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Lifestyle: Slow Races With Good Horses

Originally Published in MotorHome Magazine

RVing is the greatest way I know to spend leisure time. The opportunity to see the wonders
ofthis country from the comfort of your own home is one of the great social developments of
the latter half of the 20th century. Approximately 10 million RVing families spend varying
amounts of time enjoying a life on wheels, and that number is quickly growing. But a
reality is that many of those RVers, through ignorance, carelessness or just plain lack of
planning, fail to maximize the potential enjoyment that their RVs offer them. Too much of a
good thing can be a bad thing. Las Vegas, Hoover Dam, Grand Canyon, Carlsbad Caverns,
Disneyland, SeaWorld, Yellowstone National Park and Mount Rushmore are all wonderful places
to visit and certainly fit the “good thing” category. But not all in one four-week vacation
– especially if it begins on the East Coast and has to end there. Yet that is exactly the
itinerary a young couple with a 2-year-old followed and described to me at a campground in
South Dakota a few weeks ago. A minimum of 10 long driving days had to be spent getting to
and from coast to coast, to say nothing of the distances between Carlsbad Caverns and the
other places they visited. The hours left for enjoying each of those places would have been
very few. The mother was exhausted and told me she could hardly wait to get home. After
watching her help to set up their rig for the night while chasing the toddler as he
explored their surroundings, I understood why. Although her husband offered no commentary
on the situation, I know that he, too, was reaching the end of his rope. Even without the
emotional and physical requirements of caring for the little boy, they went too far, too
fast. I understand why young working couples feel the need to “do it all” in the brief
periods of time they have for RV travel, but trying to see and do too much in too short a
time defeats the purpose of leisure travel. No sensible RVer crams too many places and too
many miles into too little time. It’s a matter of quantity versus quality. If you’re
collecting decals and T-shirts from places you’ve been to and the greatest number is the
objective, a high-speed pace will bring the desired results. Then you can brag about how
many miles you traveled, how you averaged 500 miles per day and how many famous places you
visited. That kind of RVing, in my view, misses the whole point of vacationing. But if your
objective is to see and enjoy new places and new things and savor new experiences, then the
old admonition to “stop and smell the roses” is the only way to go. Another mistake is to
start packing on Thursday for a vacation beginning on Friday without thoroughly checking
out the motorhome well in advance. The night before you take off is no time to discover
that the water pump isn’t working or that the batteries are kaput. The hard reality is that
RV service managers are not particularly sympathetic with pleas for immediate repair of
broken parts discovered the day before you are supposed to leave on a trip. They think you
should have made a thorough checkout of your rig three weeks before. Their argument is
valid. Now is the time of year when snowbirds are preparing to take wing. Some of the big
issues to consider are: Where to go; what to see; who to visit; what park(s) to make
reservations at; whatextras to take; and a budget. A special concern should be: Is the
motorhome ready? Assuming that the trip involves many miles and several months, it seems
logical that the motorhome should be given a thorough check from stem to stern, especially
if it has been sitting for a long time. Besides the regular service items, like oil change,
lube, filters, belts, transmission and coolant, the engine should undergo a thorough
inspection. Then the chassis should be gone over carefully, especially the suspension
system, steering, tires and brakes. Mechanical problems can be taken care of with a lot
less stress, both emotionally and financially, if they are fixed beore you start. Having a
breakdown on the road is one of the most traumatic experiences a motorhomer can have.
Believe me, I know. I have been towed or have limped into shops from Vermont to California.
Although most of my problems could not have been prevented by even the most meticulous
preparation, probably a few of them could have been avoided if I had been more careful.
Thinking about and planning for all the places you are going to visit and the things you
are going to see and do is part of the fun of RVing. I urge you not to try to go too far
and see too much in too short a time and to make sure your trusty wheeled steed is in peak
condition for the big race ahead.

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