Friday, April 28, 2017

Attempting RV Camping - Part 2: The Actual Getting There

Getting on the Road with Shoes

We finally pull out of my driveway with enough stuff for a two week camping trip, (only going for two days, three nights) and drive an hour and 20 minutes to my in laws' house. This first leg of the trip is necessary because the closest RV rental place is in their town. But also we need my in laws' help to make this happen and actually get on the road. Without their help, things would have been much more difficult.

We will leave both of our cars and our sanity at their house when we pull out in the RV in a few hours.

My mother in law feeds the kids lunch while my father in law drives me to the RV rental place to meet my husband. When I get there, he is getting through all the paperwork stuff and I duck into the bathroom to swipe on lipgloss and rake my fingers through my crazy hair. I look haggard. I look like I have four kids and spent the last seven days packing for a camping trip or something.

My husband pulls the 30 foot RV out into the parking lot and I laugh and snap a picture. This is going to be an adventure indeed, no matter what happens.

My husband, his first minute behind the wheel of the 30 foot RV. I'm laughing. I won't be laughing in a few hours though.

I follow him back to my in laws' house and we proceed to unload our two cars and cram everything under the sun into the RV. The kids are squealing with excitement, climbing all over the RV. We can't wait to get on the road.

Jasen is still in his office clothes since he came straight from work to meet us. He goes to get changed and realizes something that I had not envisioned in all of my many hours of planning. He only has his work dress shoes. He forgot to pack his sneakers. How can we go to the beach with him only having dress shoes? Can he wear my father in law's? No. Wrong size. Can he just go barefoot the entire time? Really, will the fashion police arrest him if he walks to the beach wearing a bathing suit and black socks and dress shoes?

For the first hour of our big adventure in the RV, we go shoe shopping. My husband awkwardly parks the huge beast in two different parking lots and runs into stores trying to find cheap sneakers in his size. I try to bite my tongue and make the best of it, giving the kids snacks and making a big deal out of how cool the RV is.

Regret #1: I made detailed check lists for every article of clothing and shoes for each child and myself. But I did not make a list for my husband. Darn it.

We get on the road and listen to a mix cd from our newlywed days as we barrel down the highway loaded down with bikes, two strollers, and everything possibly needed for a camping trip.

And new sneakers.

They're kind of ugly but that's ok. No one will know us at the beach.

The newlywed music makes me remember that I love him, even though he forgot his shoes. We're on our way. We love each other. We are all happy. Life is good.

And then, we stop for gas.

The Mood Shifts

In the next few hours, the happy hopefulness unravels.

We encounter a pushy yelling panhandler at the gas station who bangs on the RV and won't go away. He explains his family is stuck at the gas station and his wife is pregnant and they've run out of gas as he points to his family: a woman who looks past menopause, and three teenagers on their cell phones and drinking soda. He wants some money to put gas in his car.  A story my husband has heard multiple times from other gas station pan handlers and wishes they'd come up with a new backstory.

I am struggling with getting Lilli to the tiny RV potty and I say, "I really need your help, tell that guy you have to help your wife and daughter."

My husband explains he's busy helping his wife with his special needs daughter and will be out to talk to him after he's done.  The man repeatedly knocks on the doors and windows, impatiently circling the RV.  I can see my husband's patience running out as he takes off his watch which he explains to me later he didn't want it to get damaged in case he needed to practice his years of martial arts practice.  Apparently the man decides that his circle and knock strategy wasn't working so he changes tactics and begins sobbing uncontrollably, apologizing for bothering us and blubbering "I didn't know you had a daughter with special needs...I'm sooooo sorrryyy-eee-eee-eee."  My husband has had enough...he sternly tells him to stop the act.  He responds "I'm not acting.  I can't help it. I'm sooooo sorrryyy-eee-eee-eee?"  Again, with more volume, my husband tells him to be quiet and stop faking it, and stop taking advantage of people.

The man immediately stops crying and looks at him with a look that says "ok, you got me" and gives him a fist bump.

My husband gives him two bucks and tells him he's only doing it in Jesus name and continues to lecture him on how to act.  Josh and Chloe are wide-eyed, taking in the show. While all of this is going down, everyone is using the RV potty so that we don't have to put on four little pairs of shoes and all go into the gas station bathroom. Lilli gets anxious and cries over using the potty that is in a narrow space, up on a step and is difficult for her to navigate. When all bladders are empty, we roll on.

I will note here that the entire drive, Nate was angry because he was in a carseat, and he could not enjoy the fun opportunity to ride on a bench or be close enough to reach the table. His seat was placed in the only spot that had a seatbelt for a carseat. Everyone else swapped around throughout the trip, but he had to stay put. Everytime he started to really lose it, I pulled out a new snack or book. He ate many snacks. Many. He asked for two bananas, and also ate a huge bunch of grapes, a box of raisins, a cookie, some chips, some pretzels, and other foods I can't remember. He ate a LOT. This information is important to remember for later.

On the road again, Lilli is doing a strange staring thing and I try not to panic.

"Hon, don't get alarmed but I think Lilli might have a seizure. She's staring and not responding. She's not watching her movie and she's doing this weird thing with her lips. Keep driving and I'll let you know if you should pull over," I say as calmly as I can. Even though I feel anxiety rising up within me.

Chloe and Josh sit mutely on the bench seat, watching me across the aisle.

"Are you guys ok?" I ask them.

"No, we are not OK!" Chloe responds. "This is very stressful! First, that strange scary guy at the gas station banging on the RV and now Lilli might have a seizure!"

"It'll be ok," I say. (Will it?) "Lilli is ok right now. I'm watching her. It's going to be ok."

