Sandra T.

ER #134

Since forever I have wanted to take the Pan American Highway south to the tip of Argentina, but I knew for sure that none of my former motorhomes would make the trip.  They were too big or too flimsy.  I was traveling across Texas in my big old Monaco Knight with my sisters, where we stopped for lunch in a rest area.  Parked there was the rig of my dreams, an EarthRoamer; something I had never even heard of.  The occupants were asleep, so I peered at it from a distance.  When I got home I looked up what an EarthRoamer was and knew it was perfect for my dream trip.  Then I saw the price.  I slammed the computer shut and walked away.  Two months later, I was in Bill Swails’ office placing my order.

There were a few temporary changes my son Ben made to the exhaust system, as ultra-low sulfur fuel and the required fuel additive are not available south of Mexico.  With those changes and $3,500 of spare parts, I started my journey south.  I met up with a guide and another couple traveling in a gas engine motorhome in McAllen, Texas and we crossed over into Mexico.  The trip through Central America was wonderful.  The guide proved to be a great disappointment.  I was having some issues with my refrigerator, so my son Ben came to Managua, Nicaragua, fixed the problem in just a few minutes and traveled with me through to Panama, where he flew out.

There is no road between Panama and Colombia, so we put our vehicles on flat racks and sent them on by ship while we flew into Cartegena to wait.  Because the guide had made a mistake we waited in Cartegena for about ten days.  By then the couple in the other rig was fed up with the guide.  They both spoke fluent Spanish, so they took off on their own.  I chose to stick it out with the guide.  In Peru he was turning around (because he was lost again) and got stuck in a sand dune.  I came back and used my winch to drag him out.  The next morning he told me he wasn’t going to take EarthRoamers on his trips anymore.  I said, “You mean like the EarthRoamer that pulled your sorry a** out of the sand last night?”.  There was no comment.  I would like to add here that I never ran low on water when the others were looking for good water sources.  I never ran low on fuel as diesel was everywhere and I had a huge tank.  In Ecuador it was $1 per gallon.  I also did not have to spend days trying to find the right connection to get propane as the others did.  The other couple actually stayed in a propane dispensing yard and ran their propane out, so they could change their fitting to one that would work.

After Peru I decided I had had enough and that if I continued I was going to end up in a Chilean prison for murder, so I got on the internet and arranged for shipping my truck out of Arica, Chile.  In Arica I found incredibly helpful people who walked me through the whole shipping procedure. But still, I flew out of South America wondering if I would ever see my truck again.

The journey for my truck was to be 28 days.  As I could track its progress on the Maersk website I was mortified to see it stuck on the north side of the Panama Canal for three weeks but finally it left….on the wrong ship.  My beloved EarthRoamer was headed to Europe.  Its first stop was Cork, Ireland with subsequent stops in England, Amsterdam, and finally offloaded to be put on a ship back to Houston in Germany.  That is where German customs drilled out the locks and thoroughly searched my truck.  Of course, there was nothing to find.  I might mention that they did not find either of my safes.

Three months after I left the truck in Chile, it arrived in Houston.  There was a bit of a hassle there and I was sure when it showed up it would be a Volkswagen, but I did get it back.  The great crew at EarthRoamer polished out all the salt damage, fixed the locks, and brought her back to her former beauty.

About a year later my standard poodle, Alex, and I were vacationing in Death Valley when the dog rescue I worked with called to ask if I could pick up a pregnant female in a shelter in California.  I said, ‘Sure, where is she.’  El Centro, way down on the Mexico border.  Two days later we had her onboard.  They assured me she had at least two weeks before she was having her puppies.

One weekend in Las Vegas, I had to take my truck in for unexpected service. On the following Monday, I was walking the dogs around and one of the mechanics said, “That dog is going to have those puppies any minute.”  “Oh no, she has two weeks….”. He said “I am going to get you a whelping box.”  

The next day I am driving the truck into the service bay when the first puppy was born.  She had eight puppies that day.  We made it home and all was well until one by one the puppies started dying.  We had a necropsy on one of the little guys and found they had canine herpes virus which was 99 % per cent fatal in puppies under 10 weeks.  The veterinarian wanted to put the last four puppies down, but I just couldn’t.  Finally, I had only one puppy (and Rosie the mom) left.  Every morning I expected to have him gone too.  Well that was two years ago, and I still have the mom and the puppy, Carson.  Along with another poodle I rescued, we now have four dogs that travel in the EarthRoamer.

I love my truck.  It has been a big part of my life since 2014 when I picked it up.  The pups and I look forward to many more happy adventures.

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