This afternoon we picked up the motorhome, better known by its nickname, Mobi. It’s a smart vehicle, with a refrigerator/freezer that runs on 220 volts, 12-volt battery or propane depending on the situation, a flat screen TV with rooftop satellite dish and DVD player, rooftop solar panels to help charge the auxiliary battery, a bathroom featuring a separate shower and a toilet with a swivel seat (!) to maximize space, a three-burner range (but no oven, which was disappointing to Daughter who likes heating croissants for breakfast) and tons of storage. Tons.
At the dealership,I was taught how to turn the pedestal dining table into the second bed for Daughter, how to dump the toilet, how to run the GPS and how to know the difference between the diesel-fuel intake and the water intake. “People are stupid,” the young man said when explaining the difference. And then he added for some reason, “You’re American, yes?”
While I was getting the how-to tour, Daughter’s Boyfriend went inside the salesroom to find something to drink, and returned with two beers. Belgium.
Boyfriend followed me home, and not more than 3 minutes after leaving the dealership he waved me over on the highway. A corner of the rear bumper had come loose and was flapping badly. We’ll have to find some duct tape but hopefully this won’t be a sign of what’s to come.
When I pulled up to Daughter’s and Boyfriend’s downtown Antwerp apartment building, I encountered my first real driving test: parallel parking a 21-foot motorhome in a spot that was maybe 23 or 24 feet long. You can see the results. Jeanne and Daughter then loaded up the food, bedding and other provisions.
So tomorrow we begin our vacation in earnest. Jeanne is poring over the map and the tour books to find the best campground prospects, and they all sound marvelous, with rivers running through them. This won’t be the Europe we already know, the one with honking cars, police sirens with their signature European wail, and the constant rumble of the street cars. This will be its soft, quiet side. We are ready for Germany’s Black Forest.