RVHer Fulltiming With a Dog and a Dude

Keys Disease

We are almost caught up.

At this point in the story it is now December 4, 2009, and it is time to leave Sunshine Holiday Resort for Sunshine Key, located near Big Pine Key, about 30 miles from Key West. (It is actually on a privately-owned island.)

We were only supposed to stay at Sunshine Key for one week, leaving on the 11th but like I said before we had missed our travel window, and the weather in the Keys was so completely fabulous that we decided to stay through the winter. I mean, really, the best places to be in the contiguous US are San Diego and the Keys, with Key West having no frost or snow in recorded history.

Our trip from Fort Lauderdale to Big Pine Key should only have taken about four hours but due to some fuse issue between the Chieftain and the CR-V that caused us to have to pull over every 45 minutes or so to change out another fuse our trip took almost eight hours. Ugh. Thank godtopus that I had a computer and DVDs to watch.

We checked out of Sunshine Holiday Resort at noon and didn’t leave the mainland until after 7:00, which meant that we were driving on US 1 aka Overseas Highway in the dark. And Overseas Highway is not a place you want to drive on in the dark since you have to drive on a lot of bridges and the lanes are not very wide and for a lot of the time there was construction. With like, those moveable construction pylon thingies. Basically, our lane was only barely wider than our Winnebago. It was a few hours of white-knuckling it coming out of Key Largo. *shudder* Actually, I had the white knuckles. The Dude had a tight sphincter and was concerned that it would never unpucker thus making the rest of his life quite uncomfortable.

We finally arrived at Sunshine Key, found our spot, and got everything set up pretty quickly. (We’re getting better at our tear-down and put-up times. Tear-down takes about an hour, and put-up takes about 30 minutes.)

We decided pretty quickly to stay at Sunshine Key for a while, and that turned out to be the best thing because we would find out a day later that the Dude would have to fly to Dallas to take care of some business.

The Dude took a puddle-jumper out of Key West International Airport on December 10 and my birthday was a few days later on the 13th. During this flight the Dude met a lady who owns a Mexican restaurant in Key West, and one of the pilots was this huge black man who has had three major careers, all of them superhero kinds of jobs: schoolteacher then fire fighter and now pilot. Good on ya, huge black man whose name I don’t know.

Now the Dude would be gone for my birthday but being stuck on a private beach, surrounded by partying retirees for your birthday really…doesn’t suck. My birthday started out shitty because no one had even put a Facebook shout out much less called and I was feeling really down. Luckily, my friend from Philly, Royal, called me and that made the day better, and then my bestest friends from Austin called (Cyn, Jame, Katie, and Dane) and played pass the phone and wished me a happy day (love!) one of the neighbors invited me to their cookout and let me pretend it was my party, and then the Dude called and told me that my presents were in the CR-V and I had been driving around with them the whole time! That was fun! (He got me two beach chairs.) So the day turned out to be great even if the Dude was in Dallas.

Not much happened between my birthday and Christmas. The Dude got back on the 16th and we mostly spent the next week and a half working and enjoying the weather, i.e., sitting in the sun in a beach chair, reading my birthday books from my mom, and getting a tan.

We had Christmas Eve dinner, curried tofu over brown rice on a bed of arugula. (I know, I know. But I told you. I like tofu and the next day was Christmas and I figured that the menu at the brunch was going to be pretty heavy on the carnivore side, and I was right.) (See those trees? Gulf o’ Mexico right behind.)

I volunteered to work at the Christmas Day brunch at the park so I could get to know some of the regulars here and eat for free. I had my first corned beef hash. (Not really too bad for being, you know, meat. Of some sort.) Karen, the activities director, whipped up a batch of Bellinis for the volunteers so I was drinking before noon but it was Christmas and it was brunch and that’s what you do at brunch, and what do you drink if there are no Bloody Marys to be had? You drink yummy good Bellinis. It was delightful. Not as delightful as having Bellinis at Harry’s Bar, possibly sitting on the same chair that Hemingway sat in while writing, but still pretty nice. (Speaking of Hemingway, well, that’s the next chapter.)

Anyway, Christmas came and went. (I got my first BBQ grill as a present but it hadn’t arrived yet so I really got a picture of the grill I would be getting.) We were back at the regular life for another week, working, playing occasionally, and still working on that tan.

