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Sunday, July 2, 2017

Situational Awareness

That's what I stressed when I taught my trainees in law enforcement classes.  Always be aware of your situation, don't get tunnel vision and lose track of your surroundings.

Yet today, me, of all people did exactly that, I lost track of my situational awareness.  How did that happen?  Let me 'splain.

Western Colorado is beautiful, but not too friendly to large vehicles like trucks and our Journey, towing our Honda Element.  There are many gas stations that carry gas and diesel, which we use, but aren't laid out to allow big vehicles to fit in.

After yesterday's 415 mile trek and an overnight at a Walmart, with some generator use, the fuel gauge was under 1/4 of a tank.  Normally I fuel around half a tank so I have plenty of mileage left to search out a fuel stop. Of course, this morning all there was available in the quaint little Colorado towns were gas stations with no room for a big vehicle like ours.  We looked and looked to find an accessible station no avail.  We tried exit after exit with no success until I spotted a station across the street that I could swing into, the pumps were parallel to the road instead of the pumps facing the store.

I turned left into the station and before I could get all the way in, a man came running out and stopped me.  He said I wouldn't fit under the roof over the pumps.  He was right, the roof was only 11 feet high and the Journey stands at 12'6".  I almost installed a sunroof in the Journey because I lost situational awareness, I was looking for a place to pull in and not looking up.

Now the fun started, I was half in the station with the car sticking out in the road blocking the lane.  You can't back up a towed car so the only hope was to dodge traffic while I unhooked the car and then backed the Journey out into the road which had traffic backing up.

Fortune smiles on a fool and it sure did for me.  A police officer came along and stopped traffic while I unhooked the car which Marti pulled out of the way and then he helped me back out.  Phew!

Now that I was unhooked, I was able to drive down the street to another station that I fit under and now could maneuver without the car.  After I fueled up, Marti and I moved to a large area and hooked up the car.

Lesson learned, keep track of your situation, breathe, and remember to drive the RV in three dimensions, width, length and UP!

I did figure out a new cable to replace the one I tore yesterday.  This is the cable that attaches to the plug that would stop the car if it ever came unhooked from the Journey.

I found a cable that is used by boaters to attach to an engine kill switch in case the operator falls overboard.  The cable pulls out and stops the engine.  With a little modification, cutting off the plastic part on one end and I had a new cable.  Cheap, too.

After the fueling debacle, we had a nice drive on I-70 through the Colorado mountains, passed Vail and drove along the Colorado river.  The mountains were beautiful,

and we saw many people rafting on the river.  That looks like fun, one of these days we'll have to try that.

The highway even runs through some tunnels.  The road is well engineered.

Tonight we're blacktop boondocking at a Flying J.  You can be sure we'll top off our fuel tank here before we head out in the morning.  1500 miles to go to get back to home base in South Carolina.  And I'll keep looking UP!  :c)

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.


  1. Very Lucky that the Gas Bar operator was looking out for you. I Think an Ouch like that might have slowed your travels down considerably.
    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It's about time.

  2. Now that is a close encounter that I'm sure glad didn't happen. We have enough trouble with the truck and our small trailer. At least in my opinion. Be safe.

  3. The travel gods are looking out for you Paul. Yes, that would have definitely slowed you down had you removed some key elements from the top of the MH. Safe travels from here on out!

  4. Whew, glad the guy gave you a heads up so to speak. HA! We know the gas up problem very well. Even pilot and flying j usually make it difficult for even 35 ft gas rigs at their gas pumps. An RV lane for gas us rare anywhere.

  5. Thanks for the reminder...I'll stop bugging Bill when he needs to fill the tank at a half;o) Glad everything work out without any damage or injury.

    Safe Travels and Happy Trails.....

  6. I too have made a few of those situational awareness mistakes and like you luckily got out of it thanks to someone else's keen awareness. I think 'looking up' is one of the most common mistakes RV'ers make.

  7. That last line should have read....'I think failing to 'look up' is one of the most common mistakes RV'ers make.

  8. You sure got lucky in that situation That's one thing we really need to do, is look up. May the rest of your journey be a smooth one.

  9. Whew, God was looking out for you two in that 'situation'.

  10. Craig has almost done that a couple of times. So far I have caught him before it was too late. We also have an extra antenna on top of the Alfa that makes us 13' 10'" He did design the mount so that he could fold it over to make us 12' 10" but he has to climb up on the roof to do it. Once we came to a bridge that was too low, fortunately there was no other traffic and he had to go up and fold the antenna. The antenna give us 4 bars on the cell phone in places where it might otherwise be 2 or less. Worth the trouble. Keep looking up!

    1. When you go under a bridge or canopy that says 13.6 does holding your breath help ??

  11. Oh, anther point, sometimes the posted clearance does not include light fixtures. We scraped one with the antenna.

  12. I don't think I would put a lot of stock in that Killswitch lanyard most are only plastic coil
    If you have a hammer go to Home Depot or Lowe's and get the appropriate length that you need of stainless steel very light cable. Make a 3in, loop put your fittings on and use a crush fit
    Farrow whack it with a hammer do the same at the other end. it probably won't cost you but five/six bucks? And if you have a hammer that's free

    1. The plastic covers a steel cable inside. It's a jury rig fix until I get a new one ordered, just enough to get us home safe. Thanks for the idea, though! :c)

  13. I did that with my fifth wheel when I first went on the road in 2001. Pulled into the gas station, got gas, and went in to pay. As I was paying the guy said, "You know you're going to have to back out of there, right?" I couldn't believe I hadn't noticed.