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Why I Don’t Tow

Why I Don’t Tow!
(a rant inspired by fellow blogger Jill’s post and a subsequent comment to her post)
to read Jill’s post and the comment, go to:

http://airstreamlife.com/amoveablefeast/2008/01/13/8/

People continually confront me with the fact that for over two years of full time travel I have never towed the Airstream.   Their astounded tone of voice quickly turns to one of accusation and disdain.   How could I not share in such an arduous task? (We have crossed this country seven times – that’s a lot of towing.)   What if Rich were to get sick?   What if there was an emergency?   How would we survive if I can’t tow?   In their eyes I am villainous!   Most of the individuals who can not comprehend my refusal to tow have never traveled long distances with a child in the car.   Most of them have never traveled full time while still working.   None of them have been married to Rich.

First and foremost, when we were conceptualizing our tour, I told Rich I would not tow and he accepted that fact.   If my husband is OK with me not towing, then it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.     I could end this post right here.   But I won’t.   You see, I’m feeling slightly self righteous this morning, so let me set the record straight!   It’s not a matter of can vs. can’t, it’s can vs. won’t.

I can tow.   I won’t tow!

When Rich is sick, we stay put until he is well.   (Do you go to your husband’s place of employment and perform his job when he is ill?   No.   He calls in sick and resumes his responsibilities when he is well.)
When there is an emergency, we do not tow our 30′ Airstream to the hospital with us!   And yes, I know how to unhitch.   (Do you take your Airstream with you when you need to see a doctor?   I seriously doubt it.)
If we were to encounter a health emergency so critical that there was no time to unhitch, I would not be towing, I’d be dialing 911.   (I hope you would have enough common sense do the same!)

Sitting in the front passenger seat, I am more than the driver’s travel companion, I am the other passenger’s travel companion as well.   When we are in the car I help navigate,   but mainly, I entertain Emma when she is bored.   She was only five when we started our life of travel and hated being in the car, so this was a full-time job before she could read.   She still hates being in the car, but now she can read to herself.   DVD’s and GameBoy are strictly limited by Rich (not more than two hours of either in a day), so it still makes my interaction quite necessary.   If Rich were in the front passenger seat, he would work on his laptop or talk on his cell phone, or he would try to nap.   I would still be in charge of Emma’s dilemmas.

When we arrive at our destination, I help to back in with hand signals.   Rich sets us up outside, and I am responsible for the inside of the trailer.   Once we are settled in, Rich usually goes right to work on the magazine.   Our life is not 9 to 5.   We are not retired.   We are not on an extended vacation.   The Airstream is our home, office, and classroom.   I am Emma’s school teacher.   I am her playmate – she has no siblings.   I am always a mother and a wife.   I am the one who prepares and cooks dinner and does the dishes.   Rich can’t cook.   I help Emma bathe and get ready for bed.   My day doesn’t end when the driving ends.

We have a clear division of responsibilities and my responsibilities do not include towing.

15 Responses to “Why I Don’t Tow”

  1. Leigh Says:

    People used to say the same things to me! Brian would probably have had a heart attack if I ever towed!

  2. Jill Says:

    Well spoken. Everyone’s camping style is different, and you are neither me (towing half a day) or my sister, the other commenter, (not towing out of vanity and sheer princess-ness.) As a teacher, I know that teaching and entertaining Emma is just as ardous as driving, sometimes more so. So you were in fact, both working all the time.

    I think most people who use their trailers for recreation forget that for some people, it really is their job. Truth be told, if Eric didn’t HATE to drive, I would probably let him drive most of the time and I could get some knitting done.

  3. Emeril Says:

    Rich can’t cook or won’t cook?

  4. Rich Says:

    At the risk of entering this debate, I’ll say only that I survived a week in Quartzite alone. Whether you consider what I did “cooking” or not may be a matter of semantics!

  5. Roger Says:

    I guess there may be some debate now whether roles should be reversed. Yes, Rich was able to survive for a week but he also left some doubt to his current towing ability .

  6. Lou Woodruff Says:

    Well said, Eleanor!!! Every camping couple has a division of labor of some type. Larry drives and I cook. I still know how to do the other stuff, and he could probably survive on his own cooking…but it just makes it less stressful for us to do it “our way”. Larry being a truck driver LOVES to drive. I would rather be in charge of navigation and helping to watch the road. It works for us!

