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Fay's Beach Buzz             

A rolling home gathers no moss

2010 Fay Jacobs

Okay, I lied. Last winter I vowed never again to travel from Florida to Rehoboth on Route I-95 any other way than by wide-bodied jet - my days of making the hideous drive were over.

Woman plans and God laughs hysterically. Bonnie and I drove that same ugly highway again in March, on the maiden voyage of our craziest idea yet.

Following our customary pattern of upending our entire lives every decade or so, we've done it again. In the 80s we bought a boat (a hole in the water into which you throw money); in the 90s we moved the vessel to Rehoboth Bay (Ruddertown steel drums at 1 a.m.UGH!) ; at the dawn of the Millennium we moved ourselves full-time to Rehoboth (okay, so who needs a decent paying job anyway?); and now we're on the move and downwardly mobile once again.

Of course, we would never leave Gayberry RFD permanently, but open road here we come. Rather than being the sisterhood of the traveling pants we are now the sisterhood of the traveling house - a 27-ft. land yacht. Ever financially imprudent, we've bought a great big depreciating asset.

RV? Camping? Really? If this seems oxymoronic for this writer, if not plain moronic, let me explain the difference between camping and RVing. It's the same as the difference between camping and boating. While a certain amount of gear schlepping and bug spray is still involved, the chief difference is that boat or RV, there is carpet between your bed and your toilet. Civility.

We knew we'd take to the RV life instantly. Good thing, too, because due to circumstances beyond our control we had only 45 minutes of flight instruction before leaving Tampa, FL for the journey home in the Hindenburg. Gentlewomen, rev your engines.

Naturally I was assigned shotgun, while Thelma took the wheel, guiding our wide load (and its wide loads) down the highway.

"Do you feel like bus driver Ralph Kramden? I asked.

"A little," she said.

"Well, luckily you don't look like him, although your plan to stop at Waffle House later might change that."

"One of these days, Alice, right in the kisser."

I gotta hand it to Bonnie. She was fearless. We considered ourselves lucky we didn't take out mailboxes and parked cars on both sides of the street as our blimp lumbered towards I-95. But within minutes my spouse had expertly judged the Titanic's midsection, checked out the giant funhouse mirrors flanking the bus and learned to love the back-up camera.

We set out at 8:30 a.m. and by noon, when we pulled into the Waffle House parking lot Bonnie was driving the thing like it was a Mini-Cooper.

By nightfall we stayed in our first KOA Kampground, although we did learn that RVs can stay overnight for free in Walmart parking lots (really!). We also conquered our virgin fumblings with plug in electric, leveling the rig and battery management - all without threat of divorce.

The good news is that unlike the boat, our new lodging has a queen size walk-around bed in the back - a far cry from the boat's aft cabin bunks where, to get into bed, we had to crawl on our bellies. Today, more than a decade later, that would not be pretty, if even possible.

"Is it like the RV in Meet the Fokkers? " asked a friend. No, our new house on wheels is not an ostentatious, over-the-top ridiculous rig like Barbara Streisand and Dustin Hoffman drove, but it suits these fokkers well. And it does have a satellite tv antenna. Priorities.

Come morning we took off again and learned a lesson. Like a boat, it is prudent to secure all contents when underway. Braking for a red light sent a 2-lb bag of M&M Peanuts rolling everywhere like little chocolate marbles. From now on we batten the hatches.

Well, we made it back to Rehoboth swiftly and without incident, M&M avalanche notwithstanding. Our return did require a quick stop at our local campground for a sewer hook-up. No, we did not suffer Chevy Chase's disgusting fate in his vacation movie, although Bonnie exacted her revenge for my Ralph Kramden comment. She enlisted me to stand with my foot holding down the hose while we emptied our tank. Once I was firmly in place she ran, laughing, 50 yards away from the stench. Next time I'll get you, my little pretty.

Soon after, we took a second shake-down trip, this time to Chincoteage, VA. We did not swim with the horses, but hung with the Schnauzers, overlooking the water and lighthouse, enjoying the tranquility of our first weekend at a campsite.

Actually we spent most of our time traipsing back and forth between the campsite and ACE Hardware, a mile down the road, hunting things we didn't know we needed until we needed them. By Sunday night we were exhausted but well-equipped.

Now, as we plan our first big trip - a three week Canadian adventure mid-July, we both lust after any excuse to use the rig again before then. Bonnie brought the dogs to our Maryland vet for teeth cleaning in the giant limo, her own personal waiting room - complete with her personal selection of magazines and snacks. Of course, between the fuel bill and the dental bill, we're in the poor house, but at least it's got a queen size bed and plush carpet.

Now that we've entered the world of RV accessories like load levelers, ez hitches and a variety of clamps, coils and hoses (a hole in the highway into which you pour money?) we should have our heads examined. Wave if you see us on the road. I haven't decided which name to stencil on the back: Fay's Folly or Bonnie's Boondoggle. It remains to be seen. Hum it with me, "Trailer for sale or rent, queens of the road..."
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Fay Jacobs, a native New Yorker, spent 30 years in the Washington, DC area working in journalism, theater and public relations. She is the publisher of A&M Books, featuring the 14 classic Sarah Aldridge novels plus Jacobs's own two essay collections, As I Lay Frying - a Rehoboth Beach Memoir (now in its third printing) and Fried & True - Tales of Rehoboth Beach, winner of the 2008 National Federation of Press Women Book of the Year for Humor and the 2008 Golden Crown Literary Society Award for Non-Fiction. Her third collection, For Frying Out Loud, will be published fall 2010.

Fay has contributed feature stories and columns to such publications as The Advocate, OUTtraveler, Curve Magazine, The Baltimore Sun, The Washington Blade, The Wilmington News Journal, Delaware Beach Life, and more.

Since 1995 she has been a regular columnist for Letters from CAMP Rehoboth, and won the national 1997 Vice Versa Award for excellence.

She and Bonnie, her partner of 28 years, relocated to Rehoboth Beach, DE in 1999. They have two Miniature Schnauzers and a riding lawn mower.

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