It had been a long couple of months. In the midst of the COVID pandemic, our family had inadvertently turned what was supposed to be a 4 week road trip into an entire summer on the road. We ended up circling the United States on our journey, making our way as far east from California as Washington DC. It had been a summer filled with some incredible adventures, and time well spent considering summer activities back in California were largely suspended. Having just spent some extended time in the south and in New Orleans, our family was en route west to California from Louisiana. We had hoped to make it as far as Austin, Texas during our long drive that day.
Cruising along Interstate 10, my husband noticed a tow truck in his side mirror, flashing his lights. We slowed a bit, and the tow truck driver pulled alongside us, pointing towards the rear of our Coachmen Mirada motorhome. We’d had people flag us down a couple times in our travels, and always for storage compartment door having inadvertently flung open. We knew that would be highly uncommon while cruising straight at highway speeds, but decided to pull off the highway at the next exit to take a better look. After pulling off into a gas station in Vinton, Louisiana, we realized what the helpful tow truck driver had been point to. One of our rear dualie tires on the right side of the coach was flat.
Just like that, we found ourselves stranded on the border of Louisiana and Texas in 110° heat. Justin took a few laps around the RV, and I began calling for roadside assistance.
It was hot. The kids were grumpy. We were seemingly in the middle of nowhere. (No offense to the wonderful people of Vinton, Louisiana. It’s obviously not “nowhere” to you, but in that moment, it felt that way to us!)
Thankfully, our family had multiple avenues to explore in terms of finding assistance. We had roadside assistance coverage through AAA and State Farm for our personal auto, and figured we had our bases covered. Out of habit, we pursued the same channels we’d have used if our Honda Odyssey had gotten a flat, with Justin calling AAA while I called State Farm.
Trying to get RV roadside assistance through automobile channels was a terrible idea. Even trying to get the State Farm and AAA agents to properly identify the vehicle make and model in their systems was a process, and it became clear they had no frame of reference on how to support us. As we sat on the phone frustrated, Justin noticed the sticker on our windshield for Coach-Net. Having just bought the Mirada earlier in the year with one year of Coach-Net roadside included, we hadn’t yet used roadside assistance, and had completely forgotten about it as an option.
Right out of the gate with Coach-Net, it was clear this was a different experience. The Coach-Net agent was both helpful and friendly, immediately identifying both our coach and tire size, and promptly began working to identify an available mobile repair technician in the area to assist.
While Justin was on the phone with Coach-Net, I wandered the area around the gas station. As luck would have it, I discovered a sign literally right across the street from the gas station that read “RV Park 500ft” with an arrow pointing right. I headed over to investigate, and stumbled upon our border oasis, complete with 50A hookups and an outdoor pool with not only one, but TWO waterslides. It was almost as if it magically appeared just for us that day!
We pulled out of the gas station and crawled our way to the RV park, feeling blessed to hook up and get both A/C units cranking while we waited for the repair tech. In the sweltering humid heat of the southern summer, this pool was like a mirage for the kids and I, who immediately jumped in to cool off.
Being in rural Louisiana in the height of summer, it took a few hours to find a local tire shop with the right tire and an available tech to change the flat roadsides (or poolside, as it were). We were back up and running with our new tire not long after the tech arrived, but the kids were having so much fun at the pool by then that we decided to stay put and enjoy our spot in Vinton, continuing on our journey to Austin the next morning. DOUBLE WATER SLIDES FOR THE WIN!
Vinton, Louisiana will live forever in family lore following our detour. If there’s anything our time on the road has taught our family, it’s that sometimes the unexpected adventures are the most memorable!
About The Author: Allison Gagnon
The Gagnon family is a fun-loving, adventure-seeking, outdoor-exploring, RV-obsessed family of six. They are on a quest to visit all 63 National Parks in the United States, and have a passion for exploring the country’s natural treasures and adventuring with their four children while they are still young. These adventures are made possible, in part, via travel in their 36-foot Coachmen Mirada motorhome. Having already visited 52 National Parks, they’ve found a sweet spot in the delicate balance between living a full, and sometimes, hectic life at home and finding respite in outdoor adventures with every chance they get. You can follow along on their journey at www.gagnonsgone.com.
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