It started with a conversation about my husband’s long tenure at UPS… and over time it evolved into a discussion about owning an RV.
This December, MyUPSGuy will have racked up 31 years in brown. Unbelievably, he started as “holiday help” many years ago, sorting packages at the age of 24. He was hired that year, and drove the familiar square, brown package truck for the next twelve years, often hitting the road with dog biscuits in his pocket for the many furry friends that would come and greet him along the way (If you haven’t seen the hilarious Facebook page with UPS dogs, give it a try at: https://www.facebook.com/upsdogs/).
Since his days as a “package driver,” my husband has been driving a tractor trailer for the company. He’s made a great life for us, but like anything there are pros and cons. With many 60-hour weeks, particularly around the holidays, MyUPSGuy has had many stretches of time with little time off and little time to do much else except be uniformed in brown.
My husband’s much-anticipated retirement is five years away but as we know, time will move quickly, and he and I recently began to chat about what retirement looks like. With a hope for good health, what do we want to see and do? We’ve talked about a 6-month trip across the US, exploring the countryside, seeing amazing US sites, cities, monuments and parks. And for me? I’m fascinated by this idea of what it means to be American – not in terms of left versus right, but more about the deep-seated, inspiring, tear-jerking, heartfelt love that so many of us share for this country. I’d like to explore America, and what it means to be a part of such a great nation.
Six months across America would of course involve… an RV.
Having never driven, traveled, or slept in an RV, we decided to try it.
My husband picked up our RV rental on a Friday in August and parked it in the driveway of the little house. I couldn’t contain my curiosity and went to check it out. There was a queen bed to the right, and then a kitchenette to the left that boasted a stove with three gas burners, a double sink, and a small fridge. The table across from the stove seated four, and the bathroom had a walk-in shower and ample storage. All in all, very cute and nice.
Over the course of the next seven days we drove 1000 miles (okay, in fairness, MyUPSGuy drove 1000 miles), and we saw much of the great northeastern part of this country. We started in Maine and visited Acadia National Park, where we drove to the top of Cadillac Mountain, the place on the east coast where the sunrise is seen first every morning. Then we went on to beautiful Bar Harbor and Winter Harbor, Maine (the latter very quiet, isolated, and beautiful). On we drove to New Hampshire where we enjoyed the cog railroad at Mount Washington and explored a state whose mantra is “Live Free or Die.” And we finished up in Vermont, where we spent time checking out antiques, pottery, and glass blowing.
As we drove, we learned. We learned that next time we’d need lights in the sleeping area so that we can read at night. We learned that if you aren’t careful, you’ll trip over the trash and the sneakers on the way to the bathroom at 3 a.m. We learned how to park the RV and hook up all the stuff. My husband learned that gravity is very important in all the hookups working… ahem… properly. Our experiences ranged from eating “pickled wrinkles” (yes, actual seafood) at a bar with the same name in Winter Harbor and lunching at a fabulous restaurant suspended over the waterfall at the beautiful Simon Pearce glassblowing shop in Quechee, Vermont.
In all, it was fun, new, and different and made us think even more about where the world will take us as we try new things and hopefully age gracefully.
Is an RV perfect? No. It took our downsizing to a whole new level. But it also allowed us to explore a part of the land we love. We had time to shake hands with new people on the ferry to Bar Harbor… to pet the dogs of the neighbors at the campgrounds, to cook outside, to smell of campfire smoke. All in all, we took a moment to learn something and revel in a new experience.
Will the RV be back? Not sure. Perhaps the more important question… Will the RV be in Paris? 🙂
But on a serious note… the trip across America? Now that’s tempting.