  7. Eleanor Says:

    As to Rich’s cooking skills… While in Quartzite, he had to end our phone conversation because the water for his “Near East” rice was boiling and he couldn’t pay attention. His mom & I laughed for two days. (We still love you Rich.)

  8. Leïla & Bruno ACCART Says:

    Hi Eleanor;
    Always a great pleasure to heard of you. I agree with you; Leïla don’t tow, don’t drive but she is the boss inside the Airstream; You too i suppose ?
    All my best wishes for you, Emma & Rich
    Is the champaign good ?is Emma always fond of “barbapapa” ?
    You’re my best souvenir of our trip.

    Leïla & bruno.

  9. sadira Says:

    Good for you! I think it’s fine to have divisions of responsibilities in your relationship. I think we all know we can do things…but we don’t have to do everything…just knowing (in case of an emergency) is enough. The idea of towing an Airstream sort of freaks me out…but, I have never tried, so I can not say for sure that I would remain freaked out for a long period of time…then again, I have been known to plot my travels around town so that I don’t have to make a left turn unless I’m at a traffic light…

  10. Terry Says:

    I have insisted my wife learn at least the basics of towing, hooking up, unhitching, towing without hitting anything (even if it is only 50 mph), as well as setting up and breaking down camp. This in case I suffer a personal catastrophe (heart attack or accident, etc), she can at least hook up, and tow the trailer to a point of safety for her.
    While Eleanor has the ability to do this, everyone in the family should be cross-trained in at least the basics. Not saying Emma should learn to drive the Armada (eek!).

  11. abe and melissa Says:

    We could not agree more!! In our three years of Airstreaming Melissa is the Boss of the inside and I do the outside stuff. As far as towing, I love to drive and Melissa has no interest in towing. I feel much safer when we travel together. As far as backing up and leveling, Melissa is the one behind the wheel while I place the leveling blocks and direct her to back up and stop.

    Bravo Eleanor and Rich!!!
    We hope to see you all soon!!!
    Abe and Melissa

  12. Angela Says:

    We are recent purchasers of a 25ft Airstream and just started camping after a 30yr. hiatus. My husband usually drives and when we towed a pop-up I felt very comfortable letting him get in a nap for an hour or so. But when we got the Airstream I did not feel particularly capable until one day he got sleepy on a turnpike and I told him in my bravest voce that I could drive for while. I drove for a little over an hour and it was quite easy. Of course I did not have to make any turns or back up but I can certainly give him a break if he needs one and I feel confident that the next time we go out I can do the same. I think everone should do what they feel most comfortable with and not feel any pressure. I personally feel glad that I “stretched ” myself .

  13. John "Tinhut" Sargeant Says:

    I have the good fortune to be married to a lady who is capable of anything she sets her mind to. Absolutely fearsome. However she was born without the ability to distinguish colours, especially in low light. She is functionally colour blind.
    Like any disability, it places one in the position of wishing to do something, but being wise enough to accept the limitations.
    Over her working life, I drove her to work and picked her up daily. I never thought of it as a burden, just something “we” did.
    On our trips, she is the Magellen, Tomtom, and On Star with her trusty forefinger on the map, we never have been lost…gone past the turn a few times, but that was the driver not listening.
    So here’s to wives ( spouses) who don’t tow or drive. Keep up the good work.
    Sarge

  14. Bonnie B Says:

    I think your thoughts on this subject are right on. I am a single woman who fell in love with an Airstream one day at a RV show. Next thing I know I am driving home with a new Airstream. I go to many local Airstream rallies and everyone is very facinated that I can do all this by myself and the guys tell their wives, you need to learn to do this, I just laugh and say if I had an option I would not be doing this. I know what it’s like to entertain a 5 year old too. You guys look like you have it just right. Keep having fun and enjoy the road so we can keep enjoying your experiences

  15. Kathy Green Says:

    Hi again Eleanor,
    I love your spunk! Very well said! It made me chuckle several times!
    We hope to see you guys soon! Hugs to you and Emma!
    Kathy

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