hot”! But I had to take the time to plug in the cord to get electricity to run my AC and my fridge….priorities, priorities.

It was stinkin’ hot sitting outside and Moe and Curly were having an animated discussion about the merits of putting up the awning that is attached to the motor home.  All we needed was some fast-paced piano music and you would have thought you were watching a silent film….down the awning would go, up the awning would go, down the awning would come and water would rain down from it, back up the awning would go and all the while Ruby is giving Jodi advice… one point I kinda thought maybe Ruby would end up wearing the awning but the show ended and the awning stayed up (at least until Billy came and the show started all over…..)

We sat outside enjoying the day with Jodi’s son, daughter-in-law and grandson.  They say that teens are always checking their phones and posting photos but I caught my mom checking her FB feed more than once!!!

Which leads me to this disclaimer:  Photos posted yesterday on FB were not “approved of” nor was I aware that I was being photographed and my photos sold to the tabloids as “Kirstie Alley got fat again and cuts and colors hair to hide her identity”.   I’m sure Jodi must have used a FAT APP or a circus fun house app!

Jodi's photos of me make me look like this!

Jodi’s photos of me make me look like this!

All during the day, my mom would make comments about being leery of camping….what about wild animals or crazed killers roaming about and Jodi and I would laugh since what we were doing could hardly be called “camping” and why would some crazed killer be in the neighborhood and how on earth would they ever find us way down that long, long driveway and why would they choose us to bother since there are homes on either side of my sister’s property?  But she clearly was not a100% happy camper.

Mother complaining about how hard camping is!

Mother complaining about how hard camping is!

Jodi made us a delish dinner of grilled steaks and hobo potatoes and then we adjourned into the trailer for a few hours of cards.  My mom could not eat every bite of her steak and my sister told her she had to or else the smell of the left over steak would cause bears from all over the Tri State area to come and rip open the trailer like a giant ripping open a can of sardines.  And the leftover foil on the grill was a sure-fire way to get the Northern Grizzly bear to come and kill us all.  This news sent my poor mom into a tizz and all night long she badgered Jodi to go out and get that foil off of the grill and Jodi being Jodi just egged her on by saying that no way was she going to go out there in the dark and get that foil.  We would just have to take our chances.

By now it is well after 10pm and we are playing a new card game (and by the way, the old saying, “You can’t teach an old blonde new tricks” is sooooo true!!!!) and we have laughed so much that mom had almost forgotten that she had to sleep on the couch in the “livingroom”.  Once she remembered she asked Jodi if she ever shuts her shades and pulls her curtains in the trailer and Jodi says “noooo” and my mom insists that Jodi get up and pull some shades cause she doesn’t want anyone to look at her when she is sleeping. (I hear there are quite a pack of Peeping Raccoons in the area so I can understand her concern).  So Jodi gets up and pulls some shades down and we get back to our game.

Suddenly we hear Jodi’s dinner bell being rung.  Now this is a medium sized cast iron bell that you have to pull the rope to make it ring and it is located right on the garage at the peak.  At first we tell ourselves it might be the wind but Ruby is not convinced and she wants Jodi to do something.  Then it rings again and Jodi says no way is that the wind that there must be someone out there ringing it.

is this the bell ringer?

is this the bell ringer?

So I go into the bedroom and try to see out the window to the garage but the flood light is on but the spot where the bell is is pitch black and there is NO wind.  By now the Rubester is in a frenzy and is yelling at Jodi to call her son who just lives a mile away.  I ask if maybe it is he who is out there and playing a trick on us but Jodi says no, that he would not do that knowing how scared she and my mom would be.  I am still thinking it is no big deal, that maybe it is some kids goofing around tho I can’t imagine where they would have come from.  I tell my mom that what kind of killer would ring the bell to let himself be known.

Or maybe it's him?

Or maybe it’s him?

