Sunday, November 13, 2016

The Story So Far

February 27 through November 4, 2016

What we've learned so far.

  • Selling everything and moving into a 40 foot trailer isn't really all that scary if you make the mental adjustment and fully accept the change. You can't lie to yourself. You have to be fully engaged, fully committed.
  • It will not change who you are. If you have unresolved issues in your life, cramming them into a trailer will not solve them, although ridding yourself of your daily grind in favor of a nomadic lifestyle, may, in some cases, help you work through the rough spots and shed some baggage.

  • A good friend asked us what was our biggest surprise in taking on this adventure. The answer is the realization that this is so easy once you've made the required commitment in your mind. The rest is just shuffling things around.
  • We've lucked out on fuel prices so far. When I was originally crunching numbers for this concept, I was allowing $4.00 to $5.00 per gallon for diesel. The reality has been much nicer. We have averaged $2.15 per gallon over the last eight-plus months. Tug has chugged along happily at about 12 miles per gallon. A bit less in heavy, stop-and-go traffic or in the mountains. We got about 9.2 mpg coming over Wolf Creek Pass in Colorado. This an 8,000 pound truck pulling a 15,000 pound trailer over all kinds of roads from sea level to 10,000 feet.
  • We have made so many new friends that I'm often concerned that I may have dreamed all of this into existence, like Ursula K. Le Guin's George Orr. I have Twitter pals that have become real friends, people whom I love as though they were my own family. 
  • Trailers are better designed to move forward than backward. The entire process is mostly visualization process put into practical action. (In other words, don't think too much.)
  • State Parks are, in general, some of the nicest places to stay if you're in a trailer or RV. Commercial parks may have the amenities edge - laundry, WiFi, etc., but the parks are well-maintained and offer an edge in affordability.
  • Not all state parks are created equally. Colorado parks are extremely nice, as are Missouri's green jewels. Arizona parks are some of the best, but the staff and volunteers all seem unhappy. Texas has some of the most amazing places to stay available anywhere.
  • As I write this, (October 17) I am in a Texas KOA campground that has about two hundred spaces. The wifi is spotty, the lot is dusty and the speed limit is mostly ignored.
  • The highways in eastern Colorado are horrific, especially if you're hauling 15,000 pounds of bucking trailer. Rough as a dry cob.
  • Southwest Colorado is an under-appreciated part of the country. There are multiple micro-climates, geological wonders, stunning scenery, and amazing food. 
  • Our stay at Mancos State Park, Colorado was extraordinary. The air was cool and dry at 8,000 feet. We had an ever-changing view of the dazzling La Plata Mountains.There is nothing in the area that is trying to eat you. No mosquitoes, ticks, chiggers, or other biting things. There are bears, but they are not aggressive, and sightings are rare. The town of Mancos has several great places to eat, all the necessary staples, a decent liquor store, and two weed stores. One is called The Bud Farm. Seems like a good fit.
  • Contrast with Missouri's Bennett Spring State Park. Ticks start appearing in April, small at first, then substantial as the season progresses. By the first of June, they're the size of dinner plates. (Almost.) Chiggers inhabit every inch of grassy areas, and the mosquitoes have registry numbers on their wings. It's seventeen miles to the closest grocery store, and there has never been a useful car wash in Lebanon, Missouri
  • Best car wash on our trip: Main Street Car Wash in Kerrville, Texas. No shit.
  • Phoenix drivers obey the speed limit. Perhaps it's out of fear that Sheriff Joe Arpaio will send them into hard labor wearing pink jumpsuits, but the freeways in Phoenix are positively civilized.
  • To the dressed-all-in-dark-colors, no reflectors, no lights bicyclist that crossed a main thoroughfare against the light as we were coming home from late dinner in Fountain Hills, Arizona: I'm glad we didn't hit and kill you, but I hope we scared the living shit out of you. Dumbass.
  • El Paso drivers are practicing for Daytona. I was going fifteen over the limit and being passed as though I was going backwards. They honked angrily at me.
  • Weekend stops should be planned for low tourist-interest places. Attempts to visit bike-clogged Jerome, Arizona and bumper-to-bumper Sedona were frustrating and generally a waste of time and fuel.
  • A one-ton GMC dually is eight feet wide. The ATM we visited in Silver City, New Mexico is 7'8" wide. Paint was exchanged.
  • I have managed to avoid scratching up the trailer in any way.
  • We were mentally snakebit by the unseasonably warm temperatures this fall. Part of this is old Missouri-think, where ninety degrees feels like two hundred. Here, (Arizona) ninety in the sun equals eighty in the shade, and a quick spritz of water is as good as central air. On more than one occasion,  I looked at the temps and decided against an outdoor activity that now passed, will likely never come around again. That's just dumb. We're not going to live forever.
  • Bennett Spring State Park, Missouri to Galveston, Texas - 2,988 direct travel miles. Total vehicle miles: about 6,000, including numerous side trips for photography, sightseeing and errands. I have amassed a data file of 370 GB in images
  • I have adopted a Picture-Of-The-Day format every morning on Twitter to keep my eye sharp, and an occasional post on Instagram featuring our buddy Adventure Rabbit. This was my original plan to keep looking forward, create opportunities to meet people, and push myself to constantly create new content that I could be proud of. I wanted to find new markets for my fine art photography, but never at the expense of our adventure.
  • Having said that, I do plan on reaching out at every opportunity to push my limits. Everything I create is for sale, and at popular prices. Just ask.
  • My Proust questionnaire plan has fallen victim to my natural shyness. I have to work on this. I always allow myself to fall back on the "I don't want to bother anyone." trap. Self-fulfilling failure prophecy.
  • There is no shame in avoiding congested urban cores. We found pleasant bypasses around El Paso, San Antonio, and Houston that didn't involve worming our way through the middle of the city with our fifty-foot rig in rush hour traffic. Having said that, we did manage to hit every red light on Texas 6 from Galveston to Sugarland. Our trip to the Hill Country wound up taking 6-1/2 hours.
  • I'd like to go back to Galveston after our time in the Hill Country is up. This time, not so many motorcycles, and a bit cooler, please. We didn't get nearly enough beach time.
  • We volunteer. State Parks are amazing resources, but many receive very little funding from their respective states, and instead rely mainly on park-generated revenues for upkeep and improvements. We're able to give back by cleaning restrooms and campsites, helping campers get settled and generally being the public face of the park for visitors. Next time you visit a state or national park, pay attention to that person that's helping you find your way. Chances are that it's a volunteer. Tell them thank you.

No comments:

Post a Comment