A friend dies at 49. "Life is Short" ricochets about the confused confines of your itty bitty brain. It's now or never, fool.
"You'll end up a Walmart Greeter!" whispers the Imp.
"I don't care!" bellows your voice, loud enough to be heard by colleagues at a mind numbing conference on "Organics: Precursors Of Trihalomethane Formation In Drinking Water."
"You don't care about what, Mr Johnson?" asks the somewhat perturbed presenter.
In thirty odd years of camping, RVing, and on-and-off full-timing, the above photo is about as close as we've come to the "Perfect Rig—Perfect Life" fantasy. It is a "fantasy," you know, if you are perfectly honest to the bone. The photo speaks for itself and, perhaps, for the owners of the rig... a statement, of sorts, that it's going to take a pretty big "bump" in the road to deny the exceptional boondock, privacy and solitude some require in order to offset "Modern Life," what it did to you, what it does to you, and how it often ends early, whilst in your prime... like my aforementioned friend... or late, when your chair has wheels, eyes are vacant, and your heart doesn't have the decency to stop beating. But I digress...
Possibilities become obvious as one studies the above photo, just go till you can't go no more. Then unhitch Arctic Fox, put Petroleous Rex in four wheel low and go some more... to alpine hinterlands that settles restless souls. You do it now, if for no other reason than you still can. Hindsight being 20-20, the only thing missing from that photo is a winch (not wench... a first edition Freudian slip that slipped by the author) with a hundred feet of emboldening cable.
I guess I'm a tinkerer, always thinking... tweaking... screwing with un-broke "perfection," eyeing, then coveting my neighbors "wife," until next thing you know I'm committing RV adultery and there's a two-slide Fiver setting in my driveway. Just call me the "Don Juan darling repeat RV customer," never satisfied. There seems to be a bullseye on my forehead that only salesmen can see.
Males mock and berate Women's Shopping Syndrome, this in spite of it being recently revised upward to number 2 on Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs (a posthumous indignity that rolled old Mas over in his tomb). But when it comes to our quest for the "Perfect Rig," we turn right around on a hypocritical dime and engage the same, if not faultier, shopping logic... using the most nit-picky and absurd reasoning imaginable. I traded Arctic Fox because the pipes froze a couple of times.
In my defense, I have yet to committed the ultimate sin, which is to throw down a couple of hundred G's or more on a gaudy motorhome with more whiz-bang things to go wrong than you can shake an empty wallet at. But that's only because I don't have a couple hundred G's.
We started small like poor folk should, with a two-person starter tent. It leaked, and was too small for necessities like my size 14 Chippewa Minus 40 hiking boots. Tired of being sopping wet, we upgraded to a two wheel drive Toyota pickup with a topper... high and dry now, but you can't go anyplace cool in Colorado with two wheel drive. So we upgraded to a Jeep Cherokee Wagon with a fold down back seat. It turned out to be too short for someone six foot four and I ended up back in the tent. Two steps forward; one step back.
Then on to an old FWD '79 Chevy short bed pickup. I found a used Four Wheel Pop Up slide-in, cab-over camper and thought I'd struck gold. We could go anywhere, and did... staying dry and warm and cooking meals on a real stovetop at 12,000 feet. So what if we had to solar shower and poop outdoors. I loved its popped down low profile for driving and skittering around in tight woods. And when popped up, I had almost an inch to spare between my bald spot and the ceiling.
Long story longer... we bought a new Chevy due to reliability issues with the '79. That move precipitated a new pop up camper because the old one looked like shit on a brand new truck. We upgraded to a larger pop up camper that had an outdoor shower, hot water heater, larger water tank and a portable potty. But that camper, along with all of our gear, bikes and toys, proved too heavy for a half ton Chevy. Arrrggg! So we adopted a new GMC three quarter ton pickup, but kept the same camper.
Then one fine spring day, the kind where love is in the air and camping juices flows like Texas oil, we saw a short-bed pickup with a brand new Hallmark Camper resting in a parking lot. The proud owners were more than happy to show us inside. The camper overhung the bed by about 16 inches, allowing room for a real shower/toilet closet. The overhang was designed so it wouldn't drag ground no matter the Jeep road. We bit on that bullet. Of course with another holding tank for black water, and a larger water tank to supply the shower... a longer/heavier camper... you get where I'm going; it exceed the three quarter ton load limit of our pickup. A new truck was out of the question, so I installed booster airbags on the rear axle to get headlights back on the ground where they belonged.
Then it occurred to me that all this upgrading and tweaking was nothing but a chain linking me to a treadmill. One fine spring day you wake up, love is in the air and camping juices are flowing like the almighty Colorado River. You realize to the point of resignation that you loathe your job and your unappreciative boss, too. Blue highways suddenly become nymphs, begging to be explored... wilderness boondocks beckon your presence... freedom takes on the aroma of bacon, sizzling over an open fire. I finally reached critical mass, the Countdown to Meltdown was at T minus Five and counting.
Like I said, a friend died at 49. "Life is Short" ricocheted the empty and confused confines of my brain. "Mark, you are in pain; if not now, when?" I took off running.
"You'll end up a Walmart Greeter!" re-whispers the Imp.
"I don't care!"
I'll bare down and try to conclude this essay in the next post. I have a few tough questions... ones that I struggle with... one's I'd like your opinions on: like, what is the long range "true cost" of adopting a full time lifestyle as measured in dollars and sense? Do you worry about ending up living out your years in an aging RV? Is "freedom" just another word for "nothing left to lose?" Where does "purpose" fit into the RV-till-I-die-equation? Will there be regrets for "burning bridges" when we get old and the nest egg is gone? Is it morally right, or fair to our children, to sell our sticks and bricks and spend all the money on RV's and travel, then throw ourselves on Govie's back and expect to be taken care of... fed, housed and medically attended to in our declining, unproductive years? and a few more.
Feel free to chime in here and now if you have thoughts/opinions/solutions/arguments/examples.
|North Padre Island on The Artful RV Adventure... Our first full-time breakaway. Is this the Perfect Rig?|
|Bobbie deals with the winter maintenance issues found in Colorado. Is this the Perfect Rig?|
|Is this the Perfect Rig?|