Well, THAT was fun.
While it lasted, anyway.
Last we talked, I was giving everyone a guided tour of Whaler’s Rest RV Resort in Oregon. It was the beginning of a couple of magical months in Oregon, a place I’ve dreamed about going since I was in high school.
It was also, had I known it, the beginning of the end of our two years on the road. As of today, I am sitting in my office in a new “sticks and bricks” home back in Albuquerque. Stella is parked in storage with a For Sale sign in her window.
So, how did we get here, exactly?
The Story So Far, Reader’s Digest Version
That’s what Google Maps thinks we managed in the last two-ish years. From December of 2019 until today (December 2021) we managed to travel from South Dakota to San Diego, from Tillamook, OR to El Paso, TX. It’s a long and convoluted story that I probably need to write down in detail sometime. That will not be today.
Our adventures included months on the Pacific Coast. But, we also got trapped in Cottonwood, AZ for nine weeks at the initial outbreak of COVID. We broke down every time we entered Las Vegas, NV, and wound up spending over two months there out of our two years of travel. I love Vegas, but am probably not ever going to take an RV there again. Just sayin’.
We visited ghosts towns and forests, cities and beaches, and mostly avoided other humans. Damn COVID.
And then, finally, our time and money ran out. If anyone tries to tell you that you can do this #RVLife thing on pennies and dreams, I’ve got about 30 grand in receipts that tell a very different story.
So, in Bend, OR, we turned this thing around and headed back towards family, stability, and two years’ worth of responsibilities that we sort of kissed off when we picked up Maggie May in December of 2019.
Good Intentions, Gone Astray
I mean, it wasn’t that I meant to become a rootless vagabond who was accomplishing not much for two years. I actually had Big Plans when we left.
The plan was to be a travel writer. I would record every place we went, blogging constantly, letting people know where we were and what we were doing. I would take TONS of pictures. (Got that one right, at least.) I was going to be the text version of Keep Your Daydream or Less Junk, More Journey. (Not affiliate links, I just think they are both totally cool.)
Instead, I spent most of my time learning how to be an RVer. It was a major adjustment for a 50-something who had never driven, much less owned an RV before. When I wasn’t fixing something that was broken (Rule #1: Something is ALWAYS broken in an RV), I was taking in the sights of things I had never seen. Life became experiential. Timelines ceased to have any meaning.
And, meanwhile, I wrote ten blog posts.
In 24 months.
There was a sense of complete isolation from the world. We rarely had reliable internet. We had cell phones, but the calls and texts eventually dried up as our friends and family members became concerned about “bothering us.” We removed the main television after realizing we never turned it on and used the space for extra kitchen storage.
OK, we kept the bedroom TV, but that’s because we were playing Animal Crossing during our downtime, just like the rest of the quarantined world.
Life became a cycle of driving between parks, settling in for two or three weeks, and then devouring the surrounding area, before packing up and doing it again. We missed weddings, funerals, deadlines, anniversaries, and, especially for me, any sense of personal responsibility to the outside world.
When They Gave A Website And Nobody Came
The final nail in the “your life is different now” coffin came during a rare conversation with a former colleague. I hadn’t spoken to him in years, but he had several insightful questions about how my epilepsy was doing and the long-term results of my bariatric surgery. When I asked him why he remembered my details so well, he mentioned, casually, that a group of his friends and coworkers used to chat regularly about Misdirected.
“Used to?” I asked
“Yeah. We kinda stopped when you started doing that other stuff.”
The “other stuff” in question being my pivot from health-related issues to writing about RVing.
Which I had then promptly stopped writing about.
This was seriously borne out when I got a call from my internet provider. They were about to shut down Misdirected permanently the next day, and wanted to verify that was what I wanted. When I inquired why they said the bill hadn’t been paid in two months. My credit card had expired, and I hadn’t updated the info.
My website had been returning a “404 Not Found” error message for two months, and nobody noticed. Or, if they noticed, no one thought it was remarkable enough to tell me about it.
This was about the time that I began to think seriously about re-engaging with the world. My blog was the only thing that kept me sane through the darkest days after I developed epilepsy. And, somehow, it had drifted out of my consciousness, along with every other whit of adult responsibility.
It was time to return to the world.
Making The Transition
As I write this, with dawn breaking across the Albuquerque sky, I am surrounded by things. A few of them are making me feel really warm and fuzzy. My Fender Strat, my framed movie poster from The Crow, and my Ash Falls mouse pad have all re-emerged from storage and are strangely re-anchoring me to the reality of not moving every couple of weeks anymore.
But, mostly, I am wandering from room to room looking at all the stuff. We have a living room overflowing with bookcases and ladders and paint cans. A back bedroom is half-filled with storage bins waiting to disgorge their contents. I don’t know what to do with all this space and all this stuff.
Mind you, this is before we have reacquired any furniture. We have my desk, a bed, and a dining room table in rough order of personal importance. I know that we got rid of 90% of what we owned when we hit the road. And I’m overwhelmed by everything that remains – how did we ever have room for the other 90%? Was I a hoarder or something?
On the flip side, the house itself is bigger than just about anywhere we’ve ever lived. I’ve been in the homes of a few of my readers, and know that you may be amused at the idea that a 1,300 sq foot house is huge. But, after moving from a 1,000 sq foot house, to a tiny Class C RV, to a 3-foot longer Class A, the difference is mind-bending. I’m sure as we slowly get more things my perception will shrink. But, for right now, I feel as if I’m wandering through a mansion, which is probably not a description anyone has ever used before about a twenty-year-old doublewide.
Fun Fact: you can fit Stella’s entire living area into our new home’s master bathroom. I know. I measured.
The Road Ahead
Well, it isn’t as if we don’t have anything to do. We need to paint the entire house, and there are tons of things that need to be addressed around the new place. Two decades’ worth of entropy and all that. And if two years on the road taught me anything, it’s that I am actually capable of performing most of the work myself. That lesson in and of itself was probably worth our time as vagabonds. God Bless YouTube how-to videos.
I now have a job, after 15 years on the Inactive List, which is probably a blog post in and of itself. The ongoing COVID Disaster Tour has done wonders for those of us who, thanks to our health issues, are not suited to life in a traditional workplace. Remote work is now a thing for almost half the country, I read somewhere. And that has opened up opportunities for lots of us who thought we would never be able to rejoin the workforce.
And, y’know, I’ve still got writing to do. I need to take the cover off the blog and fire up the engine again. I have multiple novels existing only in scattered notebooks waiting to be created and published. And I still have two complete non-fiction books sitting in Google Docs waiting to be fleshed out and produced. It isn’t like I don’t have work to do.
But…travel? Are we ready to give up seeing new things from the inside of an RV?
Well, no. Not really.
We never even touched the Eastern side of the country. I understand a little better why so many RVers go racing down the road, only spending a day or two in each location. I certainly don’t regret our more deliberate pace, but I have some serious regrets about all the places we didn’t get to go to the last two years.
However, it’s back to real life for us. And leaving poor Stella in storage for the majority of the year is not only economically unfeasible, it just seems plain unfair. Somewhere out there are other adventurous souls who need a steed to go chasing sunsets in. We’ll find them (eventually), hand over the keys, and wave merrily as they drive away.
And then, after things stabilize a bit, we’ll buy a little camper that we can tow with the F-150, and start taking bite-sized chunks out of our remaining Travel Bucket List.
The road – once it gets its hooks into you, it never really does let go.
Dreaming Of Oceans While Painting And Vacuuming,