RV'ing ... How it started

Several readers have asked that I write some stories about how my husband and I decided to give up full time jobs, a home, a 14-room house in Highlands, being close to our children, and spending ten years traveling throughout the 50 states. Let me start by staying it was the most wonderful ten years of my life. It really started when we were young, were on moderate income and had four children we wanted to see the country, vacation, and enjoy a different way of life. During those incredibly wonderful years we first had a tent, later a ten trailer, and we packed all three, later, four kids, Freckles, our wonderful mixed breed dog, and us into those cramped but cozy quarters and set out to blend family life, new experiences a bit of learning and lots of excitement into a couple of weeks every year. I remember the warmth of campfires as the kids roasted marshmallows, the thrill of catching lobster in Marathon Florida then cooking it over a campfire, the joy of hearing another camper singing Georgia on my Mind as he accompanied himself on the guitar and we all huddled together enjoying new friends. I remember the kids running wild over open fields in New York state, walking on trails in the White Mountains of New Hampshire and making their way through caverns in the Shenandoah mountains of Virginia. I remember White Sands, New Mexico and of course the Must-Stop at South of the Border on the way to Florida. So many happy memories with a family filled with so much love, not only for each other, but for sharing new experiences. The kids grew up, moved on, started their own families and we continued to work, with a life filled with happy memories. So in 1995, after Jimmy recovered miraculously well after four heart attacks, an angioplasty, catherization and quintuple bypass all within 60 hours, we decided God was giving us a message we should change our lifestyle. It was easy to decide what we should do, given all those happy memories with the family. For our 40th wedding anniversary that year, we bought us a 30 foot Flair, a bus-type RV that included a bedroom, bath, living-dining room -kitchen and driving quarters, left our home in the hands of our son and grandson, threw ourselves a going away party and took off. We had no plans where we were going or how or when we would get there. Open road, new adventures, lots of relaxation, plenty of time to learn, enjoy each other’s company, and see as much of the United States as we could were our focus. We carried an atlas with us and a campground guide and after a couple of days of wandering around the familiar areas of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, we hit on a plan: as soon as we arrived in a new state, we would stop at the visitor’s center, pick up all the brochures they had to offer, find a campground close by, pick up a bottle of wine, and settle in for a night or two or three always around 4 in the afternoon. We’d set up our site, put a couple of chairs and a table under the awning outside, poured that glass of wine and begin poring through the brochures. That usually took until well past dark, so we moved back inside, put dinner on to cook and finished reviewing the brochures. By the time dinner was ready, we had decided which attractions, museums, campgrounds, we wanted to see and visit. And that’s how we decided how long we would spend in any one campground. Once we saw everything we wanted to see there, we would pack up, perhaps stop at a grocery store for more supplies, and move on to the next part of the state, or the next state. We learned early some planning made life much easier for us. Jimmy, during his convalescence from all the cardiac procedures, had spent a lot of time watching cooking shows on tv and decided not only did he like to cook, but he was also really good at it! In the few months between his recuperation and our taking to the road, and while I was still working, he would do all the cooking. So it was natural for him to continue it on the road, whether we were cooking over a woodfire outside or the little stove in the RV. The planning part came over more glasses of wine at that kitchen table as we talked about what we wanted for dinner each night. If we were along a coast, we knew we wanted seafood and would wait until we got there to make purchases. But we would plan each meal, pack in the groceries necessary for that week’s menus…..RV refrigerators in the 1990s had limited size freezers so planning became really essential… and stock up before we left in the morning for our next day of travel. It worked perfectly, because we never knew exactly where we would end up that night…..there might be a fair going on in a town along the way we stopped to stop and visit, or a park with some walking paths we thought we’d try. But by 4 p.m. we knew we would stop, have plenty of time to set up our site and still enjoy a leisurely and excellent dinner. It didn’t take many days to put behind us the drudgery of working every day, the routine of taking care of a big house, and the realization we really didn’t need all the accoutrements we had collected, enjoyed and saved through the years. Life in an RV is an exciting experience! Doing it for a decade is a dream come true!


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