To Plunge or Not to Plunge…

When an inanimate object really, REALLY becomes a member of your family, you give it a name.

We named him Travis.

“Him,” in this case is a 2017 Winnebago Travato, Class B touring coach. Or RV, if you prefer. 

For at least two years – starting right after I finally, officially retired – Joan and I began talking about how much we were looking forward to hitting the open road with our two dogs, Rosie and Patrick. 

We longed to wander aimlessly around this big, beautiful country of ours, seeing all the sights we have not yet seen. 

And re-seeing some we have. 

“How cool will it be…” we said, “… to drive around with no particular schedule or destination and no assignment except to feast our eyes on America’s natural wonders for days on end.”

Exhaustive research, conversation, and prayer finally led us to conclude that THIS (the Travato, that is) was the right way to go. And wouldn’t you know it, shortly thereafter, a couple who lived very close to us listed one for sale.

So we went and met Travis. And it was love at first sight.

Fast forward to today, four months later. Here we sit with egg on our faces and feeling a little silly and a LOT sheepish. That’s because we have decided to put the FOR SALE sign on Travis. 

Why? You might ask. As it turns out, we are not campers.

Neither – apparently – are Rosie and Patrick. 

We certainly gave it the good, ol’ college try. We started slowly, with trips close to home and short in duration… gradually expanding our radius and trip length. We had a two-night trip right here in town, four nights up to Lander, Wyoming and back, and then just shy of a week to Kansas City and back.

The dogs let us know right away that they didn’t like the sleeping arrangements. And so, THEIR nocturnal restlessness led to OURS. 

Both Joan and I also both grossly underestimated the amount of work and preparation involved in getting ready to hit the road… and the clean-up work on the other end when you get back home. 

We found that we loved the part about being able to drive around and explore cool, new places. But we really didn’t much love just sitting outside on our camp chairs staring into the fire for hours after dinner clean-up.

At one point, Joan looked at me and said, “I think the people who do this a lot are really PASSIONATE about it. And the truth is, we just aren’t.”

So now we are both feeling red-faced and asking ourselves questions like: Why couldn’t we have been smarter about this? Why couldn’t we have each KNOWN ourselves a little better and foreseen our deep-seated aversion to the camping experience? How did we let ourselves get so carried away by this romantic notion of free-form road-tripping? Why didn’t we do a better job of anticipating the dogs’ discomfort with Travis?

All good questions. But in the end, unanswerable. 

Sometimes in life you just have to STEP OUT. [Sort of like Peter stepping out of the boat.]

Sometimes the only place the answers can be found is right smack-dab in the MIDDLE of the experience. In that sense it is a bit like parenting… 

We live. We make mistakes. We learn. And we live some more.

I just hope this episode (which we will one day affectionately call, “The Travis Chapter”) doesn’t discourage us from ever again “taking a plunge” into the unknown. I hope it does help us to ask better questions and search our hearts a little more closely before doing so. 

When I read the words of 2 Timothy 1:7 (NRSV), “… for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline,” I hear it reminding me that we were created to take risks. Not to risk foolishly, of course, but to use God’s spirit of love and self-discipline to help us step boldly into the Great Unknown. 

Hmmmm. Do you suppose that even applies to buying RVs?

Abundant blessings;

8 Responses to “To Plunge or Not to Plunge…”

  1. December 9, 2021 at 11:03 pm

    Thanks for sharing Russell! I wouldn’t call this a failure. I would say you just discovered more about yourself. This summer was our first adventure with a pulling a camper around the country. It was definitely not as romantic as we had imagined. It was rather exhausting at times. And there are definitely some people who are so hard core. We are not them but we will do it when we are back in the states. Hope to see you in Guatemala again sometime.

  2. 2 Carol Congalton
    December 10, 2021 at 12:55 am

    I’m still laughing as I type my reply. The exact same thing happened with hubby and I. We named our camper Gus and set off with much excitement on our first trip. We VERY soon discovered we were NOT happy campers and, like Travis, Gus was put up for sale. Hubby did not enjoy emptying the grey water or the toilet cassette, neither did he enjoy being parked next to rowdy campers. The whole exercise was a disaster. I might have persevered but with hubby not onboard, so to speak, it just wasn’t viable anymore. So from now on it’s motels and hotels, should we ever go away again! 😀

  3. December 10, 2021 at 1:45 am

    Thanks for the encouragement! I really enjoyed seeing all of your posts about the circuit you were riding as you prepared to head down to Guatemala. You all are incredible servants of Christ! I am really looking forward to getting back down there with a team in the very near future. Infection rates are just a little too scary right now. Blessings to you all.

  4. 5 Melody Leavitt
    December 10, 2021 at 3:28 am

    I might be interested in this if it hasn’t already sold. What do you plan to ask for it?
    Thanks for the story telling – I hope your next steps will be of good cheer. Happy Christmas!

  5. December 10, 2021 at 8:06 pm

    Russell, there are many reasons why I love this post! I lived in my RV for four years. I sold it last December, almost one year ago, and bought me a tiny house. My parents are aging and I needed to establish roots. My children’s book, Faith and Finley Tour MO, is based off my experiences and dreams of being Ms.Frizzle to elementary kids, except my topic is history and I have a pup as a travel partner. My hope was to buy a Class C. To this data I still look at RV’s each night on RV Trader. It’s been my life for so long. And stepping out of the boat~Peter ;~ is the only way we can learn and know. Good for you and Joan for trying!! I will post an honorary post of me cleaning out my black tank for the last time last winter in my good wool coat. Lol. I miss it. It was a way I could see my boys in the Air Force and have my own space. I can’t afford to have one just now although I actually asked for sponsorships from RV places to help me with marketing my book. No go. Oh well! One day again! I researched the one you have and decided that would be better for me in my future since it’s just me and my pup! What a fun story! It has a wonderful message as always, Russell!

    • December 12, 2021 at 12:23 am

      You are a genuine adventurer! Four years? That is amazing! Although if you are really the “camping type,” it is probably a really great way to live. As I said in my confessional, we just aren’t those folks. Joan joined a Travato Owners Facebook group and has seen lots and lots of posts from single women – most with dogs, incidentally – who hop into their Travatos and just TAKE OFF! We will still pursue travel adventures, but will follow a more traditional path using VRBOs and Air BnBs. A lot of them are very pet friendly, so we can take Rosie and Patrick and have a different kind of adventure. God bless you in this next chapter of your adventure. I really, really enjoy your writing and your thinking. Please keep it going!

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