Where to go next? We solved our dilemma near Austin, Texas. North was too cold, East was too wet, and South was going backwards. For that matter, so was West, but we needed some quiet recreation after our recent hectic weeks. This means the first part of this posting is too boring to describe: same old Fort Clark in the middle of Nowhere, Texas, but some differences.
It is now HOT most days, but the trees have turned green in spite of an almost complete lack of rain.
Sighs, groans and insults abounded from the Fort Clark regulars:
“You came back to haunt us, or what?”
“Yes,” I reply, “we had thought all you smart asses had left, but we’ve paid, so we will put up with you.”
“What did you do to your hair?”
Another difference, apart from the green trees, is the wildlife. The snakes have awakened from their cool winter. Actually we have only seen two snakes, and, so far, no diamond-back rattlesnakes. The bull snake is actually a “friend”: not poisonous, and it eats rattlesnakes (though this claim is contested by some. This one was about 7 feet long.
We have not suffered from the heat, since it is cool enough in the mornings to play golf, and the air conditioner is coping very well. 94F today, and, perhaps, time to move to cooler climes.
With nothing new to show and tell, I thought I would digress, and try to describe what this strange nomadic life is about. At the top of the “good things” list is the mobility. When we tire of an area, or its weather, we move on. We can also move within a campground (though never have) if the neighbour is totally insufferable. They can move too if they find our company wearisome, and this is all to the good, since we have more space after they have left! On the downside this year, there was a shortage of cooks for the pancake breakfast. Guess who was volunteered!
You have to take the rough with the smooth, but cruises and resorts are like that too. RV-life has another dimension, or rather several. The larger and heavier, the harder an RV is to drive. The smaller and lighter, the more the living challenge. Slide-outs were invented to help this problem, and we find that our fairly large living-room slide turns what would otherwise be a corridor into a small room. Elaine would like a bedroom slide-out as well, so we are thinking ahead to our next trailer!
We do like the “fifth-wheel” arrangement, since the trailer pivots on a pin (mercifully strong) on the bed of the truck, and the whole outfit is easy to drive (relatively!), though a challenge to reverse. Some folk like a motor home and then tow a car behind. This can be more expensive, but I also notice it is also more tiresome to connect and disconnect than just backing on to a pin and pulling a lever. (Well, not quite that simple, but practice helps, and the trailer has not fallen off … yet!).
Folk who have not experienced life in a trailer always seem surprised to find the comforts we enjoy. Heating, air-conditioning, hot and cold water, toilet, shower, double sink, fridge and freezer, stove and microwave, TV and surround-sound, comfortable chairs and a queen-size bed. Only the air conditioner and microwave demand outside power – the rest is battery or propane, so you can park and live almost anywhere – for a few days anyway.
Of course there is a down side. No dishwasher, washer or dryer, and sometimes you bump your elbows into the walls and each other. But, looking back, we have more facilities in our trailer than we enjoyed in our first home … and certainly far more than our student and military days!
It helps to have some basic electrical and plumbing skills, since, like everywhere else, good help is hard to find! But the RV community is famous for its good nature. Peer into the innards of a truck or RV, and seven people arrive to help.
There is one exception: anything wrong with the drains, and they all flee out of range. Indeed drains are always a chore: even the million dollar motor homes have tanks that need to be emptied, and there is no nice way to do this!
Getting accustomed to being “homeless” takes a while. Not worrying about where to stay tonight requires practice. Having breakfast and then deciding where to go next does not come naturally. After a while you know that a few plans and reservations around holiday weekends are necessary, but the rest of the time you can just head out and enjoy some scenery, new places, or old favourite haunts. Only in extreme circumstances do we pull into a Wal-Mart parking lot for the night, but even there we are sleeping in our own bed, having a morning shower, and drinking our own coffee. (One time we blocked off an early morning delivery truck, but one can actually drive in pajamas, so who cares?)
One final point for anyone motivated to try RV life. Talk to as many people as possible. Ten is a good number. Don’t believe me, or anyone else, since we all swear by our own choices! Listen carefully, and figure out what might fit your own life-style. Some folk hate remote spots: no malls, no bingo, no TV, etc. Others revel in wild and scenic nature. There are those who never stray from freeways, and others who like the back roads. Figure out your own preferences, and remember, all RVs are compromises, and there are many choices and multitudes of sales people. If you want to take the plunge, consider a good “used” RV, and sell it if you hate the life-style. You might lose less than a rental unit would cost for two weeks! Try a short trip before venturing far away. Whatever else, buy peace of mind with Good Sam Emergency Road Service. Those people really understand what RV breakdowns might need in the way of tow trucks!
No rain here so far, and as the semi-desert turns green, we head East and then North, in the hope that the snow will be long gone by the time we reach Fergus, and our new home.
John (with constructive crtiticism from Elaine)