Our Maiden Voyage: Cali to Texas
On Monday, September 9th, at the crack of dawn with the chickens, I boarded a tightly packed airplane and headed west to the promised land.
What was the promise? Well, there were a few promises, actually. The promise of freedom. The promise of adventure. The promise of new things to see, do and learn. The promise of meeting new friends, soulmates, and, dare I say, new family.
The biggest promise, I suppose, was the promise of a new me. A me that I thought I knew but had pushed to the sidelines in between the hustle and rush of life. Who is she?
Well, whoever the hell she is, you better watch out cuz she's coming to a city near you! Ha!!!
Our Adventure Begins:
So we join our heroine on the beach, within the sunny confines of the bustling metropolis of Long Beach, California. Side-note: while I was there, I became utterly seduced with the notion that I need to learn how to kitesurf, so when I get back out to Cali, I think I need to do it. NEED.
But I digress!
My brother-from-another-mother, the infamous Uncle Looney, met me at the airport, then drove me to Macy's where I could procure some proper sleeping accoutrements such as pillows and a comforter. Additional essentials included a skillet, kitchen knife, and a collapsible colander. I had already packed sheets, plates, my coffee mug, a cutting board, red rearview mirror dice, and a few other necessary necessities into my five overstuffed suitcases that Southwest Airlines charged me handsomely to carry across the country.
No bother. I had arrived in the land of sunshine and avocados! Sand and ocean! Tacos, tacos, and more tacos!!!
On top of all that, I was on my way to see my favorite girl in the world. My sweetest Lucy.
Uncle Looney and I finally made it to Lucy at Cue's RV Sales. Along with Pabel and his awesome staff, we got the walk-thru of the do's and don'ts, which I promptly forgot. He then handed me a bunch of keys, that I have somehow managed to misplace just that fast. A few hours later, I hugged Uncle Looney goodbye and settled in for my first night aboard Lucy in their parking lot.
The next day, following my $75 gas pump fill-up heart attack, I hung our fuzzy, red, rearview mirror dice, loaded her up with groceries, water, and RV related requirements (I'm looking at you, poop pipe) then got on the excessively congested freeways of Los Angeles.
Speaking of poop, that whole setup was quite a steep learning curve, and it ain't a cute one. If there's one thing you want to learn the right way the first time, it's the sewage setup. Apparently, who you do NOT want to be is that unlucky guy or girl who gets a poop facial from not hooking the pipe up properly. Oh, and yes it can happen before you even know what hit you. Stink just hit you.
Thankfully, yours truly escaped the certain trauma of stinky sewage shenanigans by purchasing every damn thing Walmart had on the RV sewage shelf. We were taking no chances here. I even read the instructions.
Remember: poop on the outside is not your friend.
Anyhoo, I'm on the road, screaming down the highway at a steady 45 mph clip towards Phoenix, with a plan to arrive there in approximately 5 hours. This would get me there with plenty of time to get my water/electric/sewage set up done before our 8 pm bedtime.
"It's 2 pm now, so 5 hours will be perfect!", she says. Why 5 hours? Because that's how long Google Maps said it was going to take me to get there. In a car. Going the speed limit.
....around about the 7th dreadful hour, amidst the hinterlands of the HOT ASS desert, with no air conditioning, thanks to the ominous road signs warning of overheated engines; me sleep-driving into the blackity-black blackness of the black night; with the headlights stuck on high-beam, blinding one and all coming from the opposite direction....all of this, and did I mention that I almost ran out of gas twice?? TWICE.
Somebody, anybody, please tell the desert highway road planners that some of us drive 30-year-old, pre-fuel efficient, 8 MPG sexy road beasts who just might need to get some gas before the next gas station in 250 miles. Thanks.
What I Thought Was Hot...
Let's talk about Phoenix for just a minute. Phoenix had some heat, like, some for-real-tho heat, that I have never, ever, ever experienced in all of my 52 years on this planet. It was 100 degrees when I rolled my tired, punch-drunk, hot-flashing self into that city at 10:00 pm.
I need to know how people live in that kind of heat. More importantly, I need to know WHY people live in that kind of heat! Especially women like me who have internal turbo heaters that randomly, and rudely, crank it on up to high with no effort whatsoever at the most inconvenient of times. RUDE.
Can you imagine that kind of heat, combined with some evil hot flashes, AND a husband?!? No...no, I can't imagine anything else for me in this particular case but some orange, county-designed jumpsuits and barbed wire.
However, things were looking up once I got settled in and turned on the A/C. Miraculously, all was right with the world in about 10 seconds. And because of that, let us all take a moment to give a heartfelt thank you to the Baby Jesus, Buddha, Shakti, Mohammed, and Abraham for the invention of the modern air conditioner. They may not have invented it, but one or two of them probably gave a leg up to that exceptional somebody who did invent it.
I then dropped into my rock hard bed around midnight like a ragdoll, and then took a brief moment to contemplate what I had just done.
I had made it. And no poop facial!!! Woo-hoooo!!!
