Hello everyone! I apologize for the huge gap since I’ve posted. I’ve been trying to figure out where to begin after what seems like such a long time, and I realized that you all just want to know where I’ve been and what I’ve been doing. So we’ll start there.
Life has been a blur over the last six weeks. There have been many giant problems, and just when one gets cleared up, another one of major significance and astonishing disruption comes in to replace it. Here is a quote from an email I sent to a friend of mine recently (hi Christina!):
“Honestly, crazy things are happening to everyone right now. Not that that will give you much solace, but something is going on in the stars because most of the people I talk to say the same thing: “crazy shit is happening and I don’t understand it!!” Same for me too. It just never seems to end. Just when one thing is resolved, some other giant, inexplicable, and astoundingly inconvenient problem blasts into my life to screw it up for a few days, only to be resolved, followed by maybe one or two days of relative peace, and then some new giant, inexplicable and astoundingly inconvenient problem blasts into my life that must be addressed to the exclusion of nearly everything else. Forget about fun – I’m lucky to get an hour a week of doing something fun. The rest of the time it’s dealing with enormous logistical and financial issues, catching up on work, trying to get the last few bits of my ICA stuff done, trying to squeeze in some coaching calls, and then hoping I might have enough inspiration and energy at the end of all that to attempt a blog post (which I haven’t yet, obviously). But fun? Forget it.”
Yeah. It’s been a bloody nightmare awesome. It’s everything I had ever dreaded dreamed RV living would be!
Following is a map of my travel route since I left Ohio on Dec. 4:
I’ve been a lot of places in a short amount of time. It’s been very stupid vigorously refreshing.
You already know why I hightailed it from the bottom of the United States in the Keys all the way to Texas. Now, you can see how far it is. What you can’t see is the toll that drag race took on my poor Gorgeous.
I admit, by the time I got to Florida and was ready for a much needed rest, Gorgeous was too. After gracing her with fifteen years of relative ease carting me around to the tune of only ~6000 miles per year, I suddenly jolted her out of her warm, lully comfort, slammed a 5000lbs. trailer on her ass, had her screaming at 65 miles per hour for 200+ miles per day, pummeled her through the cold and rain of the WV-VA mountains, sloshed her through the salty near-washed-out seashores of the Carolinas, only to come to a final screeching halt to dry out in the blazing hot and sunny perfection of the southern Florida coast. My lovely Gorgeous needed a break. Her check engine light had already made itself known by insisting on glaring incessantly at me since South Carolina, but I had been pretending I didn’t notice it by driving with only one eye open and singing really loudly. I had been sorely suspicious of some … bad gas … so I chose to stick my head in the sand believe it was benign. I mean, we were still roaring along. Surely it must be a joke a faulty dashboard lamp Mercury retrograde nothing too serious? It had even teased me once or twice by turning off for a couple of days, during which I would have quiet celebrations, but right after the wine bottles were drained soon enough the little bastard would come on again. Rrgh.
But then I had to load up and get to Texas in four days. So check engine light be damned, I did it. And Gorgeous made it with much grumbling and spitefully terrible gas mileage flying colors!
Aaaaaaand then I got there. Texas was disturbingly cold for a southern state in the winter. My family was in pieces. My internet service was frustratingly sketchy. And my car was making noises that I really, really, really didn’t like.
But on the positive side, my RV is kicking some serious ass!
So, I had to take the car in. I couldn’t avoid it any longer, and since I was in one place for the heretofore unheard of stretch of nearly two weeks, there was no time like the present. I figured on top of all the other horrible stuff that was currently happening, why not add something else?
Normally I would go to my favorite auto mechanic standby Firestone, but my brother insisted I go to his brilliant little Mexican mechanic, Alex. I was all for it, and when I met him, I felt like my Gorgeous was in good hands. I told him where I had been, what I was doing, and what had happened to lead up to our illustrious meeting. With a reassuring twinkle in his eye, he took my keys and I waved a tearful goodbye to my lovely.
