First Real Taste of Life On the Road

So we finally had the opportunity to hit the road for a two-week work trip. We’re not doing it full-time yet because our house hasn’t sold, so this two-weeker was just a sampling of what our life may become as potential full-time RVers.

A couple weekends ago, Dusty held a Level 1 training for West38Moto at a decommissioning gold mine near Madrid, New Mexico. You know Madrid (“MA-drid,” not “ma-DRID” if you’re a local)…where the “Wild Hogs” fended off the Del Fuego gang on their journey to man-dependence.

What a gorgeous view of the New Mexico desert from up there at the mine. And the training site couldn’t be more perfect. I actually participated in Dusty’s training for the first time in nine years of riding with him. One of Dusty’s friends teasingly asked on Facebook if I had to pay for the class. You have no idea, buddy. No idea. I mean, I’ve received training from him, but always in a husband-wife capacity, which didn’t totally work out 100% of the time. (Those are some ugly details I might get into in a different blog post.) I learned a ton from the instructor-student environment (he really is excellent at what he does), enjoyed the enchanting New Mexico sunsets (it is the Land of Enchantment, you know), and spent time away from real life (no wifi) for a few days. I must admit, staying away from current events is relaxing and rebalancing.

Not so enchanting were the cacti and prickly pears poked in paws (say that ten times) and the constant fear of being lethally attacked by mountain lions, bears, tarantulas, scorpions, or aggressive barn swallows. Now, I am no stranger to prickly pears; I know all too well that Colorado has them. And I learned my lesson about them. Back in 2009, I was mountain biking when I fell near a prickly pear mother ship (see below). I swear these plants are conscious, free-thinking beings because when I stood up, I had no recollection of actually falling onto the plant, but I had been assaulted — like shots from a cannon — by multiple prickly pear bulbs directly into my thigh and left butt cheek. If you haven’t seen these things, they have large needles and smaller, cuter, softer, more flexible, innocent-looking, baby cilia-like needles. If you ever have the choice, take the big needles! This picture doesn’t really illustrate the large darts, but just take this time to imagine being shot at by this assault weapon.

Prickly pear 2

Anyhow, I pulled out what needles I could reach on the trail, leaving countless numbers of the cute babies to continue injecting me with their poison. I pretty much won the battle by suffocating them by sitting on my ass to ride the rest of the way down the mountain, then sitting on them for the drive home. Not comfortable! When I got home, my new boyfriend of one month (Dusty) came to the rescue. I armed him with fine-toothed tweezers, bared all, and assumed the spanking position over his lap on the couch. We had a war to finish; the prickly pear was not going to win! Okay, it was slightly less dramatic as I laid there in the spanking position watching TV and secretly thinking how funny this scene would be in a sit-com. Nevertheless, Dusty proved himself that day. My hero.

I had hoped the dogs learned their lesson in New Mexico about prickly pears too. Lord knows they were assaulted by enough of them.

Alas, we had to leave the enchanted land and head back to reality and wifi. On our way up to Ouray, Colorado for the annual WestFest motorcycle rally that Dusty (well, West38Moto) co-sponsored, we had a travel day to spare. Not all that surprisingly, Dusty surprised me with a stop at none other than a casino. Dusty loves his casino stops! Grandma Mary would approve. Driving through New Mexico into Colorado, I realized the desert is NOT for me — at least long-term. I can certainly appreciate its beauty and history when I drove through and stop infrequently. But I told Dusty I just might get depressed living in an environment that actually disinvites me to be outdoors and offers no more variety in color than the variety of pants colors worn by a doctor I used to work with who was delighted in his various selections of brown, beige, and tan.

We made it through New Mexico and entered the desert of southwest Colorado. So basically still New Mexico. Native Indian reservations are scattered with casinos, and — fun fact — many casinos across the country have their own campgrounds or offer free or discounted RV parking. Bingo! And Keno and Roulette! We parked Pink-Floyd (the truck-camper combo) in the Ute Mountain Casino campground, fussed around (perhaps slung a few curse words) and gave up on the levelling system of Floyd, and met the couple whom we would call neighbors for the next 12 hours — Vicky and Sue. They turned out to be a wealth of information about full-time RVing. Thanks, ladies!

The Ute Mountain Casino gave us a night of entertainment, crappy restaurant service, mediocre chicken fried steak and soup out of a can, and shirts saturated with the stench of other people’s cigarette smoke. At least the gambling part served Dusty well. I lost every red cent, but Dusty, as usual, walked away with money in his pocket. And yet he was pissed. Why? Because he was playing one of his favorite dollar slot machines but didn’t play a max bet on his spin. If he had, he would have walked away with about $8,000. He ALWAYS plays a max bet!!! What was he thinking?! Gah…the one time he doesn’t! Either way, we walked away no further in debt than what we started with, and we (well, I) got a restful night’s sleep in Floyd with pillows strategically wedged behind me to keep me from rolling off the edge of an un-level bed.

