Thursday, February 26, 2015

Making Lemon Ice Tea: Dealing With RV Travel Plans That Fall Apart

It was going to be a lengthy voyage, from just shy of the California border to the Atlantic coast. Plans were set, the old motorhome was fueled and ready to go. I left some good friends behind, and hit the open road with enthusiasm.

I have a bad habit of driving more miles at a stretch than I should when I have a destination I want to get to. Three days in and I was half way across the country, and feeling the effect of long days sitting behind the wheel.

Even before leaving my roost of the past 4 months, I knew something wasn't quite right. By the time I hit the mid-point it was certain, something was amiss with my digestive tract. I was plenty happy to have a very functional onboard bathroom because I was spending a whole lot of time in that little space.

Making matters worse, my plans out east fell apart completely, ending my endurance trek across the southern states. For just a few moments a sense of panic set in because not only was I feeling pretty punky, I really had nowhere to go.

I could easily turn around and go back the three days to where I left... I still had the permit that would allow me to boondock the remainder of the winter in Quartzsite. It just didn't seem right that I should squander fuel expenses driving over 2,000 miles for nothing, only to go back and sit in the desert.

I could have pressed on, but the prospect of expending even more money on a higher cost of living out east, with little in the way of incentive to do so, seemed a waste too. My answer was to go to the nearest Walmart, and sleep on it for at least a night.

Still feeling plenty lousy, I took time the next morning to carefully access my situation. I realized for all practical purposes I'm a turtle. My home is with me wherever I go. I'm retired, I have nowhere to go and the rest of my life to get there. Better I scope out my immediate surroundings and see how they measure up before I go anywhere.

This is a town of less than 25,000 in population. Good, I don't like big cities, and tiny country towns don't offer much in the way of amenities. My trusty smart phone indicated a number of RV parks, of which one was quite reasonable in price. I always shop for RV parks by their monthly rate. Short term is both expensive and impractical for someone wanting to make the most of their travel budget. 

I've said before that one can either travel and stay at free places overnight, or one can spend a month in an economy RV park for just about the same amount of money. I had no reason not to stay a month, and it made the most sense financially.

An online check of local restaurants indicated an above average choice of fast food establishments, 3 Chinese restaurants, one of which had excellent reviews, and of course all the name brand Pizza chains. I wouldn't starve.

I was parked at a Walmart Supercenter so groceries and supplies were a given. The layout of the small city was pretty much one 4 lane main highway with most of the bulk of the retail establishments spread out along this main artery.

For me, the presence of not only a V.A. medical facility, but a full-fledged V.A. hospital made this an excellent choice in a place to just pull up and re-group.

I paid my months lot rent, and backed into my spot. Mentally I had accepted that for now, this was home. Management told me I could stay as long as 3 months for sure, and they would work with me if I needed more time to determine my next step.

There is a certain peace that quickly sets in when you realize that what was a disturbing and unexpected change of events had turned into a peaceful break giving me the chance to not only regain my health, but to just stop and assess my plans with no particular hurry to make any drastic decisions. It was time to relax.

Of course finding this safe haven has proven a second blessing what with the unexpected change in weather conditions. This morning I awoke with a heavy layer of ice on everything. Driving for the next few days is not recommended, and temperatures in general will be less than comfortable. Time to hunker down and make sure there is adequate propane for my catalytic heater.

Tonight I even disconnected my water hose and brought it inside. It was stiff as a board, and it will get low enough it would likely freeze tonight.

My health has returned, and with nothing but time on my hands my culinary talents have taken the opportunity to show themselves again. Supper was homemade cabbage rolls, and some healthy cabbage soup.

Did I expect to be spending the next few weeks enjoying some off the beaten track small city when I left?  Heck no, but as long as things happened the way they did, might as well make a nice picture of Ice Tea and throw in a little lemon.

It doesn’t matter which small city I’m in, it could be anyone of many thousands across the country. The lesson to learn here is when plans fall apart don’t panic. Spend the night somewhere safe, and take the time to discover what your present surroundings offer you.
You will likely be surprised in how easy it is to abandon one plan and just move on to another, and that every small city has something special to offer.



Sunday, February 15, 2015

On The Road Again!

It's been a wonderful winter in Quartzsite! Made some really good friends, saw plenty of interesting places, and enjoyed all the hustle and bustle of the Big Tent Show toward the end of January.

February has things slowing down considerably, and many of the winter residents have packed up and left for parts unknown. The itch to see new territory is a powerful intoxicant, and admittedly I find myself bitten by the bug.

It's time to hit the open road, but the question in mind is what way should I go? Obviously, for much of the country anyway, winter still has a serious grip and is not likely to loosen up for many weeks to come. Going back to Minnesota was never going to be a high priority for me this year, and the North East is suffering through more snow than I want anything to do with.

Go west young man... Though young is hardly description I have used of myself for many decades, the phrase seems appropriate. I've seen some of California throughout my life, but barely scratched the surface.

I pulled up stakes, literally since it's tent stakes that secure my satellite dish to the ground, hitched the Jeep behind the motorhome, and headed west from Quartzsite two days ago. California or Bust printed in the desert dust on the back of the Pace Arrow.

Hardly the long and arduous voyage depicted in dust bowl days, the border is but 20 miles away. But it is a general direction that points me toward the setting sun.

Maybe I'll head for San Diego. I've been through the Naval yards in Norfolk VA, Seeing the pacific fleet would be very interesting for me.

It will remind me of my years in the service, flying around the Mariana Islands delivering supplies to Loran Stations in the South Pacific.

Those are all great memories I find myself reflecting on often.

Then again, maybe I will go north from Quartzsite. Utah and Nevada are beautiful country that I have only scratched the surface of.

It is a bit early yet for that direction, a loop west might be a good choice before I head north. It's hard to say where the nomad in me will take me.

I guess you will just have to read along as I wander down the open highway again.

About all I can guarantee is I'm on the move again, and Quartzsite is but a memory fading from view in my rearview mirror.