The Aftermath

Today we were supposed to be hiking the magnificent Joshua Tree National Park.  Instead we were removing all personal belongings from our destroyed RV and putting them in storage.  This took about 4 hours, as we had to make numerous trips back & forth between the wrecker lot and storage unit.  Fortunately Theresa did a great job finding a storage place and hotel room that accepts dogs all within a few blocks of where our RV was parked.  It’s amazing that our entire life on the road could fit in a tiny 5×10’ storage unit with room to spare.  I guess this shows how minimalist of a life we were living in our 270-square-foot motor home.

Our life in a storage unit

We also grabbed all our clothes, toiletries, hiking gear, computer equipment, what food we could salvage, and anything else we thought we’d need in the next few days, and we put all of this in our hotel room:

From a 270 sq ft RV to a 130 sq ft hotel room

The damage inside the RV was extensive.  You cannot see it well from the photos, but nearly every joint in the RV frame and structure was bent or broken.  And there was flour everywhere and on everything, and a bottle of vegetable oil exploded and coated a bunch of our food.  What a sticky, gooey mess!

What's left of our RV

When we arrived at the wrecker lot, the California Highway Patrol was there taking photos of the RV.  So the officers from the special investigative unit took this opportunity to interview both Theresa and me again.  They asked us pretty much the same questions they had asked the night of the accident, though they explored a few topics in more detail.  At the end of the interview, the officer asked me if I had any new insights after having two days to reflect on the accident.  I replied that I’m even more sure than ever that we did nothing wrong, and this accident was not our fault.  We saw a clear road for a quarter mile in both directions.  Our RV is the size of a barn, and the officer that hit us should have seen us long before we would’ve ever seen him.  We’re still baffled as to why he didn’t try to slow down or take evasive action.  Hopefully his cruiser camera was operating and/or they can glean important information from the cruiser’s black box.

We also hope the CHP uses this incident to re-evaluate their policy on high-speed chases.  The suspect was eventually apprehended with stop-sticks by police who were waiting ahead for him.  So why was there a need for the CHP to chase after the man at such high speeds and put additional lives in danger?  Their decision to pursue the suspect cost us our home and weeks from our trip of a lifetime.  Had we been driving our car and not our large RV, the accident would’ve likely claimed all our lives as well.  But I want to re-emphasize we hold no ill will toward the officer who hit us.  He was risking his life and doing his job trying to protect the public.  We wish him the best in his recovery.  I also want to mention that the CHP has been very respectful and gracious the entire time and not accusatory in any way.

Last night Theresa and I agreed that we want to continue on our journey.  We plan to spend the day tomorrow relaxing and hiking in Joshua Tree National Park and thinking about our next steps.  Basically we have two options:  Plan A is to buy a new RV.  Given that our insurance company is already starting to slip on their schedule (what was originally one week is now at least two before we find out anything about our RV and when we’ll get reimbursed), and knowing how long it takes to purchase and prepare an RV for an extended trip, we’re probably looking at 2-4 weeks before we can get on the road again.  Plan B is to skip the RV and just stay in rented cabins and hotels for the rest of our trip.  This would likely require us to alter our plans, and instead of visiting every cool park along the way (over 60 as originally intended), we’d reduce it to perhaps 10-20 of the coolest parks.  The advantage of Plan B is we can get started again right away.  We’ll be doing the math, checking our budget, and evaluating these options, as we hope to reach a decision in the next few days. 

Either way, our adventure of a lifetime will continue.  This accident has destroyed our RV, but it did not break our spirit.

Timm, Theresa, Shadow and Darby: Stickers we had to leave behind on the back window of our RV

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