Posts Tagged ‘RV’

Moving in to Mobi, finally

July 12th, 2009 Comments off

It’s Sunday night, almost midnight after a full and wonderful day in Prague. It is a most amazing city, seeming much larger, more dynamic and more filled with energy, history, beauty and architectural wonder than its population of 1.5 million or so would warrant. We will spend part of Monday there revisiting one of the neighborhoods before moving on to Auschwitz and Krakow as we begin week 2 of our 3-week mad-cap RV trip through Europe.

If I sound in good spirits, it partly is because I’m finally moving in to Mobi. It is now a five-room house: the family room with its two chairs (when the driver’s and passenger’s seats swivel around), two couches and dining room table; the kitchen with its three-burner range, sink and ample-size refrigerator and freezer that is cold enough to make ice in ice-poor Europe; the full if tiny bathroom with its sink, cabinets, medicine chest, toilet with the swivel seat and shower stall (which we have yet to use because the campgrounds have had nice shower facilities); the master bedroom with overhanging cabinets and privacy curtain, and the basement. I’m guessing our house is about 140 square feet, not counting the basement.

Ah, the basement.

It is the storage locker that is accessible from the outside back of Mobi, and from inside Mobi by pulling up the master bed mattress (which sits on a wood frame on hinges). Imagine the Wizard of Oz, when the tornado is coming and Dorothy’s family is rushing to the storm shelter, and someone (not Dorothy) lifts the door to the storm shelter. That is how we lift the bed  to get into the basement. Except that there’s a mattress on top of the door, and sometimes a sleeping spouse.

When we picked up Mobi, the basement was stocked with toilet chemicals, the electrical cord, the water hose, the swivel do-hickey that opens the awning (which we have yet to do), and an emergency something-or-other.

I began referring to the storage locker as the basement, and it seemed the perfect place to store things like toilet paper and paper towels.

Now everything goes down there.  After Daughter found cabinets to put her clothes in, she put her empty duffel bag in the basement. When we stopped by a small grocery store in Germany that she knew had great prices, she bought 8 bottles of wine, so now the basement is our wine cooler.  We store the tabletop fan in the basement when we don’t need it, and the sling-canvas camping chairs). There are bottles of water and diet Pepsi down there too, and when I stepped in some dog poop the other day while walking along a river that cut through downtown Munich, I put those shoes in the basement (after cleaning them as best as I could). 

And I had been putting my duffel bag — filled with my clothes –in the basement, too.  And every time I needed something, I would have to lift the master bed frame to reach down into the basement to grab a fresh shirt, a pair of socks, whatever.  This could be problematic if Jeanne was in bed; she’d have to roll over to the far side of the bed so I could lift the hinge on her side. If this was in the morning and Jeanne was sleeping, this task would be too daunting. It would be like trying to roll over a sleeping bear that doesn’t like being awakened. I’d rather face the tornado and take my chances with the mean witch.

So tonight, after my shower, I finally emptied my duffel bag, claiming two cupboard spaces above the bed that have been empty. I am now moved in, with my duffel in the basement now empty. The bear can sleep without my bothering her.

I’m celebrating by indulging in a chocolate-covered banana cream cake pastry that I bought a country ago. It may not be healthy but, by God, it is local food and everyone says I should try the local food.

Life is good.

Gotta pay the bills…

June 18th, 2009 Comments off

So I’ve sent off my fifth pitch letter to editors, each with a different angle. I’ve got two takers so far, and am waiting to hear from the three others.

The trick is coming up with different angles so we can legitimately plant stories in different publications. There’s the straight-forward vacation piece. There’s the take-the-temperature-of-Europeans-toward-Americans-post-Obama-election angle. There’s the mom-dad-and-daughter-cooped-up-for-three-weeks-in-an-RV angle. And we can always ask Europeans what they think of Vegas, baby.

Anything to make a buck. Momma needs a new pair of shoes.

Picking a mobi: our first calamity.

June 17th, 2009 Comments off

Belgian Boyfriend: “Tom, you better pick a mobi.  They’re going fast.  I found one you might like. I asked them to hold it until Thursday.”

This was in May, when we were hearing that most summer mobi rentals are lined up six months in advance. Yikes!

Boyfriend sent me the online links with photos and layout diagram of the mobi he had found.  It looked nice. A big van: the two captain’s chairs up front; a café table and bench seat (that convert into a bed for Daughter); an efficient galley with two-burner range, sink and a large refrigerator; a bathroom with a separate, small shower stall, and a bed in the back for us. The base price: 3,620 euro, plus a security deposit of 2,200 euro – a kind of deductable before insurance would kick in for any mishaps.  Not wanting to waste any time and risk losing what I assumed was the last available mobi in all of Europe, I wired 5,820 euro to the company’s bank. I held off, however, on signing the actual contract until Boyfriend could read the fine print in Dutch.

And good that he did. We wanted vacation-cancellation insurance but the RV company’s insurance carrier said it could not provide it to Americans.

We asked for our money back. Saleslady said sorry, she had the money.  We said we had not yet signed the contract because she couldn’t provide vacation-cancellation insurance. Saleslady then found a company that would provide us with vacation cancellation insurance. There goes that argument.

But in the meantime, Boyfriend found another RV dealer who had the exact same model mobi who would rent it to us for – gasp! — 2,790 euro. And, unlike Saleslady’s mobi, this one would come fully equipped with linen, towels and kitchen utensils. A much better deal!

We told Saleslady we would not sign the contract and without one, there was no deal, and we wanted our money back. She held her position, and why not? Boyfriend’s lawyer intervened on our behalf. But his conclusion was that sending the money, and our series of e-mails, showed clear intent to rent the vehicle. At best we could ask to cancel the deal, and pay the penalty.

We played out that request, knowing we could get the other mobi by June 15. Saleslady dragged her heals and, finally on June 15, told us we could pay a 750-euro penalty. Ouch.  And it was a moot issue: Boyfriend said the other mobi was rented that morning. We had no choice. We kept the original one and are paying more for it than we needed to. Sigh.

To view all of the dealer’s photos of the RV we are renting, go here.

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??