We’re home! Our epic 7-day road trip across the Midwest spanned some 1,700 miles and nearly 36 hours of driving. Add in sleeping, using the bathroom, cooking and eating, and we probably spent two thirds of the week in a space smaller than our living room at home.
Last week, I spent a few days on the road alone with my daughter, XY and my RV, Roxanne. Alan asked me to collect a few impressions of the trip. Here goes!
Greetings from Lindy’s ancestral homeland of Grand Rapids, Mich., where we’ve returned after a fun, successful long weekend at P.J. Hoffmaster State Park in Muskegon. We’re all still speaking to one another — in fact, we had a great time — and Roxanne was perfect company.
I’d like to introduce you to Roxanne. She’s our new second car, or our tiny house on wheels. She is a Flame Red 2015 Winnebago Travato 59G, built on the Ram ProMaster platform. We’ve just returned from a brief road trip to North Carolina, where we picked her up before stopping for the night at a campground outside Richmond, Virginia.
Image by Allie_Caulfield from Germany – 2010-10-30 Geeste, Moormuseum 032, CC BY 2.0.
On the subway yesterday, on the way into the office, I stole an appreciative look down at my constant traveling companion in my lap. It’s true: when I’m on the go, my gear bag is with me more often than my dog, my wife or my daughter. It comes along to work and on nearly every trip.
First of all, everyone is fine.
We’re all back home in the DC area and have returned to school and work. I realized from re-reading the end of my last post that I left the door open for more daily updates. Then I didn’t post again until now. We heard from a couple of relieved friends and family members after contacting them directly when we got back. I’m sorry if I left anyone with the impression that we’d gone Fastball or Alive. Really, it was a wonderful trip.
Shortly after my last update, we took off for another several hours of driving through the flat cell phone dead zone that is most of Nebraska and eastern Colorado. Then we suddenly realized we were in the mountains. It wasn’t long before we ended up at our destination in Boulder, where the RV sat in the driveway from Saturday afternoon until we returned it Monday. We had a great time catching up with old friends for a couple of days.
So… back to the RV.
I was able to fill up the propane at a local U-Haul outlet in Boulder, two gallons for the three days of refrigerator use along the way. The RV return was uneventful, and the technician who checked me in was kind enough to note that we weren’t the first customers to point out a detached dinette table in a Cruise America RV. He seemed thankful when I told him the screws were in the cupholder.
If you’re curious, here’s what the inside of a small Class C RV looks like. There’s a bunk bed on top of the cab, which is where the two grownups slept. A dinette converts into a second bed, which is where the kid slept. In larger models, there is also a permanent bed in the back. We didn’t have this. A small kitchen with microwave, two-burner cooktop and refrigerator-freezer are in the back, along with a wet bath. For the uninitiated, a “wet” RV bath has the toilet, sink and shower in a single room that gets wet when you take a shower. A “dry” bath has a separate shower with a door or a curtain. Ours was the wet kind, owing to the small 19-foot size of the RV. Dry baths are much more common in Class Cs, while wet baths are almost always found in the smaller Class B campers. None of this mattered on our trip, because the freezing nighttime weather meant we couldn’t run any water through the shower anyway. The two campsite showers were plenty roomy and hot.
All three of us emerged from this trip wanting to drive an RV again sometime, and leaning toward trying to buy one someday. I learned I wouldn’t want to own a conventional Class C because the cab-over design — which hasn’t changed much in decades — makes for terrible aerodynamics. This means the windy driving peril I described in my first post, and gas mileage that never got beyond the single digits. I’d prefer a B or a “B+” like the Winnebago Travato or Trend.
My favorite moment on the road belongs to my daughter, as so many moments do these days. You’ll recall we got to our first campsite very, very late. She was already asleep for a couple hours when we pulled in and parked. Lindy and I fumbled around with the dinette and got it converted to the bed, then moved XY over from where she had been sitting. She slept some more.
Then suddenly, as I was putting away some luggage in the cabin, she woke up with an urgent need for information that apparently couldn’t wait for morning.
Her: “Where’s Mama?”
Me: “In the bathroom.”
Her: “And who’s driving this RV?”
Fair question. She must’ve liked the answer, because she was asleep again seconds later.
After our road adventure and two days in Boulder, we had an uneventful flight from Denver back to the DC area and got back to life as usual.
Thanks for reading! I’ll have my first post about a lifestyle tip — clothing, in fact — in a couple of days.
Good morning from blustery Kearney, Neb., where I’m sitting inside a toasty RV and waiting for my two passengers to come back from the showers. Never having spent any time at RV parks before this trip, I guess I didn’t give a second thought to what it would take to set one up. As you can see from the picture, it’s just a series of concrete slabs with electrical, water and sewer hookups. Add a building with some shower and laundry facilities, put in a wi-fi router, and drop the whole thing down within a mile of a major interstate. That’s all.
Greetings from the Sleepy Hollow Campground outside Oxford, Iowa! We are three warm, well-rested and well-fed folks. While we arrived much later than I’d hoped and with a slumbering child, our first night and morning of living in an RV have been very nice. We’ve figured out the shore power, the bathroom and the kitchen.
My daughter XY is six, about to turn seven. Parenting a child of this age means a nonstop stream of opportunities to see novelty through her eyes. On the other hand, at my age, completely novel experiences are pretty unusual.
We’re about to have one.