How did I get myself into this lifestyle?

IMG_0580 It seems like yesterday that the phone in the hotel suite rang.  On the other end of the phone was NFL Hall of Fame coach, Don Shula.  He called to tell me that he and the Miami Dolphins were picking me in the 2nd round of the 1990 NFL Draft.  In the blink of and eye, I’m standing in the huddle in my first practice.  The QB enters the huddle to call the play, but before he does he looks my way, holds out his hand and introduces himself.  “Hi, I’m Dan Marino. Keep me clean please.”

Eleven tough NFL seasons and 3 Pro Bowl trips later, I rupture my Achilles tendon on the third play of the game against the Cowboys.  As I was carted into the locker room to be examined by the doctor, I had no idea that this would be my final NFL game.   I was forced to retire six months later after multiple achilles tendon surgeries.  Needless to say, my body has taken quite a toll in terms of injuries in those 11 years in the NFL.   I won’t get into my medical records, but let’s just say that I have endured 14 football related surgeries and still counting.
I am often asked…was it worth it?   If you could go back in time, would you do it all over again?  The answer to both questions is YES!!  I was blessed to live out a childhood dream of playing in the NFL and have a long successful career.
All those injuries and my rather large size affects my ability to travel comfortably.  Driving for extended periods in a car does not work.  My knees ache!  Planes??   Well picture a 6’3″, 300 pound man sitting next to you in coach.  My knees smash against the seat in front of me even before the seat reclines and my shoulders protrude into the aisle inevitably getting smashed every time those drink carts go by.
Oh and did I mention my sore back?
When my wife started talking about getting an RV, she was like a salesperson listing all of the ways that travel would be more comfortable for me.  It took me a while to come around but she painted an awesome picture for me.  I had to see for myself.  She even promised that I could stretch out in the coach while she drove.

I have to admit, I never thought that I would be interested in, let alone enjoy the thought of RVing.  My wife had been talking about hitting the road for years and I never really took her seriously.   It was difficult for me to understand how she could honestly express an interest in camping when she hates the sight of bugs and dirt.  How could a woman, that cleans every spec of dirt off our 3 little boys want to go camping and RVing? Well, I’ve learned to never underestimate!!!

 

A mother’s dreams and desires for her boys. It’s a powerful motivation, that can move mountains..

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Since the boys were born 6 years ago, my wife has worked tirelessly to make sure that what she exposed them to was in one form or the other educational.  Our children got to watch DVD’s on letters and phonics sounds instead of Mickey mouse videos.  I thought at first, she may be going over board, but I have to admit I was thrilled to see how it has helped them learn and deepened their own desire to learn.  Now I’m not saying she is a Tiger mom, but she does feel this weight to give her little boys all the tools to be successful in today’s world. With all the challenges that black men face in this country, Tia firmly believes the best tools to equip them with are a faith in God and knowledge.
So how does camping or RVing fit into this equation?   I’ll tell you how.   Since our boys have been blessed to be in a Montessori school, they get a chance to be exposed to so many things.  If you don’t know about Montessori schooling, I would advise you to look into it.

In their school they study everything from math, science, reading, geography, the arts and even classical music.  The other day out shopping with the boys I asked them this question, “where would you like to go in the RV and why?”, KJ said “Dad, I want to go to NYC”.   Curious, I said why, what’s in NY?  His answer was, “I want to see the Statue of Liberty.”  My curiosity was peaked, so I questioned him, “Did you know the Statue of Liberty was a gift from another country?”.   He thought for a second and said “Wasn’t it France?”. Keep in mind KJ is 6 years old.  We want to have our children not only read about this great country and its sites, but to experience them first hand.  So now we have to plan a trip to see NY!
To hear from their own little mouths how excited they are to get in the RV and go see these sights warms my heart.  Kids are such a blessing and as parents we know they are a ton of work.  Time with them, seems to go by so fast!   In today’s world, where we get panic attacks if we drive off without our cell phones, the idea of decompressing, yet reconnecting with nature sounds so appealing.

Don’t get me wrong.  I am a gadget geek!  I love them.  Yet, my most precious time on this Earth has been the time I have been blessed to spend with my wife and my children.  Getting in the RV and seeing first hand all the things that I’ve seen in our US history books is a journey I can’t wait to start.

I have to admit, it worries me that I don’t see enough people of color out there on the road.  I’m confident as more people of color realize that most of the time it’s cheaper to travel this way and we begin to show this generation the “how’s and why’s” of RVing, this will change rapidly.  So far we have found that Campgrounds are some of the friendliest place in this country.
I hope you keep signing in and checking on our adventures.. As always, we welcome your comments and questions…

How in the world did a 300 pound former NFL Lineman become an RVer?
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