We did go fishing (I went fishing. The Dude took pictures.),

way out in the big ocean with Captain “Jersey” Bob. Cap’n Bob spends every winter at Sunshine Key, running fishing charters out of the marina. The day was super windy and the waters were really choppy, but luckily, even though neither of us has ever been seasick, we had the presence of mind to take preemptive Dramamine. We didn’t get sick and I caught a bunch of fish just in time for the grill that had arrived that morning! It was cold and windy that night but I grilled that fish anyway. It cost me $120.00 to catch that fish so I was by god going to grill it and eat it.

The one other time I went fishing in Florida was crap because the captain and first mate did everything for you. All you did was take the pole and try to reel the fish in. Well that’s boring. That’s about as much fun as buying the fish at the store. I know how to bait a damn hook. I know how to cast. I’m not all that great at recognizing when a fish has hit but let me learn. They way those other guys did it, with us just grabbing the pole after the mate hooked the fish, is right up there with “hunting” by sitting up in a blind and waiting for the deer to wander up to the salt lick. Yeah. There’s a sport that takes effort. Want to hunt? Get a fucking bow and arrow and track the sucker down.

Ah ha, now it’s New Year’s Eve: There will be a party in the RV park as the clubhouse and we have tickets. The Dude and I get “dressed up” with me wearing a sundress, showing off the sunburn

I got earlier that day and he was in shorts and a tee-shirt. (It’s the Keys. It’s the Keys lifestyle. It’s the “Keys Disease.”  Everything is so laid back that “formal” means wearing socks with your sandals and time is a nebulous concept, which, I mean, of course it is, but for the sake of convenience, we, meaning society, have agreed on what 10:15 am or 6:00 pm/1800 hours means, and if you say something closes at 6:00 pm, society understands what you are saying and everyone agrees that “it” closes at 6:00. Unless you’re in the Keys. (*cue ominous music that will resonate with the next installment*)

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, New Year’s Eve. We got to the party around 8:00 and everyone was already pretty looped and I danced a lot, even the line dances, which I don’t know and can never pick up but I try, and I drank a lot but surprisingly I didn’t get really lit. Maybe it was all of the activity. We counted down with the rest. I kissed everyone and then we went home. Not a bad start at all.

To move the story along I’m just going to bypass the fight the Dude and I got into where he made me cry and I wished we hadn’t gotten rid of the hand cannon we had in Philly. (What? I wasn’t going to actually use it. I’m too pretty for prison. And I don’t really want the Dude dead forever just temporarily. When we were in Philly I wished he’d get hit by a bus but buses are few and far between on the island so I think of guns or that he’ll fall off the pier into a school of sharks.) We can just not talk about the other horrible fight that the Dude and I got into wherein I hummed an eyeglasses case at him (broke the shit out of it too; luckily the glasses weren’t in it) (especially since it was HIS case).

Just a couple of words on our first two shots at Key West. The first time was right after we got here when we thought we were only going to stay a week. We went to Bo’s Fish Wagon and then walked around a little bit, looking at all the feral chickens and roosters (They are everywhere. It’s all, “Chicken. Rooster. Chicken. Chicken. Rooster. And no, Dude, that rooster? Isn’t “killing” that chicken. Yes, I know he’s on top of her and she’s yelling but what he’s doing? Ain’t killing.), and feral cats (only called feral in that they have no home but you can pet them), went to Mallory Square and saw a busker who had taught his dogs to take the tips (way cute).

The second time we went to lunch at Hog’s Breath and it started to rain. And rain. And it kept raining. And the drains filled because it was raining so fast and so much. I had to wade through calf-deep water to get to the ladies’ room and all I could think was, ‘Oh please, oh please don’t let the bathrooms be flooded where I’m walking in pee water.” (The bathrooms were flooded but the toilets weren’t overflowed. I still wasn’t happy about it and was convinced that I was going to get a social disease but I had to go.) And the streets flooded.


























For the first time since I sold my Prelude I was glad I wasn’t in that little car because it would have had water half-way up the door and my seat and the CR-V was fine. Because of the flooding we had to stay in Key West a little longer so we went to see “Avatar,” which is really pretty and probably out of this world (no pun intended) in 3-D but is really just “Dances with Aliens.”

Please stay tuned for the next installment of the Keys Disease.

Keep these words in mind: Federal. Marshal.

It’s a Small World Where the Boys Are

Hey, welcome back! When last we met I said I’d tell you about what has happened since we left LazyDays. So, buckle up and get ready, ‘cause here we go.

Our first stop after finally leaving LazyDays was at Thousand Trails Orlando (TTO), which is actually located in Clermont, FL, and is about 30 minutes from DisneyWorld, Epcot, Universal Studios, etc.

