I’ll try my hardest not to tick off my readers here but I’m a stickler for authenticity. And you aren’t going to find a French Country interior in our RV!
We have recently discovered the (relatively) new TV program Fixer Upper. It’s a cute program, home remodeling of bad houses in good neighborhoods done by a cute couple with kids. Recently they did a program about a couple who wanted to buy a French country Waco TX home. And obviously, such a thing does not exist. It’s a Waco home. It may have been made over to look French country but it isn’t.
You see homes like this quite often; architectural monstrosities built in the middle of nowhere that have no point of reference or reason for being, except the hubris of the owner. Or within a neighborhood you find details that belong in a different era — or even worse — where architectural details have been replaced with cheap repairs that have nothing to do with the home.
We Americans seem to like to pretend. We are the global leaders in entertainment. Our architecture is frequently something from some other country or some other time that we brought to wherever we want to plop it down. We also like to copy things. If you are old enough to remember the days before quick oil change businesses you’ll remember that first there was one — and next thing you know there were more than a dozen different nationwide chains that did nothing more than change oil…. and gradually that number has dwindled to a manageable number.
In our life we’ve lived in houses and apartments. The outsides of the homes always remained what they were when we bought them. We remodeled mildly within the character of what the home was before we arrived. We weren’t the kind to change a 1950’s house with rooms into a 1990’s open plan or anything like that. I wanted where I lived to have authenticity: if I was going to buy the house because I liked it — I wanted to LIKE what it was I was buying.
I’ve been thinking about this since we’ve been RV’ing. Is there anything more ‘American’ than the RV? I’ve seen European RV’s on my visits there — and they were distinctly European: sized for European roads and adapted to travel needs on the continent. But I never saw anything like a U.S. Class A Diesel Pusher.
I find it curious that after a lifetime of seeking authenticity I end up in a uniquely American ‘home.’ We looked at a lot of RV’s before settling on our first Winnebago. Not so many when we bought the Holiday Rambler — in part because we sort of ‘knew’ what was out there to be found. Many of the new RV’s have gone way over the top; attempting to put everything you can find in a bricks & sticks home inside a movable. Now you can get ceramic tile floors throughout, with in the floor hydronic heating, household style refrigerators (instead of gas absorption RV refrigerator), fireplaces, etc. They are getting heavier and heavier, requiring an extra axle and higher horsepower engines (500 HP) so that the coach can truck on down the road at the same speed as your average car.
It’s fine for people who have the money to do what they want with it. I’m not jealous over what they choose to do with their bucks. In fact, many of the choices they make simply do not appeal to me because when I get into one of these coaches I find that I’m not comfortable; it’s not me. (But then neither do I like posh hotel rooms with all sorts of pretentious amenities — to me a hotel room is someplace I go to SLEEP). I have known friends who lived in residential hotels and their residence suited them — but not me. So I’m content living in what suits me.
When we saw the online advert for Serendipity the first thing we noticed was the rear office, but the second thing we noticed was that it was an interior we could feel comfortable with: one of those natural oak interiors the likes of which we’ve lived with for much of our life. We would never have bought Serendipity if it had a high gloss cherry interior with can lighting all over the ceiling. That would not have been us. It felt like ‘home’ even before we moved anything into it.
There’s no right way to RV. That’s true in how you get around the country, which places you choose to park/camp, how often you eat out at restaurants even though you have your own kitchen, and every other daily choice you face. But another part of the ‘no right way’ is your choice of RV.
When people ask me what kind of RV they should get; they are ready to retire and they are out RV shopping — I’m usually at a loss. I’ve heard the rules of thumb: if you do a lot of traveling get a class A,B,C; if you sit in one place for a long time get a 5th wheel or a pull behind. Sounds like good advice but it doesn’t work for everyone. People ask about gas or diesel — and there are rules of thumb for that decision too — but it really comes down to what will you be comfortable with.
I do think that if I tabulate all the unhappy RV’er complaints with the solution our friends have chosen there is one more common complaint than others. They picked the wrong floor plan: it’s too big, or too little, they didn’t need a washer/dryer — or they did need a washer/dryer, front bedroom should have been a rear bedroom, or side entrance should have been a front entrance, or — more common than all the others — it’s too big; or it’s too small.
People look askance at me when I say that we looked at about 100 RV’s before we bought our first one. That’s a lot of climbing in and out. I’m sure we put on well over 1500 miles traveling to RV dealers locally and in other states. In fact our first coach we bought from a dealer in the middle of Iowa while we were still living in Milwaukee. Some dealers had a lot of RV’s. Others we traveled to just to see one ‘special’ RV that we thought we might be interested in. We did not trust photos — I know how hard it is to get photos that truly represent the object as it is — without slanting the image to make it look bigger, or brighter, or newer. Online photos are just a starting point — I need to climb up inside, walk around on the floor, feel the finishes and test lay the bed.
If you want to be happy with your RV you have to do your homework. Even after all our care we still made an expensive mistake by not buying big enough the first time. There was nothing wrong with the coach we had — but for this two retirees we just needed a little more room in places we could use the space.
One of these days — or months — or years — we’ll do something about that carpeting — but there’s no rush — it’s fine the way it is. And we’ll add those windshield shades too — sooner than later — and before this coming summer for sure.
But so far what we’ve done suits the RV. We believe so. I don’t think we have tried to make the RV into something other than what it is. Anyway — it feels authentic to us.
Thanks for stopping by, it’s always fun to chat together. And, I’ll talk with you tomorrow.