Senior RV Travel America Dream Come True Comes with Mosquitos and Mechanics
Like many a retired couple, Jo Ann Bender and her husband Skipper thought it would be a grand adventure and a dream come true. So they upgraded the interior of a $7,000, 1973 Ford motor home and spent $3,000 in repairs hoping that would be sufficient to fix the engine and they hit the road.
In her new book Snowbirds, Jo An Bender shares what happened to them on their 2,000 mile trip from Spokane to Texas.
Instead of enjoying the wonders of nature and the exploring the scenery in the parks, it turned into a nightmare of breakdowns by the side of the road, and hours searching for, finding, and then getting help from mechanics everywhere along the route.
They learn new skills as navigators and mechanics as they plow joyfully ahead with their cantankerous little motorhome looking for free parking. The challenges are aplenty as they head to hot springs, Indian ruins, Western Forts, the Marfa Lights, and a Mariachi Mass at a San Antonio Mission.
“As we drove down the lonely highway, a tape played, and I heard the words, “Fill your dreams with sweet tomorrows,” and I started to glow all over. I wondered what time it had gotten to be and notice that I was not wearing my watch.
Discovery No. 1: I didn’t care. Deadlines were part of another world. What were the parameters of that “other world”? Minute-to-minute timing to match time with goals. Pressure to meet deadlines. Always planning more activities than could genuinely be experienced.
Discovery No. 2: I felt a sense of rightness of journeying on a predestinated path. Th e inner spirit seemed to be shining, a feeling that the soul was being bathed in the waters it sought. Tears glistened.”
The couple’s two month semi-business trip required $2,000 a month for fuel, food, camping and $1,500 for repairs. This was less than they would have had to pay at home during the two highest months of utility bills. Insurance of the car left at home was lessened by being “on vacation.”
Snowbirds is a delightful guide to anyone who dreams of taking on such an adventure, although maybe not in a vintage motorhome. It’s packed full of insights and how to do things that need to be done safely on and off the road, what provisions to take and how to pack so everything has a definite spot and can be found again.
Discovery No. 7: When you’re on the road, it’s difficult to do more than get from one destination to another, especially when weather conditions make driving hazardous. Road Gods must be similar to River Gods: they like to claim something for themselves. In Portland, it was a turtleneck left in a dryer.
A RV brings out the best and the worst in personal relationships. Small spaces are ideal for some couples. For others, even with outdoor living possible under awnings, there is nowhere to get away from each other. As Skipper points out at one point in frustration, “There’s no place to have a good fight in such a small space.”
Discovery No. 8: Indispensable Items for a Snowbird trip
1. The trip log with tickler notes
2. Frozen, easy-to-cook meals, prepared at home and packaged in freezer bags, laid flat
3. A map for each state
5. New wiper blades
6. Bathrobes and slippers
7. Gifts representing our state (potatoes, apples, handmade items, the cookbook we wrote)
8. Easy-going companion with a sense of humor
9. Tool kit with wrenches, sockets
10. Rolls of quarters for laundry, tolls, phone calls, gambling (minimum of sixty dollars in cash for each day we’ll be on the road for groceries, attractions, and cash-only service stations)
11. Flashlight for each occupant, plus one spare for the person who can’t find theirs
12. Flood lamp
The Best Part of the Trip. The RV world is vast. It is as beautiful and challenging as this wonderful world we call home – the U.S. of A. We went off to explore parts of it and returned feeling the responsibility and privileges of being a citizen.
Discovery No. 16: Buy a motor home but buy one you can afford so you can love—not resent—it.
When we viewed and drove miles of golden lands, we thanked our country for the good roads which allowed us the opportunity at little cost to explore so we could meet diverse people and savor foods and other lifestyles.
Discovery No. 17: Repeat Discovery No. 16. Buy what you can afford without hurting your quality of life, and it will be the best decision you ever made.
Source: "Snowbirds" by Jo An Bender