Family RV Adventure – How our RV adventure began

//Family RV Adventure – How our RV adventure began

Family RV Adventure – How our RV adventure began

  Family Bicycle Camping in Vermont

Six years ago, frustrated with the world in which my kids were growing up, their world totally consumed by technology, I decided I needed to make changes to the way we spent our free time.  I yearned for the good old days when kids spent their free time playing with each other and not alone with their game consoles. Living in Florida, where palm trees are not an option for climbing, grass is rough and sometimes full of red ants, and the weather is sure to be hot and humid, playing outside was not appealing to my children or to me.  And so our family RV adventure began!

When I closed my eyes and tried to picture what it would take to pry my children away from their technology, I came up with camping. It was the obvious solution (at least initially to me) and one that is surprisingly affordable. I also came up with a list of all the reasons why I did not like the idea. However the opportunity to introduce my children to the outside world around them far outweighed the negatives.

Once I had the idea, I then had to find a way to make this concept work for all of us. Personally,  I had no desire to spend a single night on the ground. However, I knew going into it that I was going to have to make concessions for my kids if I wanted this to work. The more I thought about camping with my family, the more I thought it was really important as a mom that I pursue this idea. Sitting around indoors all summer  was not going to work for anyone.

After exploring a few camping stores and the internet for camping gear, I learned that technology has changed not only the way my kids interact with the world, but technology has advanced how we go camping today. Advancements in materials and design make tents lighter and easier to set up. Sleeping bags are now smaller as well as lighter. Sleeping pads are now actually comfortable. I was surprised to find I did not have to purchase our equipment at an expensive camping store. I found most of my camping supplies at Wal-Mart: sleeping bags for under $40, a fast pitch tent for around $200, and a propane stove for $60.

For additional camping supplies, I raided my own kitchen for cooking implements.  For camp chairs, we used our beach chairs. To store and organize everything, I used plastic containers I had in my garage. They kept everything separate and dry. When my cooler was not in use, it too became a storage container. Scouting the Dollar Store, I was also able to find supplies like a bucket to wash dishes and clothes in.  I also picked up an extension cord for a small fan and the cell phone charger. I could not believe how easily and inexpensively my idea came together.

And so our family RV adventure began!

Car Camping? We’re Going Bicycle Camping!

In a short period of time, my vision began to evolve and each day I became more enthusiastic about our camping trip.  Then one day, being an avid cyclist, I started to think about what it would look like if we did this on our bicycles. In one moment, I went from planning a simple car camping trip to including a bike tour.

Next thing I knew, I was buying a tandem bicycle so I could ride with my daughter.  At which point it was decided that my husband would then need a bike trailer so  he could transport our young twins. Well, why not go camping as bicycle tourists? The “idea” of camping with family was certainly evolving.

The next step, was deciding where to go. When choosing a route, we found lots of options online. We focused on routes that were relatively flat and promised to provide cool weather.  In the end, we chose a route that would start in Burlington, Vermont and take us across and around Lake Champlain. We would be riding up into Canada and back down the other side of the lake. Not knowing how far we could go each day, or what the challenges might be with three kids in tow, we decided to go fully loaded with camping gear and thus prepared for any weather or situation we might encounter.

​As any touring cyclist will tell you, traveling with the kids provides many added challenges. The biggest challenge is setting the weight limit. Since we could expect to be carrying the weight of three kids up some grades, Vermont being the Green Mountain State, we had to invest in an even lighter tent, sleeping bags, and sleeping mats. Anything we packed had to fit within our overall weight limits. This meant that after packing our camping gear we could each afford to bring one change of quick-dry clothes and flip flops. We gladly accepted hauling less weight in exchange for our minimalist personal wardrobes.

Packing for an adventure with kids was probably the most challenging chore in planning this adventure.  Deciding what was absolutely necessary versus what would be “needed” was actually extremely difficult. In the end we packed, and repacked at least 5 times before we got down to the bare necessities and still, at the end of the day, my legs told me we still took too much.

Looking back, planning and organizing was all fun. Everyone participated and everyone was excited about the trip. When the day finally came to start our adventure my grand vision had blossomed into a dream vacation of spending the entire summer biking with the kids after my husband headed home to work. Unfortunately, that vision was to have its limits.

