It takes a lot of courage and the right tools to go from Vancouver Island, BC to Winter Garden, FL to buy a new RV. We looked for one closer, but it was not meant to be.
We loved our Rex Air, but we knew it was time to upgrade now that we were using it as our primary residence. Engineering had always been our top priority and after talking to RV repair techs, we settled on the Newmar line of RVs as the best-engineered rig in our price range. So we began in earnest to look for the right floor plan that would meet our specific needs.
As luck (or providence) would have it, the best rig for us was in a dealership in Florida, 3,500 miles away. Nothing closer would do. So, we wired the down payment and started on an unforgettable journey across the country to pick up our new RV.
In our comfort zone
Even before going full-time, we hoped to travel around North America to see the sights, meet the people, and experience regional cultures. But after we started on the full-time adventure, we shrunk back from this ambition and just stayed in the northwest (the pretext was our 95-year-old mother, but the real reason was, we were scared to leave our comfort zone).
We knew the Northwest, but the South and East were foreign, different, and scary. Every time we talked about going east, we had a reason not to: the age of the rig, gas was expensive, it would interfere with work, and of course, there was the mom thing.
History of rolling trips
When we were just weekend warriors, we had a long history of “rolling trips.” On a long weekend we’d pick a direction, with no specific destination in mind and we’d see where the road took us. These were some of our best RV memories. We loved the freedom and discovery that came with a rolling trip and some of our favorite campsites were discovered in this way. We were even bold enough to embark on longer trips to San Francisco, Glacier National Park, Reno, Banff, Vancouver Island, and Yellowstone.
Back then, there was no internet, or cell phone, or apps. All we had was a huge Woodall’s directory, (like the old yellow pages) where RV parks crammed a little information into tiny ad spaces roughly ½” x 2”. How much information can you put in an ad that small? There were no links to websites, no pictures, no park reviews, no interactive maps to help you find the park. The Woodall ad usually just listed the park name, address, and phone number. Our navigation, back then, consisted of the Woodall’s book, an atlas, and a state map. How did we ever find RV parks?
But going full-time caused us to become more timid. We were nervous about where we would stay during peak seasons and holidays, and we stopped going on rolling trips. Instead of expanding our horizons, and adding freedom to our travels, going full-time slowly eroded our adventuresome spirit. We found ourselves, camping in familiar campgrounds, and traveling the known, rather than the unknown roads. Timidity crept in. We weren’t even aware of it.
Shot from a cannon
When we decided to buy a motorhome that was 3,500 miles away, it was like being shot from a cannon. Suddenly, we were forced out of our comfort zone, and in mid-October, we embarked on the most extensive rolling trip of our lives. Yes, we knew the destination and the exact time we needed to arrive, but not the route, what we would encounter, where we would stay, or for how long.
It’s not a coincidence that the first leg of our journey tracked along the exact terrain our ancestors traveled on the Oregon Trail. On the first night of this cross-country journey, we camped at Emigrant Springs at the summit of the Blue Mountains, where westbound wagon-trains stopped in preparation for the dangerous descent down the western side of the Blue Mountains.
The irony did not go unnoticed. Sleeping in our heated RV at Emigrant Springs, in the exact place where our weary ancestors slept on the cold, rocky ground, highlighted by contrast, their courage against our timidity.
They walked over 2,000 miles in the blistering heat and dust, following ruts etched into the prairie by oxen hoofs and wagon wheels. We were traveling in the opposite direction, over paved interstate highways in an air-conditioned RV. They had to locate water for themselves and their livestock, daily. We were carrying enough fresh filtered water to last for days. They had to fix meals from scarce dry goods. We pulled dinner out of the refrigerator or went out to eat. The more we thought about their courage, the more we realized how timid we had become.
They put their trust in scouts and wagon masters to get them to the new frontier. We put our trust in RV LIFE’s mobile app and GPS. From day to day, they never knew what they might encounter. We could do research, read reviews, link to websites, and call for reservations, with one-touch dialing.
This trip has taught us that people everywhere are decent, caring, gentle, and kind, and it’s safe to boldly travel among them. It’s restored our courage, helped us relax, taught us to enjoy our adventures, and to trust our resources and the other travelers who have gone before us. After all, we’re all connected, from our courageous ancestors to our fellow RVers who candidly share their RV park reviews online, we’re all just one big traveling family.
Peggy Dent is an author, writer, and full-time RVer, traveling around the US and Canada. She’s traveled more than 130,000 miles in a motorhome, over the past 20 years, and is currently writing for the RV industry. You can contact her through her website at www.APenInYourHand.com