Wednesday, August 03, 2005

The RV Experience

... 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 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.


Jennifer said...

This was so interesting to read. I've always thought it would be a real adventure, and so much fun, to be able to pick up and drive your hotel room anywhere your heart desired. Don't know if I could make it a way of life, but I could definitely get into it for a road trip.

nappy40 said...

I've never been in an RV but it sounds like a lot of fun.

butterstar said...

That image of your 12 yr old as a toddler is so vivid. Time does go too fast. I'm not ready for my kids to grow up. Not like we have a choice, though.

Fromage de Merde said...

Probably one of the most scariest posts that I’ve read in a long time and the scariest part? That I can’t escape this nagging suspicion that there’s a bit of my future written somewhere in there, though no RV’s for me - because as a kid me Da drove us around the US in a VW bus and we slept in old army tents in National Parks while sampling the local cuisines. That’s when I discovered that food wasn’t the bland tasteless overcooked slop that’s served in my homeland!

Viva tacos and pizza and some thing called a hamburger!

LeaLea said...

I am a hotel person myself! But your experience did make RV's seem less scary to me! lol. I am sad that summer is only three weeks away from ending for us.. three weeks seems like a lot and yet--not so much. I am also relating to you seeing your son in that way--mine is nearly 11, and he is changing so fast..and it's scary.

Lori said...

Glad you had fun, bud. Myself, I tend to groan at the idea of RV's. But if you lived here, you'd groan too. The winter time influx of massive RV's and the inconsiderate snowbirds who insist on driving them everywhere in town---even though they've towed a car---becomes such a pain in the *&^ for the folks living here all us.

But it does sound like a great option for a family vacation. I'm glad it worked out. :)

Adriana Bliss said...

Jennifer, I was really surprised that the RV worked out so well - I even imagine that without children, you could have your own traveling vacation home, parking the thing in more isolated, quieter areas to enjoy the view. But really...with the was really good.

Fromage, you never fail to crack me up!

Lealea, to do the RV thing definitely takes courage, and perhaps a traveling buddy who's done it before.

Lori, I can definitely understand why you'd hate those huge-ass things! One thing is to be parked in a campground, the other is to be dragging it through town.

And to everyone who agrees on how time flies...yeah, it's a tough thing to let go of summer...and your little ones.

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