Adventures with Willamena Whale – Grim and Grimmer
– Guest article by Charles Lloyd
Sara and I own “Willamena Whale”, a 2006 37-foot Heartland Big Horn 5th wheel towed by “Baby Huey” a 2005 Cummins powered Quad Cab Dodge Ram 2-wheel drive pickup. Since our purchase last September we have traveled from Kansas to Akron, OH and numerous weekend trips here in Kansas.
Recently we traveled to Perry, Kansas and scouted out the feasibility of parking the Whale at a church camp RV area in preparation for a week long church retreat. This RV Park was designed back in the days when 6’ x 10’ popup campers with 15 amp outlets were the norm. Since then the park upgraded the electrical outlets to 50 amps circuits, but trimming and cutting trees to enlarge pads has not been on the maintenance agenda. So, in drive the innocent (us) to test parking in our assigned slot. The slot is near the entrance and is narrow. Pulling past and backing in is a challenge and I almost made it the first time with help from Sara guiding me left and right. Pulling and going farther into the park and “down hill” (10% grade) to try again did not solve the problem. Finally I started slipping on the dirt filled gravel and the RV’s tires were depressing into the soft soil and gravel. The only thing that happened was that the truck’s 2-wheel drive with traction control moved the rear end closer to a tree and we were stuck big time. By the way, two-wheel traction control in this situation spins two tires instead of just one, and it is not any help in this type situation.
What could we do? Well, we needed to find a tow truck service to pull us out. I have received Good Sam flyers on all types of services including RV towing. However, I never signed up, Oh Dear. We have AAA so I then checked and filled out the form on an iPhone. No number to call just peck away at the tiny keypad to answer their questions. With the filled out form came a response with a phone number and reference. We found out that our current membership did not include trailer towing but they would sign us up for an additional $79. Yea, the cavalry is about to ride over the hill to our rescue. Thirty minutes later Tom shows up with a Dodge Ram 3500 dually tow truck. He looks at the mess I created and starts scratching his hair. “Hmm, I never have seen anything like this before.” The guy standing looking at Tom is not a very happy camper at this time. First Tom pulls us forward to straighten out the truck and RV. Then, hooks on the rear RV axle and slowly we start up the hill out of the soft ground.
Fortunately we had access to a smaller and lighter conventional RV so we made it to the camp this year. What about next year? I am going back to volunteer cleaning up the RV Park to do tree removal this fall. This will widen the gravel pads access for current day typical RVs. Then, the pads should be more accommodating for the Whale. The moral is that trailer tow insurance from some source at less than $100 US/year is a bargain. Don’t leave home without it unless you plan to travel paved roads only and stay in well-groomed Good Sam RV parks. When you get adventuresome you need to be prepared.