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The call of the Marshalls

MapOne of the very first episodes of The Simpsons that I remember watching way over ten years ago was ‘The Call of the Simpsons‘ where Homer buys an old RV for his family and they head off on a camping vacation. I remember thinking then what a very ‘classic American’ thing to do it would be to experience, and today … here I am experiencing it!

I’m in St. Petersburg in Florida for a wedding with Leigh and her parents. It’s their RV. A 34 foot long Fleetwood Southwind that gets around 7 miles to the gallon. Yes … 7mpg! And it costs about $250 to fill the whole gas tank up, and the gas tank is located on the rear and not on the side which I found novel. And it’s not too speedy either (it took us almost 10 hours to drive here from Charleston), nor that maneuverable. I used to take the piss out of Leigh’s Tankmobile for being heavy, clunky and not having a tight turning circle … suddenly it looks like a mini when compared to this behemoth.

It also reminds me of being in my dad’s narrowboat back home – a whole world of a house squeezed into a smaller place than you’d expect. Makes it sound a bit like a TARDIS doesn’t it? Anyway… there is a tiny sink, a small bathroom with a shower and a chemical toilet. I refuse to ‘sit down’ on the on-board loo, a pee is okay … but anything more and I’m prepared to hold it in thank-you-very much!


There is a TV on board. Nothing to amazing about that granted – but it’s the fact that it’s up in the ‘dashboard’ area between the driver seat and the passenger seat that made me chuckle. Isn’t it against the law to have a TV where the driver can see it?

There’s a small table area … room for me to kick out with my iPod and laptop … there’s 110V on board so you don’t run out of juice … and there’s juice too in the fridge to wet my palette. Yum.

So we’re in Florida. For a wedding of Leigh’s cousin … and we don’t have to take photos for a change, except that we’ve both got our cameras anyway, and I’ve got a new Nikon D40 (not actually mine) to try out and roadtest .. which is what I’m literally doing.


Florida is weird. I’ve even heard Americans say that. You know how America is big and open and wide and everything is set back? ie. in Charleston, all the strip malls are set back 100 yards from the road. The three lane road where the central reservation is about the width of another three lanes. There’s lots of space to have things big, so things generally are very big and spread out because they can be.

In Florida, the CFPRBT (The Committe for Planning Really Big Things) have been hard at work and excelled themselves – because there seems to be EVEN MORE space than usual to make things big – and so they do just that. The roads are four lanes wide, the strip mall are twice the size and set 200 yards back from the road, it’s somewhat freaky – and yet totally normal. But also soul less.


And we’re staying in a KOA. Kampground Of America! Reminds me of being 11 years old and being on holiday at a Holimarine in Norfolk with my parents. There’s a pool to swim in, a ‘games’ room with ten year old video games, and a air-hockey table which has seen much better times. Ah, happy days …

12 responses to “The call of the Marshalls”

  1. Chris says:

    Enjoy florida, I hope the weather for you is better than when we were there in April.

  2. geofftech says:

    Today’s weather… 84F (29C), but feels like 90 (32C). The temperate of the pool this morning when we went for a swim was 87! (30C) But just when you think that Florida is heaven, don’t forget that hurricane will probably roll in next week and blow it all down…

  3. Rhy says:

    Funny, my dad lives on a narrowboat too.

  4. Ooh, I’ve stayed at a KOA, but that was (cough) 30 years ago. I suspect they haven’t changed much…

  5. Tina (G's Mum') says:

    Are you all sleeping in it? During a ‘lean’ period the husband & I lived full time in a 36ft caravan, it was great fun! (not) and you have to be tidy. Has L’s Dad let you drive it?

  6. geofftech says:

    My dad doesn’t live on a narrowboar per se… he just spends a lot of time on one. he still has a regular house (of sorts), but i’ve always imagined him turning into this crusty bearded old bloke, smoking a pipe and sitting on the back of his boat. Not actually going anywhere mind you – just sitting there ’cause he can.

    The KOA is cool, in a kitschy kinda way… More suited to families though I think. It’s like Butlins, but with RV’s.

  7. Fimb says:

    7MPG? Seriousy, 7? Surely it would be cheaper, and more environmentally sound to fly?! *laughing*

    And didn’t you already have a D40? Or is it the D40x you’re testing? I’m confused.

    Strangely.. the hubbies Dad has a narrow boat. He has a house he lives in, but also a narrow boar for playing on. And he is a crusty bearded old bloke, smoking a pipe and sitting on the back of his boat!

  8. geofftech says:

    I have a D50 personally, but have got a D40 to try out for a bit. It’s a long story…. (and actually after first use, I think I prefer my D50!)

  9. geofftech says:

    #9 – None deposited! 🙂 I saved up and went once a day elsewhere…

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