My most recent (within the last two weeks) escapade took me to the Pacific Northwest. I have always wanted to go to Montana, and by God I was going to do it. I had a problem though: I felt – and rightly so – a little nervous about hauling the Beast all the way up there through the Rocky Mountains from Arizona, especially since within the past year Gorgeous had undergone major open heart surgery. I hesitated at the prospect of further exorbitant damage. Nor did I relish the thought that I might be stranded in the wilderness of Northern Idaho. Egads.
Now here is where I am going to turn the truck pulling an RV around, because this story is not about my ultimately successful trip to the north (more on that later). It is actually about my original aborted attempt. I had previously planned to start this trip back in May (yes, that far back). But several things thwarted me, because the truth is, I didn’t really want to go. And since this blog talks about getting what you want in life, the first rule is: KNOW WHAT YOU REALLY WANT. Ha!
By May, I was tired. And I mean tired. Maybe only six months had passed since I started this game, but for the love of all things on wheels, I hadn’t been blessed with an easy ride. Obstacles had been thrown my way like rotten tomatoes at what seemed like every mile. Both arms were getting tennis elbow from cranking that bloody trailer jack every night, and I didn’t even have a tennis racket with me (God knows, I had everything else…)! I was ready to quit this whole crazy sexy rving lark and find a spot to lay down in and sleep forEVER. Still, I maintained a desire to go to Oregon, Washington, and Montana. While I have visited Oregon and Washington before, I had friends I had committed to meet in both places, and I have always wanted to go to Montana but had yet to make it there. It’s a far place to reach! So dammit, I was going. But my heart wasn’t really in it.
And that’s the curse of death to getting what you want – or think you want.
When the day finally arrived after three months of relative station in Arizona, I packed up my house, settled George in the car, kissed my
ex-honey goodbye, and set off rolling further westward. My goal was to traverse the Rockies at a relatively low point in California, then travel up I-5 to Oregon and park myself in Oregon for six weeks over the Memorial holiday. Then I would work my way up to the far north of Washington State near the Canadian border (I have a friend who lives in Vancouver who was going to come down and meet me – hi Melissa!), hang out there for two weeks, then meander eastward through the Idaho handle and hit Montana and Yellowstone for a couple more weeks. Then down to Colorado for a month over the July 4 weekend and then…. I didn’t know. Maybe work my way back to Ohio? Nnnnggggh… probably not. By then I would have sojourned everywhere I wanted to go on this odyssey, so I hadn’t planned further than that. But we all know how MY plans have been going.
Seven days later I was back in Phoenix.
But, back to the trip. My first port of call was Parker, Arizona. A beautiful place, but fairly uneventful as places go.
I only stayed one night here, but it really was lovely. The next day, I packed up and made my way towards the looming peaks of the Rocky Mountains. I had meticulously calculated my route so that I would avoid most of the highest/steepest hills, but even Google Maps doesn’t tell you everything. The vast majority of the journey was on flat land. Wheee! However, as I creeped closer to my destination at Serrano State Park, things took a distinctively elevated turn.
Before I could consult my handy GPS and loudly protest its obvious error in judgment, I was crawling at the steaming pace of 15 miles an hour up decidedly lofty hills. Don’t think for a minute there were any turn-arounds either. There was no where to go but… up.
And so up I went. Up and up and up. Thankfully my little Gorgeous soldiered on, and didn’t stop once. I cannot imagine what I would have done if it had. Narrow roads, and sharp turns. Even more gratefully, annoyed speed racers were conspicuously absent behind me, because there was NO where for them to whiz past me if there had been. We were really high. And not in the good way. 😉
At last we arrived at Serrano State Park. Again, another beautiful location.
Again, we only stayed here one night. The plan was to spend only one night in each of the locations in California, because the goal was to get to Oregon in the quickest and most peaceful way possible. I wanted to get to Oregon! But I still wanted to stay in beautiful places. 😉
The thing is, I didn’t really get the most out of it. Not even in a town most notable for its name: Fawnskin. Where do they come up with this stuff? I didn’t explore the town, I didn’t take a lot of pictures. And why didn’t I get the most out of it? Because I didn’t really want to be there. I wanted more to be done. That’s what happens when you want to be doing something else more than doing what you’re currently doing.
