Ron & Tricia’s
Two daughters, one grandchild,
Seven motorhomes later
Researchers have been debating that question for ages. If only they were RVers, they would know it's BOTH! Once RVing is in your family blood, it's difficult to deny it. Once you experience the call of the road and the majesty of nature in your own RV, it's impossible!
The Early, Formative Years
Ron's mom at a campground a few years back.
A quick look through our RV scrapbook will reveal a life-long fascination with RVing, particularly with the motorized variety.
We attribute our love of RVing to numerous enjoyable and memorable weekends camping with our daughters in their early school years. But perhaps the seed that started it all was a 1963 RV trip Ron took with his family when he was just a young boy.
The journey covered over 40 states in a homemade RV — a screened, wooden box contraption that Ron's dad had fabricated so that he and the Mrs. could take their four sons on a cross country trek. It was strapped onto the top of the 1958 swept-wing Dodge Sierra station wagon you see below and was sleeping quarters for two of the boys. They thought it was quite luxurious at the time, but never did care much for scouting for large rocks every night to place on the raised top lid to keep it from blowing off.
Ron & Family with Their First RV
It was a 1958 Dodge station wagon with a home-made, wooden sleeping box strapped on the top.The family traveled to 40+ states in this rig. Ron has fond memories of it except for the trip through Death Valley when the radiator boiled over.
The box had a plywood lid under which were four screened walls which — when carefully hooked together with the lid — formed a 3-foot high sleeping area for two of the four boys.
One of the other two boys slept across the front bench seat of the car and the smallest got to sleep with the parents at the foot of a foam rubber bed in the back of the Dodge station wagon (upgraded to a fancier Buick in the picture below).
One of our favorite places to camp throughout the years has been along the Blue Ridge Parkway in the mountains of North Carolina and Virginia. The 469 mile long parkway has seen our whole family come and go in many different camping rigs.
Each camper had his own slide-out drawer on the sides of the car-top box. If it wouldn't fit in the drawer, you didn't get to take it with you.
The New & Improved Models
Like most families that enjoy RVing, upgrading is always at the top of your priority list. These two photos show improved home-made models built by Ron’s dad. On the left is a high-low, pop-up trailer which sported a roomier interior, and on the right is a slimmed down, more fuel efficient model with just the basic essentials.
The Family’s First Class A Coach
Built on a 1954 chassis, Ron’s dad converted this Chevy school bus. It was such a fine coach that the family dog always begged to get in it!
The converted bus was driven all over America, especially to destinations out West. It was this home-built 'RV' that inspired Ron to later buy a school bus and tackle his own bus conversion.
Like father, like son.
The Energy Crisis RV
After the oil crisis hit in the early 70's, Ron's dad was determined to continue camping. So he built this RV and affectionately nicknamed it 'The Little House.’ He and the wife went everywhere in it, including Alaska, which turned it a dirty brown as you can see on the right.
The Little House was towed by a 4-cylinder Toyota pickup. It got great mpg and, as Ron's mom always used to say, "It was a cozy little rig heated only by a candle ... and your daddy!"
Ron’s Parent’s Final RV
Ron's parents were quite frugal so the thought of spending $35K on a brand new, 'real' RV was out of the question. But, with a lot of encouragement from their four sons, and even more haggling with the salesman by Ron's mom, they made this one-time splurge.
This 1985 Tioga headed way out West countless times, made an extended trip to Alaska, and even got a new engine before it was retired to the next couple.
Inside: This beauty was 100% home-made with parts and pieces we fabricated or bought out of a catalog — one part at a time — as we could afford them. The purchase of a porta-potty that we bolted to the floor was one of the many big splurge purchases we made for our new 'motorhome.' It also had swivel cockpit chairs, luxurious green shag carpet, and hand-made cabinetry with paneling doors — not to be confused with the more familiar (and expensive) paneled doors. Ron's dad even helped us upholster and design some ingenious, convertible front/back-facing seats with storage space underneath. Tricia and Ron's mom sewed the curtains.
By the way, this is the same bus that was featured in the final scenes of the 2007 film “Into The Wild.” Just kidding!
This Was OUR First Motorhome.
This was OUR first motorhome. Actually, it was school bus yellow when we got it. The big picture window on top and a new paint job were among our first modifications. Ron proudly paid $905 for this school bus in a sealed church auction back in the early 70's. It was all the money he had to his name, saved from working at a local radio station. Upon handing over the cash, he discovered that the next highest bid was just $5. After a few weeks of severe post-purchase depression, we set about converting it into our dream camper. We bought it while we were engaged to be married and built it from the floor up, literally.
