The 1985 movie "Lost in America" offers a darkly comic look at a 30-something couple who decide to quit the jobs, buy a Winnebago and tour the nation. Though the husband and wife endure all sorts of mishaps along the way and fight frequently (as I said, this is a black comedy), I’ve always been taken with the idea of just taking off and driving, and living life on the open road.
I’ve written about some of my camping excursions in this blog before, and something a regular "Tales" reader may have observed is that at no time has Becca been part of such an event. She has said that she would like to go camping, but I know she’d much rather spend a hot summer’s day and evening inside rather than sweating at a campsite and/or enduring mosquitoes. Plus, the weather hasn’t exactly been cooperative this summer. Heck, even Grace and I haven’t even gotten in a Saturday night in the tent yet. For the most part, we’ve either had other committments, or the weather has been wet. (I feel sorry for whoever was camping – especially in a tent – this Friday night in our area.)
If Becca had her choice, we’d never have to think about tents when going on a camping trip. That – along with mere curiousity – helped prompt us to take a little jaunt to Sioux Falls Friday morning to Spader’s RV Center to check out the variety of campers and house-on-wheels units they had on their lot. Let’s just say that we really didn’t walk around and seriously price things so much as simply tour the place and dream. A good number of the motor homes cost more than what we paid (er, still paying) for our house.
There was one motor home we walked into, for example, that simply blew us away. The place had all the acoutrements of a modern-day living room, such as a couch and recliner, magazine racks, a good-sized flat screen HDTV and, shoot, even a fireplace. Bec and I both looked at each other and remarked, almost simultaneously, "This is nicer than our living room!" In the back was a small room with a bunkbed. Toward the front, up a couple of steps, was the master bedroom, with a bed bigger than what we sleep on, ample closet space and – of course – a TV. I may not have been as enthusiastic as the now-famous "double-rainbow" guy upon seeing this house on wheels, but I was still pretty darn impressed.
There’s something about these Winnebagoes and the like, though, that still rubs me the wrong way a tad. Maybe it’s because I’m not, say, in the vicinity of 70 years old. It’s this: The main thing about going camping is experiencing the great outdoors. What’s the point of going camping if you can sit inside on a couch watching a DVD (something you can already do at home? Sure, one can go hiking during the day or partake in some other activity before retiring to the camper. But as comfortable as a motor home might be (though even the large ones, I think, might get claustrophobic in a hurry for even a small family), I still don’t think it’s right to go, say, to a campground’s nature area or on a state park geocaching adventure and then come back to dinner from a stove or oven. (To borrow from Sarah Palin, "Grill, baby, grill!") And while air conditioning’s nice, there’s nothing like sleeping in a tent on a cool evening with a good mat under your back.
I don’t think we’ll be getting any sort of camper-type unit anytime soon, anyway, because the only one at Spader’s we could legitimately afford and pull with our minivan was an old pop-up model that has definitely past its prime. It also didn’t have a bathroom, though to me that’s not a super-huge deal. What’s a camping trip if you’re running back to your motor home to do some business, rather than just scurrying off into woods? Too much fun is being taken out of so much nowadays.