Quill and Document
Quill and Document

According to Wikipedia, the definition of manifesto is: “a published declaration of the intentions, motives, or views of the issuer.”

Yup, that sounds about right.

It is based on the idea of “making manifest” – presenting evidence that demonstrates the existence of a thing.

So, what is the thing that we are demonstrating the existence of, exactly?

Hang on a second…I am a little rusty, but I promise we will get there together.

Everything That Can Go Wrong, Did

It is no secret that 2020 has been a gigantic shitshow for pretty much the entire planet, with the possible exception of ownership and stockholders of home delivery companies. It has been tremendously difficult for those of us who are creative types especially.

Personally, Melissa and I got an early start on the craptastic experience back in September of 2019. The death of our niece, as well as several of Melissa’s family members, created a sinkhole that we just never really climbed out of.

Renesmae firehouse portrait
We still miss you. Always will.

Which was unfortunate, because it was also supposed to be the beginning of our “great adventure” – the sale of most everything we owned to hit the road full time in an RV.

So, then COVID happened…

The Year Of Cancellations

I had big plans back in the day, at the start of our adventure. Everything would be meticulously photographed and documented. I was going to write every day. We would share our journey with family, friends, and the world at large.

Instead, I managed a whopping 5 blog posts this year. I completely petered out by July, and fell into full-time “writers sulk.” (Like writer’s block but with more pouting.)

Over and over again we found our travel plans disrupted and derailed. We got trapped in an RV park in Arizona for 8 weeks. Maggie May’s transmission gave ass,. Endless park closures led to perpetual cancellations and reshifting of our route.

The final straw for the year was September. The sudden death of my favorite uncle completely derailed us. We pulled up stakes from our hesitant exploration of Utah, (Zion was closed) and headed home. In three days we made it home, only to sit and wait through the endless confusion that is COVID. We finally managed to have a memorial service for him. I somehow managed to deliver his eulogy, and then went and had about a week’s worth of alcohol therapy.

That’s about the one thing we “accomplished” in 2020 – we both developed pro-level drinking skills again. Yay us, I guess?

Turn It On Its Head

Ray Casias w/guitar
The musician I wanted to be when I grew up – Ray Casias.

After the demise of my Uncle Ray, I seriously considered just quitting the RV Life completely. It seemed like one thing too much. We spent three months in Albuquerque, wrestling with what to do next.

However, his example got me thinking. He battled a degenerative disease for years that took away his mobility, his ability to play guitar and sing, and his ability to pastor a church (though never his passion for his faith.) HE would have given anything to be able to do what Melissa and I were doing, no matter how poorly it was going for us.

And, in the middle of all that chaos and indecision, Stella appeared.

We loved Maggie, but nine months of living full-time in her had taught us a lesson: storage is important. And stumbling over Stella in the RV park where we were staying seemed too good to be true. (Not an affiliate, we just love them to death.) Oddly, her owners felt the same way. “It was waiting for the right owners to come along,” one of them told us. So, we scrambled to make it happen. And, somewhere in there, it became apparent to us: we were committing to doing this “RV Life” thing for the foreseeable future with this purchase. And I was going to need to make some changes to my daily routine.

The saying goes that the best time to make a change is 5 years ago. The next best day is today.

Making It Manifest

Home, ’til the next major upheaval anyway.

So, we come to it. I resolved to “make manifest” the changes in my life that need to occur.

I’ve recommitted to daily work – every day I’ve been taking a picture on my phone and posting it on Instagram and Facebook (as I am sure some of you have noticed.)

Every day I have been walking the dog further and further. Like many of us, the enforced inactivity has led to me packing on excess weight. I am now hovering just under 200 pounds – not horrible, but still 25 pounds above where I had stabilized after bariatric surgery. I am determined to shed them and stop this creeping reversal.

And, I have begun slowly re-engaging those creative muscles. I have a slate of ideas ahead for the first time in almost a year and a half. What are they, you ask? Stick around, and you’ll be among the first to know.

It is the simplest thing in the world to just give up. To sit still in the roaring traffic that is our current world and wait to see which semi will run over us first.

Instead, I am choosing, today, to put my head down and start moving again.

Putting It In The Bucket

One of the first things I am going to do is create a new “bucket list” for myself. Believe it or not, I completed my “lifetime” bucket list back in 2017, with the publication of my first novel and completing my first 5k. And, for some reason, I never set up a new set of goals.

Sounds weird looking at it now.

But, in the days ahead, I will be generating a new one. I will even add it to the site here and start checking things off the list as I go. You may be interested, you may not. but putting it out there where the whole world can see it will help me be more accountable. As I take these plans and make them manifest.

We’ve just started a new 7-month road trip. It will not go as planned. There will be changes, and cancellations, and hiccups. But I will do my best to push through and not quit. And I have a few projects coming up that will help all of you follow along.

It isn’t a set of New Years Resolutions that will be abandoned by January 15. It is instead a commitment to a lifestyle change. As my nutritionist said back when I was preparing for bariatric surgery – I will have bad days. It is just important that my good days outnumber the bad ones.

Welcome back, and I hope you enjoy journeying along with us.

