There are absolutely wonderful aspects to this lifestyle, including the opportunity to travel at will, the luxury of time for in-depth exploration, and the excitement of discovering new places. There are moments of magic and serendipity that somehow seem easier to recognize when traveling, perhaps because everything is viewed with a fresh perspective.
But It’s Not All Fun And Games
At the same time, life on the road calls for the ability to adapt to the unexpected, with more or less grace. We’ve endured flat tires, malfunctioning water pumps, water leaks, hailstorms, high winds, and every variety of biting insects. We’ve arrived at campgrounds to find them unexpectedly closed. We’ve gotten kicked out of a national park because of government shutdowns.
While it’s useful to possess skills such as being able to read a map, change a tire, and figure out why the water pump is making that weird noise, the two best attributes for full-time travel are flexibility and a good sense of humor.
Which brings us to our current adventure: Caravanning with our dear friends Ted and Katherine. They’ve generously made their lovely property in Ashland our home away from home. Each time we travel through our hometown, we stay on their land. We spend a lot of time together—gardening, cooking, and playing Hearts. Our most recent visit to Ashland lasted from October until the first week in January, much longer than we had originally planned. But the time flew by with visiting our many wonderful friends in town, a few short trips to the Oregon coast, and various appointments. As the holidays rolled around we thought, “What the heck—we might as well stay through Christmas!” The idea was made even more appealing because our daughter and grandson planned to visit.
How Our Caravanning Adventure Came To Be
Hanging out in the evenings with Ted and Katherine—under the influence of good times and a bottle of wine—we cooked up the idea of an extended trip together. Ted and Katherine have a small and adorable 17-and-a-half foot Bigfoot trailer. They’ve traveled extensively, but never for more than a few days at a time in their trailer. January and February, we collectively decided, would be the perfect opportunity for a long road trip.
I tried my best to warn our dear friends about the reality of preparing for a road trip of this magnitude. “Oh, we’ve got it covered!” Katherine reassured me. “No, really,” I said, one week before leaving. “It’s not too early to start loading the trailer now.” “No worries!” said Katherine.
In addition to preparing their trailer, they had to close up their house, take care of their wine making operation, put the garden to bed, and make sure everything was situated for leaving for two months. Oh, and they also had their grandsons staying with them for a couple of weeks. We promised Eliot and Jonah a wonderful adventure, including camping at a sweet small state park in northern California, a morning at a wildlife refuge, and a campfire before we returned them to their home in Santa Cruz.
We were all so overwhelmed with trip preparations that we postponed our trip by a day. It still wasn’t enough time. I won’t go into the details, but suffice it to say that our departure was complicated and arduous. The morning of our exodus, as we trotted back and forth between the house and the trailers, Katherine turned to me and said, “You didn’t tell me it was going to be like this! It’s all your fault!” We collapsed in laughter, continued loading the trailers, and finally managed to pull out of Ashland at noon.
Our first night on the road did not go as planned. We arrived at Colusa River State Recreation Area at dusk to find it barricaded and temporarily closed for repairs. There is nowhere else to stay within 100 miles. The boys were hungry. We were all delirious with exhaustion. We ended up in a restaurant parking lot, a first for us. We slept reasonably well, despite the sirens and searchlights of a police chase at midnight that involved every police car in town and a helicopter.
It was not the grand introduction into RV travel that we had hoped to present to our friends. Nonetheless, the boys thought it was a wonderful adventure. Ted and Katherine and Eric and I are still friends. As far as we’re all concerned, we’re off to a fantastic start, simply because we managed to get out of town. It can only get better from here.
(Header photo: Camping with my family, circa 1963.)