He called me a little later that day to say that it looked like I needed new spark plugs, etc. to the tune of $165. Fabulous! I could live with that. Then he called back later to say that wasn’t it, and that it might be the fuel injector. Could be more money. Okay… go ahead. Then he calls me back to tell me that’s not it either (how is it that he hasn’t figured this out yet? Don’t they just put a code reader on the car and magically a number comes back to say what the check engine light problem is? Even I know this.) and that it looks like it’s an internal problem, and that it could be as much as $1200. What the $*#&? That’s quite a jump. However, I wasn’t in much of a position to argue, so I said go ahead, find out what it is.
And he did. He found a cracked cylinder head that was going to require a machine shop to replace, my bill was going to be $1400, and quite frankly it’s a miracle I even made it to Texas at all considering I should be flat out on the side of the road in rural Louisiana with only roadkill to keep me company. Excellent! And on top of that, it was going to take four more days. Whoo hoo!
So, I stomped around, yelled until I was hoarse, and cursed all the gods of the Universe came to terms with my raging frustration disappointment over another such grand reversal in my fortune. However, on the plus side my brother was there to help me, cart me around, and give me solace while this stressful situation (on top of everything else!) played itself out. I kept telling myself “at least this didn’t happen in the middle of nowhere in a place where you knew no one!”. So there was that.
To add insult to injury, since the car was going to be unavailable for several days, my only solution was to get a rental car. It was simply not even remotely agreeable that I could cope in Houston without my own vehicle, so the next order of business was to secure a temporary new one. After some research, our best bet turned out to be Enterprise (they’ll pick you up! Except they didn’t) and so we made tracks to meet my new wheels. After no much deliberation over what would be my cheapest best option, I found myself mortified wildly proud to be driving… this:
Kindly, my brother did some research and was able to organize a corporate discount using his business account, so I got a better deal on this monster than I might have otherwise received. God knows I needed something to justify being seen it.
Still, it did the job. In fact, it did the job very well. Since my brother lived 30 minutes from my campsite, I pressed all the hamsters under the hood into service overdrive busting down there and back every day at 90 miles an hour. I mean, when you are set free with speed limits of 75 mph, why not take advantage as much as you can (yes, admit it, we all go 15 mph over)? I was astonished mildly surprised that the gas mileage wasn’t much better than my Gorgeous, but my brother laughingly quietly reminded me that when you are pushing a vehicle to its screaming energetic limit every day, it is possible that it won’t burn its fuel quite as efficiently.
I got through the week. I spent most of my time at my brother’s house, going to awful funerally type events, dealing with pain and anguish and a dwindling bank account, and trying to find things in life that were still funny. I got to spend time with my hilarious nephew Stephen, who is growing up to be a precious ruggedly strapping young man, and my beautiful niece who is beginning to look startlingly like myself. Except thinner and younger and way more gorgeous. I’ll take it.
I got my car back on a Saturday, and OMG – it ran like a jet engine! I was FLYING. I couldn’t believe I had been driving something so crap for so long and had no idea. That’s what you get for driving only 6000 miles a year. I enjoyed the next few days with my family, eating way too much and beginning the recovery process. Now I’m 10lbs fatter and $1400 poorer, but I was happy to have reconnected with my family and my car was JAMMIN’.
So I left Texas the following Wednesday, to resume travels backwards towards Alabama to visit a very old friend of mine from elementary days whom I hadn’t seen in 30 years (hi Amy! Our story is coming next!). But not before I was honored with one last parting gift to remember my stint in Houston:
With the speed of light, I packed up my stuff, hooked up the Beast, and zoomed away. My next stop was my old hometown: Ruston, Louisiana, AKA the Boondocks.
It took me six hours, five pit stops, and a very, very long windy road in the middle of nowhere to reach my next destination. There was a period of time when I did think for a moment that I had actually left planet Earth since there didn’t seem to be any end in sight, but then the sign for Lake D’arbonne State Park finally revealed itself. I was there. Whew!
I parked, unhooked the Beast, got myself set up, poured myself a glass of wine, and enjoyed the view for the evening.
The next day I got up all excited to explore my old hometown (that is a story for another post). I got into Gorgeous, fired up the ignition, and starting motoring away.