Making our Escape

We used to regard RVs and their snowbird drivers as a blight – traffic-obstructing, view-obscuring behemoths that clogged up highways and hogged parking spaces. We would drive by a 40-foot coach hauling a small car, and smugly comment, “their gas bill must be a killer.”  Then, our reality struck. After a cross-country trip last summer, we put our tent to the test, and it failed time and again. Gale force winds in the grasslands, rain-outs in Newfoundland, obnoxious music in places too numerous to count and an air mattress that refused to stay inflated were all annoyances that piled on and had us questioning our resolve to “keep it simple.” Long-term tenting was no longer simple and no longer fun.

It was when we started to plan our North American travels that we began to rethink our options. Alaska, the Yukon, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, the Everglades – over the next few years we hope to visit as many national, state and provincial parks as possible.  After a bit of research, we discovered a common denominator. Cabins and motels in more remote areas are limited, mediocre, over-priced or all three. To be able to truly experience parks and wilderness meant we would have to bring our accommodation with us.

And the search began. Since we have no home (with driveway), it ruled out a motorhome of any size. Our truck goes where we go, and since it is too small to support a truck camper, we began looking at small travel trailers.  A tent trailer? An A-frame? No, on both counts – a bathroom, or at least, a toilet was a must-have. We roamed the RV lots and became more and more discouraged. Most RVs are made in Indiana, and there has been such an explosion of sales in recent years that quality is hit-and-miss. Searching online reviews was illuminating. One very popular brand even has a Facebook site devoted to “haters” – a litany of complaints about shoddy workmanship, poor warranties, leaks, mold, etc.

We almost gave up, and then we discovered Escape Trailers – lightweight fibreglass trailers made right here in British Columbia – in Chilliwack, about an hour east of Vancouver. Their business plan is simple – they build on demand, and potential buyers are able to inspect models from a list of Escape owners in their area. We saw two models on Vancouver Island – one in Qualicum Beach and one in Nanaimo, and both owners were effusive in their praise for everything about their units. The resale value on the Escape Trailers is close to full price and the demand is high. We were sold.

This is the unit we chose – the Escape 21-foot trailer.

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Our trailer has a double bed, 3-piece bathroom, U-shaped dinette, 2-burner stove, and tons of storage. As our trailer was being built, we received weekly updates and photos, making us feel like expectant parents receiving ultrasounds. These are two of the final photos before we took possession.

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We didn’t think hauling a trailer would be necessarily easy, but we were up for the challenge. We read the manual in advance, watched the video and arrived for our three-hour orientation feeling pretty chuffed about it all. That soon disappeared as the mountain of information began. “Drain black water first, then grey water.”  “Top up battery with distilled water.”  “Check surge protector monitor.”

Good grief. We had booked three nights at a nearby campground to practice driving,  hitching, unhitching and the dreaded backing up. Were we ready to bring this baby home and look after it properly? I have distinct memories of bringing our first son, Alex home from the hospital, and not having the foggiest idea of what to do with him. Was he bored just lying there looking at us? Was I allowed to leave the room?  Alex took care of that foolishness by doing what babies do and we followed his lead. Somehow our trailer experience was taking on that same sense of ineptitude.

Our campground hideaway gave us the time we needed to calm down and educate ourselves.  Many people walked by and stopped to talk – admiring the trailer, giving us advice, encouraging us to be patient with ourselves. These kind people did wonders for our state of mind and busted my snobbish notions about trailer parks.

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And finally, we were ready to leave – heading down the highway to the U.S. border crossing just 20 minutes away. The trailer just followed along behind us, and as we discovered we could drive at full speed and even change lanes we began to gain confidence.

Our border crossing was a breeze – no questions about our marijuana use or political affiliations, in fact not even a query about fruit and vegetables (I left two offending oranges behind on our picnic table).

We sailed down some backroads that we had nearly to ourselves and stopped to take photos. We were doing this! Our trip had begun!

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The bucolic autumn countryside disappeared once we hit Seattle on the I-5 and then crawled, crawled, crawled through that city’s perpetually nasty traffic. Our first stop for the night was Olympia, and we were just five minutes from our campsite when we stopped at a Fred Meyers (large American store), to pick up some groceries for dinner.

The parking lot was jammed with people and surprisingly small for such a large store. Too small, as it turned out, for our trailer. This was the very upsetting result – a broad scratch across the middle of our trailer, with our door jammed and  a chunk out of the fibreglass finish.

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Needless to say, we were in a state, but since the damage was limited to the body and did not affect drivability, we made our way over to a motel, and began to figure out our next plan of attack. Dinner. A bottle of wine. An uneasy sleep, and then up at 4:00 a.m. to begin the 6-hour drive back to Canada and back to the Escape factory.

They couldn’t have been more considerate – they assessed the damage, told us to return later that afternoon to pick up our partially-fixed trailer (new door), and we headed back to our campground to wait out the weekend. As I write this in the Chilliwack library, they are repairing the fibreglass damage, and by mid-afternoon we will have our trailer back, almost as good as new.

