So ladies and gents, I’m on my way. I am actually several days into this amazing journey (I left Dec. 4), and only now am I being able to relax. It has NOT been all sunshine and roses. In fact, there hasn’t been any dang sunshine at all… will it ever stop raining dammit!?!?!? My luck has been astonishingly horrible when it comes to weather – it has rained nearly every minute since I left Columbus. Yes, I’ve been hauling 4000+ pounds of awesomeness behind me for the last 700 miles in relentless pouring rain. But my little Gorgeous (my ancient Ford Explorer) has been cruising well at 50 miles per hour, just eating it up mile by slowbie mile. She’ll never stop, that little angel. Love her to pieces! And, I also love it that I am THAT annoying slow person in the right lane now. Just watch it maniacs – no ugly comments or I’ll move over to the left lane and REALLY piss you off. And since I can’t see you tailgating and flashing your fancy LED headlights at me, I’ll just stay there until you have a stroke and careen off the road. I’ll be laughing all the way (at 50 miles an hour). HAHAHAHAAAAAAAaaaaaaa…..
[By the way, I’ve renamed Shazam. That name just didn’t fit my RV. It is now officially named the Beast. Which it unquestionably is. And so now, when paired with my truck Gorgeous, they are together Gorgeous Beast. Ha!]
So back to my first day. I had planned on leaving Columbus at noon, so that I could be at my first destination by 4pm at the latest. I really didn’t want to have to back in my Beast to the parking spot on my first day in the dark. Hey, I didn’t want to have to back in my Beast to the parking spot on my first day in the rain either, but I got neither wish granted. It was sooooooo slooooooowww getting everything moved out of my now ex-house, that instead of leaving at noon, I couldn’t leave until… four. I hate having so much CRAP! And that’s all it is… crap. But apparently it’s crap I think I must keep, and thus much of it regretfully came with me. Argh! It got so late that eventually all I could do was sweep whatever was left into a giant contractor-size trash bag and sling it into the giant mess that is the interior of the Beast (pic further down).
It was already getting dark before I even fired up Gorgeous. Forget any ceremonial goodbye video. I was so fed up all I could do was give my ex-house the bird and a curse and grumpily and resentfully roll out.
It was a weird trip. Much of it was spent on a non-freeway, driving in the dark and through mist, on roads that don’t even have reflectors on the pavement in between the yellow lines. I was paranoid that I would run out of gas in the middle of nowhere and have to call AAA to tow me and my trailer to some undisclosed location at an exorbitant price, so I always stopped for gas as soon as I hit the half-tank point. But even that couldn’t go smoothly. Just a simple stop for gas had to turn into an episode.
In one particular case, I got off the freeway, and used those truthfully helpful blue signs to tell me which way to go to get gas (I remember the days before those existed. One of the world’s most excellent ideas!). Naturally, I read it wrong, and went left instead of right. There was an Exxon station, but none of the other options that I was expecting. When I saw the Exxon station, there were more people there than I felt comfortable navigating around, so I kept going, thinking some of the other stations would be around the bend. I kept going. And going and going and going and going and going. Further and further into the middle of nowhere West Virginia. WTF?
In the dark. In the dark where there are no streetlights. This is not a place anyone with teeth wants to be.
As I continued driving perilously into the Deliverance abyss, I started yelling at asking the Universe what was going on. Where were all the promised gas stations? Did the sign say they were a mere million miles away and I missed that? Where in God’s name could I turn around? I was hauling the Beast! I couldn’t just roll into a lane and quietly back out into the road and go back the other way. I couldn’t see a damn thing, so how could I tell if an upcoming driveway led to a parking lot in which I could safely execute a giant-radius U-turn? Where in West Virginia hell was I going anyway???
And then I had a more menacing thought…
“Universe…. are you trying to… TEST ME?!?! Because this is REALLY NOT A GOOD TIME RIGHT NOW FOR A CHALLENGE.”
I admit, I was yelling and crying just a little bit. Frustration and fear are powerful emoters.
However, it must have worked, because within a minute over a hill I came upon a handy Save A Lot, which had a glowing sign that shed a beacon of light on its giant and empty parking lot. Bliss! I could turn around without crushing anything or ending up in a ditch. Who knew a Save A Lot could be such a welcome sight. I’m sure that’s how the Three Kings felt when they saw the Star. Save A Lot = Star. I swear I heard heavenly singing and saw some halos. Nice.
So I turned around, and drove the at least 20 teeth-grindingly unnecessary miles back to where I started. And naturally, about 100 yards on the other side of the freeway, behind a convenient copse of trees, were the three gas stations with delightfully high, wide, and clear pathways that I was expecting to see in the first place.
Oh! I bet you thought the story ended there. Nooooo, my friends. An extra half-hour detour was nothing.
