Boy oh boy have the last few months been a crazy, laughter filled explosion of miles travelled, states conquered and many Dollars spent on RodeStar.
RodeStar definitely would have not been our first choice of RV, but when it’s your only choice, when you’re homeless and countryless, during C19, you better take what you can get. We were about to be squatters in the Bourduas house so had to make a plan and when your wife falls in love with the most hideous, outrageous
32 foot machine you have ever seen you better wake up and buy the love of your life her ‘dream home’!
The road test was sobering – never having driven or been in an RV before and when questioning the sales guy about the non existent seat belts for the kids he informs you not to worry – you will be ‘heavier and bigger than anything you hit, so your kids will be safe’ or hey sales guy the TV does not work; ‘yes if you remove the TV it’s a perfect location with a bit of work to place a small mini- bar’, or are we out of fuel?; ‘no not to worry you should get a range of around 500 miles and you know when you are at a quarter tank when the generator stops working, not sure how that is going to help on a highway doing 65 miles an hour… so just to understand the sales pitch, I’m buying a 7 ton truck, with a mini bar full of vodka in the center consol, with very little idea of when we will run out of fuel. But hey you’re in luck as you don’t have to wear any seat belts as you can simply drive over anything and anybody – your family will be perfectly safe…
Everything is screaming exit, exit, exit this deal but hey we’re the Jennings’s, with a bit of paint here and there, a steam clean and stripping out a few items this old girl could be our new home for the next few months, the kids will love her plush carpet!
The sales agents wife bursts into laughter when we say we will take RodeStar as we have told her that this is ‘the most hideous thing we have ever seen!’ and the agent can’t believe what a great sales pitch he has spun out of South Carolina’s fresh air… it’s a cash deal and we drive her off the lot on Monday (simply as we had nowhere to park the beast).
RodeStar has been amazing and we traversed 3000 miles in her visiting friends around the East Coast; firstly it was the Bourduas who watched RodeStar being born and transformed into our home, then to the Haffner’s in New Jersey where we spent time at their Jersey Shore house, further North to the O’Neills and to Martha’s Vineyard here they holiday each year, back down South to the Stancills in Pennsylvania and then a 7 day meander to our cousins the Tuckers in Colorado.
Our friends are just so damn amazing, they each opened up their houses to us, what an experience to have the time to catch up with my best college mates and see how their families have grown. It’s not always easy as there were many late nights and being on the move all the time visiting one family after the other takes it’s toll on anybody, but the tears were outweighed by the laughter!
At many of the above stops we had to send in RodeStar for a repair, new stabilizer bars (so we would not feel like we were going to roll off the road), new belts (these perished just before we got to the Stancills), repair of the generator (which we never got working), the evening stabilizers (for a rock free evening we also never got working) and to top it off a new radiator that cost $2500… ouch that one hurt!
The whole RV experience is exceptional and we only traveled around 250 miles per day, generally leaving just after home schooling in the morning with only a general direction in mind. Clauds would navigate a new route searching through multiple apps especially Harvest Hosts to find a spot to rest RodeStar for the night.
Harvest Hosts is a system that allows you to stay for free at local farms, vineyards, breweries or even golf courses where they ask you to support the farm. Hey I’m happy to have a safe place to sleep and buy a bottle or two of wine from you or purchase your organic meat and produce, it’s an awesome system and way too travel. In between these stops we would book into State Parks which are generally exceptionally well maintained and give you full facilities to ‘dump’ (yes, unfortunately that toilet waste has to go somewhere), recharge batteries and top up water tanks.
After a 3 unsuccessful days of trying to sell RodeStar in Denver while with our cousins we opted for the easiest route (not the normal Jennings way!) and handed her over to Cousins RV dealership in the hope that they will be able to recoup some of the moola invested in the old girl.
So we’re back being homeless, RVless, boatless and countryless. Fortunately the Tuckers are about to join us for the next two weeks while we drive to Cardiff (San Diego) to see Megan and then head down to Galveston Texas, it’s only an additional 2500 miles and Abs has kindly offered us her Toyota 4Runner.
Damn now it’s getting tight for the J’s – we have given away anything we have not used in the past month and now it’s basically donating anything you have not used in 48 hours so we can fit in the car… by now we have decided to head home to South Africa since international flights opened, and we won’t need to be repatriated, and looking at flights around the 22nd October (a day before our visas expire). So the packing is for the final leg of this adventure.
Driving West from Colorado to Cardiff is a magnificent and beautiful drive with terrain that is constantly changing it’s definitely an area we will return to on our second RV expedition but seeing Megs and hanging out with her girls for 5 days is always incredible. Fortunately we arrived just in time for the upstairs toilets to be blocked and the downstairs ceiling to have collapsed in… Judi also graced us with her presence for 2 nights so it was a tight squeeze even without a ceiling but the best of time to celebrate my 45th birthday with all my super cool cuzzies and sister! Wow did we have some fun evenings, chatting, debating, crying and even having a boob peep show at the dinner table!
And then there was Texas… we hit Galveston on the evening of Hurricane Delta, most people drive in the other direction but the J’s and T’s went for it, fortunately it was only a tropical storm where our Airbnb was but always exciting to see the storm surge… the weather for the next few days was fantastic and we chilled with the Tuckers, tubing around the lazy river and doing some boating in Neils newest acquisition.
All of a sudden the Tuckers are gone and we left alone to investigate and explore Houston. We are pleasantly surprised by the atmosphere, the vegetation, and the variety Houston has to offer once we had gotten over the sheer enormity of the place. We booked an Airbnb mid way between 2 suburbs we wanted to visit which turned out to be at least 40mins either way, might as well drive between Jhb and Pretoria. We got to meet some fabulous people which perfectly rounded off our 21 month adventure. But it’s starting to get a little chilly in Houston (hardly but winter meant to be on its way) and because we’ve dodged winter for the last 18 months, it’s time to seek another summer! Next stop South Africa summer for some catching up and family time.
A few funny comments from Erin recently:
– we saw some police officers on horse back in Houston and Erin says; ‘look guys some Amish police men!’
– We were on a walk in the woods playing 20 questions. Erin’s turn. Andrew asks ‘do we own one?’ I ask ‘is there one on the RV?’. Erin says ‘guys, that’s basically the same question!’
– A joke: what do you call a pretty vegetable; ‘raddishing!’
– ‘Dad are we here yet?’
‘Yes we are always here there is nowhere else to be!’
If I can take anything from this experience, it is the above question; here is always where we are meant to be, here as hard as it may be is exceptional and to be here with this adventurous family has topped every expectation…!!
What a fabulous update xx
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Great news and an awesome adventure! This shows with all the paranoia about viruses, how we should be living our lives! Wonderful Claudia, compliments to you all. Love it…. Looking forward to your next surprise adventure!!! Lol Fiona⛵⛵⛵🌹🙌😂
Thanks Fiona. All the best to you too
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Oh how wonderful to read your final blog! What an amazing time you have had. I am sure you donât regret a single day.
Hopefully we get to see you before you head back to that part of the world again!
Missing your news, hope all is well