We are slowly preparing for what may be the most fun we have ever had. (Or the biggest mistake…) Back in June, we bought a used RV. Having it is a really a latent dream come true for both Jim and I.
When Andy was small, we took him camping every summer. It was the only vacation we could really afford with Jim in college post Vietnam. We have photos of the three of us, dressed warmly against Michigan’s unpredictable weather in May. I remember taking long bikes rides through the quaint towns that lay along the shores of Lake Huron, Andy strapped into a child’s seat on the back of my bike that would put a parent in jail if it were used today.
Jim, in his super organized way, had a trunk filled with everything we needed. So on Friday night, we only had to grab the tent, the trunk, some clothing and food, and jump into our 1972 Chevy van, a gift he made to himself the month he returned home from the war. We actually tried to finish the interior. He paneled it with wood paneling that worked loose the first trip, and I made tie dyed muslin curtains, strung on jute and hung across the windows for privacy at night.
I’ll never forget the first night we slept in the van. Headed south to visit Jim’s Air Force buddy, Clayton and his family stationed in Clovis, NM. We drove into the night, Andy bedded down on the bench seat we added across the back of the van, finally stopping way past midnight.
At dawn, I remember hearing my little son stirring, and upon realizing that he had spent the night sleeping in a car, exclaimed, ‘Oh boy!” He was so cute!
That trip was memorable because Jim had to slam the breaks on and the kid flew into a bolt on the back of the seat….no seat belts in this vehicle. We went to an emergency room in El Paso, TX, and Andy still has his Frankenstein scar.
We found exciting places to visit for the next two years, and then I got pregnant with Jennifer. We tried to continue our camping traditions that summer after she was born, but she hated it from the get go. My husband asked how a two month old baby could know she wasn’t sleeping in her own crib, and all I know is that she did know. She cried for three days, and finally I told him it was time to go home.
Segue ten years. During a family council meeting, Jennifer said she would try camping again if there was a proper bathroom, hot running water, and screens. So we set out to find a camper, and succeeded in getting one she would stay in. I’m telling you, the condition of divahood is genetic. We didn’t raise her that way!
We used the camper twice and put it up for sale.
Then, a few years after that, we thought a boat might be better. They have kitchens and bathrooms, air conditioning, and you get to go to the shore every weekend and not spend the money on a rental. I tell you, it would be cheaper. Jim, the perfectionist that he is, had to have the engines overhauled every fall, even though we rarely took the boat out of the slip. (Barnegat Bay is shallow in areas and the danger of running aground is too great. Having to get hauled off a sand bar is another expensive proposition) Plus, boats have two engines….
We spent the money and although I loved it, the kids weren’t thrilled with the boat, they were growing up and finding other, unfamily things to do with their summers, and then we bought the farm. We found out quickly that if you make a place too comfortable, you won’t want to leave it. Plus, the dogs were here. We’d get to the shore and I would start calling home every hour to find out how Buddy and Ollie were. After five years, it, too went up for sale.
The past twelve years have been spent enjoying our farm. We have hated leaving it, even for a weekend. But like all of life, nothing stays the same. Andy is now living in California, possibly permanently. When he was in Atlanta, it took us two hours on a plane to see him and Janeen. Now, five hours minimum. Jen has a wonderful boyfriend and it looks like they are going to make a life together. So she is moving from Deptford, an easy forty five minutes away, to West Chester, an hour and a half on awful roads. We might as well be in Florida.
My life has changed so dramatically, that leaving NJ is an option for the first time in thirty years. Back in the mid 80’s we moved to the San Fransisco bay area when Jim was working for Associated Press. I tolerated it for one year, and then started nagging him to take me back to New Jersey. I loved it here! I loved the proximity to Philadelphia and New York. I loved the beach and the Poconos. I loved working at what used to be Rancocas Hospital in Willingboro. My drive to work every morning filled me with happiness and peace. I loved Mount Holly, the town where I raised my children. Slowly, all of these things have lost their impact on me. I am finally free to go.
But where? Sorry Georgians, but I didn’t care for Atlanta. I liked the area where our house was, Dunwoody it is called, a lovely, older established neighborhood, but with the traffic of Hong Kong. If I am going to fight bumper to bumper speeding cars like that, Manhattan better be at the end of the drive. And now that Andy and Janeen are no longer there, and it looks like a done deal, Atlanta isn’t an option.
I’m not ready for Florida. I have several girlfriends who spend the winter down there and I will go visit them if they will have me! Besides, I am tired of the crowded city. Tired of traffic. Tired of the homogenized stores. We have a replica of the shops on Route 73 right on Route 130. I thought there was an economic crisis, but I guess not in the retail realm. That also leaves out Pennsylvania for me. My daughter, as much as I cherish her, has her own life. She has wonderful girlfriends who vie for her time. She works long hours. She has her man. Moving there would mean starting all over, and frankly, I am too tired for that. At least right now.
So where are we going to go? We have some secret places in mind, but until we sell our wonderful home, we will keep those dreams to ourselves. In the meantime, we did something really exciting for us, and that was to buy the RV. Initally, the purpose of it was to have a place to hide when the house is being shown, which is turning out to be almost continuously.
Now we are planning to spend time going between both kids. Winter in La Hoya, spring in PA., maybe summer in Michigan with my family. We shall see. The dogs love it. All Jim has to say is go to the camper, and their little ears perk up! We bought all four of them special harnesses so they can be strapped in safely. We have a generator so the living portion of the camper can be air conditioned while we are traveling. We are more concerned about the comfort of our dogs than ourselves. The sleeping situation looks like it may be worrisome, but we won’t know until we try.
The only sad part of all of this is that my sheep can’t come. That would just be too Tobacco Road. Remember, their Indian name is Shits Without Warning. Having them in the camper would be too smelly. There is a chance my girlfriend, Deb, may board them for me until we sell the house and know exactly where we are going. I will blog about our adventures. We are in the dreaming stage right now, but hope to head toward Michigan at the end of the month. We will have to see where the house situation is at that time. Until next time!