Thursday, December 23, 2010
So we arrived safely. I didn't really keep track, but we went 3000+ miles in 6.5 days of driving. Not a spectacular rate, but with a stop at Grandma's house to play in the pool and the bladders of two kids under 8, I am happy with how quickly we got here. And we are here for Christmas. Two months ago, I would have said with a fair amount of confidence that I would be in Lexington for Christmas, but here I am.
We have the camper all set up in my Sister-in-law's drive way. I feel intrusive. While we are self-contained, we sort of take up the entirety of the driveway. And if we visit, we overtake the entire house. I greatly appreciate their hospitality, but pray that we can maintain some appropriate distance.
Today we drove from Phoenix Arizona to just above Grapevine Hill north of LA. On the drive, I put in some old tapes that brought back memories. It amazed me how vivid the feelings returned. I’m not talking about high school, I’m talking about 4th grade.
In 4th grade, Wendy Page (or was it Wendi Paige?) lip-synced ‘Straight-up’ by Paula Abdul at a talent show. I totally had a crush on Wendy and her performance was spectacular. I can still remember quite vividly how I felt watching the song and all of those feelings come right back when I hear the song. I don’t want to be misunderstood; I haven’t seen Wendy in at least 20 years and if I did see her, I wouldn’t recognize her. But I certainly remember the feeling of being completely infatuated with a girl.
Also at that talent show, Cheryl Weaver asked me to go out with her. I also had a crush on Cheryl (a guy really can’t have too many crushes in 4th grade). Cheryl went to the same bus stop as I did. I would make sure to get to the bus stop as early as possible every day so that I could spend time with Cheryl. I would wait at the bus stop for a long time, eagerly anticipating being able to stand around and talk with Cheryl.
At the 4th grade talent show, Cheryl worked up the courage and asked me to go out with her. Really this made a lot of sense since we both had crushes on each other and had lots of opportunities to hang out together and do whatever dating 4th graders do.
Not only did Cheryl ask me out, she didn’t do it through a friend, she did it in person, face to face. I remember how excited I was at all of the opportunities and the realization of my dreams. And then I said, “no”. Not only did I say no, but I said it in a tone of voice that said, “no way, why in the world would you ask me that?”
A few minutes after I said no, her friends came and asked me, ”So, what did you say?” I told them that I told her no. Then they asked why… I don’t remember what I said. I don’t have any good reason to having said no. On one hand, this is a major regret in my life. My actions contradicted my true feelings. Every time I hear that Paula Abdul song, I feel those feelings of complete infatuation and the feelings of regret and denying my true feelings.
At the same time, I look back at that event and think of how different my life would have been had I started dating in 4th grade. I wonder if I would still have ended up with the wife that I have. In that regard, I am extremely happy that I said no. There is no other woman that I would ever want to be married to. My wife is really the woman of my dreams.
Also, I think of a kite ballet in which I participated. I flew a kite to the music of Paula Abdul. I won. That was a monumental moment in my life. (not really).
So those were my thoughts as I drove through the desert between Phoenix and LA. I had these great plans of how to get through LA. I was going to stop at a rest area or truck stop and sleep for a few hours before heading through LA at about 9pm. Evidently I missed the last rest area. I entered LA at 4pm. I got out the other side of LA at 7pm. I will number that as something that I have now accomplished and never have to do again. I have driven a 15-passenger van pulling a 30-foot trailer through rush hour LA traffic. My life is now full.
Monday, December 20, 2010
I can share a little of drama for the trip. Before we left, we had some electrical issues, but I took care of them (after hours and hours of looking around and fixing stuff, I replaced the battery and it worked). On Friday night the battery was charged and it powered the heater all night Friday night. On Saturday we did the same thing, except when we woke up on Sunday morning it was very cold in the camper and none of the lights worked (dead battery).
Automotive problem... I do what I always do, call my dad. He suggested a blown fuse and gave me a few to look at to see if they were blown. I checked and they were all good. He said that he would look further into it. He called back later and gave me a few more to look at (as I think back on it, I think he may have just had me check all the rest). This time I found a blown fuse.
