Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The RV Christmas Vacation We'll Never Forget

There are good ideas and then there are bad ideas.  And, then, there are very bad ideas.  Our grand idea to rent an RV for the trip to see my family for the holiday break was one that would fall into the "very bad idea" category.  It ranked right up there with putting mascara on while driving or letting your 5 year old give your 3 year old a hair cut (with safety scissors, duh), to keep things quiet so you can yell at speak to customer service intelligently on on the phone (I think I read that on a Yahoo headline?? Ahem.).

The whole RV plan was born out of the best of intentions, I assure you.  My sister and her family were flying home from Switzerland and we knew that once everyone arrived, things were going to be super-tight at mom and dad's.  So, why not rent an RV, we thought?? It would be the perfect place to hang out - Steve can set up a mini-office if necessary, the kids can play games, mommy can sneak away for a nap (hallelujah), and we could host a "Christmas Vacation" party. For two weeks we talked about the crazy amount of fun our family was going to have.  Mom was happy that she was going to get to see her sister, the kids were minding their p's and q's (threats to fore go the RV was all it took), and Dad was a hero for conceiving of the idea in the first place.

Unfortunately, our fancy little RV notion wasn't so fancy after all....
Just to set the stage a little, you must know that prior to our trip, I spent two weeks cooking, laundering and packing so that everything would be just right.  Cooking is one way that I show my love - so I made a lot of food.  My momma had a lot of mouths to feed, and she didn't need to do all of the work herself.  Well, it just so happened that all of that food packed into 2 coolers was NOT going to fit in the back of our suburban, along with luggage for 7 people, a gazillion presents, a sporting clays thrower, 2 shotguns, 6 board games, every article of outerwear necessary to keep kids outside playing in the snow for longer than 7 minutes, decorations for the Christmas Vacation party, sheets and blankets for the RV beds. Oh, and snacks.  And, diapers.  And, wine. Oh, and, I cannot forget about the Rice Krispy brick that my sister-in-law gave the boys, that was dang close to the size of a surf-board. Thank goodness Steve's dad has a Harley, and an enclosed trailer for that Harley, because that was what it took to haul all of our stuff across the state.

Never before have we planned a trip and actually left on schedule.  But, thanks to Mommy busting her rump miraculously that morning we did it.  At 8:30 a.m., packed and loaded, the party wagon pulled away from the farm and onto Route de la Fun.  It was only supposed to take us about 3 hours to arrive at Adventureland RV Rip-offs, I mean Rentals, but for one reason or another (not pointing any fingers in the direction of the male species) it took nearly 7.  Yes, 7.  Why?? Well.....

1.  We stopped at the Cathedral so that we could wish one of our favorite priests Merry Christmas, and so that George could make his first confession, which was awesome, so the whole family confessed as well (probably a good thing considering the unforeseen events soon to take place.).
2. Potty
3. Lunch
4.  Potty
5. Gas up
6.  Daddy drove by a gun shop.  Not being one to take his 2nd amendment rights lightly, of course Daddy had to stop. Forever.  It literally took forever. And, he bought ME a gun.  ME!!
7.  Coffee

Finally, we arrive at Adventureland RV's, and this is when the party really gets started.  Now, if you've never rented an RV before, but perhaps seen the movie with Robin Williams, then you must know that the RV we rented was NOTHING like the movie version.  Theirs was a Cadillac.  Our little Rhonday Vou was a lemon. Despite the wallpaper peeling off the interior and the rusty hinges on the cabinet doors, we were still beyond excited. The papers were signed, down-payment paid, underbelly storage stuffed full, and we were ready to put the pedal to the metal.  I could hardly believe that in just 2 short hours I would be hugging my sister, whom I missed terribly, and hadn't seen for nearly a year.  All we had left to do was pick up a couple more gifts, eat a little supper and we'd be on our way.

Cue the music - minor key - something super melancholic.
Because, things are about to get serious.
Or, "Achy-Breaky Heart."  That would do.

