Category Archives: RV Living

WOW, Now what?

First I’d like to thank anyone who checked in, commented or just plain enjoyed any part of our adventure via this blog.  We never considered having a big audience or following, only wanting to chronicle a little and maybe make a vicarious thrill available for family and friends.  Next thing we knew, we realized we had to keep up.  Writing regularly was the only way to avoid that overwhelming list of “things we should do”.  It grew to be a true joy and an integral part of the Voyage!

Second, I invite pretty much any of you to borrow the Tramper for your own trip.  REALLY!  Through some nice, mutual agreement (not necessarily financial), I would love to see someone else’s dreams facilitated.  A new pair of tires, a battery, or maybe some cool as yet unknown accessory could comprise a rental arrangement.  Additional requirements would include a discussion of the “value” or replacement cost and the suggestion of insuring the camper.  One final requirement would be a display of commitment or intent.  “You” would have to demonstrate a beginner’s understanding of towing safety, RV boon docking, propane safety, and a willingness to learn about the Tramper in particular.

Its simple really, remember I knew nothing about any of this before locating the derelict camper in Delaware.   The details of this learning adventure would likely include a nearby camping trip where I could explain things briefly and hand over the reigns.  Out of this, I would get a return investment of vicarious thrills  and a few weeks or months with “no Tramper in my yard”.  Driveway access to my workshop is narrowed by the sleeping beauty.

barely room to walk through

barely room to walk through

I also want to begin talk of my internal voyage.  We didn’t run away from a bad life to do this trip.  To the contrary, we loved our home, family, jobs, friends and the routine of daily life.  I LOVE TO WORK.  We left to celebrate all that we love and can still do.  We took the chance of “all that could go wrong”, Murphy’s law be damned, and did it.  Now we return safely and are faced with our life.  The rest of our life.  Life after the Trampervoyage; whatever that is to become.

Honestly it feels at once overwhelming and underwhelming.  During the journey we floated high in conversations.  There we were, living the dream.  People congratulated us.  People seemed to envy us at times.  Most encouraged and cheered us on.  The accomplishment was in the moment and in “where to tomorrow?”  Now, we have returned and there is no tangible evidence.  No physical accomplishment.   Maybe THAT is what drives me to make and fix so many things.  In creating tangible projects, I create my own little trophy.  I create my report card.  After all, wasn’t school sometimes more rewarding than work?  You got grades!  Someone told you how you were doing!

Today I broke away from Jane to do something separate.  We have had the incredible blessing of being together for nearly every task and joy for 190 days, 24 hours per day.  We were rarely apart.  Doubtful many couples could say that at any point in their marriage.  We’ve continued that at home, working on unpacking, cleanup and other home tasks.  But today Jane went to see her sister; I went to see the elephants!

In March of every year, Baltimore hosts the circus.  Hopefully each of you has some fond memory of the youthful attraction enshrining the circus.  Maybe you ran away and joined?  (If so, tell us some of your stories)  Anyway, one of the more colorful local traditions includes an Elephant Parade.  Tenders march the big beautiful beasts through the city streets, up from the arena to the Lexington Market for a big lunch buffet.  Then after a desert of watermelons, they parade back down to their cages, I presume, to await their other performances.

You can agree with the spectacle or argue the treatment of zoo and performance animals everywhere, but I thought it was WONDERFUL.  Without these few “suffering” performing animals, most of humanity knows nothing of their immensity.  Most of us could not fathom the emotional eyes of an elephant, nor the grandeur of the whole animal kingdom if it weren’t for our contact, albeit limited through showcases of zoos, circuses, and aquariums.  The size, shimmering fur, smells and splashes of them all would all be reduced to photographs or TV shows someone else framed for us.  I saw intimate views of a fox family on public TV last night, yet my memory of the litter berthed under my mom’s porch was more vivid.  Those kits nipped and yipped playfully and beautifully, nursing until they were weaned before we “encouraged” them to move out of that urban den.

