Why your first RV? You’ve told us – Part 1

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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.

cjohnson7 from Rochester, Minnesota via wikimedia.org

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!

Brent Rouse

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

stock photo

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 …

##RVT953

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Cindy
4 months ago

Weather and dogs meant we left the tent scene also. Taking along two little kids while continually drying tents and sleeping bags got old. After one particular storm I had finally had it. Water was running under our tent. And our dogs needed somewhere safe to be while we visited museums, etc. So a small trailer it was. In 1985 or so we bought an early 60s HiLo. It was TINY but it was so great to be on dry ground and have a place to shelter during the rain! I have only gone back to a tent a few times and I do not like it. Give me my trailer. We still do vintage now, but for fun and use a TT for travel. We’ve even had to live in it a few times for a few months at a time. And we were glad to have it! Couldn’t have done that in a tent.

Joseph Brown
4 months ago

In 1996 my wife’s father, who was living in a class A motor home thought we would like RV travel better than the traveling the way we’d been doing the several years before via our Honda 1500 Gold Wings, she road her own and I rode mine and we’d be towing a small cargo trailer and a motorcycle sized fold out 4-sleeper tent trailer. We could only take two of our three kids with us and so he thought that with a motor home, of course, we’d have better family time. So, he helped us find and buy a 1979 Ford “Roll-a-long” class C from a dealer. If I’d only known then what I know now!
It was 24 foot with bunk beds in it, me and my wife slept on the cab-over bed and two kids on the bunks and one on the dinette when converted.
We went on several trips over the two years we really traveled in it with our longest being to Wyoming for the 150th anniversary of the Buffalo Bill Cody Wild West Show in Cody Wyoming, then north into Canada. Our son didn’t want to go on that trip so he stayed with the grandmother on our property.
That old motor home didn’t have much power, like really slow up on any grade, the cab A/C didn’t work and we learned a lot about RV repair on the road with things like the brake master cylinder failing in Canada and we kept working it until we got back home. Fun times when the brake would randomly go to the floor when stopping and pumping it up to stop.
I knew from that long trip a trailer was the only way to go! Since then we’re up to our 6th and 7th RVS, a 2017 Jayco bunkhouse 5th wheel, for when the grandkids go with us or we want the space comfort and a 2018 Mini-Winnie for when just my wife and I travel and want to stay at the campsites our big trailer can’t easily fit.
We still talk about all our trips together, motorcycle and RV over the years. RV travel we like the best, comfortable travel whatever the weather is like and our own bed, bathroom, food wherever we are!

Suru
4 months ago

Love these stories! Can’t wait for more 🙂

Sue
4 months ago

we started married life 61 years ago in a 24′ trailer that we towed from work summers in Colorado to school each year in Arizona when my husband was working on his MS. Now, all these many years, 11 children and amazing adventures later, we were free to travel and wanted something with minimal upkeep, easily towed and parked, with the basic amenities – a 19′ Casita Spirit Deluxe was the perfect answer and so far we’ve been from Virginia all across the south, out to the big bend country of Texas and back – next across the midwest to Colorado, Wyoming and Utah and back – some moochdocking, some boondocking, one stop at a Harvest Host (highly recommended), and only one campground for a few nights. It has been absolutely wonderful. A new learning curve, but an easy, stable tow with our Toyota Tacoma, the ability to stop anywhere any time for a break, a snack, a nap – our own facilities and privacy – just wonderful. We’ve met some lovely and interesting folks along the way, had a stop overnight at a regional hospital for some issues nicely dealt with, survived a few remarkable wind and rain storms in the mountains of Utah and in the Flaming Gorge of Wyoming – all in all everything we had hoped and more. Getting younger with every trip. Ease of set up was a priority and the little Casita has it in spades. So here we are in our early 80s on the road again! 10,000 wonderful miles last year. Covid 19 has kept us pretty much at home, but we hope to be out again in August. Just keep on keeping on. Go slow, smell the flowers, enjoy the scenery, one day at a time.

Dalmom
4 months ago

We bought a 40 foot Monaco Diplomat in 1999, then a Monaco Dynasty in 2006. Decided not to buy Monaco anymore so bought a 2018 Newmar London Aire.

Sink Jaxon
4 months ago

Great stories, looking forward to more!

Tommy Molnar
4 months ago

While I didn’t think I was “RV’ing” at the time, back in the 70’s when vans were all the rage,
and turning them into fancy ‘bedrooms’ was in vogue, I bought a Dodge Tradesman long wheelbase van and installed windows, floor, roof vent, a platform in the rear for my sleeping pad and sleeping bag, and some folding chairs. I used this to haul my bicycle around to many different ‘rides’ in different states. Collecting T-shirts and badges from these rides was the goal – as many as I could. My van was never all that fancy – just a place to sleep comfortably, and it worked fine. Today? No way. But back then it was “pure luxury”. Ha.

Bob p
4 months ago

Our first was a 24.5’ Tech bunkhouse tt, it had 3 bunks in the back that was perfect for our kids, 12, 9, and 2. We had to make our bed each night from the couch. We wanted our children to know something about like other than PAC Man, 1978. We’ve been camping off and on now 42 years, the oldest and youngest still camp so I guess we left a good impression on the children.

Andrew Kapusta, Jr.
4 months ago

Our first RV was a 19 foot Sunline. It took some convincing to persuade my wife to go camping. As a child, her experiences with camping wasn’t that good. For me, my family only stayed in motels and never went camping. I always wanted to travel and explore, enjoy the outdoors via a camper. We went to a camper show in Detroit and put a down payment on a pop-up, when we discovered our little house on wheels. A 19 foot Sunline that I was able to pull with my Ford Aerostar van. My wife said, “If I don’t like this, we are selling it.” Our first trip, a rock was kicked up by another vehicle and cracked the windshield of our van. I thought that is it. Needless to say, our weekend was fantastic. The kids got dirty and slept all night. No tv, no phone, and at this time no computer. My wife was hooked. We had our Sunline for five years, then got a 28 foot Jayco, which resulted in five years later a 34 foot Laredo. We have been camping for over 25 years and loved every minute of it. Some bad days are mixed in there, like while in Florida near Disney, a rainstorm destroyed our awning on the Sunline. We have laughed, cried, and have tons of memories to share. We still want to camp, even though it is getting harder to get reservations. Our memories with family, friends, and strangers are the best. We are always looking forward to our next, “Greatgetaway”. Happy Camping, save us a place at the next campfire.