When we picked up the RV we had rented, I knew we would get an orientation from the owner. Paul reminded me about 18 times on the way over to have my pen and notebook handy to take notes and I was ready. James welcomed us and began the tour, outside first then inside. So much to learn, to remember about what to do and what not to do – using the appliances and toilet, slide outs, awning operation, never drink cabin water, opening and closing valves, the control board with switches, toilet maintenance, and of course the ever popular dump station techniques. Propane tank, gasoline tank, electrical hook ups, water pump, gray water v. black water. By the time we were inside the RV – a tour which took much less time than the outside – I was worried my brain couldn’t hold much more and I wouldn’t have time to process all the information by the time we left on our trip. Bedding, bunks, bathroom and kitchen supplies, under seat storage, climate control – check, check, check. Got it. I double checked my pages full of detailed notes one last time, then watched Paul sign the papers.
My husband was appropriately respectful of the need to be careful with someone’s expensive property but he was not intimidated. He had driven motor homes before. But his driving meant that I had to navigate. And navigating for my husband – old school style with paper maps (no GPS) in a totally unfamiliar 32’ RV on major highways where right lanes become ‘exit only’ in a heartbeat – well, it’s one of my least favorite things ever.
After about an hour of his “How far is it? When is my next turn? Is it a right exit?” and my “Let me check again. In about 3.9 miles. I don’t know”, we turned into my daughter’s cul de sac. The kids were watching for us and came outside excitedly as Grandpa pulled up in their driveway. A bundle of nerves by the time we got the RV mostly backed into their drive and stabilized, I was ready to go inside. Laura and I greeted each other, the enormity of what we were about to experience now very real. Getting our gear organized for loading the RV, we each grabbed a load and headed back outside. I paused to take in the vehicle.
Her name was Freda. Not “Serenity Forever” or “Peace n Joy” or “Road Tripper” or “Riding the Wind” or “Living the Dream.” Just Freda. She sat stately, owning the driveway where she was temporarily parked. Gleaming, sleek, clean, huge and full of promise. A name that conveyed solid and dependable much more than amazing adventure. And solid and dependable she turned out to be, for which I am eternally grateful. To us she would forever be known as “Big Truck”, the name that Alex christened her with immediately upon seeing her and one that stuck.
We loaded Big Truck with camping gear, baggage and groceries and said goodnight. Inside we slept on real beds one last time. Freda rested easily in the driveway, not in the least concerned about who would be driving her the next 12 days, who would navigate, or what danger awaited her the very next day.