What then, does any of this have to do with the Voyage of the Tramper?  A full circle is a difficult journey.  Its hard to come back.  I have found myself looking at all that makes up a person.  I find myself lacking the same “value” I had as a productive, functioning and working member of society.  I felt as though I had retired.  I read a version of “retired” in Steinbeck’s East of Eden that I will avoid as I can with all my heart.  Retired meant surrendered.  Retired meant finished with all productive contribution.  Samuel moved to the city in retirement, and eased uselessly to his death.  He invited it.  He accepted it.  And he chose to cease contributing.

The happiest “retirees” I know now are volunteers.  Giving some of themselves to causes they value.  My sister, retired at one time, wrote the word “something” on her calendar a few days each week.  When called upon by the limitless needs of one charity or another, she could honestly say: “Sorry, I’ve got something that day”.  In this she protected bits of her time as needed.  Hospitals, The Aquarium, Red Cross, soup kitchens, and more, there are any number of fulfilling ways to “retire” and be fulfilled by those around us.  On our Voyage we met hosts at campgrounds and made breakfasts sandwiches with a local North Carolina church.

I have selfishly preserved a few extra weeks to work on our house and home before returning to work.  I had the luxury of free time.  Time sometimes takes on different dimensions.  Everyone I know who is retired says they don’t know how they got things done while they worked full-time.  Perspective changes.

When I have two hours available and two hours of “work to get done”, it gets done.  When I have a week stretched out ahead, pressure is off, things can be delayed.  Procrastination is a vine.  Working raises the stakes.  Work schedules create the skill of prioritization.  Working is vital.  I think working is a part of vitality.  Being productive raises self-worth.  Even exercise at a gym is a form of productivity.  Even playful exercise is rewarding and productive; improving health, re-creating us, building muscle all the while.

I found walking, then running along to keep up with the elephants invigorating.  It reminded me of my love of our city.  We have been in the cocoon of our Voyage for 6 months.  We truly felt disconnected from 2012-13.  In rural and wild places, this was only natural.  But the majority of our journey carried us also through rural, agrarian places.  Through what felt like a different time.  We often felt like we were living “in the fifties” right along with that old Tramper.  Cities became shocking.  The resort at Beaver Creek, overwhelming.  A modern pace of life distasteful.

Being home too has been bewildering.  70 square feet of living space and just one basket of clothes each has us in a simple mindset.  We see now we have “so many things” in our home.  I’m longing for the simplicity.  Too many clothes, too many dishes, pots and pans.  I am, today, adapting better.  I was part of the crowd who wanted to see the elephants.  I saw the elephants themselves, line up, gladly clasping tails in trunk and parade back to the arena.  In this too, I jump back into life, a life I love!

-David

ENJOY THE PARADE!

I had forgotten that it was going to be crowded, that it would be hard to get a good view

I had forgotten that it was going to be crowded, that it would be hard to get a good view

I had forgotten too, that I AM PART OF THAT CROWD

I had forgotten too, that I AM PART OF THAT CROWD

...and what a privilege, to be part of the crowd!
…and what a privilege, to be part of the crowd!

The BIG Buffet

Clearly the eye of a veteran

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Ladies and Gentlemen, children of all ages...

Ladies and Gentlemen, children of all ages…

the elephants begin to leave and I realize that I CAN KEEP UP WITH THEM

the elephants begin to leave and I realize that I CAN KEEP UP WITH THEM

lets stay together

lets stay together

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I Think they were Glad to be out in the sun! (I know I was)

I Think they were Glad to be out in the sun! (I know I was)

"hold hands when you cross the street"

“hold hands when you cross the street”

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Everyone, step-in-line

Lets go get ready for the show

Lets go get ready for the show

Photo of the Week #4

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August 29, 2005 – Hurricane Katrina

September 17, 2005 – Hurricane Rita

Twelve and a half years ago, these two storms gave New Orleans a double-punch of hurricane winds and water.

In December, 2012, this photo was taken. What happened to the folks who lived in this house? Where are they now? Will this house be rebuilt or torn down or simply decay in its abandoned state?

