... ended up being a lot of fun. You must understand, I've never done it before. My parents were hotel people and so is D. I never even considered this as a viable option. However, now with my first weekend under my belt, at the risk of stating the obvious, I'm completely behind the "RV" lifestyle as a great alternative to the traditional hotel-trip for the family vacation.
Certainly, the experience was not without wrinkles. For instance, we spent a lot of time tending to the children. They seemed to always be in a state of need: towels, foods, chairs, bikes, scraped knees, suntan lotion, snacks, money. D and I are used to high-maintenance kids, my brother BB and brother-in-law DH however are not. So there was a bit of griping amongst some of the parents involved ("Just go and ride! Ride with the wind! Far, far away down the road! Just keep an eye out for the little ones!")
Another wrinkle is that we seemed to work a little harder than on a hotel-trip, in the sense that packing a rented RV is quite the job. So much to take that you don't take when going to a hotel (primarily, your "stuff"). There was also a lot of fiddling with buttons and doo-dads to make everything run smoothly. More time at the campsite and we'd have had to worry about gas and propane and black water and grey water...etc. Craziness. There was lots of fiddling to be done with awning, with putting up (and the inevitable taking down) the hanging net-thingie to make a closed porch using the awning. There were leveling issues...using jacks and blocks to make the RV level (so your coffee cup doesn't slide off the table and into your lap or your kid's lap).
On the other hand, in a hotel, leaving the room to go bike riding, to go to the beach, to go anywhere, is a formal affair. You need to get your things, you need to get the kids, you need to leave the room and head down the elevator, all the while knowing you'll not be in the room for quite some time. In an RV park, the kids could ride up and down the rows in a pack while the parents drank beer at the campsite. Nothing to gather, nothing to do! Just...ride like the wind, far, far away down the road!
Likewise in a hotel, you don't usually pack things that make you comfortable in your everyday life such as your own coffee in your own coffeemaker, your fave snacks, your music, your pillow. With an RV, you get to bring your "stuff"!
Cooking also calls for more work that isn't present on the hotel-trip. Not so fun for the parents necessarily (although the BBQ with all of us grilling on our portable grills was a blast) but wonderful for the kids (no ordering of expensive, overly french-fried kids' meals that usually aren't eaten anyway). They get to eat what you want them to eat being that...you packed it.
Sleeping was fine - the kids had their sleeping bags and were fine in the various cubbies in the RV. D and I had a queen-sized bed in the back.
Overall, we came home very interested in doing it again. I was surprised that kicking back in a park full of other RV's and their respective occupants (a mere few feet away from us) was actually enjoyable. Definitely next summer we'll do it for a longer period of time. The trick is to find a good spot, a good campsite that's clean, that's got stuff to do for the kids (places to go), that has bike paths and hook-ups. Yeah...a great option.
In the meantime, I'm gearing up to start school in less than two weeks. I've watched my summer come and go and I cannot describe how reluctant I am to end the season. I wanted to do more with my time, I'm sad to see the time speed away. Over the weekend, I took with me, I keep with me now, a memory of my near-twelve J sitting on the bunk over the cab in the RV. He had earphones on, the cd player played anti-parent, god-awful speed metal, and his head nodded wildly, hair and all moving with the beat, pure teenager. His gangly legs below though swung back and forth, one foot one way, the other foot the other way, opposing directions, the movement a vestige of his toddler-hood. How he'd sit on a dining room chair and swing little legs too short to touch the floor while he ate and chatted with us, our hanging on his every word, or when he'd sit on a countertop or the edge of a gym at a park, reaching his arms out for me to pick him up and bring him down to earth once more.
With this picture of my changing child firmly in my heart, I feel time sliding away like salt water through my fingers.