Jasen is driving on a back road now, with stop lights. It is after 9 pm and dark. He asks over and over again if Lilli is ok, what is she doing, how is she acting? I tell him she is fine, but he should probably pull over soon and adjust her. Chiropractic adjustments have helped her seizures many time before.

My husband shocks me by pulling up to a red light, throwing the RV into park and leaping out of his seat. He whips around to the table where Lilli is seated, and adjusts her neck. "Tell me when the light is green!" he yells to me.

What? This is so crazy. A funny image pops up in my mind of my husband with a cape and I think to myself, "It's SUPER CHIROPRACTOR!!!"

"It's green! It's green!" I yell. He jumps back into his seat and we take off again.

I watch Lilli carefully, and pull my phone out to check the GPS. I'm supposed to be navigating here. My husband is totally depending on my directions. I am totally depending on the address I have scribbled down on my notes from weeks ago when I made the reservation.

It doesn't look good when we pull up to the address and it's the middle of the road with nothing but grass on the side.

"You have reached your destination," the GPS woman tells us.

Oh no we haven't, lady.

Jasen keeps driving. He pulls up to a fork in the road and turns around. Just then, Nate lets out a cry and says something about a "Boo boo" in his belly and proceeds to throw up an enormous amount of puke all over himself.

Oh yes. I had given him too many snacks.

Ok. Ok. It's going to be OK. I get rubber gloves out of a box I brought, thankfully, and a bag, and wipes. I start to try and clean up Nate while balancing in the middle aisle. Jasen has to make a u-turn.

"Hold on!" he yells. I plant my feet like I'm on a surf board in the middle of the aisle.

Nate's seat. 

Regret #2: We drove too far, I think as I clean up the puke while we make not one, but FOUR U-TURNS in a huge RV on a dark back road. We should've tried our first RV trip out at the closest RV park next to where we rented it. WHAT were we thinking??

A box with pots and pans and pot lids and dishes slides off another box and crashes onto the floor as we round one u-turn.  My husband and I yell back and forth to each other about directions. I rip off the gloves and punch something different into the GPS to see if that works. Finally, we see the tiny, unlit sign. We pull up to the dark, locked gate.

Everyone is calm, trying to keep their emotions in check. Wait. No they aren't. I was kidding. We are traveling with four young kids past their dinnertime, with boxes thrown all over the RV floor, one kid covered in puke, and the others aren't doing so hot either at this point. This is a test of marital strength, moments like these. Can we make it? Yes. We will. Because we are all trapped in this hot mess together. And we have to share the beds and the food tonight. And I know where the homemade chocolate chip cookies are hidden, and I will be eating as many as I can when we finally get there.

Fortunately I had called the campground office earlier and let them know we would be arriving after hours, and I had the gate code. Otherwise we would've been locked out and forced to find a place to park the RV for the night. At least we were "Glamping" like someone told me we were doing. Glamour camping in an RV, not a tent. But really, is it "glamour camping" when you travel with four young children and someone throws up?

I'm not sure.

Unauthorized RVing

Jasen unlocks the gate and we pull into the pitch black campground where we proceed to get lost.


We argue about driving into an area that is clearly marked with a sign: AUTHORIZED VEHICLES ONLY.

"Hon. Authorized vehicles only, that's not us. We aren't authorized," I say.

"Yes but I really think this is it. I'm going to take it."

"Don't. PLEASE DON'T. Authorized vehicles only, that's like, maintenance stuff, it's not for us! I'm telling you!"

He turns in and drives onto the authorized vehicles only road.

We come to a dead end of dark nothingness, where we sit and idle for a moment, collecting ourselves. My husband realizing that ok no, we were not authorized after all. And me, barely keeping the lid on my anger because I'm about to say things that will only make this mess worse.

We have to back the RV up in the dark to get back out of the authorized vehicles only area. We slowly back up on the road and out and around the AUTHORIZED VEHICLES sign, in silence.

It's going to be OK. We will survive this trip. It's only the first day.

I google a campground map. Oh Google, I do love you.

We finally find our campsite thanks to the online map and my husband backs into it and parks like a pro. After all, he had all that other backing up experience in the authorized vehicles only area. We both get out and he hooks everything up while I hold my phone flashlight up for him to see. Inside the huge expensive hot metal box of stuff on wheels, Josh and Chloe are fighting. Lilli is crying. Nate is sleeping in his carseat completely covered in throw up.

Yay! We're HERE!!!!

We eat dinner at midnight after washing off poor Nate in the teeny RV shower. We toss the offensive pukey carseat outside onto the grass. It is far past "quiet hours" in the campground, yet our family is not at all quiet as Nate cries while getting washed off and Lilli cries while we try to get the devices onto the wifi. I had asked for the wifi code ahead of time too when I called the campground office. I only hope these little walls are thicker than they seem. Whoops, we left a few windows open to let fresh air in because of the throw up stink. Our neighbors are going to LOVE us.

After midnight-ish. We're here!! Nate is in bed behind me, finally cleaned up. The dirty carseat is now outside. Josh is getting ready in the bed up over the cab. Chloe is watching the end of a movie. Lilli is in the back room on the wifi, trying to keep it together. I may have already eaten a few cookies before this was taken.

Everyone falls into the beds and promptly they all fall asleep. Except for me. I, the last one up, eat several chocolate chip cookies by myself in the tiny kitchen. I set up the Keurig and unpack our mugs and sugar for our morning coffee. Camping with a Keurig might be glamping.

We made it. We are here. We took a chance to try this adventure and we are doing it.

Just before I fall asleep, I check the weather for tomorrow:


to be continued in the next post... Attempting RV Camping - Part 3: The Sun Always Rises

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