One of the best things about writing for a small-town newspaper is the feedback, both positive and negative, that I regularly receive from readers. Over the years, a few of you have made phone calls or written letters to the editor to voice your displeasure with something that I wrote. I respect that. I’m not shy about expressing my opinions, so why should you be shy about expressing yours?
Some of you have, on occasion, stopped me in town and thanked me for broaching a difficult subject. Others have paid me compliments I probably don’t deserve. Be it praise or distain, I truly do appreciate hearing from you.
One topic has far exceeded all the others in terms of reader reaction. Apparently, you really do enjoy reading about my love-hate relationship with my family’s RV. Ever since we purchased our first recreational vehicle—a well-used, 30’ long, class “A” Thor Hurricane motorhome—just over three years ago, I have been writing about the Naughton family’s misadventures on the road, much to the delight of Journal readers like you.
Writers and other creative-types can be a bit melodramatic from time to time. (Hard to believe, right?) In my case, whenever a slight mishap befalls me on a camping trip, I tend to overreact. I curse. I throw things.
Bethany says, “Honey, you’re getting animated.” (That’s code for, “Honey, you’re frightening the children.”)
To innocent passers-by, I imagine I look like one of those wacky waving inflatable arm-flailing tube men you see at car dealerships—only shorter and angrier. There is no reasoning with me when I get this way. And when all hope is inevitably lost, I swear that the only way to fix our 19-year-old RV involves kerosene and a match.
I recover from my apoplectic, RV-related fits by writing about them. I usually fire-off these therapeutic screeds on Sunday evenings while comfortably relaxing in the supposedly “cursed” Hurricane that’s parked at a scenic campground on the fringes of the great American wilderness.
Invariably, I feel much better after “getting it all out” on paper (or virtual paper, as it were) when coping with these minor disasters. In the light of day, things are rarely as bad as they seemed to be the night before. Yet once I submit a column to Bruce, in which I describe the inconvenience of a dead RV battery as if it were on par with the Hindenburg tragedy for example, it is too late to take back all those half-crazed things I wrote while suffering from the sleep deprivation caused by spending twelve hours behind the wheel of a drivable house.
Since we purchased it, our RV has experienced some physical damage to things like skylights, awning supports, toilets, etc. However, it has suffered even greater damage to its reputation. This became painfully apparent when we tried to sell it last week.
A prospective buyer, one who agreed to purchase The Hurricane based on my well-worded and honest advertisement, backed out of the deal we made after reading some of my Facebook posts and Journal columns in which I used a touch of artistic license when describing our most recent road trip. I tried to explain that I am a writer, not a mechanic, and that I tend to exaggerate a bit when describing our camping follies—for the amusement of my faithful readers.
Unlike my readers, the man was not amused. And now we own two campers. Our new purchase is a 2017 Zinger pull-behind camper with a large slide-out area, a power awning, and lots of other bells and whistles. We took The Zinger out for a test run over the weekend and absolutely every single thing worked as it should. I kept waiting for something to break, but nothing ever did. Whatever will I have to write about now?
The old Hurricane has plenty of faults, (all of which I disclosed in my listing,) but they can all be fixed. And why shouldn’t it be a little rough around the edges? The Hurricane has been rolling up and down America’s highways for almost two decades. It’s endured hail and wind storms in the Black Hills. It’s survived towing a vehicle and hauling a family of five up and down the Rockies, the Tetons, the Ozarks, and the Smokies. Its roof leaks, the generator only runs when it feels like it, and the awning is in tatters. Each scar on the road warrior is a badge of honor.
The most important function of a recreational vehicle is to provide a means for making memories. In that regard, The Hurricane has never let us down.
The memories our family has made in that old RV will last us several lifetimes. I hope my grandchildren and my great-grandchildren will hear the tales of their goofy grandfather’s legendary battles with The Hurricane and laugh themselves silly.
I hope The Hurricane’s next family will cherish the memories they make in it, too.
And I hope you will continue to follow along as the Naughtons make new memories in The Zinger.