Now, TTO was alright. We were there for about two weeks and during that time I shopped at the nicest Target you will ever see, got glasses, picked limes and lemons, played host to a turtle the size of a 15″ laptop for a few minutes,and saw Jesus. (Scary plastic Jesus, not the real Jesus I met at Sigel’s in Dallas. Ask nicely and I’ll tell you about her.)

We also went to Universal Studios and saw The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in its beginning stages. From the little that I could see, that is going to be amazing. I hope we come back through Orlando, just so I can see the finished product.

I didn’t really want to go to DisneyWorld or Epcot because I hated DisneyLAND (hated it as an adult but loved that shit as a child. “It’s a small world after all…”) and the whole Disney “fun” park thing doesn’t sound fun when you really look at it because it is overwhelmingly too, too much. And, jeebus. Have you tried to buy tickets to go there? It’s not like Six Flags where you just, you know, buy a ticket and walk in the gate. It’s option after option after option that makes you say either, “Fuck it. We’re not going,” or “Fuck it, Mickey. Here’s my card. Just tell me when to bend over so I’m a little prepared.”

About Universal Studios: I had been to the original version in LA two times and loved it. I think it was because I was on an actual studio set where we couldn’t go down certain “streets” because Desperate Housewives was filming or a movie was at a critical shot. I saw the town square where Back to the Future was filmed and the “London” streets where Austin Powers danced and the Psycho house. I was in a live version of “Fear Factor” (for about 5 minutes as I was the first to let go of the bar, plummeting to the ground).

Also, unlike other “amusement” parks, you can buy an adult beverage.  I cannot tell you how surprised I was to learn that not only could I buy a beer but I could buy a Guinness! A real Guinness! “And I don’t mean just like in no paper cup, I’m talking about a glass of beer.” At Six Fl…Universal Studios! Go Scientologists! Or atheists. Or whatever power decided alcohol was good at an amusement park.

Unfortunately, if Universal Studios Orlando is a working studio, they don’t tell you about it. It was all just rides based on movies. The rides were fun but I had to ride them all alone because? The Dude rode two rides, got motion sickness and had to go home. (One of the rides was the  Jimmy Neutron’s Nicktoon Blast!, which is the Universal Studios name for “the ride that makes your boyfriend yell out loud in front of children that his balls are bouncing off the seat.”

Well, whee. Wasn’t THAT fun? $69.00 per person = $34.50 per ride. I hardly think that was worth it. Although seeing the looks on the kids’ faces when the Dude hollered about his nuts was pretty funny.

Come to think of it, though, because he went home I was able to be a single rider and bypass all of the lines. Should you go to any theme parks that offer this option, take it. No, really. You can’t talk on rides anyway and unless you want to buy the overpriced, stupid “AHHHHHHHHHHHHH, JESUS CHRIST,*breathe*, AWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!” picture of your screaming face next to another family member’s screaming face, it’s worth pretending you and everyone in your party is a single rider. Trust me. It is very satisfying to wave at all the sheeple, standing in line, as you are walking past them, get on the ride, have a great time, and wave at the same exact sheeple, still standing in line, on the way out. Peace out, bitches.

And peace out, Orlando aka Clermont. Off to Fort Lauderdale.

Our trip to Fort Lauderdale was pretty uneventful. Actually, I don’t really remember going there it was that calm. We stayed at Sunshine Holiday Resort about six miles from the beach. I looked around for anything resembling Where the Boys Are [A fabulous movie, BTW, and years ahead of its time as far as Merritt’s (Dolores Hart who twice starred with Elvis and then went on to become a nun) take on sex.] but that was a long time ago and although those beaches are still there that view is gone. Pity. Although a bunch of the motels are probably the same. They’ve been renovated but you cannot change the late 50s/early 60s architecture unless you tear it down. I’m glad no one did because I love that shit. Florida motels are the epitome of “motel.” Love!

Sunshine Holiday is wildly popular with the Quebecois. As you go along and look at the plates, it’s all, “Quebec, Quebec, Quebec, Quebec, Florida. Quebec, Quebec, Quebec, New York.” They all smoked Gauloises (for real), played petanque, sunbathed without sunblock, carried good wine to their parties, and dressed up just to walk the dogs or do the laundry. I wished we had stayed there longer than a week because I would’ve gone to every park party. “But, Her, you don’t speak French. You wouldn’t have understood them.” You’re right. Don’t give a shit. They were cool. Cooler than you. Cooler than me. Even their dogs were cool.

