Our very first RVing adventure begins after the kids have left home and for three of us, the latest compact Winnebago Boldt RV is a very good choice. Even so, it’s not easy.
The Winnebago Boldt has all the latest gadgets and gizmos — so many that it took an hour tutorial before we left Denver to get a rudimentary understanding of how everything works. The onboard manuals — there is one for the car and one for the “house” part — are as thick as a college text.
Our first stop – the Palisade Basecamp RV Resort is beautiful, overlooking the region’s famous peach orchards and the Colorado River. But several hours later, it’s 30 degrees and we can’t figure out how to turn on the heat. It had already taken us a half hour to find the right hose to hook up for electricity.
But this is a first, and an adventure for us. Whenever you step out of your comfort zone, you’ve got to figure there will be some bumps along the way. That’s why they call it an adventure! Duh.
Getting comfortable in our RV
The 40 million people in the United States who go RVing regularly sure would be laughing at us newbies. We finally figure out the heat, after a very cold night. Even without heat, the all-new Boldt (named for German explorer and naturalist Alexander Von Humboldt) is so much better than a tent. It’s an over-sized van complete with cooktop, microwave, shower and toilet — even a TV.
It is also so new that everywhere we’ve been, RV owners stop by to ask us how we like the Boldt. With a Mercedes-Benz chassis, it’s a smooth ride and a lot easier to drive than my husband anticipated, even on Interstate 70 through the central mountains of Colorado.
Our 10-year-old rescue pup, Trooper, certainly has made herself at home quickly inside our cozy Boldt. She likes the off-leash area at Palisade Base Camp to exercise, and enjoys just hanging out. Kids certainly are having fun as parents feel comfortable letting them bike and play around the campground, more than they would in a hotel.
RV rentals are the way to go
I’m writing this in the sunshine at the KOA Moab campground near Moab, Utah, where we will spend three nights exploring nearby Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. Meanwhile, my husband makes us egg sandwiches for breakfast after consulting the manual, of course, as well as the internet, on how to use the induction cooktop and right pan. Pretty good breakfast.
“It takes about six trips to really feel comfortable,” suggests Gregory Leet, from Phoenix, as he was walking by with his two dogs. Leet said he bought a similar sized RV last year. “It’s a lot of fun,” he said. “The accessibility to the outdoors is great, but it isn’t for everybody.”
My husband joked with him: “It’s kind of like high tech stone age.”
More than 9 million American families now own an RV and, while people think they are mostly seniors, the households aged 35-54 are those most likely to own. Good sites for rentals are Outdoorsy.com and RVShare.com. And if you’re like us, renting an RV first rather than buying one, it’s important to ask a lot of questions.
Making ourselves at home
Are there pots and pans? Utensils? Hoses to hook up to the water at the campground? A “Cousin Eddie” hose long enough to reach the sewer dumps? Blankets and sheets? You’ll want a plastic table cloth for the picnic table at a campground and you will want to know if there is a grill available and whether it is charcoal or gas.
This KOA Moab campground is really like a small village with over 100 mostly RV sites but some cabins, tent sites as well as bathrooms, showers, a pool, laundry, even a dog park and Wi-Fi. Rates for campsites as well as RV rentals vary greatly depending on the size of the vehicle, time of year and where you are — like cars.
I’m glad we brought our LL Bean basecamp chairs and wish we’d brought our Keen closed toe sandals for camp shoes. You’ll want reusable water bottles — put stickers on them where you go — and insulated mugs for coffee and tea. I’m also glad we brought our YETI cups but discovered there was no room for our big YETI cooler. I wish I’d brought the soft-sided one.
As they say, live and learn. Families certainly want to have new experiences on vacation. And many families we meet say RVing is a great way to bond and make memories with kids.
“RVing has really become a thing in the last five years,” Lett said. Indeed, according to the 2019 North American Camping Report, sponsored by KOA, not only are more people camping — more than a million new households last year alone — but campers are increasingly excited about new ways to camp, including renting an RV, especially among Millennials, Gen Xers, as well as Hispanic and African American campers.
Just one warning: “It can be a marriage tester,” Lett laughs.
Eileen Ogintz, creator of TakingtheKids.com reports from the road, She is traveling with her husband and dog in an RV for the first time on a trip sponsored by GoRVing.com.
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