Just one block from the levee, surely it was inundated. More than a few times. It’s a miracle it still stands at all.

Such were some of the sights seen on the Voyage of the Tramper.

– Jane

The Voyage Continues

Or does it?

If you read between the lines.  If you’ve read all of the comments and our replies.  If you’ve glanced at a map or noticed a change in our pace.  If we bothered to tell you anything at all.  Put these pieces together and take note.  A circle is completed as we write from our Towson home.  Travel decisions each day were affected by so many things.  We left in hopes of “6 months to a year on the road”.   A chance to bike, hike, ski and live wherever the day took us.  One hundred and ninety days later we felt the calls homeward.  Each day on the road we asked, “where should we go tomorrow?”

As we drove down from the Rockies toward Denver, my answer was “maybe we should head home?”  This thought was cemented as we spoke of finances.  A warm day of mountain biking was enough to detain us in Kansas, but not to change our direction.  A few grey days on the road, and storms that kept threatening from the North nudged us Eastward.  A final clear day, snow on the Ohio and Pennsylvania grass led us to see I-70 as a good way home, despite previous months of avoiding Interstates.

Over my shoulder we knew the Baltimore sign depicted the long road from Fort Cove, UT

With a quick picture over my shoulder we knew this Baltimore sign depicted the long road we drove from Denver, and Utah near Zion and Moab

Locals had led us to unexpected jewels!  Serendipity showed us safety and regular smiles!  I got to ski a whole lot!  We hiked peaks, canyons and caverns!  Jane saw warmth and wildflowers!  In fact, today we see the old tricks of March; wet snow, heavy branches and refrigerated blossoms.  No worry, it melts fast this time of year.

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The pressures that led us home were many.  We ran out of paper towels.  The Tramper account has seen only withdrawals for months now.  Both of us need to find jobs and pay some bills.   Marfa kept raising concerns about that big Continental Divide.  If needed, I’d imagined a plan to rent a truck in Utah, towing the heavy Tramper over the mountain passes to Denver if necessary.  With  Jane driving the 4Runner sans trailer, it would do fine.  The concerns continued, passes provided 25 mph crawls, but the transmission temperature never went out of control again.

Ahh, but the concern for this and other bits went on.  The 5  Day weather reports gave us windows to travel in.  (I won’t tow in snow and have even avoided rain as much as practical)  Safety is always a lens of concern for me.  My focus on joy and adventure is tempered by wanting to get home safe.  My responsibility to “keep Jane safe” is not just a funny topic.  Many nights were lightly slept in anticipation of noises or vehicles arriving nearby.

Yes, we crested one of the highest points in our journey, skied a few more times, and headed East.  I poked fun at our nation; “they’ll be nothing to do between here (Summit County, CO) and the Appalachian Mountains.”  “My cousin used to drive from Colorado to Baltimore in 36 hours.  We’ll be home in 3 or 4 days”.  Fortunately Kansas threw a surprise at me.  The world is full of surprises.  You’d think I would have remembered that lesson from earlier in the “Voyage”. 

We have many thoughts to share.  We have over 11,000 pictures to peruse and condense to a more sharable 100 or so.  We have memories of our longest “vacation” ever.  We have lists of new friends.  We have blog and Facebook followers.  And we have lots more to say.  We will be looking back at the trip and looking at its impact on us.  One visitor we met in Colorado asked, “How has your perspective changed”.  I shied from an answer, telling him I will know more a few months after our return.  If I don’t change actions or lifestyle, how can I say my perspective has changed?

We wonder if there are other questions out there.  We are likely to post retrospective thoughts.  Maybe a bit of logistics, maybe we’ll post what we’d do differently, perhaps a few suggestions for future travelers.  I want to post a piece with all of the barns we saw.   I see a whole post of cool things seen on trucks.  Trains became our favorite night time neighbors.  Wind energy prompted inquiry all across the country.  We hope to add more thoughts and questions.  Our life now has the vision of the Tramper.

