Leaving to head out west in the RV for several months is making me feel both excited and apprehensive. I really don’t know where I am going or how long I will be gone. My general plan is to head out of Florida towards the Grand Canyon. The route out of Florida along the panhandle and Gulf of Mexico is a beautiful drive. Then I’ll continue to head west through Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and then turn towards the north into Utah and Idaho as the weather warms up. I will be traveling by myself along with my two cats, Paso Robles, and Mountain Lioness. Wow, are they in for a surprise. The cats will be fine, I think they could live full-time in the RV.
I’ve never spent more than 22 consecutive days in the RV. I did take a 43 day bicycle tour back in 2007, cycling from Lordsburg New Mexico to Jasper Canada, crisscrossing the continental divide 24 times. That tour was better planned since we had a known destination and stayed in a motel each night of the tour.
The trip is the beginning of a new phase of my life. I’ve been working towards this trip ever since I retired over three years ago. I first starting dreaming about this trip back in 1999 when I was on a bicycle tour in Alaska. While cycling into Valdez, I saw a RV with Florida license plates. The people in the RV drove to Alaska from Redington Beach Florida. Redington Beach is located along the Gulf of Mexico, on the west coast of Florida, and is only six miles from my home. Meeting people who lived only six miles from me while being over 4000 miles away from home was a very interesting chance encounter. Perhaps the concept of synchronicity best describes meeting them, a meaningful coincidence with no causal relationship. Ever since meeting them, I dreamed of taking a RV trip out west. Their “RV” was a hand-made wood shack built on the back of an El Camino. They traveled for three months and 4000 miles in this contraption to reach Valdez. I looked inside and mostly what I saw was racks of canned food. To this day, I don’t know where they found room to sleep in their home-made RV.
I took a six-week road trip out west in the summer of 2015 from Florida to Frisco Colorado in my SUV. I left the cats behind in Florida. I returned home a bit early because I missed my cats so much. I decided if I was going to travel for extended periods of time in America, that I would bring the cats along. So I started looking at RVs.The next year I ended up getting a small Class C Diesel motor-home. The RV is a Winnebago View, a 26 foot coach built on a Mercedes Benz 3500 Sprinter Chassis. I knew I needed a diesel-powered rig after watching gas RVs struggle in the mountains navigating the Rockies during my trip out west. In the fall of 2015, and all during 2016, I took eight trips totaling around 70 days in the coach.
While some of the RV trips were almost a month-long in duration, I really considered the trips to mostly be practice for a longer RV trip. The trips were much more than just learning how the coach works and how to drive the rig. Just as important was learning and becoming comfortable with navigating, finding places to stay, and just getting used to being on the road. More importantly, was learning how to cope both mentally and emotionally, being out on the road by myself for hours each day for several weeks. There is a lot of time to think and contemplate life when you are alone on the road for such a long time. I think my twenty years of long distance bicycle riding and all those long bicycle tours in the mountains out west prepared me for the loneliness of the open road.
A significant amount of preparation went into getting ready for this trip. When I went into the RV dealer to buy a motor home, the first thing I saw was a very large beautiful picture of a RV in the mountains. The dealer is selling a dream, and they make the RV experience seem like all you have to do is turn the key and drive off into the sunset. Well that perception is not true. The RV is a lot of work. A trip this long is essentially moving from your house into your home on wheels. Also included in the preparation is getting many of the upcoming years tasks completed such as yearly medical tests and cat exams. Setting off with a clean bill of health for both myself and my cats gives me comfort. Many home maintenance items were also completed. Of course completing RV maintenance items is essential before setting off on a tour that might last months and 10,000 miles. Writing a travel blog while on the trip creates a problem with limited internet connectivity. Solving that problem is a MiFi Hotspot, along with an unlimited data plan from Verizon. The hotspot provides a secure WiFi connection using a Verizon cell signal. During my previous trips, I found that I could easily use up to 0.5 gigabytes of data just to publish one blog post.
This trip also a town scouting trip. I am looking for a nice town to live in during the summer of 2018, and perhaps to move to permanently in a few years. Florida is so crowded now. The paradise I moved to 38 years ago is now changed forever by development and the masses of people migrating to Florida. I would like to find a nice town with about 50,000 people where the daily temperature ranges from 50 degrees to 70 degrees. Then I can find a house to rent in that town for the summer, perhaps in Idaho. From Idaho, beautiful places in Montana, Wyoming, Washington, Oregon, California, and Canada, are all just a day or two drive in the RV. I can live out west where the weather is cooler in the summer, and be just a few days drive from so many extraordinary beautiful places. I am hoping to make my way to Coeur d’ Alene in northern Idaho. I have no idea if I will make it that far or not, but CDA could be my final destination.
I am not sure exactly where I am going out west, I really don’t know. I remember a TV show were the lead character left the show. His final scene was in a cafe along a desolate road in the southwest, probably somewhere in the New Mexico or Arizona desert. As he leaves and pays his bill, the waitress asks him, “Where you headed?” He says, “No where in particular.” She replied, “Well how will you know when you get there?” He answered, “That is a good question, who knows, that is a very good question, have a great day.” And with that, he gets in his car and drives off into the sunset with a voice over saying that he believes in happy endings. That scene in the lonely cafe on the empty stretch of desert road completely captures how I feel about my upcoming travels.
A poster I saw read, “If your dreams don’t scare you, they are not big enough.” Well, I am a bit scared. I figure I can always come back anytime I want to.
“You must do the thing you think you cannot do” – Eleanor Roosevelt
“You just cannot beat the person who does never gives up” – Babe Ruth
Click on the Link below to a video and music from the Magnificent Seven, or perhaps better known as the music from the Marlboro Man Commercials. The video has great scenes of Yul Brynner, Eli Wallach, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, Robert Vaughn, & James Coburn when they were very young men.