Breakin’ it down in Iowa

Molly the RV and I were both manufactured in 1982, and we’re both creeping towards 30 as we traverse the country together. The only advantage I’ve got on ol’ Molly is that I’m human, and humans sometimes last a bit longer than cars. To be sure: the poignancy of being lent a vehicle that is my exact same age for such an epic journey has not been lost on me. I’ve missed neither the poignancy, nor the fact that, in car years, Molly is a senior citizen with a whole slew of daily concerns.

We’ve known that she’s going to have problems along the way, but we and her owners have been trying to address each new issue as it arises in order to keep her (and us) moving.

And Molly’s doing great, all things considered. She’s been well-manicured and kept in great shape. Something I can’t necessarily always say about myself.


But yesterday, while trying to arrive at our residency in Nebraska, Molly had a little accident. One of her oil tubes came loose. We smelled something burning, we saw smoke, and on top of all that we were majorly lost. So we decided it was a good time to pull over. We opened the hood and Molly had literally soaked herself in oil. It was everywhere and it was smoking. It was not a pretty sight, and I’m pretty sure Molly was embarrassed.

I would have been.


All around us the sunset was just beginning to soak a vast sea of corn and soy in a blinding gold haze, and the sleepy Iowa towns ten miles away in both directions were rolling up their sidewalks and heading towards their Saturday nights.


In short: we were stranded.


Six hours later we were still on the same stretch of lonely Iowa highway, only now we’d met a new local friend, named Joe, who was helping us try to get Molly back on her feet. Gayle and Barry on the phone, Joe at our sides, we were trying everything we could, but we weren’t having any luck.  

As far as we can all tell, it could be something relatively minor, or it might mean that Molly’s heart has stopped. We won’t know for sure until tomorrow, when the local auto places open.

So now we just sit and wait.



So “Greetings!” from the 59er Motel and Campground in Shenandoah, Iowa, which, when locals pronounce it, sounds more like “Shannon Dougherty” than the valley in Virginia I’ve always known.





And we’re going to be a touch late for our residency, but that’s alright. For now we and Molly are just chillin’ under some shade trees, waiting to see what happens. But here at the 59er there’s the rare luxury of WIFI, plus a stray kitten who likes ham, and a great lawn for lying in the sun. And the best thing about Molly is that even when she’s not feeling well, she gracefully switches from being a mobile home to just plain ol’ home