Adventures in camping | Living with Gleigh

My husband and I went camping for the first time together without our children. I’m not talking about going to a car show camping, I’m talking about just going to a state park in our RV and roughing it. Okay, I know it’s not really roughing it when you have an RV, I’m just trying to make a point.

This year I was determined to leave Fourth of July behind, when normally sane people get their pyromaniac personalities on and blow things up. So I made reservations earlier this year for Alder Lake. It’s just a short hour drive from Covington, but it’s really a nice park run by Tacoma Power, reserved through the Washington State Parks system. We’ve been there before, but this year, without the kids, we didn’t even have to go find fireworks for the kids to watch.

So we’re cruisin’ down the road and Phwap! Squeal! Tat tat tat tat tat...

"What was that?" I said, as I gripped the door handle.

"I don't know. The gauges are all fine, nothing's overheating."

As we went into a turn, my husband says "Oh, the power steering belt must've broken." We were about three miles out of Eatonville, so we decided to get to town where there might be an auto parts store open. "Oh, by the way, that belt also runs the power brakes."

I clung to the door and waited to plunge off the road in a fiery crash.

"It's okay," said my way-too-easy-going husband, “I got this.”

"Pull into the grocery store parking lot and I'll call AAA."

My husband climbed out of the RV and looked under the hood. “At least let me see what’s wrong. For some reason the air pump seized up, then the other pulley wheel controlling the power steering and power brakes continued to spin the belt and it broke."

Blah, blah, blah. I just wanted to call AAA immediately, but the auto parts store was a block away and I figured my husband needed to get all his options out of his system before he gave in to AAA. No air pump for 1985 RV at an auto parts store out in the middle of nowhere? Go figure.

Then my husband, in all his easy going ways, leans one hand on the counter, contemplates our fate and says to the clerk, "I know a guy who lives in Eatonville. I see him at swap meets and car shows. Do you know this guy?"

"Of course." (It's a small town, everybody knows everybody). My husband called the guy who came right down and led us to his house where he has spare parts and tools (a flat road, without too many sharp turns).

This guy has several huge shops on his property full of cars, car parts, junk and dead cars in the fields. He points to a pile in the field and says, "There might be one in there."

My husband found an air pump different from the one on the RV. He inspected it, took the back off the broken one and put it on the junkyard one. Then he bored the bolt holes smooth to adjust it for our RV. By the time all this was finished it was dark. So we spent our first kid-less camping night in the guy's driveway.

My husband was up at 5:30 and had the air pump installed by 7:30. He happened to have a new belt that fit stored in the RV. We were back on the road by 8:30. My husband is some kind of genius.

We did kind of rough it that first night because I realized I had forgotten toilet paper (the guy gave me a roll) and my husband forgot to fill the RV’s water tank. Nothing like a break down to mark an adventure in camping.

Gretchen Leigh is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Covington. She is up for more adventures in camping. You can also read more of her writing and her daily blog on her website or on Facebook at “Living with Gleigh.”


We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.

Read the Oct 21
Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Browse the archives.

Friends to Follow

View All Updates