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Gorman road trip!

April 24th, 2009 Comments off

I have always looked forward to our trips as a family. It’s the planning I dread.

So while the idea of going on a vacation is exciting, the fact is I just don’t like leaving home. I love my home.

Therefore, closing up shop for a trip becomes a stressful event for me: Deciding what clothes to take, based on what is clean versus what must be washed; making sure there are snacks for the ride; leaving instructions for the house sitter on my way of managing household tasks and caring for the pets, and praying the house doesn’t burn down or the washer hose doesn’t break, all those sorts of things. It makes me a nervous wreck.

In the earlier days I would need to pack for four. And I had to stay true to my mother’s rule: always divide the underwear and necessities into two suitcases in case one gets lost. It could get confusing. When we began road tripping with the kids the problem was getting everything jammed into the vehicle. Now that is just the old man and me it should be easier…..

For this vacation, our daughter’s boyfriend suggested we rent an RV for traveling around Europe instead of hotelling it. This vacation had the making of a perfect storm: packing for three weeks in Europe, an uncomfortable nine-hour plane trip just to fly from Las Vegas to Brussels before we even begin, and then sharing an RV with our daughter and her boyfriend. But at least once we’re on the road, I’d have my own toilet.

We used to love yelling the phrase, “Gorman road trip!” We really like to spend time together as a family. This time our son gets to stay home with his wife. Don’t get me wrong: traveling with our daughter can be a pleasure. Unlike earlier times when her suitcases would explode every night in the hotel room and require search and rescue missions each morning to find her stuff, she has turned into a very tidy young woman. It fact, it is a bit dismaying because after years of being a neatnik myself, my effort s have eroded against the onslaughts of my husband’s love of clutter. Now I am a bit of a slob. The three of us in the RV? This time it’ll be our mess that she will have to contend with.

But daughter takes good care of me when we travel. She looks after me and guides me and feeds me and nags me and prevents me from buying useless souvenirs. And yet we do have fun in spite of that.

And Tom is so great at planning things. In fact he’ll plan so many different possibilities of what to do and where to go and what to see that I want to strangle him. But if I complain, daughter gets upset with me and defends her daddy — and then they both punish me by looking at me and saying, “Well what would YOU like to do?” Uh, I don’t know.

Did I mention I really look forward to trips with my family??

In the beginning…

April 17th, 2009 Comments off

RVing has a long and proud role in American lore, dating back to the 1800s when tourists headed generally West in their two- and four- horsepower, off-road travel trailers. This was, of course, long before Holiday Inn Express, McDonald’s, Cracker Barrel and even KOA campgrounds, but still speaks volumes about how, even then, the importance of sleeping in one’s own bed every night, and not wanting to schlep luggage in and out of a trunk, drove innovation.

It’s likely it was on one of these trips when a young child, or spouse, asked, “Are we there yet?”

Other families – say, the Gormans –  may not have been fans of that kind of long-haul RVing but embraced the lifestyle in tolerable weekend chunks, as in to accompany a young son on his Boy Scout overnighters in the nearby hills. We chose to sleep either in a somewhat-civilized tent trailer  or in a Ford Econoline camper conversion — with small sink, two-burner range, tiny fridge and, most important, a porta-potty — rather than copy the other parents in their portable, dirt-level canvas condos.

Our recreational travel evolved with the advent of #2 child, a young girl who was prematurely introduced to hotels on Daddy’s business trips and never looked back.  By the time she was 14, she could pronounce porte corchiere and knew how much to tip bell hops.

So it is with some amount of irony that we are now preparing to travel across Europe, with that now-adult daughter, in a small recreation vehicle.

The explanation is simple enough: the daughter and her boyfriend live in Antwerp, Belgium. We have visited them once, and promised on our next vacation to do something different than to sleep on their memory-foam Ikea bed while they sleep on their living room Ikea couch.

We would take a Gorman car trip! And not just for a week or 10 days, but a three-week vacation through Europe to make the nine-hour flight worth it.  We wanted to rent a car large enough to accommodate us, and we would load up on tour books with hotel listings.

And then one day, Boyfriend – who runs a business and knows how to pencil out the costs of things – said it would be far cheaper to rent a mobi than a car.  We would save money on hotels, he said, and eating at expensive restaurants. We would have our own dedicated porta-potty, our own 4-inch foam mattress bed, our own refrigerator to keep Jeanne’s ice tea chilled. And maybe most important: like all those dads in the wagon trains, we would not need to schlep our luggage in and out of the trunk.

We gave it some thought. Daughter, who had developed from a spoiled young girl into something of a world adventurer (she and Boyfriend met in the Caribbean, before she toured Southeast Asia), pronounced our RV vacation a grand idea.

So the decision was made. And already we had discovered the first thing about European RVing: The vehicle is called a mobi. Quaint.

If calamity is in store, we’ll blame it on Boyfriend.