“We’re built of contradictions, all of us. It’s those opposing forces that give us strength, like an arch, each block pressing the next. Give me a man whose parts are all aligned in agreement and I’ll show you madness. We walk a narrow path, insanity to each side. A man without contradictions to balance him will soon veer off.”
― Mark Lawrence, King of Thorns
In high school we learned about the classic literary conflicts – Man Versus Man, Man Versus Nature, Man Versus Society, and Man Versus Self. On this journey I found myself embroiled in the latter of these conflicts, to my surprise.
For seven weeks, I traveled on the open road. Some nights I camped in parking lots, slides closed, sleeping in my clothes for an easy getaway in the morning. (It is also difficult to get to fresh clothes from the drawers and closet when the slides are closed.) Other nights I camped in state parks, most with no sewer hook ups – only dump stations at the exits. When the temperature got down to 17 degrees in New Mexico and Arizona, I unscrewed the water from the tap, slept between flannel sheets in flannel pajamas under two down comforters, and hoped for the best when it came to the holding tanks.
For most of the trip, DirecTV was on the fritz; those satellite dishes can be very persnickety. I was largely without network television or news for almost two months. My diet consisted of cold cereal and sandwiches and anything I could microwave – that is, unless I ate out. It was too much trouble to unpack the barbecue and cook outside, especially in freezing temperatures.
When I began this journey I believed I would be in a constant state of travel bliss; however, two facets of my nature were in conflict. On one hand, I have a lust for traveling and adventure, and I want to go, go, go. On the other hand, I am a nester (shout out to the Cancers!), and once I settle for a few days it is hard for me to pick up stakes. Yet, once I pack everything away and the slides are in, I am raring to go.
I have two prime examples from this trip. First was the convention in Oklahoma. I stayed three days after the convention ended, with excuses like a hair appointment, a visit with an old friend, and cleaning the rig and doing laundry. But the truth was, I was sedentary for 10 days during the convention, and I had a hard time gaining momentum when it ended. And, believe me, the Convention Center campgrounds were no Nirvana!
The second example is Sedona, Arizona. When I awoke on the morning I intended to depart, my heart was heavy. The work of getting ready to go seemed almost unbearable. Then, within one hour, I was on the road again, and happy to be so.
Friday morning I left Buckeye, Arizona – the westernmost suburb of Phoenix – on my way to terminus: Palm Springs for the holidays. The whole town of Buckeye smelled like cow dung. I slept the night before in a Walmart parking lot under a huge electrical tower, hoping I wouldn’t get cancer.
Speaking of Walmarts, I have discovered it is better to ask for forgiveness than permission when it comes to overnight camping in Walmart parking lots. Everything I read before becoming a full-time RVer suggested that one should phone or reach out personally to a store manager when arriving at Walmart, to inquire if overnighting is allowed. Here’s what I know. Every time I pulled into a Walmart parking lot without speaking to a soul, I always found other RVs in the vicinity. I parked near them and never had any trouble. However, on the several occasions that I called ahead of time, I was told, every time, that overnight parking was not allowed.
This proved true in Buckeye, Arizona. I was the only RV in the parking lot at 5:00 p.m. when I walked to the next strip mall to grab a pizza. I didn’t ask anyone if I could park there. By the time I returned at 6:30, there were several RVs around me. By 9:00, five semi tractor-trailers had joined us. In the morning as I walked Olive, I noticed several signs around the parking lot: “No Overnight Parking,” and “Large Trucks Not Allowed.”
So much for that.
I ate two slices of cold pizza for breakfast in Buckeye and got on the road. Three and a half hours later I crossed over the Riverside County line. A billboard inquired, “What does your driveway say about you?”
Welcome to California!
My senses were in overload as I pulled into Outdoor Resorts Palm Springs. My “slip” has full hookups, a picnic table, and citrus trees; I can pick limes and lemons directly off the tree, from the windows of my rig (for cocktails, duh.) My address is on a lighted sign. There are eight pools, more tennis courts, golf course (of course), two restaurants, a beauty salon, convenience store, and espresso bar. Garbage is collected five days a week. Most people zip about in golf carts with their dogs and wine glasses. The property is gated and coded, as are most properties in Palm Springs. It is 80 degrees in daytime and 60 degrees at night. The satellite dish miraculously decided to work.
I felt absolutely feral, like a wild woman in a strange, and eerily tame, town. I had to shed the last seven weeks in large chunks off my person, like a concrete suit.
I have been at the resort for three nights now, and everything is nice and tidy and clean and organized. I sleep with the windows open at night. Vendors washed 5,500 miles off Nellie and the toad. My hair is done and I got a pedicure. I had my infusion today. I watched some favorite TV shows in real time on Saturday and Sunday for the first time in months. The outdoor patio is set up, including the propane grill and fireplace. The Christmas decorations are up. This is as close to putting down roots as I get nowadays. It worries me a little if I will have the energy and desire to move again on January 31, when I head to Yuma for one week to visit a friend, then to Mexico for one month.