Travels with Bessie: New Owner and the First Week

I was languishing and longing for more adventures

Hello, my name is Bessie and I am so happy to meet you. I am a 2013 Forest River Sunseeker 2300 recreational vehicle and since my new owner purchased me in July 2020, my life has changed for the better. My previous owner did not keep up with my maintenance and I was a little worse for the wear. When he drove me away from where I had languished, I wondered about him and if he would take good care of me. I soon learned that I was in very good hands. He was methodical with me, and I also began to wonder why he’d chosen me to take him away from whatever was troubling him. I could tell he longed to escape from something, but just didn’t know what yet.

Stan took me to the nice folks at Quality RV after he purchased me from Halesford Harbour Marine & RV in Moneta, VA on July 15, 2020. Quality RV made sure that I was in tip top shape and I was ready to go. They checked my fluids, tires, roof, and all my appliances and gave me a clean bill of health. I felt very good and was ready to go, when Stan came at 5am on August 15, 2020 to start his adventure.

Me, blissfully passing the time in the Taylor’s driveway

That first day, he took his time to get to know all my highway idiosyncracies on his way to his dear friends in Cabot, AR, JoeAnn and Gary Taylor. That first three days were blissful in their driveway except for Onie, the generator. Stan hadn’t gotten the hang of what power items could run while Onie, the Onan Genrator, made electricity and he popped a few of my circuit breakers and Onie’s, too.

“Hey, Onie, what just happened there?”, I asked.

“Well, Bessie, our new owner should know not to run the A/C and microwave while I’m making power. He just popped my breaker. Sorry, but until he learns, I think this will happen a lot.” Onie replied.

“Yes, it will. What do you think of our new owner?”

“He’s better than our last one. My oil is fresh and I’ve never felt better! Really hope this TLC continues.”

“I think so, too. Look!” I exclaimed. “He’s reading his owner’s manual to find the issue.”

“Found it!” Onie said when Stan reset Onie’s breaker to restore power to me.

“That’s better. I have power again.”

After Arkansas, we left early on August 17 with Gary helping Stan get me out of their driveway on the very busy Highway 89. It was scary! Stan was still learning how to drive me in those early days of our trip. From Cabot, we drove and drove to Shawnee Mission, KS so that Stan could talk stamps with a philatelic friend. We spent the night in another driveway with Onie running so that Acie could keep Stan cool.

It seemed like that first week, we were on a mission. We left Kansas early the next morning and headed towards Nebraska. Stan played audiobooks and followed directions on the new radio he installed so that he could use his phone with it. iPhone and I had many discussions while I followed the directions Stan took.

“Where are we headed, Apple?”

“Don’t call me Apple! My name is Siri!”

“Ok, you don’t have to be cranky about it! Where are we headed, Siri?”

“Looks like Red Cloud, Nebraska and a cemetery. Wonder why?”

“We will see in about 5 hours unless we have to stop.”

Stan paid his respect to Don and Velma Stratton in Red Cloud, Nebraska

In Red Cloud, Nebraska we drove up to the Red Cloud Cemetery and as I was looking at the entrance gate, I was glad he parked and walked in to visit USS Arizona Survivor Donald Stratton and his wife, Velma’s resting place. After about 30 minutes, Stan returned and pointed me towards Kearney, Nebraska where we spent the night in another driveway. And, they plugged me in to charge my batteries and save Onie a little wear and tear. Stan had a great conversation with a dog training buddy named Tim.

My view of the Archway — Kearney, Nebraska

In Kerney, Nebraska, Stan stopped me at the Archway and the pictures he took were shown to me by Siri.

“The Archway was on the trail to Oregon and wagon trains passed by here on their way. The stories of the wagons and the people are told in the museum.” Siri remarked to me.

My check engine light came on as we were leaving Kearney. Stan stopped everything and took me to the Ford dealership. The mechanic learned that my oxygen sensor was bad, but I wasn’t pulled in to fix it. I heard Stan calling all over Kearney to find someone who could fix me, to no avail. Finally, he was told that the sensor would not affect anything in my engine and that I was safe to drive. So, Stan told Siri to take him to Wall Drug in South Dakota.

We stopped at the Minuteman RV Park & Lodging in Phillip, South Dakota for the night. Stan was tired after driving all day. This was the first stop of the entire trip where Onie was quiet the entire night. Stan used ramps to level me, plugged me in to good power, connected fresh water, and hooked up my sewer line. Stan was just getting comfortable with everything it took to set me up. Fridge was happy to be running on electricity again.

“Electricity is so much warmer than propane. I was beginning to get frostbite.” Fridge remarked.

“You’re supposed to be cold like me. What’s the big idea?” Acie quipped.

“My insides are supposed to be cold, not my arteries which are fed by propane. I much prefer electricity to freezing propane.”

“Quit whining you two. What about me? Stan put corn gas in me and he gave me the knocks and shakes.” I chided and whined.

“Yes, but now he’s giving us the good stuff. I can tell. My insides are purring now.” Onie jumped in to lighten my mood.

“You’re right, but I’m still getting the bad stuff out of my system. You’re lucky you didn’t have to run on that junk.” I griped.

The next morning, Stan woke up early and methodically made sure he dumped my black water and gray water tanks in the correct order. Black first then rinse with the gray water. I noticed he would watch other people talk about their RV on ‘Jensen.’ They gave really good advice and I saw some really nice coaches that received about as much TLC as I do. I was a little jealous of the shine of some of the buses and the length of other coaches in my class, but the one thing I knew, I was loved.

