Where does a dream start? I find myself reflecting on how we made the decision to become full time RVers. I guess you can blame my parents. As they were raising my siblings and me, they always found ways to travel and explore even if there wasn’t much money. Summer and Fall were the best times for weekend trips, or even day trips to local community or state parks for picnics, hikes and family gatherings. Dad worked shifts at the local steel mill and when he had a day off, Mom would pack a picnic basket and off we would go. The parks were lovely and exploring beautiful, natural surroundings became an integral part of our lives.
When I was 17, my parents bought their first travel trailer, a 13 ft. Scotty. Even though I started college that year, I spent vacations traveling in the trailer with my family. We often surprised people at the campgrounds that five of us fit into that little trailer. Over the years, my parents upgraded to larger trailers, eventually to a fifth wheel that they lived in for 6 months each year in Florida. Needless to say, they were hooked on the lifestyle, and so was I.
My husband had never camped in a trailer, but he also had fond memories of spending summer vacation with his family at a friends’ hunting and fishing camp in the mountains. He became a member of the camp the year that we got married. We came to love escaping the city for the occasional weekend in the mountains. We lived in an urban neighborhood and wanted to be able to share with our children the same appreciation for nature. The hunting camp was a bit too far away for frequent weekend trips so we found ourselves discussing a camper purchase.
My Aunt Babe wanted to sell her 28 ft. Coachman motorhome so we borrowed it for a weekend to decide if we wanted to buy it. We headed off to my brother’s house, a few hours drive away. That first trip was quite an experience. We broke down on the Pennsylvania turnpike and needed a tow. As we sat there for a few hours waiting for the tow truck, we entertained the kids playing cards and games. You have to make the best out of every situation, right? The motorhome was a good place to be, we had a bathroom, table and chairs, snacks and a deck of cards. Do you need anything else?
My brother and father eventually came to pick up the girls and me while Tim continued to wait for the tow. The tow truck took him to their garage where he learned they wanted to tow it onto the Ford garage on Monday. That would leave us stuck without transportation so he convinced them to take a look and hopefully get him running. Luckily they helped him out and fixed it enough to get back on the road. Off he went following their directions up a winding mountain road and he got lost trying to get to my brothers. It was quite the trip.
Aunt Babe couldn’t believe that we came back from that experience and said we would buy it. That was the start of our camping adventures. For the next five years, we headed out after work on Friday to my cousin’s place in the country where we stored the camper, and we would take off for the weekend. We tried out many campgrounds in Western Pennsylvania and ventured as far as Niagara Falls and Gettysburg. It was great to raise our children in the city and also give them opportunities to experience nature on the weekends.
The girls’ teenage years made camping on weekends more difficult. They were active with sports, jobs and other activities that cut into our weekend camping time. The cost of gas also increased and the motorhome was requiring a bit of work. We ended up deciding to get a travel trailer and move to seasonal camping. That led to upgrading to large trailers and eventually to the fifth wheel that we have today.
Before we knew it, we were empty nesters and we started planning the next phase of our lives. With just a few years to retirement, we found ourselves dreaming of traveling the United States in our RV. I often talked about this when we were younger but I don’t think my husband was totally on board with the idea. The years of camping with the kids sold him on the lifestyle and it became his dream too. We are so close now - I can almost touch it. Six months to go and we will be on the road.
Stay tuned for more adventures.