About the Gormans

June 27th, 2009

There is, of course, a story behind this Web site. A Gorman story.

These tales reflect perhaps the zaniest decision of our life: to travel across Europe in a small motorhome with our 28-year-old daughter. Zany because we are normally a sedentary, old (we’re each 57) married (37 years) couple, quite content with our Las Vegas tract home, two dogs, a pool and Weber grill.

Adventure for us is driving down to the Strip to see a show. Real adventure is to self-park versus valet park. To drive across Europe, then, is so out of character for us that our friends probably assume we are bluffing and in fact spending three weeks at home, ignoring phone calls.

Not that we haven’t enjoyed limited amounts of adventure in our lives. But it’s all relative. We’re not talking Scuba diving or rock climbing or backpacking. Our adventure — inspired by Jeanne’s RVing parents — was to go camping. Some of our first dates were spent with her parents in their motorhome. Jeanne helped in the galley. I took pictures…

As newlyweds, we purchased a VW van conversion with a tiny galley and a bed that filled the back third of the van. Maybe six months later, it was totaled in a car crash one evening when Tom, who worked for a newspaper in Orange County, Calif., was heading to an assignment.  A woman with no car insurance ran a stop sign. Lovely.

So we bought a larger van, a Ford Econoline camper conversion. It delivered us to campgrounds throughout the West and into Canada.  Deserts, mountains, lake-sides, beach-fronts. As we became a family — a black Lab, then a son, then a daughter — we all crammed into our camper van. That was lovely.

At some point way past the 100,000-mile mark, it sprung some terrible leaks where the bubble-top had originally been welded to the frame of the vehicle. Leaks that we couldn’t plug with caulking or liquid solder. We sold it to a man who, for whatever his physical condition, always needed to be near a toilet.

We still missed camping, though, so we took the biggest step of our lives: We bought an old-fashioned tent. What possessed us, we don’t know. They don’t have toilets. They get dirty. And that smell when they get wet.

So we bought a tent-trailer that could comfortably sleep four. And at our arrival at every new campsite, we would turn the crank and watch it pop open like some blooming flower that would shrivel and die the next morning as we closed it up and continued our travels.  Positioning it just "right" at a campground created such a scene that our church friends would get to the campground first, send their children off to play so they would not be exposed to our profanities, then circle our campsite with their chairs, drink their beers and watch us struggle.

In time, our children lost interest in camping. Thank you, Lord. They were in high school and beyond. As our son began a life of his own, our daughter would accompany us on Tom’s business trips. She discovered hotels, valet parking, bell hops, bed turn-down service and breakfast buffets. She thought that was lovely. Very lovely.

By the time she had left home to begin her own adventures, we had discovered cruise ships. Our first cruise was along the Mexican coast, places like Mazatlan and Acapulco. Our Alaskan cruise was spectacular.

The daughter was now discovering her own sense of adventure. After college she learned Italian in Florence. She was hired by an Italian cruise ship to be its only English-speaking excursions director, crossed the Atlantic on its maiden voyage with Sophia Loren, and traveled the Caribbean. Later she was hired by Club Med and worked in Florida and at Turks and Caicos in the Caribbean. That’s where she met the Belgian Boyfriend, an expert on Scuba diving. And that’s when she decided, while backpacking through Southeast Asia on vacation, that rather than return to the Caribbean, or move near us in Las Vegas, or live even in the same hemisphere as us, she would join Belgian Boyfriend, who had by now returned to his own home in, yes, Belgium.

And that brings us to these Gorman stories. We had visited daughter and boyfriend once already, and it was time, she insisted, for another visit. The idea of returning to their apartment in Antwerp for a week or so didn’t sound all that inviting. "We can go on a car trip!" daughter suggested. Now, that had possibilities. Then Boyfriend took it another step: "Tom, Jeanne: you should rent a mobi!"  A what? "A small motorhome." And do what, drive across Europe on winding, narrow roads, immersed in languages we couldn’t understand?

But we gave it some thought. We love photography. We love to write (Tom had spent 32 years as a writer and editor at the Los Angeles Times, and was now an editor at the Las Vegas Sun). So this could be, by our standards, quite the adventure.  So sure, why not? We called back to Belgium (thank goodness for Skype) and spoke to Daughter and Boyfriend: Sure, we’ll come!  And they said, "Lovely!"

Welcome, then, to our world. Enjoy the front-row seats as we embark on the adventure of our lives. Knowing how things go, there will be lots of Gorman stories.

Tom and Jeanne Gorman

Las Vegas, Nevada

tom@gormanstories.com / jeanne@gormanstories.com