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RV having fun yet?

I took a first, tentative step into the RV world over the weekend, hitting what’s billed as the country’s largest RV show in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

I saw big ones, small ones, medium sized, elaborate ones and even more elaborate ones in what turned out to be a quick visit — mainly because the drop-your-dog-off kennel at HersheyPark wasn’t all I hoped it would be.

I had envisioned a grassy, fenced in area, with shade, perhaps some water features, perhaps some college students on hand to keep the dogs company as they frolicked. Instead it was a dingy little room, filled with stacked cages, located beneath the stadium.

Upon walking into what they call the Barking Lot Kennel, my first inclination was to walk out. While there was a good-sized ground level crate Ace would fit into, its floor lined with newspaper, I didn’t think he’d be happy there, between the cramped quarters and the constant barking of the other 10 or so dogs already there.

But then Ace tugged me inside, and happily went into the crate, so I paid the sole attendant the $10 boarding fee and promised — him, Ace and myself — to return in no more than two hours.

 My plan had been to schmooze with some dealers and manufacturers in an effort to procure an RV company as a sponsor for “Travels with Ace” — but time was too short, and, to be honest, I’m not big on schmoozing. Maybe I need something like “schmooze control,” where I could push an automatic pilot button and be personable for a specified stretch of time.

I’m also not big on huge gatherings of humans, of which this was one. I’ve never really understood the whole giant boat/dog/car/RV/home furnishings show phenomenon. It’s really my worst nightmare: packing way too many people in one place, restricting their movement with narrow aisles and dead ends, and getting bombarded with pamphlets and — oh, God — salesman.

That’s sort of what I would imagine hell is like.

I guess, in a way, the big shows makes sense — it’s an opportunity to see all there is to offer, all the latest technology, in one place. But, as for me, I’d prefer leisurely browsing through a catalog to trying to maneuver between slow walkers, fast walkers, baby strollers, and people on scooters.

As I walked down row after row of motorhomes, I noticed most dealers and manufacturers had them set up in such a way that, once you entered their area, it was difficult to exit — sort of a circle the wagons/trap the customers mentality.

I left empty handed — turning down all offered freebies because there is just no more room in my car, a 2005 Jeep Liberty that we shall continue the trip in, perhaps renting an RV down the road, partly to get a better taste of that world, partly because, when traveling with a dog, it’s the mode that seems to make the most sense.

I did see enough to get a bad case of RV envy, though — mainly for the compact versions, not much bigger than a van, but with beds, refrigerators, stoves, bathrooms and all the other comforts of home, all squeezed in nice and cozy-like.

I decided I would not turn down, if offered, an Itasca Navion, or a slightly-bigger-than-a-van number made by Pleasure-Way, or this one (left) from Coach House, to serve as the rolling home and office of “Travels with Ace.” But I won’t hold my breath.

I spent a little time looking at the laughably large ones  — equipped with just about everything you can imagine, including large flat screen TVs not just inside, but on the outside of the vehicle as well.

On the surface, it seems ludicrous.: Drive 1,000 miles to the Grand Canyon, set up some chairs, pull down the awning and turn on the old set. But I guess it, like the big RV show, makes a certain kind of sense. I can understand, after spending nearly four months now on the road, wanting a home away from home.

On the other hand, given a choice between viewing the Grand Canyon or “America’s Got Talent,” I’d have to go with the big hole in the ground.

As promised, I made it back to the Barking Lot a couple of hours later and retrieved Ace, who was none the worse for wear, though eager to leave.

I think we had both had enough of our species — me trying to navigate the rows of motor homes among too many humans, he trying to stay calm amid the rows of barking dogs.

He pulled hard on the leash, and made a beeline for the car.

We hightailed it out of there and headed east, sticking to backroads, avoiding the turnpike for a while and enjoying some of the quiet Pennsylvania countryside.


Comment from jan
Time September 20, 2010 at 1:15 pm

A midsized rig would be perfect for Travels with Ace. Have you tried to get corporate sponsorship from a company specializing in pet products? A sort of rolling billboard…

Comment from Pamela
Time September 20, 2010 at 8:57 pm

David Sylvester got a sponsor to donate a bike trailer for his dog Chiva to join him on a cross country bicycle ride. Yes, a bike trailer is certainly less expensive than an RV. But maybe you’ll learn something about his approach from his website: http://www.bikingdog.blogspot.com/

Comment from Sue
Time September 21, 2010 at 7:56 am

ITA – RV show = a version of hell. Not being a schmoozer myself, I empathize. On a related note, check out this rig. Though not an RV, I thought of you and Ace immediately. (And no, I’m not affiliated with these people at all; just stumbled on the news video.) http://www.kmov.com/on-tv/news-link/REPORTERS-BLOG-The-story-behind-the-barking-neon-green-van-96296673.html

Comment from Marie Braswell
Time September 23, 2010 at 6:00 pm

Enjoyed the article as I am a dog lover and travel with my dog Itty Bitty. We have a Winnebago 28ft motorhome and we travel every few months. Blue skies and green lights! MB

Comment from Linda
Time September 24, 2010 at 3:25 pm

If you had an RV, good old ACE wouldn’t have to stay in a kennel, he could stay in your “home on wheels” complete with A/C and even that big flat screen turned to an Alpo commercial to keep him company.