We pulled into a strip mall parking lot, right next to Pei Wei (oh, happy day).  I decided to run into a couple of shops and grab the gifts before supper while Steve and the boys strung up some lights inside the trailer.  Thirty minutes later, I expect to find lights all a glow, but am met with 6 droopy faces instead.  None of the electric outlets in Miss Rhonday Vou worked.  Okay, I thought, no biggie, we're still in town, someone can come and fix it while we eat supper.

Well, someone came....and two hours later it still wasn't fixed, so we decided to run (through the sleet, snow and freezing cold) into Super Target to get some snacks for the kids.  An hour later, the electric was finally working (hooray!), but, the brake lights were not (boo!). At this point, I've pretty much stomped the Happy Happy, Joy, Joy song into the slush with my boots, because Momma is a little bit chapped.  Thankfully, Daddy kept his composure, and was able to talk the Adventureland dimwits folks into bringing us a replacement RV.  The clock is now chiming 10:30 p.m.  The kids are tired, parents are tired. But, Mommy is rekindling the Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy song trying to keep everyone's spirits up.  It was late, but we could still make it.

Finally, we hit the road, in our 2nd party wagon, but by now the weather is too severe to travel. Thankfully, Steve's sister wasn't far, and she generously opened her doors for our family that night.   I called my parents to let them know that we would break out first thing in the morning and hopefully be there just before lunch.  Then, after a little help from our old friend, Jack, we were ready to sleep off the frustration and begin again the next morning.

At 9:00 a.m. we were on the road again.  Did I mention that they were icy, snow-packed roads?? Between the road conditions and the wind gusts nearly blowing us into the ditch, we considered turning around.  To add to the misery, there was no heat in the front of Rhonday Vou, just blasts of drafty cold coming in from all sides her.  My poor husband had to drive in his coveralls, a coat, hat and gloves. (Why didn't I take a picture?) So, I did what every desperate wife does in these types of situations: I gave my hubby the most inspiring pep talk ever.  I knew he could drive through the storm, he just needed a few smooches and a little encouragement!  Once we hit the interstate, the roads were much better, and all anxiety was put at ease.  For about 22 seconds.  As Steve increased speed, the front end of the RV began to shake, I mean seriously shake, like Beyonce shake.

At that point, I shouted out, "If one more thing goes wrong with this crazy thing (just fill in some choice words here), I'm going to call Mr. Adventureland myself." Right then and there, our oldest son, Ben, yells to the front, "Um, Dad, the toilet is leaking and it's running down the hallway!"  WHAT???? I knew it was time to pull over and re-think this whole thing.  After a bit of discussion, my Baby decided it was too dangerous to drive, but I said, "Baby, you point this thing north and don't stop 'till we get there!"  And, that's what my Baby did. 29 hours and 29,000 tears after leaving home, we rolled into my parents driveway, numb, shaken, cold and weary.

Obviously, we weren't going to be able to fix Miss Rhonday Vou's crazy shakin' and thermostat issues by ourselves.  So, the head hauncho at Adventureland Rip-offs drove all the way to my hometown just to bring us a third wreck on wheels.  He guaranteed it to be one of his finest rentals.  Let's just say that after he left, his pants were on fire (Mr. Liar, Liar). It wasn't his finest RV, it wasn't even fine.  But, we decided to make the best of it.  Despite being slightly rusty and dilapidated, Miss Rhonday Vou III played host to kids cuddled up to watch movies, play games and prep for family pictures, and she even managed to survive the semi-teenage driving skills of my crazy brother, Scott, during our Christmas Vacation party.
Even though our trip didn't exactly go as planed, we can all look back in hindsight and laugh, knowing we'll be telling this story for years to come.  And, thanks to the the love, support, positive energy and sense of humor from our family (not to mention a prolific supply of wine), we really did have a wonderful vacation!! Here's a reel of highlights:
Christmas Vacation Party:
If they ever remake the Christmas Vacation movie,
 I officially nominate my brother, Scott, to play the role of Eddie.  He's perfect!
He knows everyone in town.  I mean everyone.  
He introduced us to his buddies at the Auto Parts store...
...and the local Country Club.
He took us for a cruise around Rocky Pond to view the splendid display of lights.  
This is Scott's ultra patient wife, Stephanie, on the left with Steve's wife, Julie, and her daughter, Lauryn.

