Monday, August 30, 2010

How We Traveled

Some of you may know that we have an AdventureVan that we purchased nearly a year ago. It will probably be our main mode of vacation travel going forward, but for our cross country trip we had the pleasure and good fortune to be able to borrow Shawn's parents' RV.

I've never thought we should own an RV. I always thought of us as "real" campers...dirt, tents, campfire, no shower. but now, I'm not so sure. It was really, really nice to have a bed, make that 3 beds, and a toilet and a shower! and a sink, and a microwave/convection oven, and the infamous hot box of death (the toaster oven). We also had a full size refrigerator, and room for all of our snacks. Owning an RV is now on the list of "hmm, maybe that would be cool."

This particular RV is a 2004 Pace Arrow. We also towed a Honda CRV, which acquired a Thule box for our leg of the trip. In total, we had a 34' RV with tow, so we were probably about 50' long. We did use the tow car several times to tour on roads that were smaller, and to zip around Yellowstone National Park. While it makes things more difficult to travel with a tow car, I was glad we had it. It also made me feel safer, because it gave us another way to get out of the desert should our primo ride have trouble.

In the picture above you can see one of the "slides." That's the front room, or living room that slides out. The couch then unfolds like a futon and that's the bed where Jack slept. It's a decent sized bed. Shawn and I have slept on the couch several times...and I took a nap there once while Shawn was driving on this trip--just once I swear.

Katie is not talking to her stockbroker here.
Katie slept at the dining room table. You can see here on the left, Katie is sitting at the table (she's on her headset playing "Talking Tom" on her iTouch..that is another story altogether). The wood behind her is the head board. The table unhinges from the wall and rests on the edges of the bench seats, making a slightly-larger-than a toddler-sized bed. It was sort of a pain to put the table up and down, but in the evening it was part of the routine that changed our "car" into our "home". Katie was perfectly happy taking a nap on the bench while we drove, the seat belt snapped around her waist as we bumped along. Jack, who never naps in the car anymore,  put his head down on the table a couple times and snoozed on the days when we woke him up too early.

Shawn and I slept in the back in the Master Bedroom, which has a very comfy bed. There's another slide in the back that creates enough room so you can walk around the end of the bed and get into the drawers under the wardrobe.  I loved the light setup in the master bedroom. I really enjoyed my book light, even if I only read ten pages on the trip.

We are hardly tiny people (Shawn is 6'5" and I am 5'11"), so the whole setup was cozy, but  RVs are like boats, so it was all laid out so well, wand everything had a place, except our excess of jacket. Moving about, finding a place for everything, life, was much smoother than I thought it would be.

The Minor Things I Would Change if I Had a Magic Wand:
big stretch
  • More seat belts. This RV was clearly designed for two people traveling without guests. There is only 1 seat belt at the dinette. There were two on the couch, and the two seats in the front for driver and naggravator (yes that's what we call my position navigator + aggravate).
  • Change the movable rocking recliner to a permanent mount chair that turns...and add a seat belt. This seat is behind the driver side, and is basically unusable while driving. It did do a great job of holding our backpacks throughout the journey.
  • Give the sanitation hose its very own compartment separate from the clean water, cable and electric. 
  • Add more plugs in the kitchen. We use a power strip. It works fine, but anytime I can get rid of a power strip I am a go.
  • Add more plugs in the front. 
  • Okay, add more plugs everywhere and have them be able to be used while we are driving. We have this problem all the time now, in every car. We just have way too many things that need to be plugged in.
Overall it was an amazing way to travel. Really. In spite of whatever hazards we encountered, it was still pretty great. Let me tell you..being able to take a bathroom and a refrigerator everywhere you go? So awesome. Kid needs to 'go potty' sure.. go for it. Need a snack? Sure. Let me grab you something from the snack drawer kiddo. Want a sandwich Shawn? Let me get you some chicken salad on wheat. Oh, another soda? Just a moment. Got to go potty again.. no problemo.

I know we could do most of those things in a smaller form factor, but the RV really felt like it was just the right size for our not-so-little family of four. It will be a completely different experience to drive in the AdventureVan which I am already itching to do. Katie said, as we pulled in to our driveway last Sunday, "When can we go on a big trip in our AdventureVan?"

Just another way I  know we had a good time crossing the country... I keep wanting to wake up in a car the size of my first studio apartment and make breakfast.


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