Sunday, November 28, 2010

On the road again!

Once again I am sorry for the long absence, but after spending the last seven months doing very hard, but very rewarding hands on construction work and consultation on the eco-friendly restoration of a historically significant 214 year old Ferry House on the Eastern Shore of Old Virginia (that’s another story that shall be told!), Kate and I are on the road again.

After saying our fond goodbyes to the wonderful family who had adopted us while working on the house, we hooked up Doris Mae and hit the road. The first thing you do when you leave the Eastern Shore is cross the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, a spectacular feat of engineering that spans the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay and connects Delmarva Peninsula with the mainland of Virginia. The brisk wind, which can be fairly incessant across the bay, was whipping the water into whitecaps, and the seagulls were gliding seemingly magically motionless at the edges of the bridge railings as they caught the updrafts from the boiling sea. It was a fitting farewell to our home of seven months.

Our destination on this trip is Santa Fe, NM where we will meet up with some friends to establish a new base of operations for the time being and hole up for the winter. We realize that spending the winter at 7500 ft is probably not the warmest place to be, but Santa Fe is gloriously sunny and spiritually uplifting, and just like the batteries in our solar system we will use the sun and the energy to recharge ourselves.

Departing somewhat from our usual methods of travel, this trip we are simply trying to make good time. Because many of the parks and campgrounds that we normally inhabit are closed for the season we decided to try an old RVer’s trick and spend the night in the parking lots of various big box stores that are willing to accommodate us travelers. The two main choices are Walmart and Cracker Barrel. Not being big fans of Walmart we thought we would give the Cracker Barrels a try. Arriving in Asheville, NC on our first night out, we found the local Cracker Barrel, and much to our surprise in this economy the place was packed. We headed down the road a few miles and found the nearest Walmart and realized that their vast parking lot was a far better choice. Exercising proper etiquette, I checked in with the young man and young lady at the customer service counter to make sure that this location allowed overnight stays. With a thick southern drawl they both assured me that we were more than welcome, and the young man actually apologized for not having the RV hookups that he had heard some of the Walmarts were equipped with! Being as we are, solar powered and fully self contained, I assured him that that was not a problem and thanked them for their gracious Southern hospitality.

After 10 hours on the road we were ready for a couple of beers, and a nearby sports bar within walking distance provided just the ticket. After a few relaxing beers, we soon settled down for the night under the harsh glow of the sodium vapor lights rather than the warm glow of the moon we were used to. Tired as we were, we quickly fell asleep and other than a few late night shoppers who had obviously had a few more beers than we, spent a quiet evening there

Hitting the road early the next morning under a light blanket of fog, we streamed through the limestone bluffs of North Carolina and the rolling hills of eastern Tennessee toward our day’s destination just outside of Little Rock. Much to our surprise in the home state of Walmart a large sign with “No Overnight RV Parking” greeted us at the first two Walmarts we came to. Running out of options and daylight, we found a small Mexican restaurant full of surprisingly beautiful brightly colored hand carved tables and chairs, and sitting next to a huge but finely dressed and well mannered extended Mexican family, we enjoyed a quick meal while we pondered our options. Having spent more than a few nights in some interesting but unorthodox locations, we soon found a deserted side street just around the corner from the restaurant, and feeling pretty comfortable that there were no local police to roust us in the night, we settled down for another quiet evening under the street lamps. I soon discovered that in addition to the free nights lodging, we also had free wireless internet courtesy of the nearby medical clinic as well. Free internet, free camping, all we needed was a free breakfast and this is as good as life gets! Thinking that if we wandered in to the nearby Day's Inn and just acted liked we stayed there our free breakfast could be within reach we quickly drifted off asleep and dreamed of our next day’s adventures.