Our new RV was complete and had been at the dealership for almost two weeks. We had set February 14, Valentine’s day, as the date we were going to pick it up. We flew into Atlanta on Monday and took the opportunity while we were there to meet our youngest son Gregory that evening at a restaurant he likes which is near the airport. We had an enjoyable visit and some good food at Louisiana Bistreaux near the hotel where we were staying.
Tuesday morning we woke up and headed to Montgomery, Alabama. We were so excited we almost could not stand it, so when we got to Montgomery, we just had to drive to the dealership to see if we could get a glimpse of Charlie. We couldn’t see anything from the street, and I was about to pull in and just drive around to see if we could find him, but Mireille said we should just follow the plan we had made and see him the next day.
At this point, you might be wondering how our RV came to be named Charlie even before we saw it, and why I am so comfortable calling him by that name and using the masculine pronoun when speaking about an RV.
We are incredibly fortunate that our kids have been very supportive of our plan to sell their childhood home, shuck most of the things we own and hit the road. This past Christmas every gift they gave Mireille or me was related in some way to the RV and our new life. One of the gifts that Sonia gave us was a bottle of Applejack. Attached to the neck of the bottle she had copied a page from a favorite book of ours, Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck. The sheet was laminated and as far as I am concerned will stay on our refrigerator forever. This is what is on the page Sonia gave us with our Applejack:
Because I was self-contained, I thought it might be nice if I could invite people I met along the way to my home for a drink, but I had neglected to lay in liquor. But there are pretty little bottle stores on the back roads of this state. I knew there were some dry states but had forgotten which they were, and it was just as well to stock up. A small store was set well back from the road in a grove of sugar maples. It had a well-kept garden and flower boxes. The owner was a young-old man with a gray face, I suspect a teetotaller. He opened his order book and straightened the carbons with patient care. You never know what people will want to drink. I ordered bourbon, scotch, gin, vermouth, vodka, a medium good brandy, aged applejack, and a case of beer. It seemed to me that those might take care of most situations. It was a big order for a little store. The owner was impressed.
“Must be quite a party.”
“No—it’s just traveling supplies.” He helped me to carry the cartons out and I opened Rocinante’s door.
“You going in that?”
And then I saw what I was to see so many times on the journey—a look of longing. “Lord! I wish I could go.”
“Don’t you like it here?”
“Sure. It’s all right, but I wish I could go.”
“You don’t even know where I’m going.”
“I don’t care. I’d like to go anywhere.”
Steinbeck, John. Travels with Charley in Search of America (p. xxv). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
On the back of the quote, she had written, “To new friends and new adventures.” That is, in a nutshell, what we are looking for at the end of the day. Mireille instantly fell in love with the name of Charlie for our RV, I liked the idea as well, so “Charlie” it is!
Wednesday, February 14 came. Valentine’s day. The day we had been looking forward to. The day we got Charlie. We slept in, which I had not figured would be possible as anxious as we both were. We had a nice breakfast at the hotel and headed to the dealership. There, we met Joey Morang, and he took us to meet Charlie.
It has been a long time since we have looked forward to anything as much and for as long as we have looked forward to seeing Charlie. The only thing I can think of to compare was when Mireille was expecting any of our kids. You couldn’t wait to meet the new member of the family, there was a lot of preparation involved, and there was nothing you could do to make things go any faster.
When we first set foot inside, it was better than we had ever imagined. Ingram RV Center does an excellent job setting up the coach. All three of the televisions were on, the slides were out, all the lights were on, the water was hooked up, all the storage bays were open, and the fireplace was going. Mireille was so happy she was crying, and I have to admit that seeing her that happy made my eyes tear up a bit as well.
Ricky, the technician, took us through all the systems on the RV, inside and out. I had planned on making notes or videoing things as we went, but in the excitement of the moment forgot all about that. He did an outstanding job, however, and I remember most of what he said, the exception being how to work all the televisions with the DVD player/surround sound controls in the back.
After the walkthrough and taking a break for some lunch and to catch our breath, we went back to the dealership to take a test drive. Now on just about any test drive on which I have ever been, whoever was with me from the dealership has more or less directed where we should go. I assumed that this test drive would be the same. We turned right out of the dealership gate and headed southeast down Troy Highway. We drove on that road until we got to the town of Troy, Alabama, some 40 miles away. When we got there, I asked Ricky what the plan was. He said that he had no plan, he was just letting me drive! As it was getting on toward the end of the day and we had already been gone almost an hour, I turned around at the first opportunity and headed back. That was the longest test drive I have even been on, and it serves me right for assuming! But, we did have a good chance to drive the RV and find a squeak that needed attention, so it was time well spent.
Everything was beautiful, and Mireille and I both kept pinching ourselves to make sure we were not dreaming. Upon completion of the walkthrough, we finished up the paperwork and went back to Charlie. We planned on staying there at the dealership in Charlie for two nights while we checked things out and made sure we could work things. Mireille did a load of clothes in the washer and dryer, and we made several runs to Walmart and other places to get groceries as well as some things we did not bring with us or have delivered from Amazon.
One of Mireille and my favorite movies is Moonstruck, and it has become a Valentine’s day tradition to have a dinner of rare steaks cooked in a skillet accompanied by plain pasta with J&B Whiskey for dinner and watch that movie after. If you have ever seen Moonstruck, this dinner makes sense to you, if you have not you need to watch it, then it will.
On this night we didn’t have a skillet and did not want to try cooking a steak in a skillet as the first meal we prepared in the RV, so we went out. But, after dinner, we came back home to Charlie, and we did watch our movie. It was a great finish to a beautiful day.
The next day we woke up and continued checking things out on the RV. As I have mentioned before, I have been reading tons of irv2.com forums by Tiffin owners and watching hours of videos on YouTube, and had set aside two days to go over the whole RV. I was ready to find several things wrong which we would need to have fixed. I was under the RV checking welds, we ran every system we could think of, followed a PDI checklist which was an aggregate of different lists of things to check I had come across on the internet, the works. We found just a very few items that needed attention, and only one was anything I could not have taken care of myself in just a few minutes.
After the first day Mireille was wondering why we needed to stay at the dealership another day, and when it came up that our youngest son Gregory was free to come visit us from Fort Benning, Georgia less than two hours away, we decided to leave and stay that Thursday and Friday night at a beautiful campground nearby. I had some work I had to get done Thursday night, and Gregory could come and stay with us Friday night. So Thursday afternoon, about 4:00 PM EST, Mireille and I took Charlie off the lot and soloed for our first time we three together, setting out on our new adventure.