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Now we are Them

January 31, 2011

The little sports car pulled over in front of me and stopped.  I was aware of how small it was as I looked down on it from the cockpit of the 8 ton motorhome and stepped on my brakes.

The good news was that we were creeping along in stop and go traffic through a construction zone.  No problem.  It was the last leg of interstate on the roughly 70 mile trip from the dealer to the storage lot near our home.  It was my first solo in our just purchased 36 foot (or 35 foot, depending on which piece of paper one looks at) motorhome.  Hopefully it would be my last solo trip.  Even though it was uneventful, I’d rather have Nell riding shotgun in the future, watching the traffic on my right.

About 65 miles of the trip was on interstate highways at an average speed of 60-65 mph.  I had been pretty apprehensive about that first time on the road in such a large vehicle.  Even asked for tips from veteran RVers in the forums on www.RV.net .  The general consensus was to watch my mirrors, stay alert, watch my mirrors, allow plenty of room in front of me, and… watch my mirrors.  Back when we first found it, on a trip home from Houston, I had taken a short test drive on the interstate frontage road.  Nearly took out the RV dealer’s mailbox as I turned right out of the driveway.  The service manager had been in the copilot seat, and gave his first piece of advice: when turning, use all the room you have available.  This time, with Nell behind me in the Trailblazer, I made sure I had no traffic coming, made a wide right turn, and headed down the frontage road and onto the interstate.  Nell pulled around me and took the lead.  We had discussed whether it would be best for her to stay behind me and block for me when I had to change lanes, or be in front so I wouldn’t have to concentrate on where and when to exit from one highway to another.  With her in front, showing me what lane I needed to be in, I was able to simply focus on staying between the stripes… and on keeping the big V12 engine under the speed limit.  This big baby rolls.

In years past, I had pulled a pop-up camper trailer behind our old Suburban, and I had driven from Atlanta to Dallas in one of the big 26 foot U-Haul trucks, towing a full car trailer with an old Plymouth Coupe on it.  I knew how to drive a big vehicle, but the motorhome just seemed SO big.  It turned out not to be a problem.  By using the little curved mirrors at the bottom of the larger ones, I was able to keep well within the stripes.  Eventually, one’s own built in gps seems to take over, and as cars and trucks went by on both sides, I quickly became accustomed to where I needed to be.  Didn’t get honked at once.  After a few miles, I was able to unglue my fingers from the steering wheel and let the blood circulate back into my knuckles.  Still, it’s two-hand driving, without any doubt.

As we got closer to home, we slowed down into the construction zone a few miles before our last exit.  At one point, I was in the middle lane, with other vehicles all around me, and as we crept along, it occurred to me that, to other drivers, I was just another old geezer driving a big motorhome along the interstate.  For years, as we traveled, driving 10 to 12 hours a day to get to our destination as quickly as possible, I had seen them:  gray-haired seniors, with their wives in the passenger seat, rolling down the highway.  I wondered where they had been… and where they were going.  A weekend at the lake?  A vacation?  Or maybe changing locations, in no hurry, driving 4 or 5 hours before stopping for the night, on the way to some new adventure.  As I sat in traffic, the realization hit me:

I have become one of them.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Carol Z permalink
    January 31, 2011 7:51 pm

    Whoo hoo! Now I have weird road trip songs in my head. “99 bottles of beer on the wall, 99 bottles of beer”… or “On the road again, just can’t wait to get on the road again”… or well, you get the idea. Hopefully you will have better music than that in the new RV!

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