Thursday, July 13, 2017

A time for reflection as we look at the clouds!

For more than a month we have been the guests of the state of Colorado’s parks. Quite by accident we came across the program that provides access to members of the state park system to spend up to 14 nights in a park over any 45 day period and we have taken full advantage of the offering. One week at Boyd Lake then down to St Vrain for two weeks returning to Boyd Lake for one more week. While these facilities are close by to where we once lived in Boulder, we simply didn’t know of their existence. Yes, we have thoroughly enjoyed ourselves as both parks are very pretty or so says Margo.

We have experienced every type of weather condition with beautiful sunrises and evening sunsets even as we have hunkered down and endured some spectacular thunderstorms. One thing we can say with assurity is that no two days have been the same and it has been this variety, indeed oftentimes extremes, which have helped entertain us while we have been domicile in our RV. The company command center continues to serve dual purposes – it’s our daily office from which we are both working even as it is our temporary home.

Nature though can be temperamental at times! While the Colorado state parks are situated alongside lakes and ponds they are also in close proximity to dairy farms. Massive, industrial-scale, dairy farms and with just the right conditions the breezes bring with them reminders of why Margo and I never took to farming. Fragrances quite unfamiliar to us frequently waft into the RV and are almost impossible to mask. But ah, nature! What can you do but try to enjoy those bucolic moments when all is at peace and only the sound of birds and insects intrude on the solitude. 

But seriously, what is it really like living a fulltime RV lifestyle? What compromises are there and what compensates for any of those compromises? It is now our sixth summer of RVing and it continues to be an evolving process. For almost three years, we were still trying to come to terms with operating the RV and we did a lot of damage along the way. Trees were knocked aside as paint was scraped from the side of the RV. Fuses kept blowing for what seemed to be no reason at all.

The steps down to the pavement kept failing and yes, have failed once again on our most recent drive down to Texas and most irritating of all, the slideouts kept damaging wood trim within the RV. Driving as many miles we have driven to date the almost constant flexing of the coach along its length,  the subsequent torque experienced by the chassis has resulted in cabinets’ doors coming off their hinges, catching the slideouts as they are being extended and frequently tearing apart the wooden trim . Over the years, again, lots of damage to the interior has been sustained. While it’s all been repaired, it’s something we now have to constantly monitor each time we extend the slideouts.

Compromises though haven’t been all that intrusive upon our lifestyle. Yes, we have to pay a lot more attention to every action we take with the home but then again, it is a complex piece of machinery. However, as for what compensates for these compromises well it is all about freedom. Being free to pick up and go anywhere. Free to set up camp alongside a lake, a field or even a Wal-Mart parking lot. And yes, free to camp out with any assortment of professional big rig drivers on a gas station apron parking lot anywhere, USA. And yes, to be bathed in morning sunlight after setting up camp late at night always sees the smiles returning fast. 

Since the last post we have been residing along Colorado’s front ranges at sites stretching from Boulder County to Laramie County – that is to say, between Boulder and the Wyoming state line. Cheyenne is only 30 miles up the road whereas Denver has to be 100 miles away, or thereabouts. Our locations have been determined by their closeness to the city of Windsor where our new home is being constructed and it is reaching a point where we can finally see the finish line.  But we are also closing on two months of fulltime RVing and while this really isn’t quite the duration most fulltime RVers enjoy in their coaches it’s still a pretty good indication as to what could be expected if we ever elected to take time out for perhaps a year on the road.

As could be expected, we have had a lot of time to read the musings of those RVers where residing in an RV, on a permanent basis, has becomea way of life. We also took time to read a wonderful book by a long-haul trucker called The Long Haul – a trucker’s tales of life on the road. Author Finn Murphy manages to capture so much of what we observe when out on the road and while it’s not up to the standard of say, Racing in the Rain: My life as a Dog, it still would make a good read for anyone about to jump on a plane. The observations about all those idiots on the road that you encounter proved to be a source of mirth as it continues to worry us as just today, on our drive back to the RV, our local interstate was closed temporarily following a three car wreck that clearly should have been avoidable – the vehicles involved were travelling too close together and had few options when things went south!

