Great Expectations – Our First Trailer Trip

I am shameless in appropriating titles, though we did in fact have great expectations for our first trailer vacation.  The time was April 1973 just preceding Easter of that year. We made a trial trip to Lancaster PA to get an actual feel of pulling the trailer, setting it up, staying overnight, and reversing the process back to Coopersburg.  We stayed at a trailer parking place, I don’t remember the name now but it was OK, that I do remember.  The weather was overcast and quite chilly which was fine since we experienced using our heater and the interior was quite comfortable.  The trip was a very positive learning weekend.

We left on Good Friday, April 20,  and travelled as far as Petersburg, VA.  We stayed as a Holiday Inn park and left the next day for a similar park at Virginia Beach, our next destination.  Of course, no internet then so we would consult trailer travel guides, select a park and use a pay phone to reserve a spot.  We left the next day for a similar park at Virginia Beach, VA. It was a short drive and we did get some time to browse around the area and actually get a couple of hours on the beach itself.

The next day we went to Atlantic Beach NC. There was a tremendous rush of beach traffic, mostly going out and we were going in.  We found a trailer park a mile or so from Fort Macon, NC. Marge vaguely remembered the location from her childhood and we spent some time exploring the historic part of the fort. the next morning we all got up early and attended a sunrise service, April 22 at Fort Story.  Marge loved Easter sunrise services wherever they were held and this place was part of her childhood.

On Monday, April 23, we got to Myrtle Beach, SC and again stayed at a Holiday Inn Travl-Park. this was largely due to their having a toll-free reservation service and we didn’t have to wast time looking around for a place to park. We again, enjoyed a pleasant stay, the park was very nice and only a few minutes walk from the ocean.  The girls went swimming.  I didn’t as it was a bit cool for me. I did get some rays lying on the beach. 

We had  an unpleasant  surprise one morning.  The sun was shining and I wanted to take a picture of our daughters.  I asked them to pose under a Palmetto tree.  They soon began to wiggle and then cry and Marge and I had no idea why.  We rushed into the nearest pharmacy, described the symptoms and asked what would relieve them.  The clerk told us that they sat on a fire ant nest and sold us some OTC local anesthetic  called Itchi-Cool.  Fire ants bite fiercely , and we had never heard of them.

We did some local sightseeing and saw some of the local attractions. The most notable was a plantation which once owned by the Huntington’s and now turned into a garden setting.  This held the sculptures of Mrs. Huntington and assorted American sculptors.  I wish I had a photo to show you. The garden was very attractive although most of the spring flowers were beyond their peak. We had good weather throughout. The rain did fall in the evening and we had a brief shower one afternoon. Later I learned that back home the weather was April showers, and then some.

We took two days to come back as we realized that is all the time you need. We could not be assured of a reservation until Monday.  We did have a few negative times along the way.  One time I drove up a road that was clearly marked closed.  However, there were many cars going in, so I assumed the sign was wrong and the locals knew that the road was open.

WRONG, the sign was correct.  The cars were coming in, but parking on the side and walking in.  The road had a side road about a 1/4 mile behind us, which was the only way to get out as our road had drainage gulleys on the sides. No place to get hung up.  I sweat blood trying to back up to that road.  I could NOT do it. Marge took the girls out as I was very stressed and the incoming cars were blowing their horns at me.  I could park the trailer but not drive backward.  Fortunately a Good Samaritan camper came and gave me the help I sorely needed.  I closely watched his technique driving backward to learn.  This one of the rare occasions when I could not figure out a solution.  A humbling, but learning experience.

I ran over a dog on the way back as it just ran into the road in front of me, and with a trailer behind one cannot just veer a bit. I was extremely sorry but could not have avoided it.

On reaching home we received a threatening letter from the school board for keeping the girls out for a few days.  I think the first hand learning  about our country was worth it and they didn’t suffer from the absence.  They both were, still are, very smart and could make up what they missed in class.

It was very nice to get a head start on Spring, something we would later do when we could.  Marge had some sort of bug and my bane, hay fever, was starting.  The girls had their annual art and music demonstration. Louise has shown some interest in piano  and was now taking piano lessons on an alternate basis with Ingrid and I.  We were fortunate to have a teacher that came to our house, instead of vice versa.

