By Jean Schrenkel, L140050
Charlie has asked me to share some thoughts about motorhoming in this month’s column.
When I met Charlie, I owned a huge canvas tent, the kind that smelled like oil of some kind and took a man and a boy to set it up. After a couple of camping trips, Charlie came right out and told me, “There has to be a better way to enjoy camping, like hot water, a built-in furnace, and maybe a color TV.”
Shortly after that we bought our first motorhome, a 28-foot Travel Cruiser we dubbed the “ice cream wagon,” and eventually renamed “Fun One.”
My first words to Charlie when he drove it down the driveway were, “What the devil are we going to do with that?”
The motorhome had bunk beds in the rear; it held 50 gallons of fresh water, 25 gallons of gray water, and 10 gallons of black water. We had to go outside to light the pilot for the furnace/water heater. If the wind was blowing from the wrong direction, we went outside many times.
I came around to this kind of lifestyle and even ventured to take my coworkers on a Saturday shopping trip to an outlet mall located about 100 miles away. We had a ball. We had our own moving motel room, and us girls chatted and enjoyed the trip immensely.
Afterward, as I was pulling the motorhome back into the driveway, Charlie asked if there was a problem with the steering. “No. Why?” I replied.
“Did you drive the motorhome all the way over to the outlets and back like that?” he asked.
I said, “Sure. Why not?”
He looked at me, gave me a hug, and said, “It has a steering wheel that tilts back toward you to make it more comfortable to drive.” I had driven the 200-mile round trip looking like a city bus driver, with the steering wheel in a completely flat position!
We have moved on and up since that first motorhome. On one occasion, we bought a motorhome, then rushed home to see whether the 37-foot monster would fit in the driveway. With some maneuvering, it did, and it brought us several years of fun and pleasure. We were hooked on the RV lifestyle.
My next experience behind the wheel was in that 37-footer. We were set to be the rally masters for a rally 70 miles from home when Charlie, a pilot, was called in to work to fly a trip. So, I had to go to the rally alone. Before I left, he called and gave me a verbal checklist: jacks up, power cord unhooked, water hoses on board, etc. With some maneuvering, I made it out of the driveway, up to the rally, and back, incident-free.
We have had several motorhomes since those days. I didn’t drive them much, for Charlie retired and was always around. We were on our way back from FMCA’s first Perry, Georgia, convention in 1996 when I asked Charlie if we should think about trying to live in the RV full-time. We put the house on the market, and it sold in three days. So, we put all of the furniture in storage and hit the road. That was about 14 years ago.
A few years ago, I got back into driving our motorhome; by now it had grown to a 41-footer. I started on the interstate. I got behind the wheel at a rest stop, and I was going to drive to the next rest area. About four rest areas later, Charlie calmly suggested that he take a turn driving to give me a break. I noticed that while I was driving, every time I crossed a bridge, he would raise up his right leg, kind of like a puppy when it passes a fire hydrant, and look at me with wide-open eyes as though I were too close to the edge of the road. I could see the white line in the right-hand mirror and knew all was well, but Charlie was not used to riding in the right seat. All of these sights were new to him. He finally got up and sat on the sofa (which had seat belts); that way, he couldn’t see the drop as we went over any bridges.
The point of my comments this month in Charlie’s space is to describe the enjoyment we have had and the friendships we have made belonging to Family Motor Coach Association. We both love this lifestyle and have met many new friends and made lasting acquaintances.
We would like to wish you all a good Thanksgiving and send belated Thanksgiving greetings to our Canadian members, who celebrated in October. We also ask you to keep in mind that this month brings Veterans Day in the U.S. and Remembrance Day in Canada. Be sure to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice so we can enjoy the freedoms we have.
And please tell a friend, or tell a stranger, about FMCA! We would like to meet them. Finally, ladies, if I see you driving your motorhome on the interstate and your husband is sitting on the sofa, both Charlie and I will understand.
As Charlie would say, “Safe and healthy travels.”