And then it rings again and Jodi calls her son and he says he is in bed and there is nothing for us to worry about.  So we scurry around pulling shades and curtains that Jodi didn’t even know she had.  I get ticked cause I hate not knowing so I grab a steak knife and go out on the deck and my sister follows me with a barbecue fork.

weapons of choice

weapons of choice


My mom is FREAKING out that Jodi and I are out on the deck but also that we left the door open and bugs were getting in!!!!   Jodi yells to my mom that everything is fine that “Robyn has her gun” and there is no reason to be upset.

me with the imaginary gun

me with the imaginary gun

We see and hear nothing so we go back in and Jodi attempts to lock all four locks on the door (I have NEVER seen so many locks on a camper door).  We are standing there wondering what to do when everything goes BLACK.  Someone has cut the power to the camper.  There is dead silence while our minds race to every scary show we had ever seen where right before the killer comes in, the power goes out!!!!  I’m sure we looked just like this:


All I can think of is “Oh crap, we are screwed” and I grab the barbecue fork (which was from the dollar store so it was made from some crappy metal and could not have stabbed a ripe banana) and Jodi frantically calls her son and whispers, “Billy, get over here quick, someone cut the power to the camper” and before he can reply, her phone cuts out.  She looks at me and I just start to say….”No one can cut the power to your cell phone” when there is loud banging on the door.  I just know it is this clown…..

The clown of Death

The clown of Death

In a booming voice my sister screams out..”WHO’S THERE?”  and we hear this voice say, “You said to get right over”….it was her son though how on earth he got there in a matter of seconds…and then he says, “Mom, hurry and open the door, I hear noises”.   Imagine for a moment if the Incredible Hulk had a mother and something was threatening her child no matter how big he was….it was like watching my sister get superhuman strength but at the same time can’t get the four locks to open….I honestly thought she was going to rip the door off with her bare hands….she finally gets the door open and the shade is flapping and she pulls her son into the camper and he is laughing his fool head off.  Laughing so hard he is crying….we are trying to tell him about the crazed killer outside and he is hysterical.  Turns out the only clown outside was this one:



Seems he decided to play a little prank on his dear family and came over and rang the bell and turned off the power and thought about making animal noises and doing stuff outside the trailer.  He saw us come outside and for a split second he wasn’t sure I really didn’t have a gun!  (But on a serious note, I’m sure more than one person HAS been killed by playing a joke on others who were armed.  My husband has always told me to “Shoot first and ask questions later”….so would I have shot thru the door if he had tried to get in and not said who he was?  Who knows…..though he is lucky that I did not poke him with the barbecue fork  and my mom was armed with this:

The deadly mini whisk broom and dust pan!!

The deadly mini whisk broom and dust pan!!

We figured she wanted to make sure the crime scene was neat and tidy cause she didn’t want it to get around that they found her body in a messy camper!

We decided that we must have strong hearts after what my nephew put us through.  It took my poor momma at least an hour or more to calm down after he left and she wanted us to all stay up and play games and said there was no way she was going to sleep.  Finally at 1am, I went back to my own camper (much to the dismay of my mom) and promised myself that I would never go camping again without some kind of weapon as it is a horrible feeling to have nothing to defend yourself with other than a steak knife and a crappy dollar store barbecue fork!  We were all awake until daybreak eventhough we were exhausted (must have been that adrenalin rush).

Somehow, I doubt very much there will be a second camping trip for Miss Ruby Jean and I bet Mr. Billy will get *”car wash tickets” instead of money in his birthday card this year!!!!

*family joke…


About thelumberjackandthegypsy

The lumberjack is my husband and he owns Arrowhead Wood Products; Arrowhead Toboggan and Snowshoe; and Lake Superior Furniture Co. and is the exclusive manufacturer of wood shutters for Summit Hill Shutter Co. The gypsy is me, and I have a passion for teaching people to tap into their creative side, even when they think they don't have one! I did not grow up creative or artsy and I was in my thirties before I started sewing and creating things. I am a rug hooker; artisan teddy bear maker; painter (from pictures to large pieces of furniture!); knitter; doll maker; needle-felter, repurposer; sewer; decorator; blogger; glamper; reader; vintage jewelry maker; junker; and now a shop owner. But the lumberjack and I feel our greatest gifts in this world are our four grandkids and our daughter and her husband and our relationship with Jesus Christ. We have been married for more than 33 years and most of that time we have lived out in the country on a hobby farm where we have raised chickens, turkeys, ducks, goats, pigs and beef cattle. We also homeschooled our only child for her entire school years. We lived out our dream of being like the The Little House on the Prairie and they were great times. I also have a personal blog: where I tell stories of what life on the farm has been like and other things that pop up in my very weird mind. I prefer "quirky or eccentric" instead of weird (sounds more fascinating and less creepy)!

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