Rest Stops, Ignition Keys and Slideouts

I promise I will come up with more original titles going forward, or hire my friend Katie of Domestiphobia who always writes killer, pull-you-right-in headlines!

Standard Domestiphobia Headlines

As I mentioned in my ‘Visiting the WeightMaster’ post, we had a very harrowing unplanned second trip from San Francisco to Phoenix.

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When we left San Francisco the first time we definitely did not plan to return, at least for a while.

However, when we picked up our RV in early November our dealer informed us that they noticed that the cabinetry over the kitchen (which is on the passenger side of the RV) seemed to be “off” and they were bringing in their regional Tiffin expert to fix it. The everything-Tiffin guy would be passing through in mid-December forcing us to make a return trip.


We left the Phoenix area on Sunday and made really good time, considering this time we listened to our GPS directions and bypassed some gnarly I-5 traffic in LA by taking the I-210 via Pasadena (a tip that our salesperson Galen (remember him?) gave us right before we made our first trip which we totally ignored. Good ole Galen was right again!

The trip up was uneventful until we hit Bakersfield where we caught torrential rain. Not scary at all. Dark, limited visibility, torrential rains, the perfect combo for a 4-lane road with semi-trucks. I was completely relaxed….

Photo credit: Oakley Originals

We stopped earlier than anticipated, the weather just wasn’t ideal for driving any longer, and decided to get up earlier the next morning to make up the time. We are morning people anyway, so that was fine with me.

We arrived in Livermore, met the Tiffin rep, showered him with questions, dropped off our baby, and headed to a hotel for a nice hot shower (the shower isn’t accessible when the slide-outs are in for driving). We spent the next 36 hours knocking things off our shopping list, including some food, it’s us, what can I say?

We packed up the RV with all of our new purchases and rolled off the lot at about 4 PM. If you know anything about the Bay Area you know that is the most perfect time of day to hit the road, particularly the Altamont Pass.


Nonetheless, we began making our way towards I-5 and Los Angeles.

We only made it about 45 minutes down the road before we started seeing signs that there was a major accident on the Grapevine and that we should be looking for an alternative route. I tried desperately to find up-to-date traffic information to no avail. All I could find was one news story about an accident, but I had no way of knowing what the current condition was.

accident ahead
Photo credit: McDermott Light

Do you know how frustrating it is to have a smartphone in your hand and not be able to find relevant information?! At any point in time, I can tell you how old Matt Damon is. Or that the actress in the Hercules movie was the same chick from the latest Mission Impossible movie. But actual useful information, like whether is there an accident on a major highway. Nope. Nothing. Nada!

Also, truth be told, we weren’t sure where exactly the Grapevine was on our route. Would we be turning off for I-210 before we hit that area or after?

Our game plan was to just continue on our course and maybe all the other people would find alternative routes and we would breeze right through.

And that is exactly what happened. There was a crazy terrible accident with a jackknifed big rig and fire, but by the time we got to it, and with all the “find an alternate route” messages every 50 miles or so, there was practically no one on the road through the Grapevine and we sailed right through.

Really, I should have waited to celebrate.

I cursed the Universe. I am sure of it.

Our next mission was to stop at a rest stop for the night. We have a great app that we use to tell us where all the rest stops are on all the freeways and highways in the U.S. so I plotted out which one we were going to stay that night.

The only problem was, with not leaving until 4 and the slow-going because of the accident (even though it was clear), we didn’t arrive at the rest stop until 10 PM.

And it was full.

Then 3 out of the 4 next rest stops were closed.

10 became 11.

11 became midnight.

We stopped at each rest stop only to find it totally packed. Veteran truckers were parked wherever they could on off-ramps etc. We aren’t veterans so we didn’t want to risk it.

Midnight became 1.

1 became 2.

At around 2:30 AM we hit the Arizona border. I was bleary-eyed and desperate for sleep. I can only imagine what Mr. Misadventures was thinking, although he said he was fine (men…).

At 3 AM California time (4 AM Arizona time) we arrived at our second Arizona rest stop (the first one had been full) The situation was getting dire as there were only 4 before our exit to the RV park we were staying at, and we couldn’t get into the RV park until after 7.