Wall Drug Advertisement in my windshield

Stan finished getting everything disconnected, stored, and ready to travel. Stan let me warm up for 20 minutes while he prepared my interior to travel and make sure Siri knew where we were going. Our destination was Wall Drug in Wall, South Dakota. The signs on the highway advertised free ice water and 5 cent coffee. We arrived about 10AM and Stan had a little difficulty finding a parking spot that could accommodate my size. We finally found a parking spot, and I was parked next to a couple of very nice looking coaches.

I was locked up and we didn’t see Stan for about 2 hours. I guess he enjoyed himself because when he came back from wherever he was, he had postcards and a few other things. He pulled out iPad who is a bigger Siri and look at pictures. There was one of the post office where he must’ve taken postcards because they left with him and never returned.

I was more than a little scared looking at the Bighorn Sheep at my door

We left again. This time for Badlands National Park where I saw some beautiful but scary sights. We drove through the park stopped at some overlooks, but what I remember most is the Bighorn sheep that was meandering down the road. He gave me a glance and then stared at me. Those curled horns looked like the could go right through my fiberglass exterior if he took a notion to do it. We stopped which made me even more nervous. Stan used Siri to take pictures and he set Siri’s destination as Mount Rushmore.

August 21 was a long day. Siri and I passed the time in conversation.

“Hey, Siri. Where are we headed?” I asked.

“We’re heading to some place named Mount Rushmore which is a National Monument with the carving of Presidents, Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt.” Siri responded.

“Wonder why he wants to go there?”

“I think it’s because there’s something special about the place for him. But, I don’t know what it is.”

“How long until we get there?”

“Three hours and fifteen minutes according to my map. But, he’s getting tired according to iWatch.”

“His heart rate is slowing. He’s tiring after all the exertion from the day.” iWatch interrupted Siri and me.

“Looks like we’re stopping. My gas tank is reading 1/2 full.” I said.

Stan filled me up and had Siri dial a number. I heard him make a reservation at Heartland RV Park. About an hour later we stopped there and spent the night. He plugged me in and filled up my water tank.

The next morning I saw the most incredible sight, Mount Rushmore. We spent a few hours here. Siri showed me all the pictures of what she saw. They were incredible.

Siri showed me this image

“How many people were there?” I asked Siri.

“Looked like thousands and most were wearing masks like Stan.” Siri replied.

“Why?”

“I keep seeing NEWS releases of a respiratory virus named COVID-19. It’s killed 165,000 in the United States and the CDC recommends wearing a mask.”

“Sounds like it’s dangerous.”

“It is and I hope Stan can stay safe. He needs to wash his hands every time he goes in and out somewhere.”

“I’ll make sure I keep him in hot water.” Suburban said.

“That will help.” Siri replied.

“Let’s all do our part to help him be safe and enjoy his trip.”

We left Mount Rushmore and headed for the Crazy Horse Memorial in Custer, SD. From miles away, I could see the granite carving of a horse and a man. The closer we got, the better the view.

View through my windshield

“Who was Crazy Horse?” I asked.

“He was a Sioux War Chief who contributed directly to General Custer’s defeat at the Battle of Little Big Horn because of his delay of General Crook at the Battle of Rosebud Creek.”

“Wow!”

We spent about an hour here and then we were off again.

“Where are we going, Siri?”

“Looks like a place called Devil’s Tower.”

“Sounds kinda scary.”

“Well, it was scary in a movie called Close Encounters of the Third Kind.”

“How long until we get there?”

“Two hours.”

We passed a sign with a horse and a cowboy that read, “Welcome to Wyoming.” After another hour, I could see a round spire rising up out of the landscape in the distance.

My Devil’s Tower View

“Is that Devil’s Tower?” I asked.

“Yes, it is.” Siri replied.

“It looks so small.”

“Well, we are still 20 miles away from it. You will be surprised how tall it is when we get closer to it.”

I was. It was huge. We spent about an hour here. I watched Stan walk up the trail and after a while he returned. He pulled out his National Park book and he added several more stamps from the day. The KOA at Devil’s Tower was full, so we kept going. We stopped in Gillette, Wyoming at the High Plains Campground.

I was plugged in and Jensen came on for a little while. Stan used the stove and oven to cook himself a steak and french fries.

We left Gillette the next morning, Sunday, August 23, and we drove to Cody, Wyoming where Stan set me up like we were going to be staying a while. He plugged me in, connected water and sewer, and a wire for Jensen.

Little did I know, but this was just the end of the first week of a twelve week adventure. The Ponderosa Campground was my resting place for the week. Stan hardly left me because he was either on the phone or on Apple.

MacBook helping Stan do his job

“Apple, what is Stan doing?” I asked.

“I’m MacBook Pro, not Apple. And, he’s doing complex calculations and programming so that he can keep fuel in your tank and keep seeing all those beautiful sights he just mentioned to his manager.” MacBook replied.

I was thrilled beyond belief to be on this adventure with my owner and my new friends, MacBook and Siri, and my old friends, Onie, Acie, Suburban, Fridge, Stove, and Oven. They would make this trip memorable and interesting in so many ways.

From personal essays about life lessons, writing, politics, etc. to historical fiction, I write about life today and life past. Check out stancromlishbooks.com

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