Milestones come and go. It’s no surprise to find that we are getting older and routine task around the RV are taking much longer to accomplish and are no longer entirely error free. The RV is and remains a complex piece of machinery and with as many moving parts as it has, it continues to amaze me that when I turn the ignition key, the engine fires up, the brakes release and the mighty coach moves forward. Wow! Doing a final check just today, I found tire pressures were down on two tires, the DEF fluid wasn’t being absorbed at the rate I expected and yes, once again, we had no hot water! But then again, the road beckons and we are off once again …

We have also reached another somewhat more dubious milestone this month. We haven’t been on an airplane all year. Last year we had to take a couple of flights with one of them my solo flight to London but not this year. Zero flights. Now there would be those among our friends who might find this indeed surprising – Margo has flown more than a million miles with United in her own right even as I close in on three million miles with United. Throw in the two decades of constant travel between Australia, the US and Europe in the seventies and eighties before there were frequent flyer programs and I think I would be up around five million as I did 300,000+ miles in one year with QANTAS.

All this is to note that when it comes to compromises and compensating events, the tradeoffs made when flying almost always proved less than what could have been and perhaps should have been than advertised. Ah, but with a car in tow or as has been the case of late simply driven behind the RV,  we set the agenda, leave whenever it suits us, pick and choose our destination and yes, get to see some terrific vistas along the way.

 Yes, tomorrow we will be pulling up stakes once again tackling the mountainous drive from Colorado to California but way of Las Vegas. We will count the many vapor trails we see overhead and worry little that we may be missing out on a glass of wine in first class (do they even do that anymore?) – as for mileage, well then yes, we have now racked up more than 50,000 miles on the coach as we have crisscrossed America. And it is just the start of our sixth summer. 

What can we now say – yes “I’ve have seen fire and we have seen rain. We have seen sunny days that I thought would never end.” Thanks James Taylor – always loved this song.  To this Margo and I can add how we have seen mountains, lakes and wildlife of every kind from the smallest turtle crossing our path as it meandered from one pond to another. We have seen a magnificent red deer standing tall by another lake that was only yards away from a busy interstate. And we have seen coyotes and foxes and raccoons everywhere. As for birdlife, well too many to name but watching a pair of white pelicans gliding over a mirror like lake never ceased to fill us both with awe. So peaceful …

This is what we have been enjoying for much of our time RVing. We never planned on spending a period fulltime RVing at this stage of our lives but having access to the coach for this extended period of time has certainly proved to be a godsend for us both. We are still sorting out issues with the hot water system and more often than not, it has gone cold while Margo is in the shower. There is too an ongoing issue with the steps. But these will all be addressed the next time we put the RV in for service and will all be sorted out. Could we do this full time for real? Could this become our only residence? At this stage, probably not, as having a home to return to still has its merits.

What we can attest to is that being from different countries and having both made decisions to move to the U.S. as adults, we missed the many family vacations in the station wagon that so many of our age group were subjected to in the ‘50s and ‘60s so, much of this country is new to us. Somehow, this seems to be a reminder that you can catch up to missed opportunities and equally surprisingly, enjoy them! There are still many more miles to be traveled and many more campsites to set up as our new home will not be habitable much before mid-August so there will be a couple more photos to be posted and a couple more observations to be made, but for now, it’s back to our daily routines even as we cast an eye out towards the mountains and trust the weather will be kind as we cross the great divide one more time! 


Robert said...

Park in our driveway and you'll see a couple of dozen deer, couple of rabbits, a fox, ground hog, turtle, frog. At least until Rummy chases those critters off his lawn.

Richard Buckle said...

We have the rabbits and the geese, Robert but as for the rest of your menagerie, well not so much!