So, while in Fort Lauderdale, we discussed where to go next and when. While we were still in Philly, the Dude talked about how he really, really wanted to spend the winter in the Keys. I really wanted to spend the winter in Texas with my friends and family. But because of our late start getting out of LazyDays we missed our window of opportunity to drive to Texas before the winter set in so it was off to the Florida Keys!

Next: The Holiday Season–Keys Style

Oh, hello Tampa. ‘Bout time.

October 11, 2009…

Woo hoo! Looks like we were finally going to make it to Florida. We cleared out of the cut-rate Holiday Inn Express and had Daytona as our destination for that day. It was a totally uneventful trip that saw us making a short jaunt through Savannah, GA. (Seriously short. We were there for all of 30 minutes, winding around of the squares, which made the Dude sick and then driving over the historic cobblestone street on the edge of the water and that made the Dude even more ill.) Oh, the bridge connecting SC to Savannah is absolutely gorgeous.

We were on the road for about five hours and got into Daytona and found our last hotel of the trip. We stayed at the La Quinta (kinda jinky on their pet policy) and had a beautiful view of the Atlantic. Pity we were only there one night.

We walked on the beach a little bit and then went to dinner.

Biketoberfest was to start on the 14th so there were already a ton of bikers and their old ladies in town, which meant old biker chicks and their tittays. By the time you’ve reached 45+ you really need to wear a bra and if you think you don’t need to wear a bra you have bolt-ons or you’re just altogether wrong. (OK, I will say that there are a few women who due to their good genes don’t have to wear a bra ’cause their boobs are still where nature and not gravity intended. Lucky them.)

Anyway, the next day was the final push to Tampa to pick up the Winnebago. Thank god.
2003 Winnebago Chieftain, 39'

There’s not much to say about Tampa because we really didn’t do anything there except hang out at LazyDays RV dealership for six weeks. Oh sure, we sold the truck and bought a tow car (2003 Honda CR-V. Go Honda! Shonda’s Honda yet again. And an absolutely immaculate car. I am not kidding. Two tiny door dings that you can’t see unless you are looking at just the right angle and in the right light, flawless interior, no sign of wear at all. I mean shit, the engine, the freaking engine was clean. And shiny.) and learned how to boondock (see next paragraph) but other than a few trips to La Teresita we really didn’t do anything other than get the Winnebago ready to roll. We had wanted to spend maybe two weeks at the dealership but that didn’t happen. We were there for Halloween and while we didn’t have any trick-or-treaters at our door, we did have a nice lady dressed as a witch riding around on a golf cart, passing out candy. That was sweet, in more ways than one.

Because we had many things to do to the Winnebago and the Honda we boondocked in the make-ready section of the dealership. (I suppose it wasn’t full boondocking because we did have electricity instead of running the generator, but still.) The spots all had electricity but no water or sewage hook up. Why? Because most people would only be there to either transfer their stuff from one RV to another or just picking up their RV, both scenarios only take a day or two, maybe a week maximum. We were there for six weeks, which meant that every fourth day or so we had to unhook, pull in the slides, strap down anything that might fall over, and drive to the dump station and then stop and fill the water tank. It was not a far trip, about 50 yards or so but still a production that would take about 45 minutes. On the bright side, we did learn a lot about what our Winnebago could do if we actually had to boondock for a while.

The moving pod was delivered with no problems and we got most everything we wanted to keep in the RV. I had to say “see you later” to a bunch of books as they were way too heavy to keep with us. I didn’t get rid of them. They’re just in storage.

LazyDays was very good to us and went above and beyond and really the only issue with them was the mistake they made in installing our tow system on the Honda.

Now you have to know right now that the Dude doesn’t do anything, ANYTHING without having researched it and every possible iteration of what “it” is or can be. I do believe that if we aged backward that instead of just letting nature do its thing, the man would research the digestive process to see if there was a better, more efficient way of dropping a deuce. The point is that the tow system he decided on was absolutely THE best one because of aesthetics, durability, and ease of installation. The company, Blue Ox, has fool-proof instructions that are specific to each car model so we had the instructions for installing on a 2003 Honda CR-V. Where other towing systems require drilling and alterations to the tow car, this system was made to make use of existing grill openings so that there would be no damage to the vehicle. Please note this again: The system utilizes existing grill openings. You must see exactly where this is going. Yes, the mechanic who was assigned to our gorgeous tow car did not read the instructions and just, I don’t know, did what he was used to doing. When he took the bumper off he laid it on its face so it got all scratched up. He put the base plate on upside down, which meant he had to CUT HUGE HOLES in the bumper, something he wouldn’t have had to do if he had…read the instructions! (Normally the tow bar attachment points of the base plate go through the existing openings in the grill for a nice clean install.) *head shake*

To give LazyDays credit, as soon as they were aware of what happened they fixed it within a matter of days (with a different mechanic) and with, of course, no charge to us but that just added to the time we stayed there. I will say this about them: If you ever plan to buy an RV of any type, it is worth your while to go to LazyDays.

