Life is about the Stories
One of our “rules for life” is that it’s all about the stories (one of the other’s is “happy wife/happy life”!). And we realized that we have had so many other stories that we haven’t captured in the blog. Some are momentary laughs, others seem to transcend states and RV parks. Some of these you may not *get* – but they serve as reminders to us. Enjoy!
Trying to find mountain biking near Gig Harbor. Went right past the trailhead, drove around for another 45 minutes along the Hood Canal. Finally found the trailhead. The “beginner-intermediate” trail was deep sand and rocks more suited to dirt biking. We gave up after 5 minutes and made it back to the truck… and the sheriff. Needed a “Washington Discovery Pass” to park there. He was nice and let us off the hook (and saved us $99!). We were so relieved we forgot to ask him for his picture for the blog…
Car Alarms. At every single campground and RV park we have stayed at, someone has set off their car alarm. It is so consistent that when we hear it, we immediately say, “we’re home!”.
Maine Tides. Before we went to Prince Edward Island, my brother Richard, an avid ocean kayaker, warned us that there can be a 12-14 foot difference between high and low tide in some areas. I smiled and nodded. Once on the island, we drove to a park at the north end and dragged our kayaks to the beach. There was a spit of land right across from us, creating some calm water and a goal to paddle to. As we pushed off, a little girl said, “Watch out for the current”. “Ok”, we said. After paddling near the shore for a minute and observing the water, we could not figure out what she was talking about as it was very calm. So, we made our way about 1/2 mile across to the spit and watched a beautiful sunset. There was an area where incoming and outgoing water went through a narrow passage and kicked up some rugged-looking standing waves, but that was easy to avoid. As we embarked back toward shore, we saw a motorboat a short distance away towing someone in a tube. Suddenly, my paddle hit the bottom. And then it got shallower and shallower – right out in the middle of the inlet – until we were beached. Ah, not the “current”, the TIDE! Apparently the motorboat driver knew where the channel was. Fortunately it was a nice, sandy bottom and not muck, and we only had to drag our kayaks for about 100 yards to get back into deeper water. That could have been SO much worse!
Jeff is not a good liar. As we considered what to bring on our journey, Jeff agonized about his skeet rifle. He loves to skeet shoot and it would be fun to try different courses around the country. It is slightly illegal (ha) to bring a gun across state lines as each state has their own rules, but he didn’t think it would be a big deal since it is not really usable for protection and it lives broken down in its case in a closet. Crossing the border is another matter, so we put the gun in storage. At the Canadian checkpoint, we were prepared to be asked about fruit, firewood, alcohol and firearms. We had also heard horror stories about RVers being asked to pull over and the entire rig being emptied and inspected for hours. Jeff was driving at the checkpoint. The border guard dutifully asked if we were carrying any of the above, and Jeff said no. Then he immediately asked, “Do you own a gun, sir?” And Jeff floundered! I was sitting in the passenger seat trying to pinch him unobtrusively, and he finally said “no”. Then the guard went back into the booth. For. A. Long. Time. I said, “They are looking you up right now and they are going to see that you have a carry permit and then they are going to tear this thing apart and then we are going to get arrested!” We had visions of being on video with folks inside watching to see if we looked stressed or were fighting in the car. (I said all that with a smile on my face) Luckily, he came back and simply said, “Have a nice trip!” Jeff will not drive across a border anymore.
Awesome folks. We have met some awesome folks. There was Ron, the former WW2 vet and long haul trucker who sat out in what he called our “Bug House” with us for an hour each evening just to chat. Boy, he had some stories. We still talk about Ron 1 1/2 years later. And then there was the couple next to us in Columbus, Ohio. The husband’s job required him to stay in one place for 4 months at a time to do some kind of duct work at hospitals. She had raised their 4 children in their RV for years until they were all teenagers and staged a revolt. Now that the kids are grown, they are back in the RV when he has to travel to work. They were super-friendly and she and I walked together while we were there. She told me about her kids: one was a plumber, one a waitress, one a car mechanic, and one a musician: who plays 6 instruments and supports himself with his music. She said he was different from when he was very little – smart and musical. There was no musical talent in either family that she knew of. And then she said, “We figure he must have been switched at birth, and some other family got a little redneck running around and don’t know where he come from!” I almost wet my pants.
When you walk in and the music stops. We were traveling toward Yellowstone and stopped for lunch. We parked in a grocery store parking lot in a very small town in Wyoming. As we prepared to go find some sandwiches in the store, we noticed there was a bar/restaurant at the other end of the lot, so we went there. We opened the door and walked in. There had been noise, and then there wasn’t. It was just like in the movies when the needle is dragged across the record and stopped. As our eyes adjusted to the dark, we saw that there was a large bar with 3 men at it, and the bartender was walking toward us out from behind. “Can I help you?” she said. “We were hoping for some lunch….” “Oh,” she said with what seemed like obvious relief, “we don’t start serving food until 4.” We left quickly, wondering what THAT was all about!
The noisiest friendliest place ever. We stayed for about a month in Bozeman, Montana. What an awesome town! But the only RV park close to downtown was literally sandwiched between a major highway and very active train tracks: with several un-gated crossings. At these crossings, the train starts honking about a mile away, and then increases the frequency until he’s across. The park owners were so friendly we felt like we were their personal houseguests from the moment we got there. We even had some cake left over from their daughter’s high school graduation party! But the highway noise was so loud we couldn’t even sit outside, and the trains honked loudly all day and all night. Even the white noise couldn’t keep up. We loved those folks but probably wouldn’t stay there again.