The next day, refreshed and ready for adventure, I headed off to Walmart for a memory foam mattress topper so that I could continue to walk upright, and then we were off to buy the solar panels. Having completed our missions, now it was onward to IHoP for pancakes. There is no adventure worth having until pancakes have been had. It's a rule. Look it up.
After my yummy pancakes, it was time to hit the road again. Ahead of me lay the desolate, winding, curving 2-lane highway into the Superstition Mountains inside the Tonto National Forest, with not another soul to be seen. This was the real deal, buddy. Backwoods highways, nobody but me and a map. And some cactus plants. And possibly the Boogie Man.
It was some of the most beautiful scenery I had ever seen. I think what I will remember the most about this entire trip is my jaw dragging on the steering wheel, just gobsmacked by the natural beauty of this country and Mother Earth.
More Mountains, More Sky, and Some Pie
I drove for hours in quiet solitude. Nothing but the wind to keep me company. It was pure heaven. I had planned to boogie on down the road with Prince, Ella, Miles, and Steely Dan, but for some reason, I just wanted to be fully present in whatever moment was occurring.
Plus, I was scared to death.
Having lived in cities my entire life, and thanks to my Doomstress, Virgo mother, I was accustomed to being completely on guard any time I was outside of my home. Anything and everything was subject to happen on these city streets. Especially in New York City, keeper of the craziest of all city streets.
"Outdoors" was a totally new frontier for me. I needed to be ready to combat the Bigfoot/Yetis, rabid animals, snakes, and scorpions that might fly willy-nilly into my RV as I mosy on down the highway at 45 miles per hour; not to mention, the flat-tire-then-starve-to-death-on-the-side-of-the-road episode that kept playing nicely in the back of my mind.
It was all beginning to be too much in my mind. I needed to refocus.
But first, some pie. Yes, that's right, I said it. Pie. Pie solves every problem, everywhere. We love pie and when you see a sign welcoming you to a town named Pie Town, you gotta stop, right? Absolutely.
Ok, I must admit that my first exploration into Pie Town pie was not an auspicious one. I stopped at the first pie shop that I saw (mistake #1), then walked in to find a very small assortment of pie options. None of which looked particularly appetizing (mistake #2). So as not to upset the apple cart since the place was only as big as a shoebox, I went ahead and optimistically ordered the least offensive looking piece of pie (mistake #3).
Now, here is where the train ran straight up off the tracks and fell off the bridge into the dark abyss. The nice little old man behind the counter reaches to open the pie case when suddenly he needs to sneeze. You already know where this is going. He sneezes. On his hand. The one that he reached into the pie case to retrieve my pie with. Yes. Yes. Yes, he did that, Florida!!! He then proceeds to WIPE HIS NOSE WITH THE SAME HAND, while the other hand is closing the pie case.
By this point, my anti-humanity New Yorker is raging out. of. control. behind my staid expression. Not wanting to embarrass my mother, I pay the $6 for the pie and carry it out to Lucy in a bag that I'm holding like HAZ-MAT with a roaming eagle eye for the very next available trash receptacle.
That's what I get for stopping at the first place I saw. Pie on my mind makes me crazy!
As luck would have it, I hadn't even driven 50 yards and, bam, there's another pie shop.
Pie-O-Neer looked promising. There was a bluegrass band playing on the porch and a pie festival across the street that, unfortunately, I didn't have the time to peruse. Nevertheless, we found some yummy pie. It was chocolate chess pie with a homemade flaky crust that was pure deliciousness, except for those pesky walnuts. Nuts don't belong in my pie.
I even found that available trash receptacle for my $6 germ pie.
RV Angels and Pretty Skies All-Around
And then the next thing I knew, I was in Springerville, Arizona, standing inside of a lush, flat valley surrounded by hills and mountains. It was breathtakingly beautiful.
This happens to be where I met my first RV Angels: John and Tammy. First, let me explain what RV Angels are and then I'll tell you about John and Tammy. RV Angels are beautiful, loving, helpful souls that God continues to place along my path in order to educate me, encourage me, and make this new RV life of mine a whole lot easier with timely tips, tricks, and things that I need to pay attention to or think about.
John and Tammy were the RV park camp hosts. They are full-time RV'rs who chose to stop for a while in one place and stay for free by helping the park owner out. Tammy greeted me when I came in and we hit it off immediately. She volunteered her wonderful husband, John, to show me how to work anything that I may need to know on my rig while I was there for the night.
The truth of the matter is that John saved me soooo much headache down the road (literally), I can't even tell you. He schooled me on the mysterious ways of the poop-pipe stand. Very important! He taught me how to hook up "city water". He told me the ins & outs of RV service centers. So, so many things. Too many to list here. All in the space of about two hours. To say that I was eternally grateful is a gross understatement. Amazing.
The sunset there was unlike anything I'd yet seen. I was hoping for a clear, starry night sky, but it was too cloudy, so I settled for fabulous instead of spectacular. We all three watched the magnificent sunset and then I bade them goodnight, retreating to my now super-comfortable boudoir, intoxicated by the stillness and quiet.
