Tuesday, November 15, 2005

On the road again

Tomorrow we're heading out of New Mexico, overnighting in El Paso, TX, then west with the eventual landing target of Phoenix, AZ, Nov. 22.
This means I need to secure all our worldly goods so they won't break apart on the road. You wouldn't believe how many of those worldly goods are stuck down to their home surfaces with Velcro. But some things in daily use need special treatment.
The fish bowl goes in the sink covered with Saran Wrap secured with rubber bands. I love my fish. His name is Chessie. He knows me and swims happily to the side of his bowl when I come near.
My house plants go in the shower, where they can't do any harm if they get knocked over. When I put them there, I water them thoroughly and let them bask in the moisture and humidity... there's a skylight in the glass-doored shower and on the road the next day they will get light, solar heat, self-projected steam, and a general spa treatment.
But the shower's usual inhabitants, our laundry basket and the vacuum cleaner, have to go elsewhere. The laundry basket goes on the bedroom windowsill; the vac in the bathroom. (We just move them out of the shower when we want to use the shower for its intended purpose.) If the laundry basket falls off the windowsill, it will only land on the bed... no harm done. I can't just put it on the bed... read on.
The cat goes in a cat taxi-carrier on the bed, with pillows around her to keep her from getting tossed around. Our two guitars go on the bed, in cases wrapped in the bed's comforter. Things I keep down beside the bed, go on the bed... offbeat stuff like a weather radio to warn us of oncoming hazardous conditions, the electric blanket controls. My fiddle and my husband's dulcimer go between the sofa and the wall, with a sofa pillow stuffed in to keep them from flopping out. The piano... yes, I have a piano in a 300-sq-foot RV... well, an electronic keyboard, but nevertheless a full-length 88-key piano gets held in place by the dining table when we pull in the slides (see a couple paragraphs down for explanation). I used to put it on the sofa wrapped in afghans and cushions but discovered that the table and chairs hold it well... it's not going anyplace.
The computers (my husband and I each have our own lap-top, saves fights) get unplugged and go on the recliner with a sofa cushion on top of them. The toaster-oven is OK on the counter on non-slip shelf-cover stuff, I've discovered; I used to stow it on the recliner but found nothing happens to it if it's left on the counter. The TV has Velcro straps around it. The throw rugs all get rolled up and go on the sofa. (Yes, we have to have throw rugs. Otherwise the carpet would get ruined just by being lived on. Why do they put w-t-w carpet in campers?????)
I have to get all the dishes washed and put away so that Chessie can go in the sink. Along with pet bowls, which get taken up from the floor because when we pull in the "slides" (expandable sections of the camper that enlarge living space when parked) everything gets compacted. And our one what-not cabinet, which goes between the dining table and the wall next to it. The "what-not's" are velcroed to the top of it. The cabinet underneath holds our wine etc. It goes in the aforementioned little space, in front of the cat-litter box, which is one of those deals with a cover, over which I drape a piece of fabric matching our curtains, so it doesn't look like a cat-litter box.
Bedroom/bath area -- towels have to come off the hooks on the wall b/c they'll get caught in the bedroom "slide" when we pull it in. Closet doors have to be latched. We've found out what happens when we forget these little details. Over the months, I've Velcroed the wall-clock and various wall decorations I used to take down and stow but forgot once, and once was all it took. Open shelves (books etc.) get duct tape plastered across the fronts.
It might be so much easier just not to have decorations and books. But this is our home.... we need our family pictures, the plaster impression of the grandkids' handprints when they were toddlers, etc.
Anything out of place just gets thrown onto the bed, where it will come to no harm, and cause none, and I'll take care of it when we "land."
The dog goes in the truck with us.
As does lunch. And my camera equipment (you never know what you'll see on the road.) And dog treats for rewards when she holds her peace instead of barking at the toll-gate attendant. And the travel atlas and road-trip directory. In the stow-it compartments in my door of the truck are: travel books; a cloud-interpretation book; hairbrush and scrunchies; reading glasses; hand lotion; individually-packaged hand-wipes; pocket-pack of Kleenex. In the back seat with the dog are a water bottle, a collapsible water dish, her leash, plastic bags for picking up dog-poo at rest stops. And a couple toys and something to chew on.
The electric power hook-up cable gets disconnected from the campsite and the back of the trailer, coiled into a milk-basket, and tossed inside the front door. Steve takes down the satellite dish that enables our TV and computers; it, too, goes just inside the front door. The outdoor chairs go inside. Our bikes go in the truck bed. Oh, and our kayaks.... they used to go on top of the truck but lately Steve has jury-rigged a rack for them on the back of the camper. It takes two of us to hoist them up and tie them down. Oh, and water.... the water hose gets disconnected from the trailer and the campsite spigot, coiled up, and stowed in one of the under-camper "basement" compartments.
It sounds so organized and put-together. But I'm always winging it. Steve is always in the truck cab with the engine running while I'm still tying up loose ends in the camper, stepping over outdoor stuff that's been stowed inside for the trip.
Then everything goes into reverse when we pull into the next campground, usually about 5 hours and 250 miles later. We can't just leave everything stowed, spend the night, and be on our way in the morning, b/c so much of our stuff is stowed in our living space. At least half of it has to get moved so we have a place to sit down, and can sleep in the bed. This is a major reason why we don't do many one-night-stands at campgrounds. When we stop, we usually stay for several days at least.
Believe it or not, though, packing up to leave only takes about an hour, with sips of my morning coffee in between. Often I have to crawl in over all the stuff to rescue the forgotten coffee cup from the counter, though, just before we take off.... or there will be coffee all over everything when we stop. A few tablespoons of coffee left in the bottom of a cup make a huge mess when the road is bumpy. Ask how I know.
Anyway.... some of it is done now for tomorrow's take-off; some will wait till morning. In the meantime, I think I'll go to bed. Just writing about it has made me tired. Especially since we hiked 5 miles in the desert today. It wasn't hot or hilly but it was windy. Wind takes a lot out of me. Takes the wind out of me, you might say.


Flatman said...

Wow. I never knew you had it so much to do! That is a lot of packing and un-packing every time you start and stop. I envy you, though. What a cool life to be able to see and do so much...

Enjoy your trip today!

PuddyRat said...


Check and double-check.

Yup. Wore my azz out, too.

My dad RV'd in his last days. Pulled a huge fifth wheel. I'm very familiar with the velcro. He had it everywhere.

Have fun!

'Zilla said...

Oh my gosh, Ellie, that sounds like a workout! Cross-training at the very least! Thanks for the details :) Have fun!

nancytoby said...

Whew, that sounds like serious work, for a retired lady!! :-)

I almost phoned you today to get advice, but instead called the people I rented from. Got it figured out now. :-)

You're going to do JUST fine at RNRAZ, btw. I know you. Maybe it's time to start keeping a training log? Us old forgetful folks need these tangible reminders around. At least you don't have to pin notes to your shirt. Yet.

Downhillnut said...

I got tired just READING that. And you wing it? I'd need a categorized, Excel spreadsheet based checklist or flowchart, or something.

I bet you were an awesome nurse, to be able to remember all of those logistical details.

*jeanne* said...

You've got a CAT, a DOG, a FISH (Chessie, like the Chesapeake Bay monster - lol!), PLANTS, a PIANO, and a LIBRARY...


And here I'd thought you were living a SPARTAN existence! ;-)