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In the beginning…

April 17th, 2009

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.

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