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OPINION - Guest writer

On the open road

Adventure framed in RV window

By Sam Straessle Special to the Democrat-Gazette

This article was published August 11, 2017 at 1:59 a.m.

To start off, I never agreed to this. As I peered upon the 30-foot recreational vehicle that would be our home for the next 12 days, my heart grew weary first with disapproval and finally utter contempt for this "adventurous vacation."

Poor choices were made from the start. My parents enacted the strategic decision to embark at approximately 8 p.m., which I vehemently argued against. I questioned them by asking, "When did we ever leave for vacation at 8 p.m.?" and they oh so cleverly answered, "When did we ever rent an RV?"

In the pilgrimage to the white-peaked mountains of Boulder, Colo., we first had to escape the bondage of our own home with all the chores that coincide with taking such a magnificent trip. My first estimates were that we might just make it to Conway before the first fist starting flying or car malfunction occurred.

I also suspected mutiny on the captain before we even stopped for gas.

As I entered this massive vehicle, my hopes diminished almost at the same rate of our gas. I envisioned myself perched up with a book in my own crevice and watching hours upon hours of movies in the eternal refreshment of air conditioning. That was not the case. Apparently, you cannot watch movies or keep the air conditioning on while the RV is running.

As we embarked on the first 100 feet of our journey, I watched unsecured water bottles and soft drinks fly across the "living room" as soon as this colossus moved in a direction that was not straight.

In deep despair, I headed to the master bedroom and tried to take a nap on the mounds of clothes, pillows, and blankets that were only put there because where in hell would they go otherwise?

I began to loathe the non-recreational cars around me as they passed us with unfaltering ease.

But we made headway across the zagged border of Arkansas and into the armpit of the world: Oklahoma. Pausing at the always dependable Love's Travel Stop, we encountered an opportunity that we couldn't refuse. A gas-station corn vendor asked if we would like some of their subsidized product, and, of course, we said yes by that pale moonlit gas pump.

We were finally on our way with 12 ears of corn and a wallet that was $6 lighter.

My parents thought about the open road upon them and not the sleeping situation in any way as they simply said, "I'm sure we can find some spot along the road to sleep." Luckily, we hit the jackpot. At approximately 12 a.m., we entered the wondrously lit parking lot of Wal-Mart and all its understated beauty. Of course we had to ask permission from the manager, but it looked like we finally had our big break.

As I finally climbed into bed (which was really just a poorly made couch), I saw one of the strangest and most disturbing sights of my life. In front of his mighty steed that he championed for four whole hours that day, I saw my own father brushing his teeth in a Wal-Mart parking lot, which, of course, would be our home until we all woke up to the sound of moving cars and frequent shoppers.

On this first restless night of vacation, I began to meditate on the previous trips my family had taken. All these vacations, from the music-filled streets of New Orleans to the white beaches of Florida, had the same oscillations of misery and ecstasy, of unfulfillment and satisfaction, and of despondence and jubilation.

Through this miscellaneous assortment of emotions, I found one conspicuous testament to be resolute. I realized that no matter where I am, whether on the beautiful beaches of Florida or in a mighty tan box in Oklahoma, it will be an adventure as long as it's filled with the ones I love.


Sam Straessle is a rising senior at Little Rock Catholic High School. He was last year's 7A Writer of the Year.

Editorial on 08/11/2017

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Displaying 1 - 2 of 2 total comments

Jfish says... August 11, 2017 at 3:04 p.m.

Funny, please follow up with another column after the trip.

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ozena says... August 13, 2017 at 12:59 a.m.

Put this boy to work writing for a living! Let him get his Catholic diploma but please, God, protect him from elite universities and law schools. A normal college education is least likely to ruin him.

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