Murphy’s Law

You know the age old expression about what can go wrong will go wrong. Well, that was our situation in the first five minutes after our departure. First, my husband blew out a bike tire. Not just an inner tube, but the tire too. After fixing that, we got a dangling strap caught in the chain ring of the tandem, which required us to remove the chain. Then my husband’s fancy bike shoes fell apart.  Those shoes were only a few years old; but next thing we knew his sole separated from the shoe. Since he had clip-in pedals, his flip flops were useless.

The weather added to our miserable start. It was the hottest day of the year for Burlington. It was 100 degrees and there was not a cloud in sight. It was also my husband’s birthday, which only made him more miserable. Refusing to quit and head back and succumb to my husband’s insistent complaints, I left him in a bagel shop with the kids and headed five miles in to town. I could still hear him swearing as I crossed the road and set off.  He just couldn’t believe that anything positive could or would come out of my plans.

I found a bike store in town and I bought a couple of tires, more tubes and a new pair of cycling shoes for my husband. Then I headed back to the troops. Half way back, I had my own flat tire. Not strong enough to dislodge the back wheel off the tandem to change the tire,  I hobbled on back to the bike store where it took two young men an hour to fix my flat.

Once I was back on the bike, I road like a mad woman to the bagel shop. I arrived just in time to see my family out on the sidewalk in the late afternoon heat as the shop was closing.

The day had started out with a plan to take the first Lake Champlain ferry to start our ride on the New York side of the lake. Instead, we found ourselves racing to meet the last ferry out. In the end, we reached our first camp ground right before dark. What a start!

From Vermont, we headed up the New York side of the lake into Canada. It was a great ride and it seemed that at all the problems were over. Things were going great. We even managed to time it right to hit the 4thof July parade in Plattsburg, NY. Everyone was having a good time.  That is, until about half way through our trip when we noticed that the wheels on the trailer were angling the wrong way and that the trailer was starting to sag in the middle. To our astonishment the boys had gone through a large and very unexpected growth spurt, and apparently it happened over night. To our astonishment, the boys had grown out of the trailer.

  Two Not So Little Men In Their Bike Trailer

To compensate for the boys’ magical growth spurt and the additional weight it put on the trailer, we had to invest in a larger pair of panniers (bike luggage) and transfer some of the kids’ gear from the trailer. My husband was still pulling additional weight. But the load was reduced on the trailer. The boys just had to settle for being smashed in for the remainder of the trip. As for my grand vision of spending the entire summer on bikes, well, it became obvious that a complete summer of bike touring would remain just a beautiful idea.

The rest of the trip remained pretty much free of problems. Well, there was that one night we arrived at our campsite without food and had to set off in the rain to find some. Or how about the time during a thunder storm our tent got hit with a 50 mph blast of wind and ended up in the lake with a few bent poles? (We got to observe that incident from the sidelines, having just sat down for dinner).  It didn’t matter because everyone had a great time, soggy sleeping bags and all. My husband even ended the trip by exclaiming that it was the best ride he has ever been on. Who would have thought that all those challenges added up to the best ride ever? And who would have thought a bicycle camping tour could evolve into our family RV adventure?

The Kids Are Right. We Need an RV!

Back in Burlington, since biking was no longer an option, the kids and I spent the rest of the summer tenting and discovering Vermont. The kids spent the rest of the summer covered in grass stains, climbing trees, playing in the streams, making forts in the woods, and discovered a whole new world.

Camping that summer came with its challenges too: big winds, huge storms, flooding.  One night was so bad our campground neighbors insisted we spend the night with them in their Class A motorhome. That made for an even better adventure as far the kids were concerned. (Because now they were convinced they wanted an RV!) The most surprising aspect about that whole summer, despite the challenges, was that not one child said she or he wanted to go home. Not once. Instead in the beginning I heard, “Let’s get a hotel room,” then it was, “Let’s rent a cabin,” and at the end of the summer, it was a chorus of “Let’s get an RV!”

The biggest challenge for the children that summer came at the end of our trip. We weren’t home twenty-four hours when the kids started complaining that there was nothing to do. Hot and too humid at the end of August in Florida to play outside, they begged to go to a McDonalds play house. I felt pressured to give them back their tech toys. Surprisingly, that only worked for a short period of time.  I was finally saved by the start of school.

