Heating Up!

If I wasn’t waiting for Liz to finish her business over Memorial Day, we would have been out of here weeks ago. I turned on the AC for the first time on Monday when the temperature was forecast for 97 degrees and it went to over 100. Today again it’s forecast for 97, better than yesterday’s 104. Until Monday I managed to get by with just the ‘fantastic fan’ and two oscillating fans. Now the electric meter is spinning, spinning, spinning!

Recently Liz became ill with a gastrointestinal problem that she is having tests for today. She babysat her two small grandchildren over the weekend and had a difficult time with them, as they are both ‘special needs’ children. My feeling is that her physical upset was brought on by the stress of caring for these boys, and her feelings associated with it, namely anger and resentment that her daughter was off having a ‘family outing’ with her daughter and a friend, spending money that they owe Liz. She just couldn’t ‘stomach’ any more.

Liz is scheduled to fly to Indiana with her teen granddaughter next week, and spend a week there. When she returns her daughter is supposed to have surgery for a hysterectomy that hasn’t been scheduled yet. She wants to be available for her daughter’s initial recovery, but she is concerned that that will interfere with her plans to travel with me to Oregon. So it’s still possible that she will opt out at the last minute.

It will definitely be a financial hardship for me to travel alone this summer; however, I will manage…When I get back in October I will put all the rest of my ‘stuff’ on eBay or Craig’s List to add to the coffers, and sell my storage shed. Then I will definitely be ready to ‘travel light’. And I will look for part-time or short-term employment to supplement my income and hopefully save for a solar display on the rig.

Next month, which is coming up fast, I will need to purchase new house batteries and have the technician back to finish ‘the list’ we started in March. This year the maintenance for the rig and the truck are taking a financial toll. I had to replace the starter in the truck earlier this month. Oh, boy!

Getting Ready to Roll

Many folks advise not making any major decisions the first year after losing a loved one…

Doc and I pulled into Rincon Country East RV Resort in Tucson, AZ in January 2007 after spending the few months before at its sister park, Rincon Country West. Early in March Doc unexpectedly was hospitalized with a condition that was to keep him from returning home – he passed into Spirit two months later.

So I remained, and day by day said goodbye to a dream, and hello to a new beginning. Not wishing to remain in the Arizona desert for another summer, it became imperative that I assess my ability and desire to continue living in a travel trailer. And if I chose to keep it as my home, then I should certainly travel in it.

In a conversation with a friend in the park about getting relief from the summer heat, I was guided to to the U.S. Forest Service program, Passport in Time. I went online, and discovered that volunteers were needed for a heritage preservation project in the Malheur National Forest in northeastern Oregon. On Christmas Eve I shared my interest in participating in this program with another friend who also lost her husband two months after Doc passed away. She indicated that she was very interested. I told her I was going to apply online, and we began a dialogue about making the journey to Oregon together.

I knew that before I could travel anywhere I would need to have repairs done on the trailer. We’d lost a tire moving from the West park, and some damage had been done to the underneath side of one of the slide-outs. In addition, there were maintenance items that I had not kept up with. So I hired a local remote RV repair business to come to my site and make the necessary repairs. Four new tires, and almost $1100 later I felt the rig was almost ready. At least I could take it out for the driving lesson I’d signed up for the following week.

As my driving experience with the trailer was minimal – about 100 miles on the straight-away and a turn into a gas station while on its maiden voyage almost four years ago – I felt I should take the RV driving lessons that were available before and after the Life on Wheels conference, an annual RV school that takes place in several locations nationwide. To learn more about caring for the trailer I also registered for the conference and made my way into downtown Tucson, where I attended 10 90-minute classes on such topics as fire safety, tires, batteries, boondocking (aka dry camping), working while on the road, awning care, and how to create a travel blog.

Those days were also filled with getting my ‘stuff’ packed up in the trailer, stowed safely to make the trip across town for my driving lesson. Doc and I always checked each other to make certain that we’d covered everything – disconnect the propane, electricity, water, and sewer hose; turn off the water heater, fold up the steps and the hand rail, etc., etc., etc., and hitch up the truck. My neighbor, Liz, became my teammate. Not only did she sign up for the trip to Oregon, she helped me pay for the classes. She’s not done any RVing, and so she is learning a lot. She helped me unhook the trailer from its ‘mooring’ and accompanied me on the trip across town to the driving lesson. We had plenty of ‘neighborly’ help from the men nearby – some things just require more muscle power than women have. They were all very encouraging and helpful.

It felt good to pull that trailer out of its space and maneuver it around the corners of the park, and onto the road. My biggest anxiety was how I was going to put the trailer back into the space. Not to worry! After three and a half hours of instruction, including backing the trailer straight and around a corner, I made my way home again. With Liz’s directions I put that vehicle right into the spot, perfectly, the very first try!!! With the truck still partly in the road it didn’t sink in that the trailer was in place. I was so excited, and the neighbors all came out from their carports where they’d been watching, to congratulate me!

So, now I wait until we leave on our journey in June. I have plenty of work to do to get ready. I learned more about how to pack my cabinets, as some things were jostled around a bit. I remembered that I need to keep things simple – it takes a long time to put away the things that had been sitting out for the last year. It’s time to consolidate tools, organize compartments and label them so that Liz and I both can find what we need while we are gone. Doc had his own way of organizing things. The year has required changes, and now I’m looking forward with confidence, to go on the road on my own. It isn’t what I had planned, and yet it’s beginning to have a more comfortable feel to it.

Adventures on the Road to Discovery