with Lorelle and Brent VanFossen

I Asked for Rain, Didn’t I?

I know I asked for rain. All those years – okay, months on end – waiting for a drip or two from the sky. Dark clouds hanging overhead, a little thunder, sparks of lightning, okay, that’s asking for too much. All I asked for was rain. Just a little rain. I forgot that the Great Cosmic McMuffin in the Sky doesn’t understand adjectives or adverbs. “Little” wasn’t heard. “RAIN” was.

The night before we left for the new campground with the trailer, it started raining. I slept like a rock to the magical poetry of rain drops pounding against the trailer’s roof. Magic. Pure magic.

The next morning, it let up for a few minutes, long enough for us to be brave and dash out to start pulling the trailer together for the move to the new campground. Then it started coming down in droves. Cats. Dogs. Elephants. Buckets. Liters. Gallons. Truckloads.

We were both soaked to the skin as Brent and I moved around the trailer, picking up the hose lines, dumping the sewer and putting the hoses away, closing up the slideout and jacking up the trailer for the move. We’d only been there two nights but already we’d set up shop, as we do at every spot featuring water and electricity.

Brent walks through the campground soaked to the skin in the rainFinally closed up and hooked to the truck, Brent goes off to return the 50 amp to 30 amp converter cable and I take one last look around for any pieces left behind. The water is pouring off my hat, which should be waterproof and is now water drip, and wonder what we are missing by leaving this particular campground behind, and what might be better or worse at the new campground.

It is always a flip of the coin when it comes to campgrounds. Sometimes it is a spilling of the coins to scatter across the ground when it comes to choosing campgrounds. We’ve been in some very nice, fancy, expensive campgrounds, the kind who cater to those “good” people with money, and they’ve had some real assholes there. We’ve also been in poor campgrounds, barely a gravel parking lot in the middle of a treeless nowhere, and found the most wonderful friends and companions. Sometimes we find a mixture of a little of everything. So far, I wasn’t very happy with this particular campground, and totally unfamiliar with the lie of the land for “good neighborhoods” in Mobile, so we’ll find what we find.

Campgrounds nowadays don’t usually show up in the fanciest of neighborhoods with the best schools and amenities. They are usually 1) farming areas that make a last ditch effort to make money, or 2) built and protected by zoning laws decades ago that still remain through that protection while the city grew around it. It takes a lot of money to have enough land to host a campground today.

The rain makes visibility almost nil as Brent returns, soaked to the skin, and climbs into the truck. Off we go, lugging this beast behind us, lumbering through Mobile, Alabama, towards the new campground.

It’s right off the highway, barely three blocks, give or take. Highway 10, no less, the highway I hate the most. It’s two miles from the airport where Brent will be working, so this is a very good thing.

The rain lets up here and there but when it comes down, it pours. The campground appears to be deserted, with little or no activity we’ve seen. It’s winter, so this is to be expected, combined with the damage and lack of tourist interest so soon after the horrible hurricanes pounded the area.

We back into the site we chose the day before and the rain slams down on us. It’s a swamp. The water builds up on the ground several inches and we slosh through it to set up the trailer. Already I can see the wheels sinking and I know that whatever position we set the trailer in to level it, something is going to sink.

Indeed it does, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

We level the trailer with the boards which go under the tires, but the back is still tilted to one side but the level on the front of the trailer behind the truck says that its level, so Brent calls it level and we prepare to disconnect. Brent likes to tell people that the bubble levels on trailers and motor homes were installed by a mechanic making six dollars an hour, so don’t expect much. We worked hard to make sure ours were fixed and as level as possible, but 5 years in the sun and cold, who knows how the glues have held up.

I pull out the steps for the front door and hear swearing coming from under the front of the trailer. I head back there and Brent is squatting down, half twisted inside the generator compartment of the trailer. I hear all kinds of colorful sounds echoing in the chamber. My ears would burn if they weren’t already singed off from years of such language.

The landing gear or trailer legs of our fifth wheel break down more often than hold upIt seems that the never-ending struggle we’ve had over the years with the trailers landing gears, the legs that hold the front of the trailer up, haven’t ended. This time though, instead of the gears braking, the drive shaft pin brakes so the gears will work but the drive shaft won’t turn. We never did buy a crank to manually work the legs, and a quick inspection of the hole in the side of the trailer where the crank would go if we had one, finds the hole is filled with dried grasses and the makings of an old bird’s nest. It’s a small hole so I can’t imagine what kind of bird would consider this viable nesting. I pull out some of the grasses but the rain is pouring too hard for me to see very far in there.

Brent finally admits that he thinks he can move the drive shaft manually with vise grips so we can raise the trailer high enough to disconnect the truck. The legs will hold the trailer up. We just have to get the truck off the trailer.

He starts cranking and I stand there in the rain, discovering why Brent has complained so long and hard about rain and wearing glasses. All the time I’m learning about the painful process of life wearing glasses. Rain and glasses don’t mix and my hat is more a hindrance that a help to keep the rain off.

Slowly the trailer lifts off the hitch and Brent can finally pull the truck out. He cranks the drive shaft back down so the trailer is now level from front to back, as much as possible.

I go inside and start the process to push out the slideout and get the inside of the trailer ready.

And the rain keeps coming.

After we’ve put the slideout out, one of my first tasks is to plug in the weather radio. It immediately fires off a weather warning alarm. It seems that the storm had brought flooding and high waves throughout the Mobile Bay and gulf area from New Orleans across to Florida. It’s certainly doing more than buckets out there.

The campground owner finally drives by as we are hooking up the water, sewer, and electricity and says that he’ll come by in a day or two to square things up with the rent and everything. We’d be willing now, but clearly he wants to stay dry. Too late for us.

Trying to take pictures in the intense rain, the crappy little digital camera I have gave up. Useless thing. Time for a new digital camera.

A few hours later I go outside to take some garbage and find that all the water that we had been sloshing through has gone. Totally absorbed into the ground. Amazing. I went back in the trailer and told Brent that we were living in a spongy swamp. It was stunning how fast all that water got absorbed into the ground. As the heat came up later in the day, we then knew we were in hell. Where does all that water go? Into the ground to eventually soak through to water ways and streams and rivers. If it actually doesn’t go very far, what happens when the air warms? Humidity. Buckets of the shit. Yep, we’re in heat wave humidity hell. I’m really in hell. I just left all that humidity and heat behind. It’s freakin’ winter, folks. I want a little COLD, some season, something that says W-I-N-T-E-R.

By the next morning, it is obvious that we have to reposition the trailer. It’s slanted way over to the right. But Brent is off for his first day at work so this will have to wait until possibly the weekend, since it will be dark when he gets home from work, and we really don’t want to do this in the dark. We’ve had worse, though it was a while ago, but we’ll survive. You just learn.

Me, I have tons of cleaning, sorting, pitching and tossing to do. It’s a wonder I found the laptop to write this blog entry. I can’t find the power cord yet, but I know its here somewhere, so I’m working off the second battery. Now that we have the trailer opened up and we’re not moving for a bit, I can start the process of finding our lives again.

I’ve opened up the door and windows and turned on the fan to circulate the warm, humid air. The new thermometer reads 75 and it is early in the morning. I’m truly in heat hell again. Damn.

So welcome us to Mobile, Alabama, and the Shady Acres Campground. We made it.
Mobile, Alabama

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