And, the universe made sure I was done. No, don’t worry, nothing untoward happened at the top of the mountain. We spent the night in the pretty but badly named Fawnskin, in a gorgeous campsite apparently under siege by coyotes. Not less than five people passed my campsite and warned me to keep George and the cats inside because of a particularly bold and voracious coyote who had already seen fit to murder one camper’s poodle. I didn’t want to hang out for longer than one night, and for once, my plans stayed intact.
Our next destination was San Luis Reservoir near San Jose, CA. We wheeled back down the mountain (what was that electrical smell??), and were gratified when we at last rolled up to the ranger station at my next park. And when I buzzed down the window to speak to the attendant, that’s when I noticed the REALLY. LOUD. NOISE.
My muffler had cracked.
Oh God. I had become THAT person.
Personally, I think there is little more humiliating than driving around in a vehicle with a bad muffler. You instantly become white trash, even if you’re driving a Rolls. And I wasn’t driving a Rolls, that’s for sure.
I sheepishly organized my stay and creeped into my campsite with eyes averted. On the other hand, everyone there, glared openly at me. What was worse, was that the campsites were very small and I couldn’t keep my vehicle attached to my trailer because the back-in length was too short. There was a LOT of backing and forwarding and backing and forwarding just to inch my way into the spot without further aggravating anyone by bashing into their vehicles, resulting in an inordinate amount of time before I could shut the truck down. Everyone loved me there.
On top of that, the park was farther into the middle of nowhere than I had spent in quite some time. No cell service, and therefore no internet at all, existed. I was stuck with my embarrassingly loud vehicle and no means of alleviating the problem.
But the scenery was spectacular!
The next day, I decided to abort my trip north. I just couldn’t take any more. My great desire to be done with this section of my journey reached its pinnacle, and it had pulled out waaaaay ahead of my desire to go north. I would just have to let my friends know and make other arrangements to meet them.
My rig and I set sail back towards Arizona, and I hoped to find someone who could fix the muffler along the way. I mean, I’m not kidding when I say I was in the middle of nowhere – the nearest decent-sized town was an hour away in the wrong direction. I had to travel ninety miles before I saw a truck/car repair shop right off of I-5, so I stopped in there to beg for help. Unfortunately, they couldn’t do the work (I never found out why), but they were able to refer me to another shop about six miles east into the abyss of cornfields. I was at their mercy, so I took his word and rumbled away into oblivion.
Eventually, the horizon opened up in front of me and I could see signs of life in the distance.
The miracle mechanic’s name was Ralph. Perfect! He was a happy little Mexican with so many cars in his ancient parking lot that there certainly wasn’t room for me and my RV to park. We had to maneuver my rig into an adjacent industrial warehousing area just so I could unhook and let him look at my truck. Several other guys crowded around just to see what the action was, and there George and I were right in the middle of it all.
George and I met several fascinating people at this odd location, but three hours and $95 later, I was back on the road towards AZ. It took two days in 100-degree weather in May and a teeth-grinding four-hour traffic jam in Los Angeles, but at last, we were “home”. I reallly wanted to be there, and by God I made sure I was.
Now the moral of this little story is, if you hope to get what you want in life, start by being very clear about what you really want. Otherwise you might find yourself in the middle of nowhere at a Mexican car repair shop praying that it only costs $95.
The truth is, I didn’t have to stop my trip north because of my muffler. It ended up being an easy fix, and my mechanic was very clear that I could keep on truckin’ if I wanted to. But I didn’t want to, I wanted to stop. I just needed a reason to do so. Still, it would have been a LOT less stressful and a LOT less dramatic if I’d just admitted to myself before I ever left Arizona that I didn’t want to go anymore.
Know what you want! Sigh.