After our six weeks of LazyDay goodness we were finally ready to actually go somewhere. We were equipped with a brand-new satellite system, a subscription to Dish Network (Screw you. I love TV. I won’t apologize. I still read a shitload of books so get over your holier-than-thou self.) and a reservation at Thousand Trails Orlando.

So there you go. The story of leaving Philly and getting to Florida.

Next up: What has happened since we finally hit the road. Universal Studios, Quebecois, Mile Marker 0, Christmas, New Year’s, amazing neighbors, conch horns, “It’s always 5:00 somewhere.”

Leaving VA

October 10, 2009

Our next stop on the way to Florida was Florence, SC, where we would hook up with some friends for dinner. My choice, even though the Dude is vegetarian? South Carolina vinegar-based BBQ. After doing some research and asking our friends, the only choice was Roger’s (www.yelp.com/biz/rogers-barbeque-florence).

As a general rule I avoid all things “barbeque,” especially ketchup/tomato-brown sugar-molasses-based BBQ because I hate that sweet shit [Dickey’s (www.dickeys.com/index.aspx) is palatable because their sauce is not sweet.)] slathered all over a perfectly good piece of beef, and I don’t really like pork, and I cannot stand BBQed chicken, much less chicken on the bone on the grill, or chicken to begin with for that matter…so really I don’t like barbeque at all. But, since I’m a good foodie and not a food weenie (definition: Someone afraid to try a food/cuisine because he/she “might not like it”) and since we were driving through South Carolina and since part of this journey is to try regional foods, well, Carolina-style BBQ was up.

We met with our friends at Roger’s and I have to say that the vinegary mustardy sauce was great. Tangy but didn’t cover up the flavor of what it was on. Make sure you try their hot shredded BBQ beef. It is black pepper hot and if you are not prepared you will cough up a lung (also, don’t take a big whiff because that black pepper will get you that way too). The buffet was a gorgeous example of Southern foodways (www.southernfoodways.com) and a vegetarian’s nightmare with mac and cheese, squash casserole, hush puppies, fried chicken and fish, collard greens with ham, coleslaw, green beans (probably seasoned with ham), and cobblers, along with iced tea (of course it was sweet, what else?). (I think the Dude was able to eat the mac and cheese and coleslaw.) The tables had bottles of Trappey’s Peppers in Vinegar Good on 'most anything, which I love, and free refills on everything.

We visited for a couple of hours and then it was off to our stop for the night in Manning, SC. We stayed at another Holiday Inn Express but this one used to be a Motel 6 or Red Roof or something because it was obviously a refurb. I wonder if each HI Express is individually owned like a franchise because there were no goody bags for the fur kids and the toiletries, while the same brand, were lacking in quantity and type. For example, the HI Express in Stafford had face soap, bath soap, shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, a shower cap (does anyone use these anymore?), and had toothbrushes and toothpaste at the front counter (ours were “packed” in the truck, somewhere), but the HI Express in Manning had shampoo, lotion, and body soap. I went to the front desk to ask for conditioner (another thing that was still packed in the truck and therefore inaccessible) and the lady said they didn’t even carry it. So, maybe each hotel buys their extras and this owner was just cheap? Who knows.

The day was not too long and the visit with friends was nice and the Dude and I didn’t wish harm on each other even once. It was a good day.

Next installment? Finally, finally into Florida and Biketoberfest in Daytona.

Exodus, Part Two

We take the exit that comes up almost immediately; pull off onto the shoulder, and hey! One of the trailer’s tires has blown out! Awesome! Delicious! And not only has it blown out but the rim is effed. Even better! OK, so we stay there and I call U-Haul and get THE most clueless woman ever. I can’t tell her exactly where we are because we had passed the signs for the exit just as the tire blew but I give her an approximation. She tells me that because the tire rim is damaged we are looking at about three hours before anyone can get to us. (Oh, great. There goes Vicky Lynn.)  Fine. Whatever. She says she’ll call me back when she knows more. The Dude and I both start looking on our Blackberries for tire stores nearby. We look on the GPS, we look on the computer and see that there is a tire store that should be just “right over there”  but it is listed as closed on Google, and no one answers the phone when we call so it must be closed. Oy.

