By now, I’m certain you’ve grown

Travis Naughton

Travis Naughton

weary of reading about all of the misfortunes that have befallen the Naughton family on our many R.V. adventures. As a favor to you, loyal reader, I will not write about the fact that we were able to run our roof-top air conditioner for a grand total of only 87 minutes during the 36 hours of driving we did through the sweltering Midwest and Deep South during our ten-day vacation. This isn’t one of those columns.

You won’t hear me complaining about it being so hot at our campground in Florida that our motor home’s power cord caught fire due to running the A/C on the maximum setting for five straight days. I certainly wouldn’t dare to bore you with any stories about buying a new auxiliary battery at Camping World, (since we were stopping by for a new power cord anyway), in the hopes that a dead battery was the reason our generator wouldn’t run for more than a few minutes any time the vehicle was unplugged, only to realize as I installed the new battery that the old battery had apparently been disconnected ever since we bought the R.V. a year and a half ago. It isn’t even worth mentioning that a new, connected battery made no difference whatsoever in the battle with the generator and air conditioner.

I know you wouldn’t want to read about a previously wind-damaged awning support getting stuck in the extended position, forcing me to use cooking oil to lubricate it enough to get it to retract. I’m also sure you wouldn’t be interested in an account of how, in our haste to retract the awning due to an impending thunderstorm on another day, Bethany and I accidentally wound up the end of the pull-cord with the awning, forcing me to climb on top of the roof to fish it out by hand when the merciless Florida sun came back out and began cooking us alive through the unshaded windows of the camper.

Naturally, I won’t mention discovering a two inch-wide bald patch covering the circumference of the outer half of our tow dolly’s right tire, one that developed in less than 8,000 miles of use since we bought it. You couldn’t possibly be interested in reading about my fears that the tire could blow out at any time, transforming the minivan we were pulling behind us into an out of control wrecking ball careening down the highway. I won’t bother telling you about how miserable I was changing that tire in the muggy morning right before pulling out of Tupelo, Mississippi and driving for nine straight hours in a vehicle with a cabin temperature of exactly 100 degrees. This is not a column of complaints.

What I will tell you, what you actually might enjoy reading, is that despite the dirt-encrusted streaks of vegetable oil covering much of the passenger side of our motor home, the bent awning supports, the bald trailer tire, the burnt power cord, the faulty generator, the stifling nine-hour drives, the no-see-ums in Florida, the cockroaches in Tupelo, and the traffic in Nashville and Birmingham and St. Louis, I actually love R.V. vacations. The reason, of course, is because I get to spend them with my family. To have the opportunity to watch, in my rearview mirror, my three kids playing board games together in the camper’s dinette as we criss-cross America is worth every bit of aggravation along the way. Seeing them splashing and swimming in the Gulf of Mexico, climbing mountain trails in Colorado, admiring Mount Rushmore, panning for gold in the Black Hills, exploring Yellowstone, touring an automobile museum in Mississippi, eating fresh cherries in Michigan, learning about bachelorette parties in downtown Nashville, having fun together as siblings and as friends—it’s what parents live for.

And every now and then when I try to steal a glance at my beautiful wife/co-pilot, stationed beside me in the passenger seat, as our children laugh in the back of our beat-to-hell R.V., I see her exhausted yet sublimely blissful smile, and she sees mine, and… well, that’s really what it’s all about isn’t it?