Prior to renting an RV (short for Recreational Vehicle in the states and “Caravan” for you Europeans), I would recommend you watch the Robin Williams movie from the Mid-2000s called aptly “RV”. It follows a family taking their first vacation in an RV, in a much more family friendly fun result than any National Lampoon Vacation. I recommend it if you are planning such a trip not because it is a worse case scenario, it’s because its a pretty darn near truth scenario. I saw the film the first time on my first vacation to Alaska in 2006, which I rented an RV (for those of you who saw the film, you know exactly what I named that RV when I got there).
This weekend, I borrowed an RV from co-worker Jackie Wright, to help with the camping fun in Seward. Now, I’m not one to complain … okay, I am one to complain, but … having access to something like an RV and all I had to do was keep the gas tanks filled was nice; that being said, it made for quite the adventure. First of all, it was big, like real big. The RV is considered a Class 1, being that it is thirty-five (35) feet long. It is the size of a bus. It had a stove, fridge, cupboards, and generator for all the comforts of home. With the queen bed in the back, the full sized over the driver/passenger seat, the couch pull-out, and the table conversion, this is an RV that could sleep up to 8 people comfortably, and about 40 uncomfortably when on the road between DeKalb, Illinois and Ypsilanti, Michigan when the drum bus broke down somewhere around the Popeyes south of Chicago (I am having drum corps flashbacks this week, sorry). With the drop down tarp on the outside, and windows around the whole of thing, it’s going to make you feel that you are in the woods without really being exposed to nature.
So here’s the punchline. In what is the biggest understatement you can make about it Jackie described the RV as:
“Holy Moly, It’s Old”
I don’t know when the thing was built, but it brought back a lot of memories. The steering wheel, the gear shifter, way the engine sounded & behaved, even the keys all reminded me of the white truck my dad let me drive through most of high school — and that thing was an early ’70s model. Short of it being a manual transmission, and having loads more space behind me, it took me back to those old days of bouncing along on bad shocks & rough sounding exhaust.
Driving it, other than being a throwback to the 25 years ago, was an adventure. My first impression was that it was so big, I felt less like I was in control, and more that it was just going where it thought it would go & I was just lucky to be going to the same place. Parking it wasn’t so bad, except where do you park 35 feet of metal and fiberglass? It struggled up hills, but did better than I thought.
My friend Mary rode with me down to Seward, our campsite being at Miller’s Landing, a stretch of land south of Seward. To reach it, you have to drive the only road heading south of Seward – only road because on one side there is flat cliff going up, and the other was Ocean. At one point, unsure of what we had gotten ourselves into I said to Mary “Hope you know that this is not a ‘turn around and go back’ road.” Punch drunk from the 2 hour drive we couldn’t stop laughing as the ruts made the RV bounce our guts out. Finally reaching the campsite, our friends said we could find them by just driving around until we saw them – where I replied “This Ain’t a ‘Drive Around Until We See You’ kind of vehicle.”
Complaining aside, the allure of an RV is way too easy to see. In the days of rain in Seward, the old girl took good care of those of us not willing to sleep on a wet ground under a wet tent. It was the pup’s lock away when he played too rough with the other dogs and chewed through his leash. It was a warm bed on cold nights. Sure the fridge didn’t work, any movement would make beast shake, the smallest of cross wind made it feel like you were spinning the steering wheel of a boat, and everything would be more fun inside if we knew that we had to flip the switch to turn on the power. But I get how it is so much easier to pull up to your campsite, not need to pitch a tent, not need to sleep on a hundred rocks, and not need to spend any time outside in the rain.
I just may not be in a rush to get myself something that old.