Day Trips

Traveling across the country in an RV with the family

Day Trips
Photo by Gerald E. Mcleod

Driving an RV across America is a dream I've had since the Seventies, when boxy Winnebagos were still relatively new. When I finally did it, the experience was as exciting as I thought it would be, especially because it was with my two grandsons, my son and his wife, and Nana.

Nearly every reason that my son and I gave to our wives for renting a motor home and driving it from Dallas to San Diego turned out to be negligible. The only truths were: It was going to be expensive and a trip of a lifetime.

The idea formed a couple of years ago when Nana mentioned that it would be nice to bring the grandsons back to the San Diego Zoo some day. Who knew that my 5-year-old grandson would discover Legoland on the Internet?

We rented a 35-foot beast of American ingenuity with a bath-and-a-half and two sides that slid out. The monster had a V-10 Ford engine and went six miles on a gallon of gasoline. It also featured a gasoline generator that powered the air conditioner and refrigerator.

Riding in the whale of the highway was like traveling in your living room. When the sides were extended, it was the equivalent of a small apartment. In the bottom of Palo Duro Canyon, where the thermometer read 112 degrees, it was nice to have lunch in the air-conditioned cabin.

Typically, we left the RV park about 11am, did some sightseeing, and then rushed to get to the next campground. We seldom were in camp early enough to cook supper. Three of the 12 nights we cooked on the grill and roasted marshmallows for dessert.

Spending two weeks with our grandsons was worth it alone. Most mornings we played ball, rode bicycles, or enjoyed the playgrounds. As the RV barreled down the blacktop, we played highway bingo, broke out the coloring books, and made costumes with aluminum foil. Nana read bedtime stories to the boys as we drove into the dark night to keep to our itinerary. The big RV shook, rattled, and swayed with each pothole.

America's parks are truly national treasures. The Painted Desert and Petrified Forest National Park are stunning. The Grand Canyon is as colorful as I thought it would be but larger than I could have ever imagined. Even Legoland in San Diego was more fun than this old curmudgeon expected. Of course, the San Diego Zoo is the ultimate grandparent day trip.

In the RV parks, we met some nice people – some on vacation, some enjoying the RV lifestyle. One of the most scenic campgrounds was on the outskirts of Van Horn, Texas, surrounded by mountains and rain clouds. Go figure.

RVing across America was better and more comfortable than even my romantic notion of how sailing down the open road would be. It was as expensive as I had estimated it to be, about $2,500 for gasoline alone, but the memories are priceless.

1,050th in a series. Collect them all. Day Trips, Vol. 2, a book of "Day Trips," is available for $8.95, plus $3.05 for shipping, handling, and tax. Mail to: Day Trips, PO Box 33284, South Austin, TX 78704.

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More Day Trips
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San Diego Zoo, Winnebago, RV, Legoland, Palo Duro Canyon, Painted Desert, Petrified Forest National Park

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