My first RV experience was in a pickup and camper. I was 13 years old. My parent’s sister and I had decided to embark on a trip across the United States to visit our siblings in Louisville, Kentucky and Boston, Massachusetts.
The only traveling experience we had up to this point were a few day trips. We had an old Ford Sedan and our Dad had converted the back seat to make into a bed, as kids we were thrilled, as we could sleep while he was driving. We did make several trips this way to visit family in Medford, Oregon.
My father worked for the Oregon State Highway Department in Grand Ronde, Oregon and the year was “1964”. Dad was a meticulous and conscientious man who always gave plans much thought. He had a lot of driving experience and learned to be a mechanic in the U. S. Army. Our mother was a homemaker and an excellent cook. So with our parents’ knowledge and combined capabilities, and our plans mapped out, we were all set to embark upon our great adventure.
Our first destination was to Louisville, Kentucky to visit our sister Mary. She had married and after moving there had become very homesick and wanted to see her family, so she had been awaiting our arrival with much excitement. She had a daughter who was 3 at the time and a newborn baby girl who had been born a few months before we arrived. Some tears were shed at the happiness of being reunited with our sister and meeting our newborn niece for the first time.
We had settled in to visit and see some of the sites around the city. Our first stop was to see Calumet Farms, which housed some of the World’s best racing horses, Such as “Man of War”. The grounds at the farm were beautiful and the horses were kept in only the very best conditions and treated with the utmost care. To a small child from Oregon it was quite spectacular as we only had seen farm horses not horses used specifically for racing. We then visited the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln, which I was always intrigued by this President and his life, and to see his modest log cabin home where he grew up was fascinating to me. The time that we spent in Kentucky and the fond memories we shared have never left me to this day.
Leaving Kentucky we were on the road again and our next destination was to Boston, Massachusetts, to visit my brother Larry who had joined the Navy and was now serving aboard the USS Miles C Fox. When he was off duty he spent his time with a wonderful family who opened their home to servicemen that were far away from their homes and their families. As we arrived in Boston it was quite an awesome experience. The traffic was nothing we were accustomed to with all the round-a-bouts. The people’s thick Bostonian accents made stopping to ask for directions almost futile. In those days seeing an RV past the Mississippi was almost nonexistent, which resulted in some very interesting finger pointing and interesting looks coming our way.
Our time in Boston was wonderful and exciting and being that my sister and I were only girl teenagers it made being able to meet my brother’s naval buddies every young girls dream! One memorable night we were all sleeping in our camper on the floor with my brother and a Navy buddy, which we filled the night with talk until we all feel asleep. Looking back I still don’t know how we all fit in that small camper. My brother took us on a tour of his naval ship, but before the tour he talked to his shipmates and informed them in no uncertain terms, that his two little sisters were coming onboard and that they were to watch their language and be on their very best behavior. It was my first visit aboard a naval ship and very memorable.
Boston is a wonderful city with a very fascinating history. It was Fate that would return me back to Boston years later when my husband who was in the Army and was stationed there for three years. With our son Kevin and our newborn daughter Deanna who was born there, Boston has and always will be a special place for me.
With our trip to Boston now finished and with much reluctance it was time for us to head home.
Riding in the back of the camper was such fun, and this was one of the most enjoyable things for my sister and me to do. Just being able to go down the road looking out that big window that extended over the cab and viewing all the scenery was really fun. We also enjoyed waving to everyone who would look in our direction. Sometimes our mother would make statements as to how friendly people were on the road, not knowing that we were waving at everyone from the window above. The other nice thing about riding in the back of the camper was when we got tired we could lay our heads down and take long naps.
We always looked forward to when Dad would pull over to gas up so that we could get out and walk around enjoy a nice meal made by our Mom.
One time after we had stopped to get gas and my sister and me were messing around as usual. My Dad not realizing that we were messing around had started to pull out of the gas station and to my mom’s horror as she looked through the back window she saw my sister and me hanging out the camper door as we were trying to close the door without falling out. After that episode, they made sure we were locked in and secured properly before we headed out.
While I was growing up history was not that exciting to me, it was only after we took that trip that history became alive and real to me. The trip I took when I was 13 years old was the most memorable for me. It gave me a love for history and future RV travel.
Over the years of traveling our theme song has been “On the road again”, sung by Willie Nelson. We have traveled by Motorcycle, slept in tents on hard ground, and in several travel trailers. My husband and I retired 3 years ago and purchased a 33’ foot Pace Arrow Motorhome, which we travel in as often as we possibly can.
My Dad has since passed away and my Mom is in her 80’s and living in a retirement home now. It was a different time back then when life was simple, gas was cheap so we traveled more often. We may not be able to travel as often as we did in the past or would like to, but we are thankful for every trip we get to take and the fun we have now. It really does not matter how you travel or what kind of RV you have, it is the people you are with and the ones you meet along the way that make each trip memorable.
Submitted by Cathy Sandstrom of Pendleton, OR 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!