I’ve been passing everything in sight…
…Five months on the road but I’ma gonna make it home tonight.
Yep – at the crack of dawn recently, me and The Fleabag hit the road. No more metric and no more nickel grocery bags. For a while, anyway.
The Fleabag is getting a lot better at traveling. Most cats are in a vehicle once, maybe twice a year to travel the distance to the Vet and back. Poor Ole Tupelo has logged over 5,000 miles in the past year or so. This was his best trip.
I learned the hard way that he travels best when allowed to roam free. Keeping him prisoner in his cat carrier ends up being more of a driving distraction as he meeows his fool head off for hours and eventually soils his cage, which means pulling over to fix things. Roaming freely, he can access his litter box whenever necessary. He sleeps, or cat-naps, most of the time, occasionally jumping up onto the console to get his head rubbed for a bit, then he’ll settle down.
The beginning of each journey is the worst. Despite the fact that the Billy Joel song, “The Legend of Billy the Kid” was starting to play from my USB stick as we began our 1,000 mile journey on Highway 401 in Toronto, no matter how interested in the song I was, I wanted him to quickly settle, so I turned off Billy and the only thing the cat heard was my voice trying to be soothing.
It’s probably for the best… for my ears, anyway. When I’m alone on a long journey, my speakers get a workout – especially the sub-woofer going, “boom-boom, out go the lights.”
US Customs was a breeze. Shortly after I pulled into line with three vehicles ahead of me, the open/closed light turned from green to red. Two cars behind me changed lanes but I stayed. I was now second in line. The Customs Agent waved the vehicle in front of me towards the booth. Gone in sixty seconds. She waved me, now the last vehicle. She half listened to my story with her mind on coffee break and released me. As I was pulling away, she did a double-take when she noticed the cat sitting quietly in the passenger seat. It took no time at all for her to choose between telling a little old grey-haired man traveling with his cat to hold on a minute, or for her to assume the pose of a coffee in one hand and a cruller in the other.
I saw a piece where Madonna was telling an interviewer that she didn’t miss the state of Michigan one little bit. I can see why. I thought Toronto roads were tough to drive on in a pick up. Michigan is a bone-jarring, filling-loosening forty-mile dash across tore-up roads to the Ohio border and an improved highway surface. And believe me, it hurts to compliment Ohio in any way.
For the better part of the day the drive was without event. The cat was a trooper. Whenever I stopped for gas or yet another fast-food calorie overload, on my return to the truck I would see him sitting on the console waiting patiently, then his mouth would go in motion when he saw me.
However not far south of Lexington Kentucky, I-75 came to a standstill. After some stop-and-go, I passed an overhead, update/message sign that explained the problem. Five miles ahead, the two left lanes were blocked. Uh-oh.
I did some math. Five miles is about 25,000 feet. If each car and tractor-trailer currently at a standstill averaged 50 feet – length and spacing front/back – that meant there were 500 vehicles, per lane (3), between me and the wreck, 1500 vehicles total. If each vehicle took five seconds to pass the wreck and rubberneck – 12 vehicles per minute = 720 vehicles per hour – it would take two hours to travel five miles. Time for Plan B.
Welcome to Richmond, Kentucky, the first exit I could force my way off at. A Day’s Inn on one side of the street and a Frisch’s Big Boy on the other. The remote control didn’t work but I wasn’t about to have the owner come to fix it, tripping over a cat that I hadn’t bothered to mention on check in. I set the alarm for 4:30.
I pulled into my neighbor’s driveway at lunchtime. The trailer sat off in a corner, neatly covered in its grey ‘tarpaulin’.
For the past five months I have been worried about what I was returning to. I knew that I hadn’t disconnected the brand-new. marine, deep-cycle battery. I knew that the fridge and freezer doors were left closed, so there would be mildew. I knew that I had left three cokes in the fridge, and this year, the temperatures in the South had dipped down, unseasonably, below freezing for more than two days. Those cokes may have frozen and exploded.
I had tried my best to winterize the trailer last fall in Nashville but the odds were against me. Firstly, I did a lot of research about Full-Time RV-ing before undertaking The Hare-Brained Scheme, but storing the trailer for winter was never part of the plan, therefor the research.
Secondly, I was still trying to live in the trailer that I was winterizing making it somewhat akin to attempting to lift a pail by its handle while standing on its rim. For the most part though, I seem to have dodged the bullet. Working by myself as my neighbor was at work, I got the tarp off the trailer and got everything hitched up and plugged in. I was ready.
It did take me a few runs to get out of his back yard. Not because of mud or traction, but because there is only four inches of clearance coming through his truck gate. I had to pull the trailer from where it was, head in the general direction of the gate, then go backwards and forwards with the trailer until it was in perfect line with the truck, and perfectly straight going through the gate. I’m thinking of suing him for being so inconsiderate in giving me a place to store the trailer on a moment’s notice, not charging me a penny for storage, but then having such a narrow truck gate.
I couldn’t ask for better neighbors, wonderful people. I have to force them to take a few sheckles in thanks and gratitude by insisting and suggesting they spend it on the kids, if not for themselves.
Pulled to my ‘home’ RV Park in Bishop, Ga., I am now set up and running. All things considered, I got off scott-free with winterizing issues. I had to live out of a cooler with ice-cubes until I could get bleach and scrub the fridge and freezer, but so far, that’s the only oops that I’ve noticed. Living small is an art – a place for everything and everything in its place. That was not practiced when I closed up last year and finding things has been a struggle. There’s a surprise behind every door, but I’ve now had time to clean the fridge and stow things properly.
I went to Publix grocery store to pick up bleach and vittles. On returning to the truck, I missed seeing a little orange face sitting on the console, patiently waiting for me. I had to laugh; even more so when I pushed the button for the stereo to come on. The display flashed, “The Ballad of Billy the Kid” and out from the speakers, sure enough, came Billy Joel, just where I left him, two days and a thousand miles earlier.