Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Musings on our recent trip

August 30—We’re home! After going cross country and back in 26 days, and putting more than 3,500 miles on Baby, we arrived home around 2:45 p.m. EDT. It took us almost two hours to unload (and of course we forgot some things in Baby, which we’ll get tomorrow).

We took Xena into the house immediately, but Charlie wouldn’t come out. Jim finally found in inside of one of the kitchen drawers! Both the cats are happy to be in the normal habitat without hearing the ominous hum of a generator or a diesel motor.

If you have been reading my blogs, you know we have had an eventful trip: We drove to California and back without headlights, because of a failed headlight switch (of course we didn’t drive in the night); we cracked the front window; we learned it is not wise to drive in sand (even accidentally); we discovered that cats can get into very small places; and we learned to navigate a dusty whisper of a road at the top of a levee (and get under a low-hanging overpass). We also learned that some law-enforcement officers can be helpful, at least in California and in Louisiana.

Here are some other things I learned:

• Pack less. We have the good fortune of having a washer and dryer in our motorhome. They only hold about half as much as a normal washer and dryer, so I found myself doing wash about every other day. I didn’t touch most of the clothes I brought with us. I don’t think Jim did, either. Next time, I’ll pack less—assuming, of course, that our trip will not be for an extended length of time.

• Take less freezer food. I had taken as much of our frozen meats/fish/poultry that I could stuff into the freezer, plus several loaves of our gluten-free bread. We didn’t eat all of it. (I actually lost several pounds, not a bad thing!) It would be better to prepare and freeze meals ahead of time and take several of them, rather than to take a lot of frozen goods. It’s easy to stop at a grocery, especially a super Walmart, and buy what we need for dinner. And, of course, we like to eat local cuisine, too, which we did several times.

• Stock dedicated items in Baby. When I got ready to make dinner tonight, I discovered that I had left the potato peeler and masher in the utensils drawer. Those are easily duplicated items. Until such a time (if ever) that we travel full-time, it is better to have a set of utensils in Baby, as well as at home.

• Don’t ask if we need to get more diesel. I’m the kind of driver who never lets the gas tank get below one quarter. Jim likes to drives on fumes. He gets annoyed when I ask if we should get diesel. I think from now on I’ll let him worry about it (and the consequences of running out, should that happen).

• Charlie-proof the motorhome. That little scaredy cat needs to find a safe place where we can find him! Like, behind the pillows on the bed. Jim will be cat-proofing Baby.

• Get an e-reader. That has been a life-saver. Some nights we didn’t have television, and even when we had TV, we found we didn’t watch too much. (I haven’t missed it; Jim says he hasn’t either. Maybe we’ll save some money by canceling Uverse.) The e-readers we bought have come in very handy.

• Stay connected. My VirginMobile Broadband2go device has worked very well. Sometimes RV parks offer free broadband service, but not always. Besides, it’s good to have our own private connection, to safeguard information when we pay bills or make other secure transactions.

• Keep your library card active. Jacksonville has a good library system, with a lot of e-books and audiobooks available for downloading. The library doesn’t know I am downloading a book while I am in Texas or Arizona! I transferred the audiobooks to an MP3 player, which I plugged into the radio’s speaker system. We listened to at least a half dozen books, a real life-saver, since radio stations don’t always play what you want to hear. Fortunately, Jim and I like the same types of books (mysteries and suspense). Listening to them helped while away the time as we passed through the various types of southwestern deserts.

• Have fun! I’m still a Reluctant RoVer. I consider the motorhome a means of transportation. In some ways it is much more comfortable than a car, because you sit so high and you can get up and go to the bathroom whenever you want. (I can; Jim has to stop since he is driving.) It is also nice to be able to sleep in your own bed each night and not have to worry about bedbugs or if the linens have really been laundered in a rented motel room. And it is convenient as well as less expensive to be able to cook your own food, rather than eat out all the time.

I admit that I am roving because my husband wants to do it. This is his dream, not mine. But that’s not a bad thing. You see, if it were up to me, I probably wouldn’t go anywhere. I am very content staying at home. Yet, it is nice seeing the countryside and visiting places I’ve only read about in magazines (if at all). Would I want to do this full-time? Not if full-time means I don’t have a house to come back to. I need my roots. I can do this full-time for a period of time, if the house were to sell and we were looking for someplace to plant a new set of roots. But I would not do it indefinitely.

I will also admit that when we drove into Jacksonville, and even up to our house, it felt anticlimatic. I didn’t have a big feeling of relief of coming home. I think what that means is that although I live in Jacksonville, it has never been “home.” It is a place where I own a house and where I worked, nothing more. I would like to have a place to call home, where I know people and feel a part of the community, but it is not here.

So, I’m still a Reluctant RoVer, but I did have a good time. Really. It was an adventure, and adventures are good. Until next time (and there will be a next time, probably in a few weeks), Your Reluctant RoVer, Linda

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