Spring Break Part One Greetings from beautiful Grapevine, Texas!

I am happy to report that despite several minor catastrophes, the Naughton family has miraculously managed to survive the first few days of yet another epic adventure in our eighteen year-old recreational vehicle.


There are some people who might interpret the two separate and simultaneous water leaks that flooded our RV the day before our scheduled 6:00 am departure last week as a bad omen, but not the Naughtons. Stopping one leak with copious amounts of duct tape and the other with a brand new, $179.00 toilet from Camping World gave us a feeling of “Hey, you know what? We can overcome anything!”

Two days later, that confidence would be put to the ultimate test. The ten hour drive south was mostly incident-free. The motorhome performed flawlessly on the road, although as we pulled into a gas station at a sign that read: “RV entrance,” the tow dolly we use to haul our Volkswagen bottomed out and snapped a link on one of the trailer’s two safety chains—a fact I did not discover until we stopped again for fuel several hours later. I made a hasty repair in the parking lot and made a point to frequently check my mirror just to make sure our car was still behind us.

When we finally made it to the posh Vineyards Campground, I noticed two things. One, ours was the oldest camper in sight by at least ten years, and two, at some point during the drive, one of the supports on our awning came loose and pulled away from the side of the RV.

As thankful as I was that the other support remained in the locked position, (avoiding a potentially life-threatening disaster on the highway), I was a bit perturbed by the foot-long section of the fabric awning that was shredded in the 70 mph winds during the drive.

As a courtesy to our campground neighbors whose expensive motor coaches reflected their owners’ affinity for pretty things, I opted not to unfurl the tattered awning. You’re welcome, rich people. Two years of Naughton ownership has ensured that our RV will never be considered pretty again. There are dark stains along the once bright-white passenger side of the 30’ camper where the WD-40 I utilized to unbind the wind-damaged awning supports that were bent during two severe storms in South Dakota on our first epic road trip attracted thousands of miles of road grime.

Luckily, the mildew that has grown on most of the upper third of the vehicle over the last two years is nearly a perfect match. Bent, torn awnings and unsightly black stains don’t bother me in the slightest in comparison to the fresh horror that befell the interior of our motorhome on our first full day in Texas.

While the kids, Bethany, and I were enjoying a fun-filled afternoon at Legoland and Sea Life aquarium in lovely Grapevine, our dog Zara was busy evacuating her bowels in our RV.

Now before you judge us, let me start by saying yes, we did have her and our other dog Louie in their kennel. However, the thin wire construction of said kennel is not an effective barrier to explosive canine diarrhea.

You’d think some genius at the kennel factory could have slapped a warning label on the box to give us a heads-up on that fact. Our “house on wheels” became a “hell on wheels” in an instant.

Here’s a top tip for you: never place a kennel on a carpeted area or alongside an upholstered hide-a-bed couch because they will both resist every effort you can muster to remove the soul-crushing stench from the porous material they are covered with. Also, it should be noted that it is exceptionally difficult and unpleasant to wash a white miniature schnauzer after he has been caught in a taller dog’s “fecal splash zone.”

All of us—dog and human—are most assuredly now scarred for life. It has been an eventful, unforgettable, traumatic, and fun vacation so far. In other words, a typical week in the life of the Naughtons. Don’t worry: I’ll be sure to fill you in on the rest of the story, including trips to the Fort Worth Stockyards and Six Flags Over Texas, next week—if longhorn cattle, roller coasters, decrepit RVs, or noxious dog fumes don’t kill me first.