One of our neighbors was recently chatting with Tim asking about our trailer and our travel plans. Tim explained what we are hoping to do in 2021 (still under COVID restrictions). Our neighbor asked, “Ok, but what about Beth? Is she on board with this?
That is a question I’ve asked myself.
I certainly didn’t grow up traveling – a family business kept us tied down, unable to take vacations. Camping? Are you crazy? Hiking? Why? In our small-town life, kids walked and biked everywhere. Parents didn’t drive us places. We walked. We biked.
On the other hand, Tim did grow up traveling. His family camped. They hiked. They fished. They tent camped. They had a pickup camper and crowded more people in there than I can comprehend. Tim came away from that wanting to create similar memories for our children. When we were dating and he shared this with me all I could think was, “Are you kidding?!?!???”
Then as fate would have it, we fell hard for one another, got married, and soon had a sweet baby girl. Life with a baby and two careers became instantly crazy.
In an attempt to reduce the crazy, we decided I should become an at-home mom. To accomplish that we simplified, moved into a smaller home, and before long there was a baby brother. Many of you know that stage of life. Babies, toddlers, diapers, meals, lack of sleep, career demands, exhausted-minimal-housekeeping. Those days, weeks, and months pass in a sleep-deprived blur.
Did we travel? Sure. But travel was just shy of completely miserable. Neither of our kids was what you’d call good travelers. They didn’t sleep in the car. On the contrary, they were restless, uncomfortable, and required a lot of interaction from me in order to keep the peace. Otherwise, the stress on the driver was just too much. Plus we didn’t live close to grandparents so most of our travel at that time was to see them – it wasn’t traveling to see new places, do new things.
The Family (Beth) Goes Camping – Reluctantly
When our son was about 3 months old, I was persuaded to go on a camping trip with Tim’s family. While I can’t say I enjoyed that particular camping experience (I was woefully unprepared), I did enjoy the time with family. I love looking back and reminiscing. And something else – I found I had a sense of accomplishment by just doing it.
Conclusion? it just might be worth some temporary discomfort to create shared family memories.
As the kids grew up and became better able to entertain themselves when traveling, my explorer-adventurer husband began planning road trips. And I noticed something. Tim was different on the road than at home. The difference was unexpected. The difference was nice. The difference was valuable.
Tim is a type A++ personality. He sets goals and can maintain an unrelenting focus on achieving them. He is wonderful at staying the course and accomplishing whatever he sets his mind on. With me as a full-time, at-home mom, the financial burden of supporting a young family rested solely on Tim’s shoulders. Most of his energy was consumed meeting the demands of his career. It was difficult for him to turn it off.
This also meant that vacation time was limited. He only got two weeks a year and one week was dedicated to visiting grandparents. That meant the other week needed to be an actual vacation and it needed to “count”. So we packed up (a hassle), loaded up (stay out of his way), pulled out (breathe a sigh of relief), and hit the road.
The contrast between us was significant. I embarked on a road trip expecting to simply endure (to be fair to myself, here’s a little context). Tim was enjoying it. I thought you had to rush to arrive at the destination. He didn’t hesitate to stop along the way.
We spent hours on the road. Hours. And hours. Once again, I noticed that as time and distance separated Tim from work, he began to let go of the work pressures and expectations. I began to understand there was more to a trip than the destination. I became willing to follow Tim’s lead, replace my childhood road trip experiences with his, and trust that we could travel long distances and enjoy ourselves along the way.
Pike’s Peak or Bust – Season #1
Our first big trip was to Colorado. We rented a 15-passenger van, removed a row of seats, put “Pike’s Peak or Bust” signs in the windows, and set off on a hybrid (some hotels, some camping cabins) vacation. There were a couple of sketchy nights in a camping cabin where I did not sleep at all. (I mean, what in the heck WAS that scary noise anyway?!?!???) But I had to admit, everything else was pretty fun.
On that trip, I discovered something about myself. I liked figuring out ways to cook (without an oven and stove). I liked figuring out how to get clean (without running water). I liked pitting my creativity against the lack of conveniences. I liked the challenge.
A Borrowed Pop-up – Season #2
A few years later, friends graciously loaned us their pop up camper. Total game changer. I realized with a tent camper there were enough amenities in the trailer to make certain things easier – eating and sleeping – and still have fun with nightly campfires, marshmallows, Dutch oven cooking, exploring, hiking. This borrowed popup opened my eyes to possibilities.
No longer was I merely enduring road trips, I was enjoying them. No longer simply accomodating Tim’s dream of making memories with our children by camping, I was finding elements of it I enjoyed.
Glamping (Roughing it Easy) – Season #3
Years later, as empty-nesters, we went to Utah and included a few nights of “glamping”. The pieces fell into place! Glamping totally works with my imaginative mind. Think safari. Think Lawrence of Arabia. Just imagine: camping which suits Tim mixed with a little glitz and a REAL bed which suits me.
I LOVED this experience! This trip also infected me with the national park bug. Now instead of being simply along for the ride, I became eager for the next trip, the next adventure.
Rubber Begins to Meet the Road – Season #4
Tim retired in 2019 – a couple of years earlier than originally planned – and we needed to stop talking and start doing. We began looking in earnest for an RV. But what kind did we want? We rented a Class C. We rented a small trailer. Then COVID. Planning came to a grinding halt. Confined to home, watching as trailers disappeared off dealer lots, we wondered if we had missed our window of opportunity. We watched. We researched. We bought an RV maintenance course and began to work through video lessons at home. We waited.
And one day, a trailer appeared at a local dealer that we both liked. With face masks in place and hand sanitizer once again available, we finally took the leap and bought a trailer.
We took possession of the trailer (Winnebago Voyage) in December and immediately took it for a short trip. Yes, there were things that didn’t work – but all the critical systems were fine. Yes, we were delayed in one location due to a “Check Engine” light on the truck. But you know what? We proved that we can handle it when stuff happens. We can go with the flow. Although our flows look and sound different (Enneagram 8 and 7), we complement one another and it works.
So is Beth on board?
Absolutely! Focused time with my husband, doing what he loves doing, embracing the “glamping” side without getting too far removed from the great outdoors, learning new things, seeing new places make RV’ing totally worth the effort.
2021 Season #5 – Currently Under Production
2021 will still be a challenging year for travel. COVID vaccines are in short supply and the earliest my turn will come will be in March. News is reporting that variations of the virus are now spreading. Face masks, sanitizer, avoiding enclosed spaces will be with us for some time.
But in this topsy-turvey pandemic world, RV travel allows us to travel within a little “bubble”. It requires us to be creative to keep ourselves and others safe. It reminds us that there is truly no time like the present and to stop talking and start living the adventure!
I’m the oldest of four girls. Our grandparents lived six hours away and we visited them regularly. We had station wagons and it seemed fun to travel in the rear end. We all got car sick. My mother (in the front seat), the four of us in the back and Daddy didn’t want to stop. For anything. No wonder I wasn’t a fan of car travel.