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The RV Life  

Scoff all you want. We aren't giving it back.

by Martin Hackworth

Photo: Martin Hackworth 

   Right now my son and I are watching Michigan battle Kansas in the NCAA tournament. We just had a really nice dinner and are settling in for the evening. We’ve spent most of the last week riding dirt bikes all day in the desert, doing maintenance each evening and watching satellite TV each night. The food’s been great and we’ve been sleeping very well. The thing is, we are doing all of this smack dab in the middle of the Mojave. We are able to do this courtesy of our recently purchased RV. Shoot, Kansas lost! HD TV in the middle of nowhere is a wonderful thing. Time for another cold drink.

     My son, JR, is ten years old. He loves football and dirt bikes. I figure that we have six, perhaps eight years left before he disappears into his own world. So even though my wife is still in school, and it was a lot to spend, we all decided that the purchase of an RV was worth the payoff in family time. When it comes down to it I can always work harder to make more money. No matter how hard I work I can’t make more time. The decision wasn’t even that difficult.

    We started looking at trailers on the Internet a while back. We wanted something that we could tow behind our old but trusty F-250, something that would haul two or three bikes out to the desert or up into the mountains, and something that we could use for the occasional pro football tailgating adventure. We found several units online that fit the bill, and armed with our wish list we started making the rounds locally to see what was available. We were delighted to find almost exactly what we were looking for at Crossroads RV for a reasonable price. A trip to the Credit Union and we were proud owners of a Forest River Sandstorm 23’ Toy Hauler. Scoff all you want. We dig our RV.

     Before you start with all of the “that ain’t real camping” business, you should know that I’ve spent approximately 40 years climbing, skiing and motorcycling all over North America. I once slept like a baby for eight hours wedged behind a flake on Yosemite’s Half Dome with an uninterrupted view beneath my feet 1800’ to the ground. Jason Montgomery and I spent the night on top of Bonneville Peak back in the mid-1990’s when the temperatures dipped to somewhere south of 20 below zero. I’ve bivouacked in rime ice encased climbing hammocks through interminable nights. I’ve slept beside idling motorcycles, in my helmet, to stay warm. I’ve rested on innumerable cots in garages and pits, and in every type of vehicle imaginable. I believe that I’ve paid all of the appropriate dues. When your CV looks like that, then we can discuss “real” camping.

     The reason I’ve always been able to rest anywhere is that I’m not finicky. When I’m tired I can go to sleep just about anywhere that I can recline. My wife and son, however, do not share this trait. Last fall JR and I went up to Challis for a weekend of riding and when I asked him, on the way home, what he thought about it all, he told me that the riding was great but sleeping in the back of the car was not. I understood. Taking off cold, muddy riding clothes and crawling into a sleeping bag in 30 degree temps into the back of a Ford Escort GT is about as far from luxury as it gets – even with a good stereo for tunes all night. Clearly there was some modest room for improvement.

     Well now we’ve got a microwave, a range, hot water, heat, air conditioning, a deluxe sound system, satellite HD television, bunk beds, a pretty well-equipped shop, a gas pump, indoor and outdoor showers – all of the comforts of home. The difference from just staying at home home, is that right now I’m looking out the window at Joshua Trees and warm desert pediment instead of the big pile of snow on the north side of our barn. We rode all day in 80 degree temperatures and JR, who is now kicked back with dinner and TV, had a blast. I see no issue with any of this.

     I’ve made a few rookie RV mistakes. I torched the front jack by extending it too far straight off. I still can’t figure out how to get the drain hose I bought into the space made especially for it. And how could I have been foolish enough to show up in the middle of the desert without a flagpole and cool custom flags? I’m sure that last necessity is in the manual somewhere.

    I have to go. Florida Gulf Coast is up big on Florida and my burrito is ready. Gotta get some shuteye sometime soon. Morning comes mighty early up here in the high desert and we have miles to ride tomorrow.


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