We Lived. The Famous RV Story.
We watched the movie RV and laughed, when it was released a decade ago. Now, with the passing of Robin Williams, viewing comes with mixed emotions and a new meaning. Movie critic Jami Bernard, of the New York Daily News, summarizes the plot conundrum best: “the movie wants to be liked for potty jokes, not it’s humanity. But it’s the likeable characters that keep viewer engaged, not the forced crude jokes.” If you are thinking, hey did they make a sequel? Nope. But the comedic movie provides lessons 10 years after it’s release. With all the RV aficionados out there and people wondering if RV travel would make sense for them, we can hold a conversation.
Our family spent a decade traveling across the U.S. in our RV. I used to cringe when my husband told people we were camping. Camping, by definition, does not include a mobile side-by-side refrigerator and a washer and dryer unit. Years ago when I was in college, I spent many summers camping across the United States. Those were the days before blow-up mattresses; it counted as a good night’s sleep if you only counted a half dozen bruises from the rocks under your sleeping bag. Stupidity confessions will follow someday. What do kids from Miami know about camping in the Rockies in the springtime? We sure as hell did not know it would snow! Brother and sister: we rationally decided to die from hypothermia instead of getting near each other in a sleeping bag. We lived.
Back to the RV era, as the parent not the kid. RVs are an investment, much like a boat. For every mile you drive, one of you is calculating the cost/benefit. The other one knows there is no way to put a value on lifetime memories. RVs are costly to purchase, costly to operate, expensive to insure and tricky to store. (Except with STORD.) I was not that one with the virtual calculator in his head. (Hint: his.) I was the one packing up the kids, the toys and the food while my husband mapped out the itinerary. Unlike many of our brethren, we never towed a car; imagine our 15-passenger van behind our 38-foot motor home. That would have been a deal breaker for me. (My husband is the guy who cuts you off in traffic and I am the one looking at you apologetically; my eyes begging for forgiveness.) As for me, I’m that wife; I had seat belts installed in our rig so that everyone was strapped in. We managed without towing a car because Enterprise Rental Carreally does bring you a vehicle no matter where you are.
Honestly, a 38-foot motor home clinging to side of Yosemite’s mountain roads was enough to endure, but now it is a family memory. The kids were all very young — did I mention I have a set of twins and a set of triplets — but they remember. Consider the image of that enormous vehicle on a very small winding road, way up high. Out of one massive window you see a rocky mountainside; you even see rain water trickling down the face of the mountain, which makes for momentary distractions. Out the other window, you might believe you are in the clouds, possibly floating in mid-air. There is no sight of land or earth, just a precipice. It evokes a strong reaction from each one of us to this day. We can laugh now. It’s a great family story and by the way, we lived.
We also lived that time we ran out of gas just after making it to the other side of the Eisenhower Tunnel just west of Denver. Yeah, that was us — during rush hour. Quiz question #1: Does anyone know what happens to a diesel engine when it runs out of gas? Are you laughing at us or with us? Time has healed our wounds; we laugh about it now too. Because of these memories, we can attest to the kindness of strangers and the strangeness of circumstance. The second time we ran out of gas, it was the middle of night. When you are stuck, and out of gas, several thousand miles away from home and have five young children, you learn to trust people. And so it was our plight, we let a stranger into the motor home to help us conduct diesel-intake-starvation surgery on our motor home engine. (I made that name up, but it fits.) Quiz question #2: Does anyone know where the engine is on a 38 ft. Monaco Diplomat? For you to understand the strangeness factor, you have to visualize this: it’s in the bedroom under the bed. Our new friend — who witnessed our dilemma from inside a McDonalds — knocked on the door, offered to help, and we took it. He was a stranger in the night, but desperate times call for desperate measures. We lived.
Camaraderie. I can’t explain it, but the motor home community is a tight bunch. The experience builds a sense of camaraderie. Each time we pulled up at a motor home park, our kids entered an instantaneous neighborhood. It was as if we finally entered a community where people weren’t rushing off to their kid’s soccer game. Everyone sat a spell and enjoyed turning back the clock to a time where adults chatted while kids played in the sandbox.
Just as black shoes have sub-groups — see our Make Your Life Easier post– RV people have sub-clubs too. The Prevost owner traveling the U.S. without kids probably would not pick the motor home park across from Hershey Park, PA. Likewise, we did not dare to reserve a spot in the exclusive Roberts Resorts in Arizona. It’s nice to have your neighbors on the same page when you are vacationing. Most people don’t vacation on a cruise ship when they’ve just started a new diet and you don’t reserve a slot at Disney’s Fort Wilderness and not expect to come across a few kids. These are simple guidelines for a smooth start.
Bottom line: if you have the opportunity to travel in a motor home, give it a try. Imagine flying first class with the kids… would they be asking: are we there yet? If it’s time for an adult-only excursion, you’ll meet plenty of like-minded adventurers. There are so many options: you don’t have to buy these days, you can rent first and determine your level of commitment. The luxury rental market makes traveling in-style attainable too. Look atOutdoorsy.co to find wonderful options at both price points.
The moral of the story remains: We lived. And so can you! Rent an RV this summer. The memories are priceless.