By Keith Ward
I’ve been bitten by the RV bug. And, like so many of you, it happened for one reason:
I’m starting to lose my mind.
It happens as we age. When I became eligible for the “Senior Discount” at iHop on my last birthday, I realized that I could only continue to refer to myself as “middle-aged” if I was going to live to be 110.
And as our synapses dry up and our neurons stop firing — or whatever synapses and neurons used to do that they don’t do nearly as much anymore — strange thoughts start to occur to us. Thoughts like:
- What do I need retirement savings for? Instead, I’ll buy a moving house!
- Age is only a number; you know, like 277,000, which is the number of dollars I’m about to fork over for that Class A diesel pusher.
- The kids are all grown and living on their own now, so I won’t feel as guilty about packing up and leaving for three months.
- I need the adventure of the great outdoors! Which is why I’m buying an RV with a full bath, granite countertops, two air conditioners, and 184 electrical and USB outlets.
Once these ideas begin infecting your brain, they’re as hard to shut off as the black water hose the first time you dump your tank. And many of those ideas have about the same value as what you’re dumping.
Doesn’t matter, though: Once you’ve got the fever, the only prescription is not More Cowbell! but More Tow Vehicle! I swear to you that eight weeks ago, I couldn’t have told you the difference between half-ton, three-quarter ton, and one-ton pickup trucks if you’d paid me $20 million for the correct answer.
I’m no psychiatrist, but I have a pretty decent working definition of the word “obsession,” because it’s what’s happened to me this year. I’ve spent an uncountable number of hours on RV forums, watching YouTube videos, and scouring places like Facebook in my quest to learn more about this strange world. It’s a world in which people use phrases like “shore power” and “30-amp pedestal,” and an untraceable leak is akin to Armageddon. Where refrigerators can be powered three different ways and backing into a campsite with a fifth wheel is an art form.
And following all this education, what I’ve learned is that I’m still a baby when it comes to knowing about this lifestyle. The more I know, the more I realize I’m Sergeant Schultz: I know nothing! I’m almost afraid, for instance, to dive more fully into RV electricity — I’m the guy, after all, who once unthinkingly plugged a pair of tweezers into an extension cord. Imagine me trying to troubleshoot a tripped circuit breaker. The mind reels.
But discovery is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Learning things you didn’t know before is great fun, and none of us knows even a fraction of what’s out there. Getting in an RV and driving is like the last installation of “Calvin and Hobbes,” the greatest comic strip of all time. It has snowed the night before, and Calvin takes his sled to the top of a hill.
They’re excited by the possibilities ahead. “It’s a magical world, Hobbes, ol’ buddy,” Calvin says. “Let’s go exploring!”
Here’s to the obsessed, slightly screwy 6-year-old in all of us that wants to hurtle down the hill. We only use a different form of transportation.
Keith is a journalist with more than 30 years of writing and editing experience. He was bitten by the RV bug in 2020, and takes delivery of his very own rig in May 2021. In addition to non-fiction, he also writes fiction, including fantasy, thriller, and drama. Find his books here.