by Eric Jackson
19 Jun 2015
I have always had the desire to travel. I remember the 4 and 1/2 hour, 222.5-mile trip from my childhood house in Woolrich, Pennsylvania, to my parents’ hometown of Leetonia, Ohio, starting in the old Appalachian Mountains and twisting through to the open farms and rolling hills to my grandparents’ house.
As I got older, whitewater kayaking became my primary passion. By the time I was 20, I had moved to Bethesda, Maryland and was training full time with the USA Team in hopes of becoming a team member myself. The kayaking events we competed in took me to Europe and around the mountain areas of the US. I was beginning to see parts of the US and the world I never knew existed and my passion for travel was fueled once again.
At 24 I married my wife Kristine (then 18) and made the USA Team for slalom kayaking and the following year my daughter, Emily, was born. Traveling around the country started getting harder as the long drives in a car were more taxing with a young child and two Dalmatians. Kristine started staying home for more of the training camps and other trips that we enjoyed so much together just a year or two before. I made the Olympic Team in 1992 and did much of my training in Barcelona without my young family. In 1993, we had our second child, Dane, and I also won my first World Championships. It was becoming increasingly more difficult to keep the family together and truly enjoy the trips that I planned for kayak training, racing, and pleasure.
A good kayaker friend of mine had an RV that he traveled in and recommended that I consider RVing. I hadn’t really thought much about it at the time. However, in 1997, when the kids were 4 and 7 years old, Kristine brought up the RV option as a better way to travel and keep the family together and happy. After a few long discussions about it, we both agreed that it was worth a try. We didn’t dabble, however, we went “all-in”. We had a yard sale and sold everything we owned over a weekend in October of 1997. We purchased a Type A motorhome and planned on spending a year or two in it to try it out. We realized that we could cut our monthly expenses by about $1,100/month if we lived in an RV and that was precious cash for a full time kayaker. That was the beginning of being spoiled….
We had no idea how awesome traveling in an RV was going to be. From the moment we pulled out of our suburban neighborhood in Bethesda, we felt free and like we were on an adventure. Life was simple. We had less stuff, less stress, and more freedom than ever before.