The RV Chronicles — My own ‘Old Yeller’ story

Emotions are a fickle thing around these parts lately. I’m told such is the norm after going through a catastrophic event like Hurricane Harvey.

But my mind is comparing the loss the Jimmy Rockford — a travel trailer — with ‘Old Yeller,’ and that might just take the melodramatic cake.

If you’re among my 19 loyal readers, you know that I moved to the Houston area a couple years ago, and I lived in an RV that I named for one of my favorite 1970s-era television characters. (He lived in a dingy trailer near a California beach. Mine was situated near the Galveston Bay.)

I didn’t love my trailer, rather what it represented — a new life and continuation of my career in a very desirable locale.

During my two years inhabiting its 32 tight feet, I wrote some of my best (professional) articles. I finally earned my bachelor’s degree, and began the process of earning my master’s. But the Jimmy Rockford was also where I was at last able to play an F note on my guitar. And it was where I stepped well beyond my comfort zone and learned more about people than I had in the previous 43 years of living within brick and mortar confines.

The Jimmy Rockford went into a brief retirement when we bought our new little home earlier this year. But it didn’t take long before two of our adult children moved here and took up temporary residence upon its wheels.

A Harvey-spawned tornado served as their eviction notice, as it toppled a tree onto the roof — only hours after we evacuated to it from our flooded house.

‘A few dents are fine,’ I said to the adjuster ‘and I can patch those little holes with silicone. But I’m not sure about the frame.’

‘I won’t even have to look at the frame,’ he said ‘because the leaks during the storm caused your ceiling to rot.’

And then he said it.

‘I’m going to submit this as a total loss.’

I suppose I was sort of numb at the time. After all, our house resembles one of those boarded structures set aside to be condemned and leveled.

‘Is there any way I could keep this? Is there a scrap price? Because I think I can repair it.’

‘Yes, there’s a scrap price,’ the adjuster said. ‘But I’m telling you that you don’t want a project like this looming over you. The insurance company will call you; just let them know what you want to do.’

My ‘Old Yeller’ moment was upon me, and I knew I had to pull the trigger. All of those memories … A place where I really came to know myself … finished. Thankfully, I wasn’t there to see the Jimmy Rockford hitched up and hauled away to the scrap dealer.

But, just like in 1957 movie, the sun came up the next day, and history repeated itself with a slew of the doomed dog’s young offspring entering the scene and acting like puppies act.

In our case, the insurance money paid for a new trailer. And because it’s roughly half the size of its predecessor, there’s money left over that we’ll use to help repair our house. I’ve named it the Little Jimmy, and have made sure that it’s not parked under a huge hackberry tree.

Thank goodness for happy endings. I hope there are more headed our way.


To read more about my two years living in an RV, along with some nifty recipes, click here and go back to the beginning.


  1. Melina Bush says:

    I’m sorry the Jimmy Rockford didn’t make it, but I’m very happy you were able to have those experiences in it. Your chronicles of life in that tin can were always entertaining, and I’m sure we will read more about it in the future, along with other great stories. I think you may be the Mark Twain of Texas, 2017.

  2. Well shoot! I’m so sorry about Jimmy. You’ve been through so much Adam, hugs from afar.

  3. Kathryn Rocheleau says:

    Awww, Little Jimmy. Love the name. Big Jimmy served you quite well over those two years. Hugs!

    • adamjholland says:

      The Jimmy Rockford definitely served me well. The Little Jimmy will get quite the workout as we start to rebuild. Hope you’re well, Kathryn.

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