I had found the problem, now all I had to do was find a 40 Amp fuse and replace it. We stopped by the first store we came across and they didn't have anything automotive. I then stopped at the next gas station/convenience store and they did not have any fuses. Finally I stopped by a place that had fuses, a Flying J, but they didn't have any 40 Amp fuses. So I bought a 30 Amp fuse because I figured that it might blow, but it certainly wouldn't do any damage. We drove a bit further that night and when we got to our destination I went back to the camper and the lights worked. Problem solved.
When I woke up Monday morning, the lights didn't work and it was rather cold (although we were far enough south that the low was 48 so we really weren't suffering). I checked the fuse and it had not blown, but I opted to replace it with a 40 Amp fuse anyway.
We had stayed the night in a Wal Mart parking lot (the only thing that Wal Mart is good for) so I checked to see if they had a 40Amp fuse. They did, but it came in a set and was going to cost me $20 and would come with $17 worth of fuses that I didn't need and would probably never use. I decided to keep looking. At 6:50 am I asked a Wal Mart customer where the nearest auto parts store would be. He directed me to turn left and go aways and it would be on my left. I decided it would be a good time to go for a run. After running for about a mile, it looked like I was about to run into the desert. I didn't figure I would find an auto part store in the desert, so I turned around. On the way back I asked more people about where I would find an auto part store.
Finally I found the right guy and he told me where to go. I went and spent $3 for a fuse. The electrical has been working all day. I like to think that the battery is fully charged and that everything is working as it aught to, but really, I've thought that before. Tonight I'm plugged into an electrical socket, so I won't really know. But by the time I get to where it really matters, I will find out whether my electrical is working or not.
Sometimes I like to think that this is preparation for building a house that would easily run off of simple 12 volt electric and run off of solar and wind power. A 12 volt house would lack some very helpful appliances, but I think about that sometimes. I think it would be easier to make a 12 volt system off the grid than making a 110 volt system off the grid.
Today we drove from Dallas to Las Cruces New Mexico. Texas is an enormous state and when you are driving a giant cinderblock into a stiff headwind, you don’t get very good gas mileage.
I have a really bad habit. See, I have always tried to ride my bike most places and while on a bicycle it is easy to make fun of those people in behemoth automobiles that get less than 10 miles per gallon. Now, as I drive across the country getting well less than 10 mpg (the headwind was bad, but with no wind I can get really close to 10) and I will look at the macho guys in the huge pickups that clearly get terrible gas mileage and I will make a comment. It’s kind of like the pot calling the kettle black. I have ideals that include me not driving, but have been unable to put those ideals into practice. That is something that I would like to do as I start with my new identity.
We have been looking a bit at weather and it has been nearly perfect; Sunny and warm all day today! The only problem is that I’m ready for spring or summer and winter hasn’t even begun yet. I’m also looking toward the next few travel days and I see that California is having loads of rain and there are places with snow that I will have to go through. We’ll have to figure that out.
We decided to take the southern route (the long way) to avoid snow, but it is also going to give us a chance to stop by and visit my mom. If all goes well, we should be there early tomorrow afternoon.
I’ve been very happy with the way the camper has operated. Yesterday we managed to blow a fuse in the van that leads to recharging the battery on the camper. We discovered that this morning when everything in the camper died and it was really cold in the camper. It took the day to figure out what happened and to find a part to fix it. Truck stops are not the best place to go part shopping, they have a very limited supply.
Off to Arizona tomorrow.
I haven’t been blogging as much as I had hoped, but I sort of anticipated that because I have been driving… a lot. I’m feeling a lot less ‘sansauto’ than I used to be.
We took off from Lexington Kentucky on Friday afternoon at about 5pm. I’m not completely sure whose idea it was to leave at rush hour on the first day of winter vacation, but we left and the roads were busy. The drive was pretty uneventful and we made it to just outside of Nashville on Friday night. I told myself that I wasn’t going to stop until there was no snow on the side of the road and I didn’t.
The trailer worked great. We were able to sleep in it and there was sufficient battery power to keep the heater on all night. That surprised me a little, but we’ll call it a pleasant surprise.
We woke up early on Saturday morning and started driving. We drove all day. We ate in the trailer and everything worked exceptionally well.