The circle of life. Montana has lots of prairie dogs. They are the cutest little things that scurry around and stand up on their hind legs to see what’s going on. Of course, you don’t go near them because they carry the plague, but they’re still cute. Driving down a dirt road in Montana, I saw a few and commented how cute they were. Then, we saw a big hawk flying. “Look, a hawk!” Jeff said. I looked, and said “Hey, it’s carrying something….OH NO! It’s got a prairie dog!” Once he got himself under control, Jeff started singing “The Circle of Life” from The Lion King.
Taking Responsibility. Being on the road, we tend to use more random public restrooms than we used to. Some have been clean, others not so much. So Jeff walks into the restroom at the railroad museum in Cheyenne, WY and although clean, it was particularly fragrant. But sometimes you just gotta deal.. As he stands there, a man starts apologizing from one of the stalls… “Oh man, I’m really sorry! Whew.. Wow.. Sorry brother!”
Fortunately didn’t get shot in Denver. We stayed in and around the Denver area for a month or so, and Jeff drove me into the Denver airport a few times when I went to work. Just after we left, we heard on the news that someone was randomly shooting people in cars on I-25: the highway we had driven at least 6 times. Phew.
“Don’t go into Yellowstone without rain gear” (sing this to the tune of “Grandma got run over by a reindeer”). Every single day we were at Yellowstone the weather started out fine, and then a huge cloud would come roaring over the mountains bringing rain, thunder, hail, etc.
The people you meet on planes. I was flying to Chicago and had a very nice conversation with my seat-mate, Laura. I work in a small, medical niche market. There are 3 different locations in the Chicago area, each employing 3-7 people. After talking for a while, we realized that Laura’s sister is the hairdresser for the front desk person at the office I was working in. Small world.
Small World – Part 2. After Growler was stolen and we found Mulligan, we needed a police officer to verify the VIN so we could send the paperwork to Florida. Lucky for us, a Santa Fe policeman lived at the RV park we were staying at. He was happy to sign his name and we offered him some money, but he turned it down. So we brought some beers to him that we still had from a brewery in New Orleans. Turns out that he used to work in Louisiana and one of the things he missed was the Abita beer which we had just given him!
Jackalope Sinclair. The Jackalope is a mythical creature that Wyoming made up. There’s even a Jackalope museum, and you see mounted jackalopes in bars and restaurant. There are also a lot of Sinclair Oil stations out west. I thought Jackalope Sinclair would make a great name for our next dog – he’ll be called Jack usually, except when he’s in trouble.
Big men, tiny dogs. One thing we’ve noticed while spending time at truck stops is that many truckers have a dog for company. But since they live in such a small place, they usually have a toy variety. So you’ll see this big, burly trucker walking along with a dog the size of a dinner plate. It’s pretty funny.
Maggie’s Marijuana Store. When in Colorado, do like the Coloradoans….So we decided to see what it was like to buy pot legally. Upon entering the store, there was a front desk area where they scanned our licenses and asked a few general questions about what we were looking for. Then, we went through a door into a waiting hallway lined with about 30 chairs. We got the last 2. As people were gradually invited into the store at the other end of the line, everyone got up and moved along the chair-line. When it was our turn, a friendly, young man brought us through the magic door. There was a glass-front counter with all kinds of pipes, edibles and about 5 different varieties of Mary Jane. The young man asked what we were looking for (medical: e.g. pain relief, sleep-aid, etc.). We said we just wanted a nice buzz. He suggested 2 varieties and we chose one of each plus a pretty glass “single-hitter” pipe. He placed our order on his iPad, and we then followed the line around to the checkout area. They looked up our order after we showed our ID one more time, put our little purchase in pill containers and a stapled-shut paper bag, and wished us a nice day. Efficient, friendly, and an interesting experience. The one-hitter ended up being a 5-hitter because this marijuana was MUCH stronger than anything we illicitly had as youths. And it doesn’t make Jeff paranoid.
Begging scammers. I’m sure you’ve seen people standing at street corners with cardboard signs saying things like, “Hungry, anything helps”, “Homeless, please help”, “It’s my birthday, help me buy lunch”, etc. There were quite a few of these in the Colorado Springs/Manitou Springs area. When I happened to stop into the visitor center, the local police had actually made a brochure advising not to give to these folks. They had pictures of one man’s apartment with about 15 different signs hanging in it. He lived very comfortably off everyone’s good will. Their other point was that, at least in that area, there were plentiful services for the actual homeless, and supporting their lives on the street cost the cities a lot of money for things like EMS services when they got sick or it was cold in the winter. They used the example of the same man who refused to use the shelter and soup kitchens and had been brought by ambulance to the ER 15 times in the past year. When I work in the Orange, California office, there is an intersection and parking lot visible from one of the work room windows. Almost every day the same mini-van is parked in the lot with 2-3 different men and a variety of signs, canes, walkers, etc. They switch out every hour or so. This is so depressing because clearly some people do need help. One co-worker said that if a person is wearing decent shoes and looks like they’ve had a shower in the past week, they are not homeless. Still a tough issue.