Motorhome Travel

Like a lot of young married couples, we started tent camping early.  I remember taking the tent down in the rain in a state park in Connecticut one summer in our second year of marriage.   About eight years later we upgraded when we bought a Ford van and I installed a few amenities:  a roll out window, a roof vent, shag carpet, and pads for sleeping.  We were dependent on campground bathhouses for water.  Ah, the seventies!

My brother and sister-in-law purchased a Winnebago motor home and kindly loaned it to us for a trip to the east coast and Nova Scotia.   We were hooked, but then went overseas and so went back to camping on a blanket on the sand under the stars in Saudi Arabia.

About that time, when my parents turned 65, they bought their first motorhome and RV “camping” became the focal point of their retirement.  Dad enjoyed trading rigs about every 3 years, and so they eventually owned seven units over the next 20 years.  In the summer of 1982 they loaned us their RV for a trip to Seattle area.

In 2006, about the time that Mom and Dad decided to
give up RVing, Kay and I bought a small 24 foot Winnebago, a model called the “View,” seen on the right at Mt. Magazine State Park in Arkansas on our first night out.   We shopped for several years, and settled on the View because it got better gas mileage than most (17mph), and because the interior decor was simple and functional, not fancy.  No lace curtains, please.

We have made two lovely trips to the west coast (Los Angeles and Oregon), Canada (Vancouver and Banff), twice to New England, Texas (Big Bend National Park, North Carolina, New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, and Colorado three times, interspersed with shorter trips all over Arkansas.

We are fortunate to have good friends from our international
school days now retired all over the U.S.A.  We love to park in their driveways for a night or two, giving us a couple of days to catch up with them without barging in on their privacy. (At left, in Rifle, Colorado) Invariably they invite us to stay in the house, of course, but we much prefer to sleep in our own bed with our own things around us, such as the current book we are reading and our clothes and toiletries. 

Often we stay in government camp grounds such as
state parks, national parks, or national forests.   (At right.)   The only problems with these is that (1) they don’t have WiFi, and (2) they are usually a bit out of the way if we are traveling cross country.  If we are in a hurry and just want a quick stop for the night, it’s really easy to pull into a commercial campground (e.g., KOA) where the Internet and even cable TV is available.  Lately we have solved the Internet problem by acquiring a “Hot Spot” that allows us to use our Mac for surfing by taping onto the cell phone network, when available.

My Dad was famous for finding people to chat with around the campground every evening.  He would “work the crowd” while Mom stayed in the RV and watched TV.  I am not as skilled at striking up conversations with strangers, but sometimes we do meet some interesting people.  It depends on the location.  If there is a lake nearby, seems like everyone is a fisherman, severely limiting my ability to connect.

Our RV is completely self contained:  fresh water for the sink and showers, sewer tanks, 12 volt TV and plus an antenna, and plenty of battery power for lights.  We have propane for cooking and the furnace, and a generator should we need AC power for the air conditioner or microwave.  We can easily stay someplace three days without hook ups, and more if we’re extra careful.  But we seldom go more than 48 hours without water, sewer, and electricity hook ups at a campground.

I always hesitate to call this camping.  It’s very comfortable.

Maintaining a motor home is not for the faint hearted.  Hauling a complete house (heating, cooling, plumbing, electrical, electronics, kitchen, bathroom) down the highway at 70 mph, and then bouncing down bumpy roads to a state park, is stressful to the equipment.