Our first real trailer travel adventure was very pleasant.  We met some unexpected trouble but overcame it and it was very nice coming back to PA where the spring flowers were starting to blossom. We had an extended Spring and a bit of family adventure.  Our great expectations were certainly met.


About R. F.

I am a retired Professional Engineer who spent my working life in the electric utility industry. I am now a volunteer instructor at the University Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV).
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6 Responses to Great Expectations – Our First Trailer Trip

  1. Jo Hays says:

    The thing I can’t get over is your memory. Details from decades ago. How do you do it? I’ve come to the conclusion that you have detailed diaries to which you can refer.

    Anyway, you sure are getting a thorough review of your life. Kinda excited to think you may get to teach a Jungian class. More power to you, active sir, wring every bit of health and activity that you have left—and then some.

    I’m not a fan of Prednisone as I start Day 3 on it. Side-effects are not awful (yet??) but not fun either. I take the med again tmrw & then call doc Mon. a.m. to see what path we take from there.

    I’m going to an all-day group facilitators class and encouragement meeting at church this morning, but my plan is to eat my served lunch there & head home for a good nap. Feeling very tired but quite jittery is a Prednisone “benefit” I guess.

    A friend and I are planning a cruise for the fall. Final decision isn’t made, but I am leaning heavily towards the Pacific West, 1 wk, lots of “sales” and “benefits” to bring costs down.

    This woman friend was widowed last May. She and I have been friends forever and she is also a retired psychotherapist. And lots of fun and energy. For the most part I am enjoying the choice-making part. Sometimes, due to the current medicine, I’m just plain jittery.



    • R. Johann says:

      Jo, wow that’s a comment for sure. Yes, I do have a lot of old records, letters, and so forth. When I started these posts, they were simply narratives for the most part. Now I try to reflect a bit on our life, our writings, and the associated feelings emotions, hopes,regrets, etc. That does come back with me now as do forgotten details. I try to have a more or less conversational feel, that we are sitting down together somewhere and I am reminiscing as is the unseen friend out there in the Internet. We talked a bit in person where I mentioned that I consider myself as preparing for death, but not preparing to die. As such I am getting rid of physical and psychological junk, being silly sometime, taking new avenues in life, in short making the most of the unknown amount of time left. This attitude is not at all depressing, just the opposite. Thanks for your caring support.
      My own experience is that new drugs take a while for your body to assimilate, and stopping old drugs can be stressful as your body has to recalibrate to another change. Hang in there but as you are doing, question your doc about side effects. Your trip sounds just great. Marge and I had signed up for a Columbian river cruise in bygone years, but the sponsoring company went bankrupt. We got our down payment back, but we were quite dissapointed since we really looked forward to this. Take care and lets chat again, time permitting.


  2. ingridmg2014 says:

    Yikes, the dreaded fire ants!! As I recall I got the worst of it–I think I must have sat right on their nest. We thought all the ants were off of me but as we were driving away in the car I kept finding more crawling out from under my clothing on my body! I don’t think anyone actually likes the idea of “bugs” crawling on them but this was particularly scary and upsetting as a young girl. I still remember the crinkly metal tube of pink cream–it was called “Itchi-Kool” and was quite the blessed relief. I also remember that bit about getting stuck with the trailer and not knowing how to back out. God sure granted your prayers on that one, sending along someone to help, and although I don’t recall praying for relief from the ant bites the cream was the answer to an unvoiced prayer from me.

    • R. Johann says:

      I had forgotten the name but now that you mention it, that was the stuff. I guess we were not unique in our experience with fire ants. I think Marge washed you off after, don’t know about the clothes. Maybe washed them off in a coin-op campground laundry. Well, we made it and lived to tell the tale so Blessed Assurance for all of us.

  3. Allan T says:

    Robert, as I stated before, taking a trip in a trailer, was never on my “to do list”; my Dad was always saying he was going to buy and older Bus, and build living & sleeping space, and drive all us kids & MOM around the country. Something I was not crazy about( but am sorry it did not happen).

    • R. Johann says:

      It was right for us, something the whole family could enjoy and not too much roughing it for Marge. You, as a family might have enjoyed it, who knows, but that was then, who knows?

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