July 11th, 2011
We’ve been in Portland for a few days now, parked in front of my friend’s house, and I can honestly say that I absolutely love RV living. Having my home with me wherever I go, and traveling around seeing beautiful places and meeting interesting people has proved to be even more amazing than I expected, and I want to just keep going. I’m already getting a bit itchy to get back on the road. Let’s keep seeing things, I say. And I am pretty surprised that I feel this way, Miss Roots. Miss Homebody. Miss Grounded, apparently likes to keep moving, as long as I have a home-base, and a closet with all my things in it.
It’s been exactly 6 days since we left, and with the amount of things we’ve seen, done, learned, felt and experienced, I feel like it might as well have been six months.
Natalie, my dog Coach, and I are traveling in a 1984 Southwind by Fleetwood 34 foot motorhome. 6 days ago, I had never touched a motorhome, and now, I’m impressed with how much we know. How competent we are. Just doing all this, and having all this knowledge now makes me feel so proud. Two girls. Manhandling 34 feet of pure power. I never knew I’d be able to do something like this.
I have to say, too, that I’m very excited that I bought myself my very first knife. To keep us safe (of course). It’s a Smith & Wesson S.W.A.T. Steel, black, and fits right in my pocket, where it has lived ever since I got it. So far, I’ve used it for very tough and ferocious things like cutting balloons off of a plastic toy car, cutting the tags off of both my new bikinis, cutting the fringe off my daisy dukes, and opening a package of Trader Joe’s carrots. I even had to put it inside my pocket, instead of hanging out of my pocket, when we visited Shasta Dam, in Shasta, CA. “No weapons of any kind allowed on the property,” they said.
This dam is also the setting of a “battery problem” we had. We had stopped at the dam for a beautiful place to be while I had my last coaching call of the day. We pull up and park in the lot and walk around a bit. Beautiful forested mountains all around, a lake below, the second largest dam in the nation to our left and a shaded grassy area with picnic benches, drinking fountains, and a family of deer roaming around. We hang out for awhile, and when we go back to the motorhome and try to leave, it doesn’t start. Nothing turns over. We check to see if we left lights on or the radio and nothing seems to be the culprit. Even the fridge is using propane instead of electricity, so we know it wasn’t that. So we pop the hood and stare at all three of the batteries, looking for who knows what, and then decide to go ask for help from the security guard. He calls in for backup from someone who has jumper cables. And as they are about to start our engine, they realize that the RV wasn’t in PARK. It was in REVERSE. Which is why the car wouldn’t start. Not because of the batteries. Oopsie.
I had been on the other side of the lot getting water and hear hysterical laughter coming from the RV, so I knew it had to be some silly mistake. And when they told me the epic “REVERSE” mistake I had made, I decided it was a better idea if Natalie took the next driving shift, since my head was clearly somewhere else.
And that somewhere else was with a boy. The night before we had stopped in Cottonwood, CA. Known for…nothing really. Small, one horse town. One bar. One store that sells Wranglers. One gas station. And one cowboy who won’t stop two-stepping through my brain. I spent the infamous “battery” day thinking about how much fun I have with him when we hang out, and wondering…ugh…so many things.
But nonetheless, the train kept a’rollin and we made it to Weed, CA where we stopped at a rest stop for the night. I can’t explain how this feels. To be two young girls, operating such a large vehicle. When I look at it from the outside, it’s intimidatingly enormous. So many compartments and bits and bobs and levers and tanks and things to remember. But when I’m in the drivers seat, it feels easy and natural. When we’re looking under the hood, trying to troubleshoot the radiator leak, and the hood opens to be taller than we are and we have to stand on our tippy toes to even see inside, it feels amazing. Almost like we can do anything. I’m in a house on wheels. And that is perfect for this girl who loves roots. Just bring my house with me.
I’ve been thinking a lot about why I’ve decided to put all my stuff in storage and get in an RV for five weeks and travel around, and then have no agenda, no real plan, no real home. It’s not because I’m a super adventurous person by nature, or love being a nomad, or that I want this lifestyle forever. Naturally, I’m a home-town kind of girl. Loving stability and security and roots and my local grocery store where I say hi to Bill behind the counter and he remembers that I bought 2% milk on my previous trip. Loving the idea of family, and wide open spaces, and looking out over a beautiful property with blue skies and big fluffy clouds, standing next to my partner who still treats me like a lady and opens my car door for me. A space and a place to call home. I am and still want all of those things, eventually.
I’m doing this because it’s time to switch things up for awhile. The way I have been going about my life and my relationships hasn’t been serving me. And there is so much of life that I haven’t experienced up to this point. As I was leaving Oakland, crying, scared, asking my best friend “why am I doing this, again?” she reminded me that I’m doing this because it’s an amazing life experience opportunity.
Yes. Exactly. I’m doing this because I want to grow and stretch as a human being. I want to see and experience things I never would by sitting in my office in Oakland. I want to be scared, and learn how to fix a leaky water pump and know that I can handle whatever shows up. I want to see the fluffy clouds in the Wyoming sky and hike the mountains of Montana. I want to live my life. Now. Not watch my life go by, day by day. And regardless if I never do a trip like this again, I will now know that I can do something I never thought I could, and that not only is it amazing, but it is life changing.
And as I sit here in my 34 foot motor home, having survived six days of traveling in this beast, already having avoided a hydraulics disaster, fixed the radiator, troubleshot a water problem, checked the oil, parked this thing, remembered to turn the water pump off after every use, remembered to switch the fridge from “electrical” to “gas” while we’re driving, checked the gauges on the water tanks, holding tanks, propane tanks and battery, fixed a leaky gas smell, filled the water tanks, fixed the water pump, I’m feeling extremely competent. And happy. And proud of me and Natalie for going on this trip and embarking on something that I was almost too afraid to try.
I have no idea how this is all going to play out in my life, but I know it will prove to be pivotal for me. I sometimes wish I could see the road ahead of me, know how it is all going to work out, wish that the feelings in my heart right now all are for a purpose later on and that I’d know what it is, but as I was driving into Ashland, OR a few days ago, coming down the tree lined mountains of Northern California, with Lake Shasta all around me and massive mountains enveloping me, I realized that literally, I couldn’t even see the road ahead of me around the bend. But I knew it was there, and I knew it would get me where I set out to go, as long as I set out to go somewhere. And that made me feel safe, and calm, and relaxed.
I set out to have an amazing and rich life and a killer relationship. The kind I’ve always dreamed of. With a partner that rocks my world as I country swing his socks off. I sit here, on the side of the road while Natalie is on a coaching call, wind in my hair, hot pink lipstick on with my driving outfit and I know what I want wants me. All the things I want are somewhere out there, right around the bend. And when I really think about it, what I want, right now, in this moment is here already. I want to be doing this. I want to be thinking about this and learning about this and crying about love and wondering how things are going to turn out. So, really, it’s a win-win. It’s all there. It’s all here.
I was thiiiiiiiiiis close to not coming on this trip. I was so scared about driving the RV that I didn’t sleep for weeks, it felt like. The day before I left, I cried in my mom’s arms, multiple times. But here I am now, feeling amazing and I can’t imagine anything else I’d want to be doing right now. Scary doesn’t mean “don’t do it.” Scary means definitely “do it anyway.” Whatever you’re feeling scared about right now, know that it’s an indicator of something that matters to you and something that will potentially change your life. And who knows…along the way, you may learn how to operate a hydraulics system.