I went to lunch with a good friend before leaving Lexington and as I told him of our adventure, he suggested that I should read some Thoreau. It just so happened that I had Walden as a book on tape (or at least an abbreviated version of it), so I listened to it.
I’m generally not one to argue with prominent authors, but I don’t know that I completely agreed with Thoreau on a few really big points. Of course I love his idea of moving to the woods, building a house with my own hands and living off the land for a couple of years (or forever), but I was still able to find that I have a substantially different view. Thoreau said that he wanted to live on his own to gain a sense of freedom and as part of his pursuit of ‘living simply and sucking the marrow out of live’ (That is paraphrased because I can’t look it up since it was an audio tape).
I’ve read that before and agreed with it. There is some beauty in living alone with your thoughts and having the opportunity to sit and think and contemplate without interruption. It’s great thought, especially if you are alone, but really the marrow of my life is found in others. It is found in my family and in the community that I long for. We live in the most industrialized country where we rely on one another for everything, yet I have met more people than I can count that are lonely and longing for deeper relationships with others.
Moving is an opportunity to start fresh with a new identity. I am going to do better and building deeper relationships with those around me.
On Saturday we drove a long ways until we ended up outside of Dallas Texas. Here are a couple of random observations from the drive.
1) Spencer snores… and if Spencer takes a 4 hour nap it really messes up his sleeping schedule
2) Arkansas has the worst maintained roads I have ever experienced
3) Arkansas has the least creative names for cities that I’ve ever heard. Texarkana was a bit weird, but I get it, it’s on the Texas Arkansas border. But what is up with Arkadelphia?
4) It is going to take a LONG time to cross Texas.
5) WiFi costs money and I’m too cheap to pay it so I have no idea when this will be posted.
We’re having a great time and moving west.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
A little over a month ago, it became abundantly clear that we needed to be closer to family. Family is on the other side of the country and that is where we need to be. Timing is always hard, so we decided that we needed to do it soon. We bought the travel trailer in an effort to down-size.
It was an interesting experience. I am always tempted to use words like rewarding, interesting, or fun to describe it, but that neglects to mention that it was difficult. We sold or gave away everything that wouldn't fit into the travel trailer (and it is packed pretty much to live in, not to haul stuff). It was an eye opening experience. We've always tried to live simply. We've walked through the house numerous times looking to get rid of stuff that we didn't need. In the end we were always able to justify a bunch of stuff and we keep getting more. To make it fit into a 30 foot travel trailer meant really prioritizing and finding what is important in life.
We found that creative toys for the kids, games to play as a family and active recreational activities were our priorities. Everything that we kept revolved around those three things. Oh, and we kept kitchen stuff and clothes just because.
I think it is interesting. When I tell people what we're doing, I get a variety of responses. Some people are excited and express that they always wished they had the guts to do what we're doing. I like those people, they make me feel good. Some people think we're nuts and try to convince me to think the same thing. Sometimes I do think that it wasn't the most logical choice, but I personally don't believe that life is about making the choices that lead you safely to death. Life is about making choices that challenge you and allow opportunities to grow and learn about yourself and your fellowman.
I've also noticed that a lot of people think that we're poor. With the current economic conditions and all, they think that we've run out of money so as a last resort, we are selling the house and going to live with family. Yes, we're selling the house and going to live near family, but it's not because we're poor. It's because we want to add richness to our lives. We want to be closer as a nuclear family and we want to be closer to our extended family. I feel that we are in really good shape financially. Currently our only outstanding debt is the mortgage on our house so when the house sells we will be debt free. We also have the savings to pay our mortgage for a year or more while we wait for our house to sell (although we really don't want to use our savings for that purpose). We aren't making this move because we're poor, we're making this move to become rich.
I hope to blog regularly on the trip and I've also thought of writing a book about the experience, but I don't know that I want to put that much work into something I don't think anyone would want to buy.
So today we leave. I'm leaving a place where I've been able to commute almost everywhere by bike and I'm moving into a van pulling a camper. And here I am continuing to blog on 'sansauto' when currently my life is revolving around the auto. In the long run I really hope my car disappears all together.