I don’t own an old RV, but I do have an old car that my wife absolutely loves, a 1990 Buick Park Avenue that we bought new 25 years ago, so I know something about the challenges of maintaining aging vehicles. Warranties no longer apply and parts can become hard to find as the years roll by.
So I admire the tenacity of Jo Ann Bender, who decided that a 1973 Ford motorhome would be the perfect vehicle for her first long-distance RV trip.
Jo Ann tells the story of that trip in her memoir, Snowbirds. She and her husband, Frederick (Bud) Budinger, bought the RV for a two-month trip from their ranch in northeastern Washington to the south of Texas. Jo Ann picked out the vintage turquoise motorhome on a sales lot, and although her husband had doubts about its mechanical soundness, they set out from Spokane to be Snowbirds for the winter. It was not a smooth trip.
When they weren’t worrying about strange noises from their engine as they motored along, they were often parked at a repair shop. And yet, it was a trip that made Jo Ann and her husband dedicated RVers.
“There are pluses and minuses in everything,” Jo Ann says, and in this case the mechanical problems were outweighed by the freedom of being on the road, the chance to experience amazing places and the opportunity to meet interesting people.
Hampered by Cost
Jo Ann displayed her book as an exhibitor at a recent RV show in Spokane, and had a chance to talk to many would-be RVers. She said she found that some people dream of becoming RVers but aren’t quite there yet, often because of the cost. So, she said, “It’s good to know you can do it on the cheap.”
She and her husband, whom she calls Skipper, spent $3,000 on repairs to their $7,000 motorhome during their two-month trip, so that may not be everyone’s idea of RVing on the cheap. Still their 20-foot motorhome, with a new refrigerator, air conditioner and quality mattress, required only a modest initial investment.
The mechanical problems must have been annoying but even there Jo Ann found a silver lining-a chance to meet friendly and helpful mechanics.
As Jo Ann wrote in her memoir, “There are dangers wherever you go, yet when you are on the road you seem to bump into good people. When you need help, somehow you get it. The three rig problems we came to Austin with were diagnosed and fixed at no ?the Texans spent on our problems…The Texans we met were just people helping people.”
The book is an entertaining account of one couple’s introduction to the joys or RVing. Or, as the blurb on the book cover says, “How a road trip in a vintage RV put love and adventure back in a marriage.”
Jo Ann’s book ends with the trip back home to their ranch, three miles from the Canadian border. That initial RV trip was several years ago, and the Ford motorhome is no longer around, but Jo Ann and Skipper have continued as RVers. They had a 27-foot Winnebago for a while but it was totaled in an accident. The Winnebago was parked when a drunk driver hit it and sent it careening into a building. Their current RV is a Pleasure-Way Class B motorhome.
Jo Ann’s book is one of four entries in our book review section on Page 18 this month. Besides the books, we review audio dramas from Jim French Productions in Bellevue, Washington.
I am old enough to remember when families gathered to listen to dramas on the radio, and while those days are long gone, short dramas are still being written and produced for broadcast. If you can’t find a retro radio station, you can buy them on CD.
Years ago, people thought television would kill radio and the movies, but both just evolved. Maybe the Internet will kill newspapers, and maybe electronic books will replace print books, but it seems that the competition is just transforming print, not replacing it.
Russ and Tin?a De Maris, who write our Tech Tips column, have created what in years past might have been a weekly program on the radio. It’s a half-hour audio series devoted to topics of interest to RVers, covering technical issues, product reviews, and everything involved in the RV lifestyle, including handy tips on all kinds of matters such as how to keep mice out of your RV.
“We aim to keep it light, and at the same time, make it practical,” said Russ, who acts as the show’s host, while his wife, Tin?a, serves as producer.
If Car Talk could become one of the most popular programs on National Public Radio, there should be a good audience for a show on RVs. In this case, you won’t find it on the radio, but on the Internet at yourrvpodcast.com. With this format, you can pick the time you want to hear the show and also listen to past episodes. Try it and I bet you will be entertained and also pick up useful information.