Imagine a subculture that spans from bearded hipsters with sailor tattoos, to soccer dads with T-shirts tucked into their denim shorts; a clever combination of people with one goal in mind: to hit the open road for a slice of summertime Americana, in a piece of hot apple pie on wheels – the Great American RV.
For those who have acquired a taste somewhere between a love for Mother Nature and a loathing for braving the elements, the idea of an RV is some sort of utopian fantasy. It’s a vehicle forged to blaze across our country’s concrete trails, in route to destinations already well traveled, elements well braved. In fact, the RV may very well represent a state of heightened consciousness – as in, why the hell sleep on the hard ground when we can enjoy the amenities of a roving home on wheels, instead?
From the retired couple looking for a weekend getaway, to the college spring breakers hoping to score, the RV is a multi-purpose tool for practically all ages. It’s an example of how home is where you make it, whether it’s behind the comfort of closed doors, on the road, or underneath the stars at night.
As for myself, my fondness for the recreational vehicle derives from a trip back in the summer of 2012, when nine of us were crammed together, barreling through Nashville on I-40 as if we had hijacked the American Dream. We were chatty and stoked for a weekend of camping and jam bands, and prepped with everything from sleeping bags to boxed wine.
For us, a group of college kids from Austin, the excursion, an annual trip to Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, was our pilgrimage to Mecca. Better yet, it was our red-blooded right of passage. But after having been on the road together in close quarters for more than 12 hours, something along the way was bound to go wrong. And soon enough, gravity intervened.
“Coming in hot!” Our driver shouted, as the clumsy RV lunged to the right, the result of a misguided exit ramp – flinging those of us in the back around like tiny, white flakes inside of a snow globe. Some of us shouted obscenities, while the rest simply clung for dear life. The driver – the incompetent type, though a friend nonetheless – skidded the RV to a stop once it hit the gravel on the side of the feeder road; the whole lot of us went flying towards the front dashboard, yet again.
A moment of disoriented silence followed the chaos. With his hands still white-knuckled around the wheel, the driver turned and asked, “Y’all aight?”
Looking back, it could have been a lot worse. But what makes the RV experience? Is it about what goes right or wrong, or is it everything that happens in between Point A and Point B? Who’s to say?
Regardless, whether you’re chartering out across Texas or on the other side of the world, we suggest that you do it in a comfortable manner – do it in style. Do it an RV.
Take our advice on a few of the best destinations, within reasonable distance, to put it in gear and take off for the time being.
Tumble In R.V. Park, Marfa
Perhaps the longest stretch from home on our short list; what can be said about Marfa that hasn’t already been said? Located just a half-mile from the center of town, the Tumble In R.V. Park is the closest park to the renowned Marfa Mystery Lights. That’s not to mention the international view (Mexico can be seen from the lounge area’s front porch), as well as the lively, artistic crowd that the city has to offer.
93320 Highway 90/67, Marfa, 432/301-9860
The Buckhorn Lake Resort, Kerrville
Take I-10 from San Antonio, then keep going until you hit Exit 501, which is where you’ll find a prime example of the Heart of the Hill County: the Buckhorn Lake Resort. The RV park’s fully furnished event center, The Red Barn, features an ideal setting for a family getaway, as well as plenty of quiet territory to hike and roam throughout the summer afternoons.
2885 Gulf Creek Road, Kerrville, 800/568-6458
The Gulf Coast
Whether you’re bobbing around in the choppy surf in Galveston, otherwise referred to as the “G-Town Brown,” or simply bird-watching in Port Aransas, the State of Texas provides more than 600 miles of undeveloped coastline, most of which is available to set up camp on. For a sleepy beach town destination, take the ferry from Galveston Island to Bolivar Peninsula for a weekend spent in charming Crystal Beach.
Texas Gulf Coastline, from Port Arthur to South Padre
Pecan Park Riverside RV Park & Cabins
If it’s driving distance that’s holding you back from your weekend getaway, then head next door to San Marcos for a stay at Pecan Park. Ranked as one of the top RV-friendly campgrounds across the country, according to Country Living, this park offers a delectable spot to catch a little R&R underneath the lush array of pecan trees or along the park’s peaceful 24-acre stretch of river bank.
50 Squirrel Run, San Marcos, 512/396-0070
American Dream Vacations RV Rentals
7310 E. Ben White, 512/294-2634
American Adventure RV Rentals
13505 Ranch Road, 620 N, 512/337-2523
3827 Ranch Road, 620 S, 512/263-7718
Dependable Camper Rentals
1702 Dalshank, Pflugerville, 512/484-7955
• Get acquainted with your RV In other words, know your limits—such as how many amps your main breaker can handle, even if it’s just a rental. Blowing your breaker can be an expensive mistake. With that, take a practice drive too.
• Don’t forget tools and spare parts Whether all of the nuts, bolts, and jolts make sense to you or not, it’s always a good idea to pack a well-stocked toolkit that to not.
• Have a game plan Where are we going? How do we plan on getting there? How much money will we need? What’s the backup plan in case something goes wrong? All of the above are reasonable questions to ask yourself before setting out on an RV expedition. Perhaps make a checklist.
• Leave Salty Sally at home A good attitude goes a long way, just like a well-running RV. So let loose, relax, and rewind while you stretch the miles across our country’s corners.
As a senior citizen RVer was driving down the freeway, his cell phone rang. Answering, he heard his wife's voice urgently warning him, "Herman, I just heard on the news that there's an idiot going the wrong way on Interstate 77. Please be careful!" "OH," exclaimed Herman, "It's not just one, it's hundreds of them!
Read more Summer Fun stories at austinchronicle.com/summer-fun. Our special annual issue, Summer Fun 2015, celebrating Austin's sunniest season, hit the stands Thursday, May 14.
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