Saturday, May 14, 2011

Heading West

I've been on the road or camping for 16 days now and it is beginning to show on me. Last evening when we pulled into the All Seasons RV Park in Goddard KS, I was down to my last pair of shorts and I was wearing them. My wild white hair hadn't been washed since Port Aransas and the inside of the camper is beginning to resemble the inside of a hermit's shack. My guess is that the first impression people must get when they see us coming is that maybe they want to avoid contact because something just isn't quite right. But there are a group of carny workers camped here also, so I fit right in. As Josh says, "the smell of cotton candy and fear."

It was very cool traveling yesterday -- as in cold! The temps were in the high 40s when we arrived in the Wichita area and, with the wind, it felt like 41. After I got the camper unhitched and set up, we huddled inside with the heater going and I nearly wept when the dogs would indicate they needed to go outside in the cold and wind.

And talk about tight quarters! These camper spaces are the closest I've ever seen. I share the hookups on one side in the six foot space that separates me from the neighbor and the two picnic tables in the six feet that separate me from the neighbor on the other side. I was afraid I might even be heard talking in my sleep last night!

It's gray and cool again today, but we're staying one more night here. There is a promise of some sunshine later today and I want to do some exploring in Andale and St. Joe (just north of here about 3 miles). Andale was where my grandmother and her twin, my great Aunt Mathilde, were born over a hundred years ago. We lost my grandmother in 2007, and Mathilde passed away only a few months ago, so it is a pilgrimage of sorts to honor my ancestors.

On the day I left on this trip, I found a note from my son attached to a Ford ball cap as a going away gift (it will be the one memento I keep from the Bronco). The note read, in part, "Have a great time and find out something new about you or the world around you." I have followed his instructions. Every day that has passed has brought new things to see, from birds I've never seen outside of an Audubon book, to new insights and understandings about my environment, to a new awareness of who I am in this early autumn of my life. These things happen without leaving home, but travel accelerates the process and the solitude of this trip has increased my sensitivities.

So, now I will be turning west and heading for home. By the time I arrive I will have driven close to 3000 miles in the days I have been gone. At 9.5 miles to the gallon (pulling the camper) and an average cost of $3.89 a gallon, it has not been an inexpensive way to travel, except for the lodging and food costs. I'll have hitched and unhitched a total of 18 times, at least 15 of those times totally unassisted (I take some pride in that as a woman of a certain age). I had only one minor accident, if you could call it that. I clipped one corner of the camper with a tree branch in San Antonio, and it left a boo boo that will have to be looked at when I get home. Oh, and there is the 5" bruise on my right knee from where I walked into the hitch in the middle of the night. But, as Josh says, it hasn't really been fun unless somebody ends up bleeding.

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