Edited by Russ and Tiña De Maris
A couple of weeks ago we asked you why you bought your first RV. Your responses flooded our e-mail system, and the reasons – how diverse! We’ll be sharing as many as we can over the next while. Here’s the first installment.
Weather makes for a convert
My wife and I became avid tent campers while I was in the Army stationed in Germany. Great times with our three small boys. After we returned stateside we continued to camp throughout Texas.
First there was the beach on Padre Island. It was so windy that our large old canvas tent ripped open. The five of us slept in a small dome tent. Later I went to Sears and purchased their largest (and best) dome tent. Next, we camped at a lake in Central Texas. By that time we had a baby girl. We set up the big tent, an Army tent, and our small dome tent on a bright late spring day. My wife took the car into the nearest town for a few things. I told the boys they could walk up to edge of the woods – about a hundred yards away – while I changed the baby’s diaper.
No sooner was the diaper changed, I stepped out of the tent to see the boys were running as fast as they could back from the woods. The panic in their yells made me think some animal was chasing them. But it was a black-as-night cloud racing behind them. I and the youngest boy retreated into the big tent; the next boy dove into the Army tent and the oldest into the small dome tent. All this, seconds before the storm hammered down.
I peeked out during the worst of the storm and could see the shape of my oldest laying in the small dome tent, the rain and wind had flattened the tent down on top of him. One of the poles of the Army tent broke and the tent flooded. The nylon sides of the large, brand-new, Sears Dome was ripped and one of the fiberglass poles snapped.
Less than 5 minutes elapsed and the sky was clear and sunny again.
My wife returned to find everything packed up and ready to leave. We bought the first of our pop-up campers the next week. Now, after several pop-up campers and the kids grown up with their own children, we have graduated to our first Class C and loving it. —Fred Wagner
Goin’ to the dogs!
In 1992, my wife and I purchased a 1988 32′ Winnebago Itasca. We are both animal lovers, and have always had two or more Shih Tzu’s to accompany us on our travels. We weren’t always able to find hotels and motels that accepted animals, and you couldn’t always find accommodations near your vacation destination. So we opted to take our home with us, and we love traveling this way.
You find your neighbors much nicer than in hotels and motels. We had a problem with our motorhome one time, and I had half a dozen RVers at my site within minutes of lifting the hood. They basically took over the testing and repairs, while I stood there handing them tools and parts. I didn’t know any of them prior to my lifting the hood. The nicest people are RVers.
You can also eat healthier, not stopping at the fast food joints as you travel. You can stop at roadside attractions, museums, flea markets, farmers markets – whatever you want – and not have to worry about getting to a motel reservation. We have upgraded to new diesel pushers several times since then, and still loving the lifestyle, and on Shih Tzu #7 and #8. —Brent Rouse
Health can change your plans
I retired 12 years ago, when I was 60. My husband and I had only been married for a few years. We had lots of exciting travel ideas – scuba trips, motorcycle trips, road trips. Four days after I retired, he was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis – Lou Gehrig’s Disease. All of our plans went out the window and I spent the next three years taking care of him 24-7 as he went from walking with a cane to being paralyzed from the neck down. The day we sold the motorcycle and the SUV to buy a wheelchair van was very disheartening. After he died, I took many road trips with my dogs. Having to stay in motels that accept pets was not always nice. Dragging my stuff and their stuff into and out of motel rooms got old quickly but I did it in order to be able to travel.
Last year, while recovering from leukemia, I was feeling pretty well most of the time and wanted a vacation between my monthly treatments. With a compromised immune system, I hesitated to fly, fearful of recirculating bacteria and close contact with too many people in the plane and in the airport. I get tired more easily now and didn’t want to have to face rushing to my next gate and wasn’t sure I could handle long-distance driving trips.
The idea of an RV came to my mind when my friend talked glowingly of her Roadtrek 170. These are tiny, not much bigger than a minivan, but with a full kitchen, toilet, shower, and comfy bed. Between tiring out quickly and sometimes needing to rush to the potty, a tiny, easy-to-drive RV sounded like the perfect thing. Being able to see the country, stop to rest whenever I need to, having that close-by private potty, AND being able to travel with my dogs was an exciting option for me.
The search began and I found a used Roadtrek in good condition. It was less than 100 miles away. I went for a test drive, loved it, and bought it. Her name is Maxine after the funny, grumpy old lady cartoon character. We took our maiden voyage to my friend’s country house in case anything went wrong. All was well so went on several more trips and planned many more, especially looking forward to a 40-day trip after my treatment is completed.
With COVID-19 restrictions, our travel plans have been postponed, but we repeated our maiden voyage and visited from six feet apart. It was wonderful, if a bit crowded since my new partner and my 3 dogs were with me. We made it work and noted ideas to make it work even better next time. I am so looking forward to that! —Rhonda Brodbeck
More to come …