Up the next morning with the chickens again, it was time for some vittles before we pressed on. Fortunately for me, I have inherited my father's knack for finding the best food in any town, no matter how tiny. Hole-in-the-walls are my specialty. If there's some yummy grub to be found, I'm gonna find it. Well, by golly, I found it!
This place was called Booga Red's Restaurant and it was crowded at 6:30 in the morning. They had the absolute best machaca ever, ever, EVER! Machaca is a Mexican breakfast that is prepared with shredded beef. The elixir of the gods, actually.
Having been sufficiently stuffed with goodness, onward we journeyed towards Ruidoso, New Mexico. Man, talk about some mountainous beauty and just plain old mountain extravagance! CRAY-CRAY beautiful.
And rainy. Lucky me, I had happened upon the rainy season in them there parts. As I was approaching the blackest rain cloud across the flat plain where I'd been driving, I noticed that the even blacker clouds behind the blackest rain cloud, now with lightning, was exactly where I was headed. Once up to about 7,000 feet above sea level, on those very slender, curving roads, with mountains upon mountains upon mountains everywhere around me, the torrential floods of Noah's time began....add to this mental strain my break-dancing windshield wipers that were doing absolutely nothing to assist me in my perilous journey up the side of that big ass mountain.
I'm sure you could hear me cussing all the way from 7,000 feet in the sky. No, you heard me. I know you did because the cuss words that came barreling out of my mouth even stunned the rain into submission. I later found out that the wipers had been put on backward by some genius. Not me, although, I didn't know enough to know that they were on backward. All I knew was that them shits were flip-floppin' all over my damn windshield like they were crazy. So many new cusswords.
Early the next morning, Lucy & I were dashing down the road at an ambitious 55 mph, making time towards those far off Texan lands. More gorgeousness ensued until things got really weird and we rolled into Roswell, New Mexico.
Who knew that Roswell was the site of UFO's, alien encounters, secret government cover-ups with dead alien bodies? Who. Knew. Apparently, everybody but me.
After our foray into alien conspiracy theories, we steamrolled towards Lubbock, Texas. There are no pictures of Lubbock here to show you because there's nothing to look at in Lubbock. It ain't called Lubbock for nothing.
Next stop: the tiny, non-metropolis of Alvarado, literally hanging out in the middle of nowhere Texas. And, wouldn't you know it, two RV Angels by the names of Julie and Laszlo of Quality RV Solutions welcomed us in and generously sprinkled us with their fairy dust.
What was so crazy about ending up there was that, before I had even left NYC, I was on the interwebs in desperation since I hadn't been able to locate an RV service center in Houston that I felt comfortable with, knowing that I was going to have all of this expensive work done that I really didn't know much about.
John (remember John in Springerville?) had warned me to be very careful when choosing a service center since most of them could not be trusted. I had also read plenty of horror stories during my research. John told me to find a service center that I trust and then hold on to them like gold. He said to let only that service center do any work on Lucy, no matter what.
So, I do a Google search for "rv service centers Texas". I see Quality RV Solutions and I called them up. Sweet Julie picks up the phone. I tell her that I'm a newbie and that I need some help. This is exactly what she said: "We are your tribe. We are here for people just like you and we will walk you through everything. We want to show you a better RV service experience." Ok, well then sign me up!
When I got on the highway out of Lubbock toward Alvarado, I hoped and prayed that this would be THE golden service center that John had encouraged me to find.
Well, guess what? It was that and then some! It was the cake, the icing AND the sprinkles!!
These wonderful young souls not only expertly installed my solar panels, new batteries, and inverter charger that I still don't understand how to use, they, along with Lyn and the rest of their outstanding staff, took such incredible care of me and Lucy that I seriously didn't want to leave Alvarado after having spent an entire week there. Julie and I laughed and laughed and laughed and talked and talked and bonded. Another sister-from-another-mister.
Friends for life. Soulmates. Family. All of the above.
When I pulled out of Alvarado at the end of that week, I was on the last leg to Houston, back to Mommie's house we go!
With lots to do once we arrived, like cull through my stuff in storage, pull out my sewing machine to get Lucy's remodel started, and make some money so we can keep this adventure going, we had our work cut out.
By this time, I must admit, the wiles of the "out-of-doors" had begun to work its juju magic on me, and I honestly was not looking forward to spending the winter in a city. Albeit, a much warmer city than New York. Still, it was a city. A big one. With lots and lots of cars and traffic.
But, so it is. I'm not complaining. I was abundantly blessed with a safe and fun journey for some 2,000 or so miles, in a vehicle that I knew absolutely nothing about. I had met and made some lifelong friends, seen some incredible natural beauty unlike anything before, and all while comfortably ensconced inside my delightfully hip Juicy Lucy. RIGHT ON!
The only thing left to do now was to introduce Lucy to Mommie. Well, guess what? She loves Lucy too.