We pulled through slowly looking for a spot, this rest stop like all the others was full. Or so we thought. But as we passed the last truck, we realized there was actually one more spot we could slide into and we did. We turned off the engine and I jumped out to make sure that our jeep was clear of the road. It wasn’t, so I asked Mr. Misadventures to restart the engine and pull up just a tad.

That’s when the ignition slot where you put the key in fell through the dash. The stunned look on our faces must have been priceless. I was sleep-deprived and literally felt like shrieking. We paused and Mr. Misadventures exited the RV and walked along the passenger side, passed through the back, and accessed his toolbox in the last storage area on the driver side.


Using a screwdriver, he had to take off eight tiny screws that hold the dash in place (mind you this was taking place at 3 AM after driving an RV for 11 hours), grab the ignition key thingy, pull it back through the dash and tighten it so would remain secure. Then he had to re-screw the screws back in.

We started up the engine, pulled up enough so that the Jeep was clear of the road, and fell asleep in the clothes we were wearing!

We slept until 8, I was not a happy camper, and I got up to make coffee while my hubby went to take a tour of the RV to make sure everything was okay with the Jeep, etc. He returned very quickly and said, “I think we are in big trouble!”

I asked, “What happened? Did someone hit the Jeep?”

“No. There is a giant cable hanging out from under the RV. It has been totally shredded by our 11 hours of driving and I don’t know what it is!”


He hadn’t seen it the night before because he had walked on the driver's side to get his toolbox. For this, I am kind of glad otherwise we probably wouldn’t have been able to sleep!

I took pictures and quickly emailed them to the service department at the dealership where we bought the RV and asked for help. Since it was 8 in Arizona that meant it was only 7 in California and the service department didn’t open up until 8:30.


We made the decision to tape it up and continue our path home in the hopes we would hear back along the way.

While we were stopped for fuel, DEF (diesel exhaust fuel, it keeps our diesel clean burning) and to check our tire pressure, I placed a call to the service department. Based on the visual look of the cable and where it was hanging down from the RV, their best guess was that it was the cable for our slideouts.

How it became dislodged is beyond us. We were all around the RV before we left, loaded up on DEF, and opened and checked all the cargo areas, that cable was not lying on the ground when we left.

But dislodged it was and our service department said that it needed to be repaired before attempting to open the slideouts otherwise they could get stuck.

Huh. Great.

My husband is not the mechanic-y type, but he is an engineer. So he said all he needed to do was strip the damaged area and splice back all the cables together and that should do it.

That should do it.

Okay. Great.

I bought electrical tape and when we arrived at our RV Park, we pulled into a long parking slot and Mr. Misadventures proceeded with the operation. He cut the cable where it was completely damaged. He stripped the eight colored wires on each side and spliced them together, temporarily taped them together, and was ready for testing.

I went inside to test the first slideout.

I am not a religious person. I believe there is something out there in the Universe and it’s best to not mess with it. But I prayed. I crossed my fingers. I did a little circle dance before I put my finger on the “Driver Side Slideout Extend” button.

It slid out perfectly. It retracted perfectly. I repeated the process for the other three slideouts.


Mr. Misadventures taped it to the chassis in a more permanent fashion and we retested moving the slideouts in and out.


All better.

Then we drove to our slot and Mr. Misadventures (now known as Mr. MacGyver) performed a perfect on-one-try back-in!

Photo credit: Kreativita – Ležatá Osmička

We haven’t really set out on our adventures yet, but the misadventures seem to be inevitable! I really do hope that not every blog post I write over the next year is like this one! I have faith that there are going to be lots of fun times as well.

How about you? Have you started a project or something similar that just didn’t go right from the beginning? How did you stick with it?

