My family has been going to Rehoboth Beach, DE for as long as I can remember. We used to cram over a dozen people into my uncle’s single-wide mobile home on summer weekends. I typically slept on a cot at the end of my mom’s bed while my dad and uncles spent many a night stretched out on lounge chairs in the Florida room. There were countless crab feats, fishing trips, and days spent playing in the sand. To me summer meant two things: Rehoboth Beach and baseball.
When I started dating my wife I took her to Rehoboth for a weekend. As an Ocean City girl, Rehoboth signified nothing more than a few sets of outlets and some traffic lights delaying her arrival at the ultimate destination. She possessed none of the nostalgia that I had accumulated through decades of boardwalk strolls, bike rides, and trips to Gus & Gus. One trip to Rehoboth and she was hooked. We spent the next few summers dreamily strolling through the Rehoboth streets talking about that one day, somewhere off in the future, when we’d have a place to call our own in our favorite summer spot.
A mortgage, kids, car loans, college savings plans, 403B contributions, rising grocery costs and medical bills gradually stole our thunder. The concept of someday owning a place at the beach was still right there at the top of our list, but had been superseded by a whole bunch of more immediate needs. Snow suits, book fairs, and T-ball registration fees had taken on unforeseen level of importance. As the years ticked by we never seemed to be getting any closer to realizing our dream. It was time to get creative.
So we bought an RV.
Yes, a recreational vehicle, or a travel trailer to be more exact. It’s 35 feet of utilitarian shelter; with A/C, a microwave, and on board shower; all less than three miles from the sandy shores of the Delaware coast.
The journey to RV ownership took some convincing on my part. My wife was holding out hope that someday we’d have a condo walking distance from the boardwalk or even a small single-family fixer-upper in the city limits. I was finally able to convince her that by the time we could theoretically afford such a place our kids would starting families of their own. If we wanted to provide them with the type of glorious beach summers that filled my childhood we needed to act.
Our travel trailer is semi-permanently parked at a campground near Rehoboth. We’re a short drive to the beach, by either bike or car, and my parents and brother live nearby year-round. We recently completed our first summer at the RV. I’m using the term summer rather loosely. We didn’t close up the RV for the winter until the first week of November, so our summer runs from May (when the campground opens) to November (when it closes for the winter). We spent over 40 nights at the RV in that time, often accompanied by family and friends. Memories were made, with many more to come, and lessons were learned. My six-year-old son threw down his swimmies for the first time and swam across the campground pool with no assistance. My three-year-old daughter logged many miles on a trail-a-bike attached to the back of my beach cruiser. They scavenged for firewood and kindling, roasted marshmallows, and took late night flashlight lit walks. My wife unleashed fell in love with the campfire. Her new favorite pastime is burning bills in the fire pit. We learned that pine cones are an excellent accelerant, Reese’s cups trump Hershey bars in S’mores preparation, and that hair spray sets off the carbon monoxide detector. Mostly we learned that time together is the greatest gift of all no matter if you wake up with a view of the dunes or a view of your neighbor emptying his black water tank.
We stopped saying someday. We started living for today rather than some far flung future hypothetical. We bought an RV.
—Follow Dan Soderberg on Twitter: @dadstimeout