The man sitting at the KOA picnic table put his slices into the toaster and depressed the handle. His amore was cooking up eggs and bacon in an electric teflon skillet. I smiled, and hurried by to get some sheets into the laundry before departure. We were breaking camp that morning outside Indianapolis, the last leg of our month long expedition, stopping in ten states and driving through eleven. Cooper’s Landing Campground, MO far off the beaten track, along the Missouri River was the winner (in spite of the flies), with the campground in Mackinaw, Michigan on the shore of Lake Huron a close second.
But I have no business smiling at a man hauling an electric toaster along camping — we were far from roughing it, in the Winnebago that we spontaneously purchased this June. We have a small bathroom, a kitchen with gas stove and a view, a generator to power our blender, and even (embarrassingly) AC. Owen’s bed is a loft that drops down over the driver’s seats, a nice distance from the queen size bed in the back.. It also carries a tent in the cargo space underneath for anyone wishing 1) a more legitimate nature experience, or more likely 2) a break from hours living with the Simonses as we joggle along.
Even with its comforts, life in a portable house requires a lot of figuring out. How to carry drinking water? (oh oh water filter leaking) How to cook dinner standing while Edward is driving? (brace your knees!) How to get supper going over a campfire? Can I dry bedding over the campfire? (maybe) Well, then can I dry laundry in the moving RV?? Can I wash laundry in a small tub and get it dry before bedtime in the bright Dakota sunshine??? (yes!!) Tedious tasks take on new glamour with the added spice of innovation.
When we contemplated a family vacation at great-grandpa Oscar’s cabins on Lake Kaubashine in northern Wisconsin, renting a camper seemed like a good plan. That would address the mold sensitivities that now hamper me. And it might feel more comfortable to Owen, we thought, to stay in the same bed. AND if we got a camper, we could extend the trip and go on to Colorado to see our granddaughters! But there was nary a camper to rent – all of America took to the open road this year. Further exploration and then we took a sudden dive, when we found by some miracle one Winnebago available to purchase on the lot at Fretz RV. Just one. The salesman assured me that we would have no trouble selling it again at the end of the season. But I don’t see that happening. I am attached to my tiny home on wheels. **!No Mold Yet!!** The bed is very comfortable.
Owen’s new sensitivity to airplane travel was another part of the camper decision. (The last time we flew he was overwhelmed by a feeling that we were all going to crash.). I’ll let him tell his own story about a month of life in a Winnebago, but he seems to be adapting ok. It wasn’t easy for him. A camper in motion makes a lot of squeeks, squacks, and bangs. Pretty irritating and stressful to a guy already coping with altered perception of incoming sensory info. I pictured having lots of opportunities to support Owen’s writing on this trip. But the way this RV shakes everyone around (depending partly on the state of the roads – better out west! ), typing on a keyboard or even spelling on a card was very difficult. But then every part of Owen’s life is difficult, so why not take it on the road?
If Trum the dog could write his own travelogue I am pretty sure it would be scathing. That is except for the week we spent in the cabins on Kaubashine, where he swam every day and chased squirrels and chipmunks to his heart’s content. Somewhere in the middle of Kansas at a potty stop, he finally had had enough, and tried to take me off down an exit …anywhere… In the moving camper he isn’t sure which would be better, standing at the prow of the vessel, or cowering, pasted to the driver’s leg. When he discovered a niche to lie down in up in the wide dashboard, that filled his desire to be the leader of the pack. Kind of. It’s not particularly safe. But then neither is impeding the driver’s foot.
This story of the road would not be complete without a shout out to the women who made it a vacation, Owen’s support team (and friends) Heidi McCardell and Sheyla Munguia — two awesome, creative, and hard working women!! They each joined us for half of the trip.
Owen’s support women kindly served as Trum’s support team too. He would never have made it without them. Maybe they comforted each other. Seems that all three of them suffer from motion sickness. Having a tent “space of her own” was a critical component of the success of the trip. Heidi is an old hand at camping, which she adores. This was Sheyla’s first time at it, but despite the roar of traffic past most KOAs she got happier and happier about me setting up her tent…
Now that we are back,and the RV parked in the smoldering August sun, I am dreaming of the NEXT trip. Atlanta? Florida? …..
I been wand’rin’ early and late,. from New York City to the Golden gate, and it don’t look like I’ll ever stop my wanderin’… James Taylor