Tomorrow morning we head south again, and our adventure will truly begin. We’ll be gone until early May – with stops in California on the way down (including a few days in Las Vegas to meet up with friends), two months in Baja, and a slow drive back, from Texas to New Mexico to Utah to Arizona to California. We’ll visit as many parks as weather permits,  and we’re sure there’ll be a story or two along the way.

Thanks for continuing to follow us!

35 thoughts on “Making our Escape

  1. Laurence October 29, 2018 / 1:07 pm

    Oh darn, a false start, not the end of the world although annoying as heck. Just like babies we adjust, I dropped my first born twice, he survived…. Enjoy your trip my friends, you will love your new trailer and it’s amenities.

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    • leavingourselvesbehind October 29, 2018 / 6:22 pm

      And here I thought “dropping babies” was just a joke people made to scare new mothers!
      Thanks for the encouraging words – we are back at the campground and ready to tackle the road once more. Slow and steady – we’ll get there.

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  2. DohaArtworks October 29, 2018 / 1:17 pm

    Looks and sounds wonderful. Come and park in our driveway! Have fun. Libby

    Sent from my iPad

    >

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  3. Shelley-Anne October 29, 2018 / 1:17 pm

    Have another wonderful adventure. I look forward to reading about it. When we travelled with our trailer – it was amazing – and offered lots of flexibility.

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    • leavingourselvesbehind October 29, 2018 / 6:24 pm

      Thanks Shelley-Anne – we look forward to the “amazing” part of our journey!

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  4. Nancy Jarrell October 29, 2018 / 1:38 pm

    Oh no…… your baby!,,
    Sounds akin to my departure from my garage…..kissing my friend’s car en route.
    These are growing pains…. soon you will be pullin Ueeees in the middle of the interstate.
    Keep calm and carry on…
    Hugs nanc

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    • leavingourselvesbehind October 29, 2018 / 6:25 pm

      thanks Nanc – I look forward to the day when driving this thing feels as natural as driving a car. Better we had our mishap close to home than three months into the trip – as someone said to us – “you’ll never do that again”.

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  5. Claire October 29, 2018 / 1:58 pm

    The trailer looks great. Must be winter – you’re back on the road. I’m envious Your trip sounds great.

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    • leavingourselvesbehind October 29, 2018 / 6:27 pm

      thanks Claire – yes, the trailer is perfect for us. Once we feel a little more in control of everything, it will work out well. We’re looking forward to being in the desert and watching the night sky.

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  6. Donna October 29, 2018 / 3:13 pm

    What a start to your adventure! Well, looks like a trip full of stories and experiences. Enjoy!

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    • leavingourselvesbehind October 29, 2018 / 6:28 pm

      thanks Donna – a good little reminder that we can’t just flip around like we do with a car – good habits to develop after decades of bad ones.

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  7. Mike October 29, 2018 / 5:46 pm

    Sorry about your accident! Look at it this way: your cosy trailer is going to be your home wherever you stop over the next few months, and now that it has some character, you can relax and enjoy it!

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    • leavingourselvesbehind October 29, 2018 / 6:32 pm

      That’s what we’re thinking – we’ve broken it in a bit now – it was a little too shiny! I asked the folks at Escape today if we could take the trailer through a car wash – they were horrified. I meant a do-it-yourself wash, not the car wash that you drive into and envelope yourself in soap and brushes – way too claustrophobic for me, even with a car.

      I’m wondering if they are reconsidering us as Escape owners – we probably present as entirely too clueless.

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  8. Joan Fisher October 29, 2018 / 5:48 pm

    Trailer looks great! Looking forward to reading your stories again. Safe travels. I know it will be exciting, interesting and wonderful. Joan

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    • leavingourselvesbehind October 29, 2018 / 6:34 pm

      thanks Joan – it feels great to be back on the road, mishaps and all. It also feels good to be learning something new, even though at this point our unit still has the upper hand.

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  9. jon snipper October 29, 2018 / 6:59 pm

    Well, your first outing really was a “trailer”. Now that it’s whetted our appetite and gotten us hooked, we look forward to the main feature staring a “drag” queen and king! I am sure it won’t be a remake of Lost in America (Steve, keep an eye on Ginny in Las Vegas). Bon voyage the two of you.

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    • leavingourselvesbehind October 30, 2018 / 5:18 pm

      Very clever!! Let’s hope the “trailer” was not the highlight of the trip.

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  10. Shelagh October 30, 2018 / 4:05 am

    Hi, G and S. We are long time believers in the benefits of small RVs and trailers. The first time was in Las Vegas. Charlie was at a recording technology conference in the late 1990s and I joined him. As the conference was wrapping up, he told me to take a cab to an unknown address and wait for him there. It was an RV rental place and I thought no way. But we rented a boxy Cruise America 23 footer and we were off to the desert. We camped all over Arizona, ate well with menus under our control, and met wonderful people. We were hooked. Since then, we’ve had a Trillium, then a 23ft Jaycraft and finally our T@B trailer (with turquoise trim). It’s a joy…easy to park, bright on the inside and three windows for cross ventilation. We attach a tented atrium where we eat and read and really, it’s luxury. Truly the way to go.