Here’s To Manifesting My Manifesto,

  • Jeremy

#RVLife, Interrupted – Part 2

In February, when we moved out of our house and into Maggie May full-time, I felt a tremendous sense of disorientation. For weeks I would wake up in the morning and be completely perplexed as to where I was. I even spent several days dealing with a sense of personal disassociation – now that I no longer lived in a house, I was unsure who I was.

Now, less than two months later, I was experiencing those exact same sensations as we drove away from Maggie’s indeterminate repair. If I don’t live in an RV, I wondered, who the heck am I, exactly?

Luckliy, I didn’t get to spend much time on my navel-gazing, because I needed to figre out more time-pressing matters – like where we were all going to spend the next few days/weeks.

The Dangers of Emotional Decision-Making

Normally, if you’re going to get stranded somewhere, Las Vegas is not a bad place to pick. The climate is decent, cheap food is everywhere, and it isn’t exactly like accomodations are thin on the ground.

Melissa immediately recommended we look into an AirBnB rental. I was hesitant, however…we had no clue how long this whole repair process was going to take. We briefly discussed just driving back to Albuquerque and imposing on family members for the time being, but both rejected that…we wanted to stay close to the dealership so we could spring into action and reclaim our home the minute she was ready.

However, this left us with limited options – most hotels are not fond of pets. We would have to find an inexpensive hotel with a liberal pet policy, then try to book ourselves in 3-4 day increments while we awaited word on Maggie’s fate.

It just so happens that a few miles away from the dealership in question was a major Henderson casino fixture: The Fiesta. It was convenient, it was inexpensive (being part of the low-end Station Casinos chain), and they had a liberal pet policy! Or car was a Fiesta, the hotel was the Fiesta…it must be kismet, or something, right?

And this is what happens when you manage to talk yourself into something you KNOW is a bad idea.

The Station Casinos Experience

This is a good place to mention that we have history with the Station Casinos in Las Vegas.

Over the years of our travels to LV, we’ve stayed at a number of different properties. The process would go like this – one trip, Melissa would choose our destination hotel. Everything would be glorious and fabulous. The next trip, out of a desire to have more money available to do stuff in Vegas, I would pick one of the Station Casinos, since they tended to be the least expensive option.

And our hotel stay would be a disaster. Every single time.

Because I am apparently incapable of learning from experience, we tried four different Station properties over the years. We had four different, but equally terrible, hotel experiences. Meanwhile, Melissa booked us at places like The Rio, Treasure Island, and the Monte Carlo, which were universally wonderful. By the time epilepsy struck and forced us into poverty and out of vacation travel I had still not learned my lesson.

Which brings us to March, 2020.

It was about 10:30 AM when we rolled into the Fiesta’s parking lot. At this point, Vegas was already being hit hard by reduced travel thanks to the spread of COVID-19. The parking lot was maybe 1/4 full. But when we called to ask about the possibility of early check-in, they told us they could accommodate us at 2 PM.

Standard check-in time is 3 PM, mind you.

3 and a half hours would have been plenty of time to call AirBnB. Or contact Expedia and find accommodations at a friendlier and more customer-driven place. But I am nothing if not stubborn. We waited (with the dogs, mind you) in the parking lot for the entire duration.

When a Fiesta Isn’t a Party

I could spend many, many paragraphs outlining our stay from Hades at the Fiesta. Instead, let me sum up:

It was bad. Like, really, really bad.

From the inedible food, to the urine-scented main hallway on the “pet friendly” floor, to the 6 square feet of “dog park”, it was everything a vacation experience shouldn’t be. Luckily for them, I wasn’t on vacation – I was a homeless wanderer, waiting for my home to return from the garage. I did everything I could to stay in our room or wander around the casino floor. Since we were in terror of “noisy dogs” getting us evicted, we took turns bailing out of our room, with one of us constantly staying with the critters to keep them from complaining about our absence.

And the final straw arrived on the night of the 17th of March: a Special Bulletin went crawling across the bottom of our television screen. The Governor of Nevada was mandating that ALL casinos immediately cease operations…including hotel accommodations.

Effective immediately, Las Vegas was closed for business.

On The Road Again

Oddly, nobody panicked. (Well, maybe Delilah, but she is one neurotic excuse for a dachshund.)

We checked with the front desk. Yes, indeed, we were being thrown out the next day at noon. No, we would not be getting refunded despite having paid for nights we would not be getting to use. Color me surprised.

We decided to go the AirBnB route instead. The next day we would check in with the dealership, get an estimated time for repairs, then book a stay for that amount of time. This is why God invented credit cards, right?

But the next day, the bottom really fell out.

The service manager was brutally honest with me. Apparently, the majority of the technicians did not want to be working during the shut down, and had communicated their position to management. “Honestly,” he told me, “we may be closed for the next month or two. Even if we don’t shut down, we can’t get to your rig til next Monday at the earliest, and it could be a week to ten days after that before it is ready.”

I hung up the phone in disbelief. Ten days? A month? Maybe two months? No credit card I have was gonna cover that. It was time to face the truth.

After only six weeks on the road, we were going to have to go back to New Mexico.