It started with a call. “Someone just traded in a small motorhome. It is in great condition, with dining space, sleeping for 4, stove and fridge, bathroom, shower, heater and air conditioning. Do you want to see it?”
Do I want to see it? OMG! I will be out right after work. And I was. RV City’s trade-in was my future weekends, trips down roads I had never explored, sights I had never seen. I would feel safe, comfortable, dry, and free. Yes, I was a single person of a certain age and that is why I could do this, I could have my own camper van to join up with friends, family and have adventures on my own when others were unable to join me.
She was (and is) beautiful. About 23 feet long, like an oversized van really with a wider back end than front (like all great ladies!). She was made in Canada, with a great reputation – a Road Trek that could be ready for travel any day of the year. She looks great – white with gold and beige highlights. She has definitely caught the eye of two men so far. I’ve had two men approach me in grocery store parking lots because I was driving the camper van. One fellow had wanted to buy one for himself now that he was retired, and he took a little tour inside. The other one had worked at the Road Trek plant and seeing my van brought back great memories.
Where would I go? What would be the first trip?
Well, it turned out that my sister was up for driving from Edmonton to Green Valley, Arizona, in the fall. We were going to meet a brother and another sister there for a sibling’s week. What a trip! I was really nervous – but my sister is an experienced RVer, having been in much larger units than this van. I was tremendously excited as I worked out our route and made camping reservations through multiple States, trying to pick what looked like interesting places to camp. I printed out pages of where we could stop and anything we might like to see. We tried camping a new way – we would get up early, shower, get coffee at a truck stop then stop about an hour later for breakfast at one of those diners, drive-ins and dives type places. Lunch was a snack if anything, then supper at a restaurant recommended by locals. I LOVED IT! Basically no dishes, great food and experiences – it is the adult way to camp I have decided. Do something different all day long, but sleep in familiar surroundings every night.
We made our way through the U.S. through miles of ranch land and beautiful forest as well as mammoth cities with freeways having overpasses and multiple lanes. I had not really figured out that we essentially were driving the entire length of the U.S., arriving at our destination south of Tucson and about an hour north of the Mexico border. We got a chance to use the van’s air conditioning in Las Vegas, eat a great Mexican meal in Butte, check out the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, be unexpectedly detoured through the Red Rock Canyon because of a flash flood and experience spectacular scenery, cycle in a rural area in Utah, eat in a restaurant in Bragg Creek that had been featured on “You Gotta Eat Here.”
My sister is up for anything and encouraged me to realize I can do this too. The memories of that trip will remain with me always as I learned so much about myself and what I can really do, how I can rethink how I can travel in a way that works for me.
It was on that first trip that meant so much to me that my sister suggested I should name my camper van. We brainstormed for a while but when she suggested “Betty,” I knew the name fit. And this would be the first of many Travels with Betty.