Monday, September 03, 2012

In The Beginning

Suddenly I have 10 of the next 12 months of my life mapped out workamping in several spots. Now why should I feel scared?

I guess it's called organization, knowing where I'll be when, more or less.

God willing and the creek doesn't rise.

dearmissmermaid.com
The view from my motorhome window, winter 2009/2010


It seemed only yesterday, not nearly 3 years ago, that I arrived in America so incredibly ill, that I concentrated on minute to minute, hour to hour, day to day survival.  I required neither a watch nor a calendar. Time was now.  Little else mattered. During my travels to America, my best buddy, my favorite cat who had been by my side for over 9 years was lost in transit. I was severely depressed and lonely in addition to sick. 

The cat wasn't dead, he was lost. Day after day I pined for him. I missed the Caribbean, I missed my friends. I missed being alive and vibrant. 

I couldn't work.  I felt awful. I needed a place to live.  I bought the motorhome after much searching. 

30 miles later I parked it. 

For over two months in the dead of winter, I lived in the motorhome, going nowhere but places in my mind. 

One day a friend came to visit.  I convinced him to ride to the gas station with me in the motorhome. It was a hilarious trip of me creeping around while my friend tried to coach me to drive faster. (He has never driven a motorhome but felt compelled to offer up advice.)

I thought I had picked a gas station that was all right turns and towards the country rather than the ones towards town that required left turns. Incredibly, as I approached the filling station, there were 18 cars parked at 18 pumps. 

Instead of making the turn, I kept on coasting by. My friend asked "What are you doing?  You've missed the station!"

"I am practicing!  It was full!"

Within a mile we came upon a new industrial park with a beautifully landscaped entrance road (conveniently on the right). Every bush and tree planted was identical size, rigidly installed  with precise GPS accuracy.  The place was  brand spanking new. 

I turned into the park in  hopes of eventually getting turned around to go back to the gas station. I was explaining all this to my friend.

He said "Relax, you're doing just fine, but you need to go faster."

I ignored his go-faster urgings. Learning to drive an RV isn't about racing around at great speed. That will come later. 

Suddenly...

THWAP!!! 

BANG!!! 

SWISH!!!

THUD!!!

I hit the brakes, but not screeching hard, just enough to try to mitigate the damages. We looked at each other in astonishment with a surprised what-in-the-hell-was-that look.

My friend hopped out of the motorhome. I wondered momentarily if he was going to jog off back to his car a few miles away. Instead he announced we had hit a tree branch hanging over the road. 

We  discussed the possibilities of whether it did any damage or not, while I turned the beast around to have another go at that gas station. 

Amazingly I made it to the gas station without incident, topping up the tank.

Later we discovered the roof leaked, friends helped me throw an old used tarp over the RV, but now it was very dark and depressing inside because the tarp was so big, it covered the entire left side and front  of the RV in addition to the roof. 

rv snow by dear miss mermaid
I watched every video I could find online on how to drive an RV and not hit things.

A few weeks later, I drove through teeth-grinding 8 lane traffic  to the repair shop. I had the roof and a punch list of oddball items fixed.

Now I was ready to travel. But my health plunged up and down like a roller coaster. Hours, days, weeks rolled by.  The RV and I sat parked in the cold, minus the depressing tarp.   

A friend from Florida called, convinced I could get well if I came south. She invited me to camp in her garden.  I told her I would think about it. 
The next day I woke up alive. It was frighteningly cold. I felt awful, but I tossed down some coffee then started driving.

10 miles an hour.

20 miles an hour.

35 miles an hour.

Heading south.  No time better than the present. 

Someone had given me a tiny MP3 player about the size of a matchbook. I had loaded it up with disco dance music for my trip. It was playing through the radio speakers.


You're stayin alive, stayin alive.  
Feel the city breakin and everybody shakin,  
And were stayin alive, stayin alive.  
Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin alive, stayin alive.  
Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin alive. 
~~~From "Stayin' Alive" by the BeeGees"


Having turned onto an interstate, I was now going 55 miles per hour.  I was  petrified. 

I went through a torrential storm, then a brutal detour of interstate construction,  wondering just when I would knock off my side mirrors or crash into the concrete barriers or knock over the flashing lights. When the detour ended, I was just in time to hit  heavy thick traffic.

The big 18 wheel trucks frightened me, as they blew me around going 75 miles per hour.

What few possessions I owned at the time were rattling loudly around the cabinets.  I sounded like a traveling tinware salesman with boisterous clanging and banging.  (I've since learned how to quiet all that down.)

I was exhausted and pulled over at a rest area.  

My first two  hours on the road and I was pooped.

At this rate, it was  going to take me 10 days to get to Florida, but I didn't care. 

My fingers were locked to the steering wheel, unwilling to let go. I meditated trying to relax, prying them off after a few minutes of great effort. Months later I would splurge on a  memory foam steering wheel cover  to remind me when I am gripping too hard.  (Heaven on earth to drive with that now.)

I couldn't believe I had not thwacked a telephone pole while making a  right turn, nor mowed down all the  gas pumps while turning left in the station. No tree branches had presented themselves so low for me to hit (again.)  I had carefully read all clearance signs at bridges and overpasses. 

Now that I was in the restroom parking lot, I thought about my pilot friend who says, anytime you can walk away, it's a very good landing. For some bizarre reason, I felt secure and confident.  I had landed. It was good.

I can do this.  I can drive this little old motorhome. 

But to add insult to comedy. while getting out of the RV, my legs went weak.  I fell in the parking lot with my door still open. People stared but no one came to help. 

Maybe they thought I was drunk and scary. I pretended to be studying the front tire, then picked myself back up again. 

And so began my journey. 

4 comments:

  1. You have come a long way from that SLOW start:)

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  2. Good going on those 10 months that you have lined up! Wouldn't it be nice if you saved enough to take two months just to yourself?
    And yes, you've come a long way baby!

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  3. You did great. I remember my first journey, it was hell. hahaha Your amazing you go Girl. And yes as Cyn said you have come a long way baby!

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  4. I love this posting! Your story-telling shares your anguish & triumph so powerfully. I look forward to reading more of your postings. I feel I'm in for a treat! Thanks for keeping it real and being willing to share your journeys through life.

    Regards, Ross
    www.designstop.com

    ReplyDelete

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