It’s is coming up on a little after 3:00 at this point. We’re not in the middle of East Jabib but we’re not exactly conveniently located either. We are somewhere about 30-40 minutes into Delaware on I-95 S. There is a county/municipal building off to our right but it looks closed for the day. I can see a few streets signs so I walk over and get a better idea of our location because now I have an actual intersection. I call U-Haul back, hoping that I get someone a bit more with it and I do. I start talking to a very nice man who seems to actually understand what I am saying to him and how to read a map. I tell him what has happened and that I need to update our address in his system. He’s all, “Wait, have you already talked to someone about this?” And I have to admit that yes, indeed, I have already talked to someone and opened a ticket. Turns out you have to stay with the same person until your ticket is closed. Fabulous. He starts to transfer me to Ms. McClueless so she can continue to *cough* help me, and the system kicks me out! Oh, no you did NOT just disconnect me! I call back and start the process again and finally get to Ms. M. and tell her the street names we were are located. She can’t find them on her map. I tell her again that we are right off of I-95, just barely into Delaware at the intersection of Unknown and Lost. She still can’t find them. Fine. Just keep looking, lady, and I’ll keep trying to find something clearer than an actual intersection and I will call you later.

The Dude and I pull forward a little bit and can see under the interstate and notice that there are some semis coming out of something. We decide that big trucks must mean a garage of some sort or a truck stop or something that might help us so we slowly creep over there and sure enough it is a truck stop. With a café. With a menu. That has an address printed on it! Whoo hoo! I call up Ms. McClueless and give her the exact address with street number and street name, and town name, and zip code and she…can’t find it. She cannot see it on her map. Goddamn it! I open up my computer, punch in the address in Google Maps, and I can see this place just fine. I tell her and she says, “Well, can you see Such-and-Such street?” I expand the map by one click and yes, there is Such-and-Such and a couple of hundred yards to the SW of Such-and-Such street is the truck stop. I continue to try and explain where we are. As we are talking she says that she has the mechanic who has our tire and tire rim is on the line and she will switch me over to him so I can tell him where we are. I don’t know what goes wrong (It’s Ms. McClueless, what could possibly happen?) but she comes back on the line and tells me that the mechanic hung up. OK, whatever.

(Sometime around 4:00pm) Ms. M and I are still talking, still trying to get on the same cyber page, when the Dude, who has been wandering around the truck stop, comes back, gets in the truck, starts it up, and starts creeping over and around a copse of maples and what is there? The tire shop that is supposed to be closed! Praise the Lord and pass the Tastykakes! We have been sitting around for almost two and a half hours and this place was spittin’ distance the whole time. We could have actually pushed the truck from the point of the blowout to this place and not have broken a sweat. I tell U-Haul lady that I’ll call her back. The tire guys take a look at our trailer. They can’t save the tire because that sucker is shredded but the rim looks pretty fixable. They Indy 500 that bitch right off and we have a new tire and repaired rim and are back on the road in less than 20 minutes.

I call U-Haul and explain to Ms. McClueless that we have fixed the truck ourselves. She says to keep the receipt and we’ll be reimbursed. Wonderful. And we are off yet again.

7:30ish: My phone rings, and the screen is showing an area code I don’t recognize. I hesitate but answer and it’s the mechanic wanting to know where we are. Oh shit. The U-Haul lady didn’t tell the mechanic he was no longer needed. He has been on the road for hours to bring us a new tire and tire rim. I’m extremely apologetic and sympathetic but explain what happened and tell him that he really needs to call U-Haul and yell at them. I wonder what happened in that conversation.

We continue on down I-95 with our stop for the night planned for somewhere outside of DC. Lovely scenery from what we can tell because it’s starting to get dark. And hey? What’s that huge pointy shiny thing outside of Reston? It’s terribly impressive even from the southbound side of 95. Gorgeous. (The shiny thing would turn out to be the National Museum of the Marine Corps. http://www.usmcmuseum.com Semper Fi!)