The next morning, we were loaded and ready to hit the road in 20 minutes flat! We spent the next few days in Ouray for the WestFest rally. Finally, back to the land of green, blue, orange, red, purple…yay, color! During the rally, attendees planned day rides, talked motorcycle stuff, and talked more motorcycle stuff. I live with a man who rides and talks motorcycle stuff all the time! Don’t get me wrong…I love to ride, and I love my husband, but it was time for some me-time! I went on a grand total of zero group rides, but I attended all the meals and special events. Knowing full well that no one was in the San Juan Mountains — one of the best riding areas of the U.S. — to join me in perusing old cemeteries, I took off on my own ride one day and wandered through two cemeteries — one outside of Ridgway and one near Ouray. By myself. Taking my own sweet time. Not worrying about anyone else’s comfort. It was glorious! I mean, as glorious as it can be spending time with dead people. I dunno…morbidly glorious? The oldest gravesite I found was from 1814. Pretty cool to think about life back then….

Near our campground was a pet walk. It was a pretty cool, but very short hiking trail. The first time I went up there, I had to cross a faulty, breached barbed wire fence on an obvious path. Not sure I should go past something that appeared to be a property line, I turned back. Later, I asked a couple of campground workers about the path. I don’t think I misunderstood them; I think they explained it wrong…it was sold to me as a loop, when I believe it’s actually an out-and-back. So the next time I set out, believing the path was one big loop, I found myself at the end of an obvious path. As I recalled what one of the campground workers said (“Keep to the right for the path to continue”), I thought, Meh, there’s no way I can get lost up here, so I’ll keep going to the right and see if I can re-join a path.

Indeed, I did not get lost. But I also didn’t find any path. Those guys were smoking crack! What I did find was…prickly pears. I found them in my shoes, calf, socks, and dogs’ paws, tails, and noses. Zeppelin was off-leash and all excited to keep hiking, in spite of prickly pear bulbs hanging from his nose and tail, as well as one buried into all the pads in one of his front paws. True to form, he didn’t make a sound and would have been happy to hobble along on three un-assaulted legs, as long as we could keep going. He silently and patiently let me pull the big bulbs out of his paw and nose. One large needle remained in his nose, but his patience was gone; there was hiking to do. Sadie, however, was on a leash to prevent her from chasing deer (or anything), so she didn’t get as many prickly pears. But you would have thought she had a debilitating injury; life came to a standstill for her until I removed one bulb hovercrafting over her fur, not even piercing the skin. We turned around to get back on the path, Zeppelin with an entire bulb still in his tail and a single needle protruding from his nose, forging the way for us. We would remove those insignificant, pesky hindrances later when his work was done.

Ten minutes later, back at the campsite, out came the same fine-toothed tweezers Dusty had used on my ass in 2009. It’s time for me to be your hero, Zeppelin.

There are many, many things I love about being on the road, living in Floyd, and being with my husband. But here are the things in this two weeks that I discovered are not so appealing:

  • Travel days are long. When I know there are things I could be doing, but I can’t do them while I’m sitting in the vehicle, I feel unproductive and frustrated.
  • Then I tend to be a prickly pear to my husband.
  • I need more me-time! I love Dusty, but I’ve always needed more alone time than him. I get less of it living in what sometimes feels like a ten-foot square space RV, and it has nothing to do with love.
  • And the blinds. Wow! Campsites are very close to one another. Living in a house, I can go pee with the door wide open, with no one the wiser. So, I either need to remember to close the bathroom door in Floyd 100% of the time or practice a confident smile-and-wave from the seated position.
  • RV septic systems require single-ply toilet paper. If anyone out there can direct me to a brand of single-ply toilet paper that doesn’t feel like a prickly pear or is possibly infused with aloe or lotion and doesn’t require 150 revolutions around the hand to achieve acceptable absorption, please speak up. When/if we host people, I feel as though I need to issue an apology for the toilet paper situation. Sorry, folks, my hands are tied. Yours will be soon, too, in 150 revolutions of toilet paper.
  • Leash laws irritate me! I understand why they’re needed, and I comply with probably +/-85% success, but Zeppelin is such a great dog off-leash, and I feel like he’s limited much of the time. Sadie? She needs a leash. She’ll chase deer. Or anything really.
  • The next RV we get will have an island in the kitchen. Right now, it’s a peninsula, and only one person can fit in the inlet. If I’m that person, I feel like I’m drowning if someone else (Dusty) nears the port of entry. This still has nothing to do with love.

Now, I’m sitting back at home, in a house that isn’t selling, pondering my next steps. I had saved enough money to pay the mortgage for a few months while the house was on the market. It’s likely it would have sold if I had listed it sooner, but I couldn’t bear to make Connor feel pressured out his childhood home just before leaving for college. So here I sit, about to start online teaching, but also thinking about travel nursing…. This could be fun!

Maybe full-time RVing isn’t gonna happen exactly like we planned, but does 3/4-time RVing still give us street cred?



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