If I thought that the challenges had ended with the start of school, I was wrong.  It was glaringly obvious that without an “outside outlet” for their energy and their minds, my kids had become unhappy. The happy-go-lucky, wonderful children I had spent my summer with, were gone, lost to technology and indoor “play dates” with their classmates. For me, the answer to happiness in our family became increasingly obvious. There simply was only one answer: I needed to start planning next year’s adventure.

That is how it all started! Our family RV adventure.

Six years ago, frustrated with the world in which my kids were growing up, their world totally consumed by technology, I decided I needed to make changes for them. I yearned for the good old days when kids spent their free time playing with each other not alone with their game consoles. Living in Florida, where palm trees are not an option for climbing, grass is rough and sometimes full of red ants, and the weather is sure to be hot and humid, playing outside was not appealing to my children or to me. When I closed my eyes and tried to picture what it would take to pry my children away from their technology, I came up with camping. It was the obvious solution (at least initially to me) and one that is surprisingly affordable. I also came up with a list of all the reasons why I did not like the idea. But the opportunity to introduce my children to the outside world around them far outweighed the negatives.

I then had to find away to make this idea work for all us. I had no desire to spend a single night on the ground. However, I knew going into it that I was going to have to make concessions for my kids if I wanted this to work. I felt it was really important as a mom that I pursue this idea. The idea of sitting around all summer indoors was not going to work for anyone.

After exploring a few camping stores and the internet for camping gear, I learned that technology has changed not only the way my kids interact with the world, but technology has advanced how we go camping today.Advancements in materials and design make tents lighter and easier to set up. Sleeping bags are smaller as well as lighter and sleeping pads are now actually comfortable. I was surprised not to have to purchase our equipment at an expensive camping store. I found most of my camping supplies at Wal-Mart:sleeping bags for under $40, a fast pitch tent for around $200, a propane stove for $60.  I raided my kitchen for cooking implements and simply used what I had. For chairs, we used our beach chairs.For storing and organizing everything, I used plastic containers. They kept everything separate and dry. When my cooler was not in use it too became a storage container. Scouting the Dollar Store, I was also able to find supplies like a bucket to wash dishes and clothes and an extension cord for a small fan and the cell phone charger. I could not believe how easily and inexpensively my idea came together.

I became more enthusiastic about our camping trip and my vision began to evolve.  As an avid cyclist, I started to think about what it would look like if we did this on our bicycles. In one moment I went from planning a simple car camping trip to including a bike tour.

I bought a tandem bicycle so I could ride with my daughter.My husband would pull a bike trailer transporting our young twins. Well, why not go camping as bicycle tourists?

When choosing a route, we found lots of options online. We focused on routes that were relatively flat and promised to provide cool weather.  In the end we chose a route that would start in Burlington, Vermont and take us across and around Lake Champlain. We would be ridding up into Canada and back down the other side of the lake. Not knowing how far we could go each day, or what the challenges might be with three kids in tow, we decided to go fully loaded with camping gear and thus prepared for any weather or situation we might encounter.

Traveling with the kids provided the challenge of hauling their weight. Since we could expect to be carrying the weight of three kids up some grades, Vermont being the Green Mountain State, we had to invest in an even lighter tent, sleeping bags, and sleeping mats. Anything we packed had to fit within our overall weight limits. This meant that after packing our camping gear we could each afford to bring one change of quick-dry clothes and flip flops. We gladly accepted hauling less weight in exchange for our minimalist personal wardrobes.

Planning and organizing was all fun. Everyone participated and everyone was excited about the trip. When the day finally came to start our adventure my grand vision had blossomed into a dream vacation of spending the entire summer biking with the kids after my husband headed home to work. Unfortunately,that vision had its limits.

You know the age old expression about what can go wrong will go wrong. Well, that was our situation in the first five minutes after our departure. First, my husband blew out a bike tire. Not just an inner tube, but the tire too. After fixing that, we got a dangling strap caught in the chain link of the tandem, which required us to remove the chain. Then my husband’s fancy bike shoe fell apart.  Those shoes were only a few years old; but next thing we knew his sole separated from the shoe.Since he had clip in pedals, his flip flops were useless. The weather added to our miserable start. It was the hottest day of the year for Burlington. It was 100 degrees and there was not a cloud in sight. It was also my husband’s birthday, which only made him more miserable. Refusing to quit and head back and succumb to my husband’s insistent complaints, I left him in a bagel shop with the kids and headed five miles into town. I could still hear him swearing as I crossed the road and set off.  He just couldn’t believe that anything positive could or would come out of my plans.