It is now getting late and the Dude is getting really tired (remember, he’s been up since 3:00 am) and I’m trying to find a pet-friendly hotel that won’t break the bank. The only one I can find, the ONLY pet-friendly hotel in Alexandria, VA, wants a $200.00 pet deposit along with the nightly rate $189.00! Are you on glue? Have you been sniffing the Sharpies because that is insane and there is no way we’re paying that. The assistant manager says he might be able to give us a break on the rate but not until his boss has left which won’t be until after 9:00. Ugh, OK. We drive around a bit more and decide that fine, whatever, we’re exhausted, we’ll take the expensive place. We try to follow the GPS and we drive in some circles and think we have the right exit but it is actually a loop that puts us back on I-95 S. Fuuuuccckk.

We decide to just keep driving to the next town and find something there. While searching, our computer dies and we’re down to using our phones and GPS to find something. The Dude is getting really, really cranky and is getting angry with me that I can’t get a bead on exactly where we are so I can direct him to a hotel that might or might not accept pets and we’re yelling at each other and I’m considering punching him in the head and am imagining various ways of killing him when we find a Holiday Inn Express (Thanks overnight manager, Michael! You rock!) in Stafford, VA, that is not only pet-friendly but they gave us a pet gift bag for each pet! (I highly, highly recommend them if you’re traveling through that part of the country.) Each bag had water, a water bowl, some treats, and a poo bag. Oh, it was also only $49.00 a night. For all of us.

Finally in bed by 11:00 pm. One long-ass day.

Coming next, leaving VA and getting to FL.

Philly Exodus

Once we had decided that it was time to get the hell outta Philly we started giving away most of our crap or if it wasn’t crap then packing it to be put in a great big box to be stored. What this meant for our neighbors is that most of our dishes, clothes, extra electronics, extra tools, extra furniture, etc, ended up their hands.  (I think one set of neighbors ended up financially profiting from this because I overheard one of them saying something about “getting five bucks.” I mean, fine, we gave it away and what the recipient does with it is his business but he could have waited until we were gone or at least have tried a little harder because he could’ve gotten at least 20 bucks for that desk.) (Also, one man from that set of neighbors had the gall to complain to us that he hadn’t gotten any of the good stuff. He actually knocked on the door to complain to the Dude that we didn’t give him the totally out of date, no good anymore digital cameras. Really?)

Now that most of our stuff was gone, we continued packing the house and getting everything ready for the pod. The plan was to fill the pod, send it on its way to Florida where it would be delivered to LazyDays where our RV was being stored. Once we arrived in Florida the pod would be parked right next to the RV, we unload the pod and load the RV at the same time. (And that is exactly how it worked. More on that later.)

Moving Pod During Done

Being that I am the best packer-mover ever, I had my stuff ready to go a couple of days in advance. The Dude, however, still had all of his upstairs stuff to be packed. The basement was done and in the pod and the pod was gone. (That pod was a thing of beauty. Not one square inch of wasted space.) We had rented a trailer for the stuff that wouldn’t fit in the pod and we were definitely using it but his office and everything of his in the bedroom was still sitting around, waiting to go in the trailer. Now, I understand the office stuff. He was working right up until the moment we left but I kept asking about the bedroom and his bathroom and he just kept saying he didn’t know how he wanted to pack it and he would take care of it so that he would know where everything is. Okey dokey, doggy daddy, whatever you want.

It is now the night before closing and the living room, the bedroom, his office, and his bathroom are still not done. We still have cable because we’re dropping off the box on the way out of town so I am sitting on the floor, watching “Bound” with Gina Gershon and Jennifer Tilly, and eating my last Philly meal (white pizza and hot wingsI really don't even like wings but sometimes they just sound right. from Sanna’s–http://www.oldtownewingsandpizza.com).  The Dude goes to bed very early because he’s getting up at 3:00 am (I’ll be getting up at 5:00) so that he can finish all of his stuff before the soon-to-be owners show up at 8:00 for a walk-through. You do see where this is headed, right?

The Dude gets up at 3:00 and starts doing stuff. He wakes me up at 5:00 and I? Start hurriedly throwing all of his bedroom and bathroom shit into any bag, box, container of any sort that I can find, which… I could’ve done three days before and in a better, more organized way. Way to plan there, Patton.

We are still packing, a term I use loosely at this point. We are basically cramming stuff into containers and throwing it into the trailer as 8:00 looms near. Closing is at 9:00 and the office is about 20 minutes away. 8:00 comes and goes and we are still shoving stuff in the trailer and sweeping and vacuuming behind us as we go. 8:15 and it starts to rain. 8:25, still raining, still shoving, getting cranky, and here they come. Luckily they are awesome.