Over all it was such a treat!  Jane and I lived in a 70 square foot space, awoke and stayed together 24/7 and not once broke into fisticuffs as Jimmy Cotton, our new friend in North Carolina had feared.  We truly hope that as we traveled, you enjoyed.  As we posted pictures, you felt a fraction of the awe we shared.  Surely if we can do The Voyage of the Tramper, whatever you are dreaming of is possible too!

-David

Time Springs Forward

So, did you have a little trouble adjusting to the “Spring Forward” time change? Kinda got you all flummoxed, didn’t it! Wide awake at the wrong time, sleepy when you’re usually chipper?

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Well, just imagine losing four hours instead of only one. And not all at once, like on an international flight. But, losing time, one hour at a time, over a span of two weeks. Just when you start to get used to losing an hour, it’s time to lose another one.

This is what happens as you drive from West to East in March across our big country.

Start in California. Let’s say it’s 8:30. (For illustrative purposes, let’s make the time changes occur in a linear fashion, as opposed to the various times of day that you may cross a time line.)

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Lose an hour when you cross into Arizona and it’s 9:30.

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Lose another hour when Daylight Saving Time begins a couple days later and it’s 10:30. (Oh, and we won’t count the flip-flop that happens when you enter and exit a Reservation that doesn’t use Daylight Savings Time!)

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A few days later, lose another hour when you enter Kansas and it’s now 11:30.

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Two more days and you’re in Indiana and you lose another hour, making it 12:30.

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Find yourself asking “What the heck time is it?” and “Where did the day go?”. Because the days end quickly at the eastern end of this trip.

I also think about my traveling friends, the Livingston’s, who have 4 little boys who don’t understand what’s happening. Just that they have less play time each day for a while. Oh, the whining!

Good thing we’re still (technically) on the Tramper Voyage. Not having to work right now is a wonderful thing. Makes adjusting to time changes, and a lot of other things, that much easier.

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– Jane

DAY 189 – 03/17/2013 – LARPing in Trotwood, Ohio

Rolling through gray hills, we sought a campground. Parking overnight at Walmart has its charms. But, so few that we really prefer a nice campground in a park. Well, actually, our favorite thing is to park somewhere off the grid. Someplace where nobody else is and amenities are nonexistent. Where we see only woods and sky.

But, in a populated area just outside of Dayton, Ohio, an official campground is the way to go. We saw Sycamore State Park on the map and navigated our way over. We found the park alright but were having trouble locating the campground. Could it really be that small, grassy area with a spot-a-pot, right across a street from a row of houses?

Unconvinced and without signs for guidance, we drove deeper into the park, down an unmarked road. The skies overhead were roiling with sinister rain clouds, ready to drench us any minute. Where the heck was the campground?  But wait, we must be getting close to something, there are cars parked along the road up ahead.

A young man got out of his car and ran, as if he were late for something. Um… he’s wearing a cape and carrying a giant sword. Oh, where the heck are we?

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Around the next bend, we saw even more people with capes and swords. And horns. And clubs.

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OK, now we see. These folks are LARPers! Live Action Role Playing.

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We stopped to say hi. They looked scary but turned out to be very nice! They were happy to pose for some photos as they prepared for battle.

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They also knew where the campground was. That grassy lot with the spot-a-pot was it.

In summer, the lot would be pretty with leaves on the trees and warm breezes. In nicer weather, the locals hike and ride horses on the park trail system. But tonight, it’s cold and wet but a good-enough place for the Tramper to sleep for the night on the way back home to Baltimore.

Yep, we’re headed East. The Tramper Voyage will soon take it’s Baltimore hiatus. Oh, we’ll still be blogging. We have a number of summary posts in mind. A map of the Voyage, technical stuff from David, etc. And the Photo of the Week, of course, will continue.

Yes, we have lots of things to post. So, stayed tuned.

Meanwhile, we observe that homemade apple cobbler for dessert made the leafless Sycamore State Park park warm and cozy!

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– Jane