I found a bike store in town and I bought a couple of tires,more tubes and a new pair of cycling shoes for my husband. Then I headed back to the troops. Half way back, I had my own flat tire. Not strong enough to dislodge the back wheel off the tandem to change the tire,  I hobbled on back to the bike store where it took two young men an hour to fix my flat.

Once I was back on the bike, I road like a mad women to the bagel shop. I arrived just in time to see my family out on the sidewalk in the  late afternoon heat as the shop was closing.

The day had started out with a plan to take the first ferry across the lake to start our ride on the New York side of the lake. Instead, we found ourselves racing to meet the last ferry out. In the end, we reached our first camp ground right before dark. What a start!

From Vermont, we headed up the New York side of the lake into Canada. It was a great ride and it seemed that at all the problems were over. Things were going great. We even managed to time it right to hit the 4th of July parade in Plattsburg, NY. Everyone was having a good time.  That is, until about half way through our trip when we noticed that the wheels on the trailer were angling the wrong way and that the trailer was starting to sag in the middle. To our astonishment the boys had gone through a large and very unexpected growth spurt, and apparently it happened over night. To our astonishment, the boys had grown out of the trailer.

To compensate for the boys’ magical growth spurt and the additional weight it put on the trailer, we had to invest in a larger pair of panniers(bike luggage) and transfer some of the kids’ gear from the trailer. My husband was still pulling additional weight. But the load was reduced on the trailer. The boys just had to settle for being smashed in for the remainder of the trip. Asf or my grand vision of spending the entire summer on bikes, well, it became obvious that a complete summer of bike touring would remain just a beautiful idea.

The rest of the trip remained pretty much free of problems. Well,there was that one night we arrived at our campsite without food and had to set off in the rain to find some. Or how about the time during a thunder storm our tent got hit with a 50 mph blast of wind and ended up in the lake with a few bent polls? (We got to observe that incident from the sidelines, having just sat down for dinner).  It didn’t matter because everyone had a great time, soggy sleeping bags and all. My husband even ended the trip by exclaiming that it was the best ride he has ever been on. Who would have thought that all those challenges added up to the best ride ever?

Back in Burlington, since biking was no longer an option, the kids and I spent the rest of the summer tenting and discovering Vermont. The kids spent the rest of the summer covered in grass stains, climbing trees,playing in the streams, making forts in the woods, and discovered a whole new world. 

Camping that summer came with its challenges too: big winds,huge storms, flooding.  One night was so bad our neighbors insisted we spend the night with them in their Class A motor home. That made for an even better adventure as far the kids were concerned. (Because now they were convinced they wanted an RV!) The most surprising aspect about that whole summer, despite the challenges, was that not one child said she or he wanted to go home. Not once. Instead in the beginning I heard, “Let’s get a hotel room,” then it was “Let’s rent a cabin,” and at the end of the summer, it was a chorus of “Let’s get an RV!”

The biggest challenge for the children that summer came at the end of our trip. We weren’t home twenty-four hours when the kids started complaining that there was nothing to do. Hot and too humid at the end of August in Florida to play outside, they begged to go to a McDonald’s play house.  The constant complaining and their moodiness made us all miserable.  I felt pressured to give them back their tech toys. Surprisingly, that only worked for a short period of time.  I was finally saved by the start of school.

If I thought that the challenges had ended with the start of school, I was wrong.  It was glaringly obvious that without an “outside outlet” for their energy and their minds, my kids had become unhappy. The happy-go-lucky, wonderful children I had spent my summer with, were gone, lost to technology and indoor play “dates” with their classmates. As they became increasing moody as the school year set in, it affected all of us.

For me, the answer to happiness in our family became increasingly obvious. There simply was only one answer: I need to start planning next year’s adventure.

That is how it all started!

By |2019-05-20T20:30:30+00:00November 18th, 2017|How to Get Started RVing|0 Comments

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