Having only recently transitioned from a fifth wheel to a motorhome, it hadn’t quite occurred to me that this rolling carriage could have a use other than transporting us over long distances to places we want to go when on vacation. It was Bubba who, in an uncharacteristic frenzy of neuron activity, came up with it.
Sandy and I had been talking about a day trip to
Sherman, Texas, a bit less than a hundred miles northeast of , to eat dinner and attend a gospel concert. (Yes, we are fans of some of the groups.) We mentioned it casually to Bubba and LouAnn, and that’s when Bubba’s pilot light was lit. He knew his mother and dad were coming to visit that weekend and that he and his family would like to spend some time with them. They all enjoy gospel music, so why not make it a two-family event, he thought. Fort Worth
I really didn’t clue in to Bubba’s thought process until he began asking how many passengers Phannie would hold. I knew that, as an avid RVer himself, he was dying to take a ride in our new coach, and it finally dawned on me that he was trying to conjure up a road trip for all of us in Phannie!
The more I thought about it, the more the idea appealed to me, and
thought it would be fun, too. So, we ordered concert tickets for everyone and settled on a departure time. Sandy
Shortly after two o’clock, I fired up Phannie’s engine and backed her slowly out of the RV port attached to our house, up the driveway and into the street, curbside. Now it is worthwhile to explain that the departure and arrival of this leviathan is not something that goes unnoticed in our neighborhood. The houses are built fairly close together, and the rumble of the big Caterpillar diesel engine can be felt as much as heard in the houses adjacent to ours. This usually results in the appearance of an impromptu gathering of observers, perhaps out of curiosity to a degree, but more likely in anticipation of some calamity as I carefully negotiate the very tight 90-degree turn onto the street. I don’t like to think of my neighbors as bloodthirsty, but why else would a NASCAR race be so popular if there weren’t some anticipation among the fans that a horrific crash could occur at any moment?
When we built our house, it was designed to accommodate the storage of our fifth wheel under the RV port. We hadn’t anticipated trading up to a class A motorhome, so the navigation of Phannie into and out of the driveway is fraught with hazards like rocks, trees, shrubbery and mailboxes—not just ours, but our neighbor’s across the street as well. It takes very precise maneuvering to avoid these hazards, and I can truthfully say that if we had acquired a motorhome even one foot longer, it would have to be parked elsewhere.
|Phannie's Snug Quarters at Home|
On this day, my neighbors would be disappointed; I got the geometry right, and Phannie settled obediently at the curb with no mayhem involved.
Sandy, as is her custom, joined me in the cockpit once the demolition derby was over, and we motored over to Bubba and LouAnn’s house, which is located in a rather hoity-toity neighborhood, and whose homeowners’ association enforces a ban on RV parking longer than 24 hours. As we rumbled through the streets toward Bubba’s house, it was clear that the residents were unaccustomed to having their peaceful and manicured surroundings invaded by such a monstrosity as Phannie. People working in their yards dropped their tools, and I’m pretty sure I saw one guy pick up a rope and make a noose with it. Bubba’s house is situated on a corner lot, and I had to park in a configuration on the street that made it difficult for cars to squeeze through. Although traffic is almost nonexistent in this neighborhood, this would be the day that several cars came along, and some of the drivers vented their frustration by honking their horns at the notion of having to drive carefully for 40 feet as they navigated past Phannie. It is not clear what they expected the horn-blowing to accomplish, as the driverless Phannie paid little attention to the noise and certainly made no effort to move. Although I could not read the lips of the drivers, I could tell from their animation that I was not particularly high up on their dance card. People have such short fuses these days!
In short order, everyone piled into the coach, with LouAnn providing beverages in a cooler and trays of snacks for the road. Everyone oohed and aahed appropriately over Phannie and then settled in for the trip.
|The Barkers Check out Phannie: Barry, LouAnn, (Sandy), Breann, Algene and Baby Carter Duniven|
|The Old Captain Awaiting a Snack|
I must say, it was a great deal of fun for our group to be together in roomy and comfortable surroundings as we cruised smoothly and silently toward our destination. Being served our drinks and snacks up in the cockpit reminded Bubba and me of our former careers as airline pilots, when a flight attendant would appear on every leg to bring us food or drink. We both agreed that the flight attendants of yesteryear were somewhat more cooperative than our wives, who, oddly enough, were not inclined to pay us the same deference as that to which we were accustomed as airline captains. For example, we never once heard a flight attendant tell us to “get up and get it yourself” as we did on this trip. While Bubba didn’t have much of an excuse to stay in his seat, I finally convinced the ladies that, in order for me to get up out of my seat, I would have to leave the steering wheel unattended at 60 miles per hour. When this tidbit of information was finally processed, they reluctantly brought me my snack. (They brought Bubba's too, but only because he was wearing an arm sling after recent shoulder surgery.) Tough bunch of stewardesses, these gals.
Fortunately, we had not consumed enough goodies to shrink from eating a fine catfish dinner at Huck’s in
Denison, Texas, just north of . This legendary catfish joint was almost full of patrons, even though we arrived before 5:00 p.m. Sherman
|My Plate at Huck's (I'm so ashamed.)|
|Bubba and Catfish (Not sure which is which.)|
|Barry and Sandy Make Out at Huck's (She's so fickle!)|
|Algene and LouAnn Boarding at Huck's|
Upon our arrival at the concert hall in downtown Sherman, Phannie made such an impressive entrance that the parking attendants directed us to a VIP parking spot. Do you suppose they thought we were one of the groups to perform that evening? Maybe, but we didn’t say anything and kept our spot all evening.
The gospel group we had come to see was Ernie Haase andSignature Sound. If you like gospel music and haven’t seen these guys, you are missing a treat.
After the concert, we cruised back home, driving Phannie for the first time at night. This proved to be a beneficial exercise, because I had not previously figured out all of the lighting controls on the coach. By the time we rolled in the driveway, I was an expert.
Bubba, of course, was smitten with Phannie…bigtime. My guess is that he will make the leap to a motorhome as soon as LouAnn lets him.