Me and my sis rockin' our parents' retro duds. Woop-woop!!
My big bro Steve and his lovely wife, Julie.
Welcome to our "Home Sweet Home!"
Phebe Marie's Baptism:
Happy to be Godparents to such a precious baby!
Time With Elena:
She really came up to see the boys (who adore her),
 but I got to spend a little time with her too, which was nice.
We love how she jumps right in to lend a hand in the kitchen... offer her welcoming arms to a mom in need of a break.
Our First White Christmas in Years!
Family Bonding:
Mom & Dad Help Steve Tame the Turkey:
Christmas Morning Delight:
Baby Lovin':
Because, he'll always be my baby!
 Snacks Snuck and Stuffed Under Dresser:
Random funnies are the best!
My Favorite Photo of the Holiday:
Grandma and Grandpa with the grandkids.  Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy!!!



  1. Hahahahahahahaha! Oh my word,how hilariously horrible. And yes, you will laugh about this for the rest of your lives. The best will be the one day in the future when the boys are telling their spouses and kids the whole story. The experience will be a legend of epic proportions by then. :)
    What a fun family you have. Good times.

    1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    2. You are right!! I never thought about it, but hearing the boys tell their future friends/spouses will be hilarious!! :)

  2. Oh my goodness! We've considered doing this several times. But we have not kids just cats! I'm rethinking the RV thing. At least you had a great story to tell!

    1. Actually, we've rented an RV one other time, and things went really well. Just be sure you know who you are renting from! That was our mistake last time!

  3. What a memorable vacation!! I love all of the pictures :) They make me smile so big!

    1. Thanks for stopping by!! I'm so glad we made you smile today!! :)

  4. o my gosh, this is too much! My husband has grand plans of a cross country rv trip when we move from CA to VA this summer, but this story did me in. Too funny!

    1. Don't let me discourage you!! RVing is actually really fun (we've done it one other time)! Just be sure you KNOW who you are renting from.

  5. This story was well worth the wait...even had my hubby in stitches! Merry Christmas!

    1. Thanks, Jo! Merry Christmas to you and your lovely family!!

  6. Great post! Just think how dull this post would have been without that Rv! Gorgeous and wonderful.... but not so exciting! :) btw... congrats on your new firearm! I think our husbands might have a few things in common. :)

  7. Love your story Susan! Can't help but think this is definitely a Griswold story or the Crazy Uncle Eddie from Kansas story!!! I couldn't wait to hear how it went after I visited with Steve in a store before Christmas and he told me of your RV plans (sounds like you actually got Cousin Eddie's RV!). I thought it sounded like fun (more like our fun in reading it and not yours in living it!). I smile when I see the photos of the good things that came after all that trouble. I do think Scott looks like a good Cousin Eddie fill-in. Happy 2013 to you and your truly wonderful family!!!

  8. That is too funny, at least for someone who did not have to go through it! The pictures are great and it looks like you had a great time, even with all the RV trouble. I agree with another comment, your kids will be telling this story to their kids someday!

  9. Looks like a crazy family vacation. I went on a vacation like this with my friends and most of the time we couldn't remember what happened the last night. It was just like in the movie hangover. I still have a folder in my laptop that says hangover 3 with all the crazy pictures. It was a memorable vacation that I still finding hard to remember.

  10. This collection is ideal for a memory wall. Hope you all had a great time, I’m impressed and love your family bond.

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  12. Very awesome! Your description last week did not do it justice! Thanks for sharing!

  13. This is awesome! Your description last week did not do it justice! Thanks for sharing!


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