Trip details and expenses on this leg of our trip:

> 700 miles
> Love’s diesel fuel 63.569 gallons X $2.339 = $148.69
> Travel Centers of America diesel fuel: 39.553 gallons X 2.599 = $102.80
> Love’s DEF (Diesel Exhaust Fuel): 4.075 gallons X $2.699 = $11.00
> Love’s Tirepass tire pressure check $5.00 + $5.00 first time user credit = $0.00
> 100 years off my life and a few more grey hairs
> TOTAL Expenses: $262.49


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  1. Emma Spellman says:

    Oh man you must have been so stressed out when that happened. I am glad that your husband was handy enough to fix it and I hope the place you bought your RV from gave you some sort of refund for your troubles. My husband is always fixing something with wires, so luckily if we are ever in this situation I know he would be able to handle it. One of the benefits of being married to handy men. haha. I hope your next trip is more uneventful.

    1. Andi Fisher says:

      @Emma, I didn’t realize how handy my hubby is, I guess the new RV is bringing it out in him!

  2. Wow, I don’t know how you managed to survive that adventure without totally and utterly losing it. I am not the most patient person in the world so I really think I would have lost my mind. Happy to hear that you had such a wonderful travel partner in your hubby and wish you less busy/stressful future travels.

    1. Andi Fisher says:

      @Amanda, it was purely sleep deprivation! Just kidding, my hubby is great under fire. I think that is an engineering thing too. Whenever I have a problem with my laptop, I will give up after 5 minutes, my hubby will plug away at it for an hour until he understands what’s wrong!

  3. Wow, what an adventure. And not the best of situations, but you handled them all well Thank goodness you have such a wonderful travel partner! We used to travel a lot by RV when I was younger, such fond memories! Heres to a better travel future!

    1. Andi Fisher says:

      @Cindy, I think back about my own trips with my grandparents in their RV and I didn’t have a care in the world, I wish my grandfather was still alive so I could ask him if he was stressed out!

  4. 1. STOP. I’m totally blushing. 😉 Most bloggers would tell you to stay as far away from my titles because they’re about as SEO-UNfriendly as you can get!
    2. That story stressed me out so bad! When does the fun part of the camping start??! Probably when you get to park it somewhere beautiful, amiright?
    3. I’m also laughing as I read this because I was totally picturing Justin and me, and I imagine it’d be much the same — me stressing over bad weather and no rest stops and dangling cables, and Justin just diligently working through it. I call that balance. 🙂

    1. Andi Fisher says:

      @Katie, who cares about SEO, your titles are killer. You can take care of SEO in may other ways without sacrificing those awesome headlines 🙂 I am ready for the fun to begin!

  5. Oh man, what stress!! I was getting edgy just reading it. The trouble with the rest areas reminds me of driving home to NYC after 9/11 (from San Diego) and hotel after hotel being full. But my question is, what is a slide out??

    1. Andi Fisher says:

      @Tamara, oh I can imagine that stress, actually I felt it! Most RVs have slide outs, anywhere from 1-4. They are parts of the individual rooms that slide out to extend the square footage of the RV interior. I think you will get a better idea when we do the photos, we will do them with the slides in and out. When they are in (for driving) you can barely walk through the RV it is so narrow.

  6. alicia szemon says:

    what a cool trip! i would love to go to California

  7. What an adventure… I don’t think I could survive. I enjoy road trips but try to limit because i have 2 small children. Too stressful 🙂

  8. Edna Williams says:

    What trouble! Glad it all worked out!

  9. Sicorra@NotNowMomsBusy says:

    I would have been so stressed out.
    I am amazed that every rest stop you went to was so full. Was it mostly truck drivers or have a lot of people turned to RV living?
    My husband and I have talked about doing exactly what you are doing, but in Canada. I don’t know if we would have survived the night you had though. And in Canada the rest stops are nowhere near as nice as in the States, so up here people boondock in Walmart parking lots. Not something I would see us do either .

  10. Oh my gosh. Misadventures with Andi is right. Sounds like my year last year. Nothing went right with the whole relocating process we went through. Our vehicle wouldn’t start on more than one occasion due to the cold temperatures. The moving truck got stuck in the neighbor’s yard. My sister-in-law’s mother ended up in the hospital so we lost my brother’s help, which meant it was just me and my mother trying to empty our house until he got back from that. Those are just a few of the things that happened. But when things go wrong you just have to keep plugging away. So we did and we got it done.