The open road beckons: a six-week odyssey, wending our way from Florida to the east coast of Newfoundland. We travel in a Tahoe towing a trailer, in the company of two dogs and a cat, visiting friends and family along the way.
I admit to mixed feelings about this trip. On the one hand, I am apprehensive and at times my anxiety rises to the level of a sense of doom. But another part of me says, “Hey, get a grip. How bad could it be? Let’s just get it over with.”
The roots of my apprehension are my memories of a family vacation in a recreational vehicle during the summer of ’63. I was twelve years old and paid close attention during the orientation. One point that particularly interested me was that you could hear the pump kick in every time you turned on the water. If the pump ran unceasingly, it meant you were out of water.
We spent our first night in a campground in Bastrop State Park, in central Texas. There were no RV hookups. In those days, such things could only be found in a trailer park. It was hot that night and my mother wanted to run the air conditioner, which required running the generator. This was not very popular among the people around us who were sleeping in tents.
In the morning, my father announced that he was going to take a “Navy” shower. “First you get your body wet, turn of the water,” he explained. “After you get soaped up, you rinse off.”
He stepped into the tiny bathroom, with the shower head projecting from the wall over the toilet, and we all listed as the water pump kicked in for the first phase of his shower and then stopped. A few minutes later, the pump kicked in again. But it didn’t stop. It droned on as he emerged from the bathroom dotted with soap bubbles. He didn’t seem that grateful to me when I reminded him of what the man had told us about the water pump.
We did not have a hose to refill the tank. None of the people around us would lend us a hose. Generator noise had made our family a pariah. We drove to a gas station where my father, still coated in bubbles, refilled our tank with water. When he got back into the driver’s seat, his hand was wrapped in a bloody towel. My mother asked “What happened?”, but she could not understand his muttered response. The third time she asked, he shouted, “I cut it on the license plate!!”
I wish I could say that the rest of the trip went smoothly, but the best I can say is that nothing worse happened. Despite that negative experience, I am taking the plunge once more. My husband and I bought a third-hand trailer for this trip, and recently took it on a trial run go a campground a few miles from our home. Facilities for trailers and RV’s have come a long way since 1963. The sites have water, sewage, and even wi-fi!. The water hookup was on the wrong side and so we had to run the hose over the picnic table and under the RV, but otherwise things went smoothly. We only had to return home twice for things we left at home, and then went out for dinner. There was only one tense moment: My husband tripped over the water hose, and guess what—cut his finger!! After a trip to the drug store for band-aids, we decided that one night in the camp was a sufficient trial.
My parent’s marriage survived that trip more than 50 years ago. With luck, Tom and I will stay married, too.