It’s safe to say that we love our RV. R’Velle has become a beloved member of our family, often confusing others when we refer to the RV as ‘she’.

Though we don’t RV full time, we travel with her as much as possible, relying on her to get us to and from our pleasure trips while also offering a home away from home.

And while I think of R’Velle as our vacation home, I hadn’t really expected to use her as our actual home for an extended period. And I definitely didn’t think about this situation popping up in the middle of our fall trip to Florida, where R’Velle winters in the warm temps while we return to the cold Iowa plains.

A Trip to Florida Becomes a Trip to Texas


We were just a day and a half into our 4 day trip. Fun stops had been made at Lamberts Café in Ozark, Missouri- where R’Velle met another 4 Winds bunkhouse in the parking lot.


RVelle meets another 4 Winds Type C Bunkhouse in the parking lot at Lamberts Cafe in Ozark MO.


We followed that with a visit to Mansfield and tour of the homes of our favorite Pioneer author, Laura Ingalls Wilder.


The two homes of Laura Ingalls Wilder at Rocky Ridge Farm near Mansfield Missouri.


We had just left Mammoth Springs in NE Arkansas when we got a call…


Mammoth Spring State Park in NE Arkansas is a place of history and legend.


Doug’s mom had been experiencing complications since her double-bypass surgery in late August and had returned to the hospital. This visit looked bad – her weakness made the stroke symptoms and blood clots even more dangerous.

The decision was easily made to turn west. As Doug drove I worked through a list of campsite reservations to be cancelled before turning to the thought of where we would stay that night.

Our initial thought, to boondock in the hospital parking lot, was removed with one phone call – “There is just no room for that,” I was told. And while there are plenty of campgrounds in the area, we wanted one that was near the hospital.

When we travel I usually have weeks to plan. I vet campsites for amenities and ease of use. With only a few hours until our arrival, and the inability of the small, independently owned campgrounds to offer online reservations, the search for a location took on an urgency. The first two campgrounds didn’t answer their phone, the third was full, the fourth was closed… Our fifth choice, a no-frills campground near the regional airport, had space for us. The location turned out to be handy, as we also needed to rent a car.

Not long after our arrival Doug’s mom was stabilized and was sent home the next day. We followed in R’Velle, boondocking on the farm overnight before continuing on our journey.


Boondocking at the farm. My in-laws are RVers too


Though it seemed our trip was for naught, it was a blessing we were there. The next morning Doug was in the house making breakfast when, suddenly, his mom’s leg turned blue and lost all feeling.

Another blood clot.

Worried about Deep Vein Thrombosis, the local EMTs called for a helicopter to the hospital we had just left the day before. After a few hours there that hospital called for another helicopter to fly her to Houston.

4 ½ hours away.

As we drove back to the farm, plans were again shifted.

Quick stops were made to stock the kitchen with food to last a few days, water was added to our tank, and we were on our way. Leaving late, we spent a night in a well-lit rest area along Interstate 45, arriving the next morning at the hospital.

We had no idea how long this stay would be. Doctors seemed baffled by the recurring complications and we couldn’t boondock in the large hospital parking lot indefinitely. Our water tanks needed to be filled and our sewer needed to be dumped.

Though there were RV parks closer to the hospital, we chose Willow Lake RV Resort, a lovely new RV park with a pool, a much-needed laundry, and strong wifi, which was necessary for us to work.

Our 4 day trip stretched on. We were thankful for the RV as costs for hotel, dining, and transportation would have been astronomical had we not had our ‘home away from home’ providing lodging and the ability to fix our own meals.


Resort amenities at Willow Lake included fire pits with a view a comfortable community room a laundry and lake side lots


Doug would spend his days at the hospital, working from his mom’s room, while the girls and I would do our own work in the RV before heading to the hospital ourselves. Afternoons were taken up with laundry, more work, and an escape to the swimming pool.


The pool at Willow Lake RV Resort was a welcome break from the heat and hospital.


After a 9 day hospital stay, but thankfully no surgery, Doug’s mom was released to return home. R’Velle switched roles again- this time working as patient transport. The comfy couch offered a much more relaxing ride for Doug’s mom than a car would have – and we were all thankful for the un-cramped space during the long evening drive.

On To Florida

Another night of boondocking on the farm and a morning spent making sure all was well, and we finally resumed our trip to Florida.

In the end our 4 day trip became a nearly 3 week journey. Without the flexibility of our jobs and the ability to change plans on the fly because we were traveling in the RV, I’m sure we wouldn’t have been there when we were really needed. R’Velle came through for us in a way we never imagined when we purchased her – moving her status beyond recreational vehicle to reliable family emergency vehicle.