Tuesday, April 26, 2011

My Childhood Prepared Me for This (Sorta)

All this time I've been thinking I was new to the RV lifestyle. But once upon a time, my family owned a 1990 Ford conversion van, which, if you're unfamiliar, kind of resembles a mini motorcoach. I mean, there's no fridge, table or bed (per se). But we did have cushy plush standalone seats, a TV/VCR for us kids and a couch in the back that transformed into a bed. Heck, when I was really little we even had a portable toilet in the back for emergencies (and I definitely wasn't the only one who used it).

That van was probably at its best when used for long trips, so my parents made the most of it by taking us to Florida a few times. There was plenty of room, so it wasn't like my brother and I had to be squeezed up against each other for two or three straight days of traveling. But we fought like cats and dogs anyway. I still remember how my dad used to beg my mom to switch seats with Billy so he could have some peace. (I maintain my innocence; I was never the instigator.)

I didn't know anyone else whose parents owned such a vehicle, but I imagine most people didn't use it every day, like we did. It was essentially my dad's car, which he used to pick us up from school, run to the grocery store, etc. (My mom was formally banned from driving it as it was "too big"; the one time she did drive, it was in the middle of a blizzard and naturally she got into an accident.) The van kind of turned into its own character. We dressed it up in streamers and balloons for the town Christmas parade, and waved at the crowd as we drove through the streets. Whenever there was a class trip somewhere close by, I volunteered my parents' driving services. For that one day, I was the most popular girl in the class, as everyone tried to woo me into allowing them to ride in the van.

Gradually, as my brother and I got older, the van started to lose some of its luster. It was rather unwieldy, for one. Billy wasn't exactly thrilled about being dropped off at his private high school in this giant, red-and-yellow striped van while his classmates were pulling up in sleek BMWs and Mercedes. And, I guess there was just no real need for a vehicle of that size. I was 11, and by that time Billy was too old to want to join us for vacations. The three of us didn't need that much space. We ended up trading the van in for the (at the time) stylish, compact Neon.

Kind of makes me think that, for better or worse, by buying an RV we really defined the way our family is going to spend its "travel and leisure" time for years to come. Our future offspring might be known as the kids whose parents own an RV. I wonder if their classmates will be clamoring for invites to our weekend camping trips. Or maybe our kids will be embarrassed about their dorky parents' giant RV (and if so, they're going to get a nice helping of "respect your elders, you little twits"). Just like when my parents made the decision to buy the van, which would in turn shape my childhood, we may be setting the groundwork for years of good times and parental embarrassment for people who don't even exist yet! Ooh, exciting (and headache-inducing) to think about.


  1. Little April Ankle Biter will have super amazing awesome RV trips. And her friends will love having sleepovers in the RV while it is parked in your driveway. I used to love the overnights in my friend's camper... even if we didn't go anywhere. Camping without leaving home is pretty sweet.

  2. awwww...i hope so!!!
    p.s. "little april ankle biter" is my favorite name for a future child ever

  3. Funny...I had a 1986 Dodge conversion van complete with fridge, sink, bed, thumpin stereo and shag carpet throughout. I was in the Navy stationed in Jacksonville, FL at the time. My friends and I used to pile in on Friday, drive down to Daytona Beach and spend the weekend on the beach.

  4. wow...a fridge, a sink and a bed?? that sounds amazing!! must have been bigger than ours.