There’s nothing like waking up in the crisp mountain air. “Crisp” is a code word people use for situations where it is freakin’ cold put since they put themselves into the situation they feel they can’t complain about it. Yes, we’ve kicked off our 2010 camping season.
OK, “camping” itself is a code word. We’re not really camping. When the biggest issues you face are “What do you mean the cable package only has four channels?” and “Be a dear and turn down the furnace, will you?” you know you have moved into the realm of RV’ing.
Why the code? Well, “RV’ing” brings up two images — one is of Robin Williams in the 2006 movie and the other is of an aged white-haired couple putting down the highway in a land yacht holding up traffic. The fact is, the second image is closer to the typical reality, although I did once have an incident with the black water tank…
Realistically I am too smart to play the Robin Williams role and too young to play the retiree role. That’s why we often say we are camping — it’s just easier that way.
We bought our first RV back in 2000, on the spur of the moment, specifically for a trip to Niagrara Falls. It was a 1980 Travelaire, 16 feet long and compared to what we have today it was basically a glorified tent on wheels. There was only a hand pump for water, no water heater, no forced air furnance, no bathroom and certainly no air conditioning. It was very much the sort of trailer I remember from my youth. (My dad always told me “Never buy a trailer with a bathroom or a truck with four-wheel drive. I’ve done both over the years — sorry, Dad!)
We only used that trailer for a season before we sold it and bought our first new unit — a 2001 Mallard. It was 19 feet long and came complete with bathroom and shower. It too was lacking in air conditioning and microwave oven, but we managed. We had almost six summers iin that trailer, traveling far and wide with it.
However, RV’ing means constant change. Our original truck, a 1996 Dodge Ram which pulled the little 16 footer with ease stuggled with the new Mallard. One trip to Lethbridge we found the only thing that was moving faster than the wind was the fuel gauge on its race to Empty. That means we needed to get a bigger truck to pull the trailer. Enter the truck we still currently have, a 2001 Dodge Ram 2500 diesel aka “The Blue Beast” or “The Beast” for short.
The beginning of the end for the Mallard was in a parking lot of a school just outside of Springfield, Oregon. We pulled off the highway to eat and I apparently hit a speed bump a little too fast. When we pulled back onto the highway I noticed the trailer was sitting at an odd angle. We limped into town and discovered the frame and cracked and needed repair. The only RV place in town was too busy to even look at us but we eventually found a welder who got us back on the road, and only charged us $20 in the process.
The trailer never was the same after that. More repairs followed and finally in the summer of ’06 we said farewell to the little duck and moved into our current trailer, a fifth wheel which clocks in at 28 feet long. After all, we had the truck to pull it, we may as well get a trailer to stress the truck, right? Remember what I said about RV’ing being all about constant change?
That’s how we ended up where we are today. 15,900 pounds of metal and fiberglass rolling down the highway, holding up traffic — at least on the hills! That’s why I no longer make my morning coffee over the campfire and instead turn on the electric coffee maker. (Shirley always hated coffee grounds in her cup anyway.) Instead of adding another sleeping bag to the pile we bump up the thermostat another couple of degrees. And, instead of making breakfast I am sitting on the laptop entering blog posts using my iPhone tethering capabilities. Yes, we still rough it in a sense — no Wifi??
A beast, indeed! I’ve never done the camping thing, but I can see how a comfortable trailer would be a good thing. Plus, you’re ready to head for the hills if the zombie apocalypse ever gets going.