By the time I reached my first destination, as I said, it was dark, and it had been raining, so everything was wet, puddly, and muddy. I am such a novice at this whole thing that I was unable to back into the first site I found as I kept wanting to run over the electrical box, which did not seem like a good idea. I found another site, and astonishingly, was able to back in without hitting anything or parking in quicksand. I got the Beast unhooked and leveled, started the heat and got the kids inside, and set up the electrical. Whoo hoo! Things were looking good.
And then… well… I hooked up the water.
They say challenges make you stronger, but… for the love of God. I was so tired. I had spent the entire day moving stuff out of my house, cutting fingers, ripping off nails, cracking elbows and bruising legs, then driving a billion miles in the dark and rain… I just wanted to go to bed and sleep for a thousand years. But no. I had miles to go before I would sleep.
In an RV you have two choices with water: 1) you can hook up the hose directly to the RV and the water pressure will push the water through the entire system and it will magically come out of the faucets, showers and other devices, or 2) you can fill a fresh water holding tank, and then turn on the water pump and that will pull the water through the entire system and it will magically come out of the faucets, showers and other devices. I began with the hose hooked directly to the RV. At least, for about 45 seconds before all the water started flowing out of the bottom of my RV and pooling in my storage basement and all over the already sodden ground. Er… what?
I had no idea what was going on, I just knew this was baaaad. Thankfully, none of the water made it into the living space of the RV, but again…. what? This was a brand new RV. I had paid brand-new RV prices expressly so that I wouldn’t have any of these kinds of problems. I figured I had to be dreaming. Alas… no.
And then, just as I was coming down off the shock high and getting ready to curse the Universe like I had never cursed the Universe before, then throw a lot of things around the campsite and then regret it, the alarm went off on my phone. Er… what? Great God Almighty what kind of day was this anyway???!??! What NOW?!!?
Well, it just so happened it was 9pm and time for my scheduled 1.5 hour teleclass for my coaching certification course – which I had completely forgotten – during which not only was I going to coach my client and be graded, but also be my classmate’s client and be coached. Super. Just what I needed right at this particular moment in the time-space continuum.
So I had to stop everything I was so happily doing, get into my car, get on the phone and be brilliant for the next hour and a half. Argh.
However, it went by quickly and I used the opportunity as the client to unload about my amazing day. It was actually incredibly helpful! But poor Sven. What a lot for him to cope with. However, he handled it with incredible aplomb and it was a good challenge for him as a coach!
Oh but we’re still not done! I still had dreams of having effective plumbing in the Beast, and I had not exhausted option #2 yet (holding tank heaven). I had rationally believed that the problem had something to do with the hose connection, and therefore figured that I could fill the holding tank, then pump the water through the system and voilá! I would have water and all would be well with the world.
No. No no no no no no no.
I was actually getting excited when I filled the holding tank. No flooding! Whoo hoo! So I joyfully filled it to capacity and had visions of hot showers and cups of cocoa. Then I turned on the water pump to bring the water into the system and… pleh. Floods. All the water started coming out of the bottom of my RV and into the storage basement again. Sigh. Now I was screwed.
At this point, I admit, I was starting to get a little upset. It was getting very late, it was raining, I was feeling distinctly gamey, and now my home was filling with water. I could only hope that it wasn’t reaching my stuff inside (it didn’t). I called the emergency coach line for this sort of thing, and got a rather decent gentleman on the phone who calmly asked all sorts of stupid questions about the color and decals on my RV even though I had already given him the VIN number, during which I calmly throttled him until he started asking questions that were actually relevant to my problem.
Eventually we concurred that a water line was broken and that I was pretty much SOL. No water for Heather! And, that getting someone to fix it was going to be an enormous problem of inconvenience since I was traveling to a new destination nearly every day, never mind that it could be mighty difficult for me to haul my house and all its contents including three cats and a dog to a dealership for an undetermined length of time in order for them to make it right. Yay!
How did my evening end, if it ever would? Sigh. I gave up at this point, and decided to go to bed. Since it was now after midnight, I decided I didn’t want to run the risk of getting to the shower room and finding that I needed twenty quarters for four minutes of hot water… I just couldn’t take one more thing to drive me up the wall. So I climbed into my RV, planning on rolling my stinky, scummy self into my [admittedly awesome] bed, and hoped to sleep.
Instead, I was welcomed with this:
Egads. It was at this moment that I came to regret my hasty flinging/moving exercise earlier in the day.
I decided to pretend I didn’t live in a garbage dump, and crawled into the space that looked most like a bed. I scratched my way under the covers and let my head rest.
And laid awake all night imagining my car breaking down in the middle of the WV mountains, with no cell service, no one to help me, nowhere to go, and strange noises torturing me forever more. I had visions of rain, rain and more rain, running out of gas, outrageous repair bills, and smelly armpits for the rest of my life.
No sleep for Heather.
I was ready to turn around and go back to Columbus. Forget this insanity! I was done!
Mmmmm…. not so much. By morning, after two hours of sleep, and it still raining, I figured I could soldier on. I couldn’t quit after one day. It had to get better, right?