    Sorry to hear about your bumps and grinds! Wishing you smooth travels from now on.

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    • leavingourselvesbehind October 30, 2018 / 5:25 pm

      Sneaky Charlie – good for him.

      I think control over what you eat is a huge part of the attraction of camping. I also love the idea of having a netted addition – perfect to sit outside without the bugs. I was envious last summer watching the serenity of fellow campers ensconced in their gazebos, while we were swatting impotently at ourselves and being asphyxiated from multiple mosquito coils.

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  11. Heather Scott October 30, 2018 / 8:24 am

    I chuckled when I read the opening of your blog! We have often thought the same thing about R. V.’s. Note to self: be careful what you say, it might come back to haunt you! On a more serious note, I was devastated when I read about your mishap with the trailer. I’m just relieved to hear repairs have been made and you are on the road again. Hopefully, it will be clear sailing from here on in!

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    • leavingourselvesbehind October 30, 2018 / 5:28 pm

      Thanks Heather – yes, I am learning that being clever and snarky can come back to bite me. Who knows what we will sign on for before this journey of life begins to wind down.

      One thing we know for sure – we’re not as smart as we think we are and part of the joy of this travel is meeting those folks who have so much to share.

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  12. david robinson October 30, 2018 / 8:35 am

    Oh man what a great start to your new adventure! Plain sailing from now. Ginnie you are such a great story-teller/writer. Stephen you are very handsome-is. X Dave

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  13. davidrobinson378 October 30, 2018 / 8:37 am

    Excellent start and an excellent story, Ginnie you write so well. All plain sailing now that the initiation is over. Be safe x Dave

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    • leavingourselvesbehind October 30, 2018 / 5:30 pm

      Well dear friend Dave – I’m picking this comment to respond to. We’re wondering what “handsome-is” means! :>)

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  14. Moira October 30, 2018 / 9:16 pm

    You could have talked to me about Escape Trailers. We have owned our 17-foot Escape Trailer since 2004. It still looks as good as new and has served us well. Safe travels.

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    • leavingourselvesbehind October 31, 2018 / 6:02 pm

      I had no idea! We met a woman at the factory who had driven from Calgary to pick up a 2009 13-ft. Escape from Vancouver Island. She was bringing it back to the factory for a couple of small fixes and then heading home – an excited new owner.
      A man slowed down beside us today on a backroad with his thumb in the air – he owns a 19-footer. It’s like a little club!

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  15. Linda Whitely November 1, 2018 / 5:15 pm

    Hi guys! So proud of you!! Love how you just take everything as a challenge and fly with it! Like all your friends have said…in no time at all you will be experts. It’s just the way you two roll! Looking forward to more adventures! Big hugs. Linda & Gary xoxo

    PS..Just going to email you as well.

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    • leavingourselvesbehind November 1, 2018 / 6:27 pm

      Thanks for the encouraging words, you two – much appreciated. We’re starting to get the hang of it all – the driving is the easy part – it’s the backing up that is still a challenge, and making sure we go through our “drive-away checklist” – we’re still forgetting things if we don’t refer to the list.

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  16. righteousbruin9 November 2, 2018 / 6:11 am

    Although I, being alone and not a fan of large vehicles, would not own an RV, I don’t have any particular snob factor, when it comes to those who do have rolling accommodations. RV’ers have been wonderful neighbours, on my road trips, over the years. If you folks find yourselves in Prescott, AZ or thereabouts, give me a buzz-I will be around until at least the end of June, next year.

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    • leavingourselvesbehind November 2, 2018 / 5:40 pm

      Thanks for the kind offer! We will be in Arizona at some point on our way back (maybe March?) and if we anywhere near Prescott (I’ll have to look it up), I’ll be in touch.

      Liked by 1 person

      • righteousbruin9 November 3, 2018 / 9:22 am

        Okay. I will likely be out of town, for my son’s wedding,March 8-16. Otherwise, will be glad to connect.

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  17. Sheila and Jim November 2, 2018 / 6:23 am

    So sorry to hear about this beginning to your new adventure. We are always anxious when we hire cars on our trips. However, we are glad you are off and blogging as your writing brings a smile to our faces or a “or no!” We are in Rhodes where it is 28 degrees and not a cloud in the sky. We are off to have a swim in the turquoise Aegean!

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    • leavingourselvesbehind November 2, 2018 / 5:44 pm

      Sheila – I always feel the same when we rent cars – so far, so good. As for our mishap, now we feel our trailer has been christened!

      We’ve been following your adventures with great interest, and those bright photos have kept us going as we make our way down the rainy Pacific Northwest coast.

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  18. Gabriel November 6, 2018 / 5:54 am

    Its great to read you again!

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