This 1959 Ford school bus had been hauling children around for about a dozen years when we got it and definitely showed its age. To us, however, it was a sight for sore eyes. Ron's mom viewed it from a slightly different perspective. "Eyesore!," she said, as we drove it into her backyard for what would be a long conversion.
We spent many delightful years fixin' up this rig. Even got to camp in it a few times before the babies came along. Ron always says he spent more time under this motorhome than in it. He recalls that it got about two quarts of oil to every five gallons of gas!
Above: Tricia and daughter #1 stand outside our new, 7-year-old, 1974 GMC motorhome. It was a nice step up from our homemade rig and one sweet ridin' coach for our new baby. Modern styling. Air bag suspension. Tandem rear wheels. An Oldsmobile 455 hp engine. What’s not to like?!
Right: We liked this coach so much, we bought two of them! Kidding again. But Ron's brother bought one, too.
Motorhomes #3 & #4
Here we are preparing to head out in our first factory ordered, new coach ... a 33-foot,1985 Holiday Rambler Imperial — the RV on the left towing the Suzuki. We bought this rig to continue camping with our young daughters and kept it for a few years until we bought a newer '86 model just like it in a deal too good to pass up.
Beginning to realize we're a little crazy when it comes to motorhomes?
We acquired this 1995 32-foot Damon Challenger when it was 10-years old. We bought it to live in temporarily after we sold our home and were building an RV garage because we had decided to live in an RV full-time. It was a bit cramped with no slide-outs, but still quite cozy.
When the garage was completed, we decided late one night that it was time to sell this coach and get a bigger one. We listed it online around midnight and a nice couple showed up before noon the next day and took it away!
After we sold our large family-rearing home and nixed our new, smaller house building plans, we bought this RV in early 2009. It's a 43-foot Newmar DutchStar. We live in it full-time; travel in it part-time. It was our first diesel rig and our first with slide-outs. Sweet!
We acquired this first class motorhome at around the time the financial markets were suffering one of their worst downturns ever. It was another deal we just couldn't pass up. It is a very nice coach and we feel fortunate to have it as our home. We’ve taken it on multiple cross country trips — East to West and North to South. We’ve been living in it since 2009 and still LOVE it. But, lately, with our advancing age and desire to go places that we can’t visit comfortably with a coach this size, we now travel primarily in our smaller motorhome below.
We live full-time in the coach above and it's the perfect size for that. Admittedly, though, it's kinda big for some of the places we travel. So, in late 2012, we acquired this second, smaller RV — a 24-ft. Winnebago View.
The diesel Sprinter chassis on this coach is very maneuverable in tight spaces, stress-free to drive anywhere, and sips fuel. Plus, we never feel we have to tow a car when we travel in this rig. We drive it around like it is a car.
We use this coach almost daily — for day trips such as eating out and shopping, and for quick getaways to the nearby mountains or beach. Surprisingly, we never feel ‘cramped' inside, even on longer trips. We spent four months in it recently on a 12,000 mile road trip across the U.S and Canada. We enjoyed every mile and minute of it!
While most folks are two-car families with a permanent home; we're a two-motorhome family with a
permanent need to travel … and we prefer to do it on wheels!
After all these motorhomes, we thought for sure we had earned a reputation as die-hard 'serial' RVers. We were wrong. We once met a couple who had bought 16 RVs! — all from the same dealer — including one rig they traded in and later bought back a second time! Their story is featured in the MOVIES section of our site. It's entitled ... ‘RV Love Story.’
For those of you who have never had RVing in your blood, we know this odd behavior must be difficult for you to comprehend. But for those of you who do own RV's and love the lifestyle, you will understand what Ron's dad always used to say ...
"Thank goodness everybody's different. I would never get a campsite if they weren't."
This is the structure we built to house our home on wheels. It’s a climate-controlled garage — 16 ft. tall, 20 ft. wide, and 50 ft. long — with full hook-ups and an interior perimeter catwalk for storage. It's modest but comfortable with lots of big windows. It connects to an adjacent building where we maintain a small office space.
This space is for our 'big-rig' RV. A smaller garage across from this one protects our 'little-rig' motorhome. We also have a couple of outdoor, full hook-up sites on the property for friends, family and the occasional visitor.
P.S. In case you're wondering where we acquired the multiple RV's we have owned, one was self-built, two were bought from private parties, three were purchased from a family-owned dealership, and one from a national retailer. We have thoroughly enjoyed them all!