A few months ago, I dreamed that I was driving our family’s 32-foot Class A RV off-road, down a rugged mountain, bumping and thumping until I steered it across the road that curved along the edge of the mountain. I held onto the big black steering wheel as the RV shot straight out past the sheer drop-off and hung in the air a second, Wile E. Coyote style.
Before we plummeted, I woke up.
I told my family about it at breakfast.
“Gee, Mom. Nervous about the trip?” they replied. It doesn’t take a clinical psychiatrist, I guess. We were planning a two-and-a-half week RV trip out west in June, and my mind was conjuring up scary scenarios, even in my sleep.
This trip would involve a lot of unknowns: I’ve never felt the steady push of the Great Plains’ high winds nor traversed the long, barren stretches of uninhabited deserts; and I’ve never journeyed over the heights of the Rocky Mountains. And I’ve certainly never done any of that in an RV. My husband would be the driver, but he’s never been any of these places, either. Plus, our RV has some age on it. Would it make it across the country and back?
We made lists and packed and quizzed people familiar with some of the areas we would be visiting. Should we stay longer at the Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, Bryce, or Arches? Should we bother with the Petrified Forest? We weren’t even planning on Lake Powell, but a friend urged us to consider. We had to give up Mesa Verde and Rocky Mountain National Park due to time constraints. Would we regret it? People offered opinions—and each opinion was different.
I guess you just have to head out and decide for yourself.
The Sunday before we left, my husband and I were walking through the parking lot with friends from church. They had traveled quite a bit, so I asked, “I’ve never been in an arid environment, nor has my body experienced altitude. Any last-minute advice?”
“Drink lots of water,” the husband said.
“And put on lots of lotion,” the wife said.
“Okay,” I said. “That’s some tangible advice. Water and lotion.”
“Lots,” she repeated.
I thanked them, then asked, “Anything else?”
They thought for a moment. “No, I don’t think so. Just drink lots of water,” he said. “And have fun.”
We said goodbye and headed to our cars, then I heard her call out, “And wear a hat!” The husband nodded and shouted, “But don’t forget the water. Drink lots of water!”
We loaded our RV with jugs of drinking water, bought hats at Wal-mart, and grabbed some travel containers of lotion in addition to large bottles of sunscreen I’d already picked up. We invested in hiking boots and socks, and thought through different layers that people recommended (one fleece, a rain jacket, a pair of jeans, hiking shorts). I planned simple meals for the family and prepared some gluten- and dairy-free food I could eat on the way.
Then Friday afternoon, June 14, I’d cleaned out the fridge and wiped down the kitchen counters one last time. When my husband finished work, we climbed into the RV to drive off. Our own trip out west was about to begin, for better or for worse.
After merging into traffic on I-70 and settling into the long haul ahead, my husband asked, “Are you nervous about anything?”
I remembered my dream and felt a small gasp in my gut. I swallowed. “Just the mountains. I guess I’m worried about the RV in the mountains.”
“It’ll make it,” he said. “I read up on how to use the engine’s gears instead of relying on the brakes. I know what to do. We got the RV checked over, and it’s ready to go. We’re gonna be fine.”
I nodded. But every once in a while, as we headed west toward the slowly setting sun, I would remember that feeling from my dream, of being suspended, mid-air.
Posts about our trip:
Photos by Ann Kroeker.
For about a year, I’ve followed this blogger with interest. His stories and photos inspired some of our planning.