Monday, July 8, 2019

Our RV Adventure, Day 9: Conclusion

(To start from the beginning, see Our RV Adventure: Introduction.)

Thursday, May 9, Naperville, Illinois

In the morning, I take a ladder outside and climb up to see if the paint smudge from the drive-through awning comes off the cab overhang. It does! I don’t bother trying to do anything about the several thousand splatted bugs up there. We pre-payed for cleaning the RV inside and out. Plus, a special pet cleaning fee. And for a final dump and flushing out of the gray and black water holding tanks. Did I mention that RV rental is not a money-saving endeavor?

We have to get the RV back to Carol Stream by 11 am. They don’t open until 10:30. We stop for gas in Wheaton and I’m amazed that it takes another 12 gallons of gas. Later, I will do the math to find out that we got just over 9 MPG. We drove 2,209 miles.

Later, we return the one drinking water hose we did not use, the water filter, toilet paper, and chemical to Walmart. We keep the hose we did use and the gloves.

Now that we're home safely, let's consider this adventure.


I have mentioned that an RV trip is not a money-saving endeavor. The RV rental, including extra mileage, optional generator use, tire blowout insurance, general cleaning, pet cleaning fee, holding tank cleaning; gasoline; four nights of campgrounds; food; and tolls; cost over $3000. (All of these costs were anticipated.) I estimate that doing the same thing in our car, including gas, tolls, five nights in hotels, buying four lunches and five dinners, would cost about $1200. 

What benefits does an RV offer over a car? 
  • Convenience of not unpacking and packing at 5 hotels or homes
  • Convenience of having our own fridge 
  • Cooking (or bringing) healthy food instead of buying and eating fast food
  • Not having to impose the cats on our hosts 
  • Walmart dry camping could not happen with a car.  
  • Camping, even in a KOA, is closer to nature than a hotel or motel.
  • It's a completely different experience, and we have now had it once.
Let's face it, the only reason to travel by RV is because you want to. As with any travel destination or adventure, it has to draw you. My purpose is not to convince anyone one way or the other, just to report our experience, and possibly entertain a few friends. 

Lessons Learned

  • We should have taken two weeks to allow for full day visits and to not have back-to-back heavy driving days.
  • It takes a long time to load the RV before embarking. 
  • We are certainly older, and maybe wiser as far as RV knowledge goes.
  • I don’t quite feel like a trucker, but I feel their pain.
  • If there’s a next time, I’m getting a trucker’s atlas.

Themes that Emerged during the Trip

Cathleen had taken to calling “Be sweet!” to Dusty when he fights with Tallulah (as in the Roy Blount book, Be Sweet). In Pennsylvania we ate at The Bittersweet Kitchen. We stayed in Sweetwater, Tennessee. We had sweet (potato) fries in Sewanee. We avoided sweet tea in the south. Cathleen says that in her devotional time, God had been teaching her about the spiritual aspects of bitter and sweet and how it applied to herself and some family members.

Sunshine: Cathleen’s phone knows her as “Sunshine.” “Good night, Sunshine,” it says. We drove the Sunseeker RV model. In Indiana, the Sunshine Café was closed. Just before leaving on this trip, I purchased Bruce Springsteen’s latest song, “Hello Sunshine.” And there was a lot of sun on this trip, which was nice after months of rain.


Am I glad we had this RV adventure? Definitely. Family is important. Travel is always an adventure.

Would we have another RV adventure? Writing this account of the trip turned me more in the direction of saying yes. Overall, we had a good time, good visits, and the driving was not as hard is it could have been.

Cost aside, it would be better if we could take more time, alternating driving days with visit days. As for cost, if we were to make a habit of RV trips, it would make economic sense to buy a used RV rather than renting one.

We have definitely learned some hard lessons about our age, our limits, and how RV travel works. But those are things which we were actually warned would happen on our first RV trip. Any subsequent trip would happen from a position of experienced RVers.

I have found myself looking at different RV options since then. Teardrop trailers, van conversions, Class C RVs with slide-outs, Class A RVs. New versus used. Old versus older. Trailers require at least an SUV, maybe a pickup truck to tow them. Cathleen would want an RV that is less rattle prone, less bouncy. It was hard for our cats, for our bones, and our psyches. Perhaps a Class A or a trailer?

Last summer, when our younger son moved to Pennsylvania, we gave him my old Honda Civic as a college graduation gift. We decided to try to get by with one car and have done so since then.

Maybe our second car should be an RV?

However, we are not planning on renting or buying an RV in the immediate future. Instead, we are focused on our impending grand-parenthood. Perhaps that could be a subject for a future blog or two...

The Sunseeker 2300

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