A trip we will never forget. Jackie documented every “What’s Next?” in a notebook – many fond memories 32 years later.
Larry planned a 21 day (summer), 6900 mile loop across USA. Crazy but achievable. Without TL Directory & Internet it was a real challenging effort. He also recorded on tape cassettes (we still have them) highlights & facts about the attractions we planned to visit & see each day. Initially, the kids were impressed but the novelty wore off and “Are we there yet?” prevailed. We traveled with a loaned “experienced” Jayco Popup, towed behind a 1971 Chevolet Station Wagon (60000+ miles).
The guys had previously camped as scouts but it was a totally new experience for Jackie & Pam. We were crazy! Wasn’t quite as bad as Chevy Chase’s National Lampoon’s Vacation but real close. Traveling an average of 325 plus miles per day, it was a “see it, nod head, move out rapidly” trip. Fortunately, no dog was tied behind the station wagon. Fast food restaurants, lunches in moving station wagon, rest area picnics, kept Ey’s Griswold excursion moving. Pretzel and licorice sticks for snacks. Also purchased a small Johnny-On-The-Spot (red & white stripe bucket with plastic ring top & plastic liners) for kids to use. No stops for any reason. We can’t understand why to this day our kids do not like eating chicken out of a KFC bucket. Here is a synopsis of our “What’s Next?”trip:
17 miles from home temperature light on, radiator had to be pulled & flushed – 50 more miles AC stopped working, got freon next day – early risers (6:30 AM), late bed times (10 PM), Jackie vowed never again to be traveling or sightseeing when sun disappears – at rest area, radiator hose leaking, taped it, replaced next day – Pam sick with high temperature in Memphis TN – bent popup leg on driveway dip, removed & welded back on – In NM, oops, Jackie woke us all up an hour too early, time zone change – ate soft gooey cheese sandwiches left in back of hot station wagon, kids rebelled but ate them – Grand Canyon hamburgers $1.50, much too expensive, hey man, this was 1978, McDonald’s were much cheaper – panel coming off popup, had difficulty finding long screw in NP for repair – Las Vegas Circus Circus, big spenders with $2 of quarters won $33, miracle of miracles, later in life we found out that this is not how Slots gambling really works – Zion NP, 110 degrees, after tubing on Virgin River found water hose had split & sprayed water all over outside & INSIDE popup – zipper broke on popup plastic window covers – Jackie fell out of bed turning off alarm, OK, only pride bruised.
“What’s Next?” – Great Salt Lake, clouds of tiny flies hovering around our legs & feet, moved as we moved, miserable place – eye bolt on popup winding mechanism broke, crawling inside hot closed popup,removed it, hacked saw off end, smoothed threaded end with local ROCK (had no file), reassembled eye bolt & nut, opened popup – traveling to WY MISSED turn, traveled 20 miles into Idaho, lost 1 hour in PRE-PLANNED trip.
In Grand Tetons, Mark’s temperature 102.4 degrees, “O, boy! another child sick”, but moved on – in Yellowstone NP experienced a stalling station wagon, mechanic took 3 hours to find a small intermittent open coil wire @#$&? – ignoring bear warnings kids put food around campsite, lucky for us no bears were hungry – Frenchmen camping next to us sang Allouette, Allouette (spelling?) over & over again until 12:45 AM, finally shouted “Please go to bed!”, sorry for the “Camper Rage” – In Spearfish went to Safeway to buy food for dinner, they had no meat, small town USA – kids horseback riding for first time, didn’t want to sit down for dinner for some reason – in Rapid City drove(?) through Bear Country USA, stubborn bear stood in front of station wagon for 20 minutes, finally moved – in Moline had a “What’s Next?” flat tire, replaced with spare, yes we had one – saw a popup on fire in median strip, Mark commented “Fortunately, that didn’t happen to us!”, Jackie quickly put her finger over his lips – found two holes in borrowed vinyl car carrier, grill grate was upside down with two prongs up, “What’s Next?” – kids hysterical crossing Maryland line, a lot of cheering, couldn’t imagine why – HOME SWEET HOME, exhausted, thankful and happy
“That’s our story and we are sticking to it!” We know it is hard to believe that this could all occur on one trip but the proof is in the little brown spiral notebook journal.
Although we experienced numerous unpleasant events, our kids (and my wife) to this day bring up, discuss & laugh about our “What’s Next?” western trip at most of our family get togethers. In fact, at our Bon Voyage party for our 2000 Alaskan caravan trip (in our 1997 Newmar Dutchstar Class A motorhome) they provided us with a package containing a KFC bucket with plastic bags (when you gotta go, you gotta go), pretzel & licorice sticks, soft gooey cheese sandwiches, fast food restaurant gift certificates, and $3 for $1.50 hamburgers, so we would never forget our first outing in 1978.
I guess our first outing was the right way to do it because my wife, like I, have become avid RVers and have traveled in all 49 continnetal states and almost every Canadian Province. We didn’t become full-timers because all our grandchldren live within a 6 mile radius of our home. Need I say more! However, we are now full fledged snow-birders going to Florida every winter for three month stays in our Dutchstar. We don’t know “What’s Next?’ but we are really looking forward to whtever it is.
Thank you for letting us tell you about our first outing. We have been telling these stories for years to many others at bonding camp fires.
Submitted by Larry and Jackie Ey of Bel Air, MD as a part of the RV Centennial Celebration “Share Your Favorite RV Memory” contest.
Do you have a favorite RVing or camping memory you’d like to share? Submit your favorite memory here!