8:45 and we are finally done. Cisco, Pancho, and Ziggy are in their respective crates and in the truck. The house is empty except for the things the couple wanted, and we shut and lock the door and it’s off to closing.

We get to the office right at 9:00. The Dude parks the truck and I stay with the animals while he goes to closing. Really no issues at closing, except that it took almost two hours, and we are ready to hit the road. BUT… the Dude gets hungry so we stop at our second favorite pizza place (Lorenzo’s in the Italian Market: http://www.roadfood.com/Restaurant/Reviews/1240/lorenzos-pizza) for a “shlice.” (For some reason the Dude likes saying slice as if he had a sideways lisp like Sid in Ice Age.) On the way out of the market he spies a cell phone on the ground and we stop and pick it up. I call a couple of the numbers in it, hoping to get to the owner somehow. I get through to who turns out to be the owner’s grandson and he calls his grandma who calls his Pawpaw who calls his own phone and I answer. The guy had dropped the phone right outside of his car right outside of his office exactly where we found it but was now 20 blocks from us because we were heading out. We turn around, do a hand-off through the window and the guy gives us 25 dollars for the effort. I tried to say no but we were moving pretty fast and the guy was insistent so thanks anonymous Philly guy!

Still in Philly and it is almost noon. (We had planned to be out of Philly by noon at the latest because I wanted to stop in Leesburg, VA to give some cooking stuff to Vicky Lynn, my friend since grade school, and one of the best cooks I know. I also wanted to stop at Ben’s Chili Bowl in DC because part of my excitement about this trip is trying all of the regional cuisine.)

After dropping of the cable box we pull into the Home Depot parking lot to reevaluate our hurried packing of the truck and trailer. An hour and a half later we have everything rearranged and tied down and the animals have more room to maneuver and we are finally, finally able to actually leave Philadelphia and still make our side trip to see Vicky Lynn. (Ben’s had been scratched from the agenda. Oh well, next year.)

It’s close to 2:00, maybe a little after and we have just crossed over into Delaware. This mean that we’ve been on the road for all of 40 minutes, maybe, when kablam! thuppata, thuppata, thuppata.

Next up: Tire issues and hotels


So welcome to my website. I will say this is a PG-13, possibly R rated blog simply because I cuss. Damn skippy. So if you are offended by four-letter words you might want to move along. I don’t use them a lot but I do use them. I won’t post anything that is NSFW, at least I don’t think I will, but if for some reason I need to do so I will warn you.

A little about me: I’ve always wanted to travel. I’ve never wanted to stay in one place. I’ve wanted to see the world. I’ve never understood how people can stay in one place. “I was born here, gonna die here.” Why? There is a huge world out there. I was always envious of people whose jobs involved lots of travel. I love hotels. I love airports.

My dad had the greatest job, I thought. He’s basically retired now and is playing Gentleman Farmer in East Texas, but he’s engineer and builds oil rigs and he has traveled the world. He went to Egypt. Korea. Ireland. Thailand. Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia. Peru. Suriname. Every-damn-where. I was so jealous. We moved to Singapore when I was in the 8th grade. That was cool.

So I wanted to figure out a way to at least see the sections of the world that I can drive to. Me and my wanderlust are traveling around in an RV. Coming along on the journey are two cats, a dog, and a dude. The cats are Cisco and Pancho, the dog is Ziggy, and the dude wishes to remain nameless so he shall just be the dude. (With a beard he is definitely a Lebowski so it fits.)

The dude and I met a few years ago, liked the looks of each other and shacked up. Two years ago we moved to Philadelphia because we were tired of the Texas heat. I am a Texan, will always be a Texan no matter where I live, but  that heat. Oy. I was over it. Had been over it for a long time. Loves me some Dallas and Austin, Houston only occasionally because Houston is the sweaty crotch of Texas. I can say that because I was born there and lived there for quite a while. Every time I visit Houston I always end up asking why anyone stays there. So humid.

So we stayed two years in Philly, which, by the way, is the filthiest city I’ve ever seen. Garbage everywhere. We knew it was time to move on but we were having trouble deciding where to move to. We had settled on Colorado Springs and all was a go when it occurred to us that it seemed really stupid to spend all that time and money to move out there just to waste money on an apartment when we were going to leave after a year anyway. (Remember, I don’t like to stay in one place for very long.) And now I’m in an RV My New Home.

Coming up next: The story of leaving Philly and getting to Florida.