Sunday, September 7, 2008

Three Discoveries

1. RVers are not like me, even though I am one.

I've come to see my Vantasy as something which is not quite like a trip in an RV, but somewhere in the grey area between that and a truck driver's pounded out route across the US. Vanta C, which is secretly an RV disguised as a van, has more amenities than a big rig, and more sex-appeal than the giant, shiny and new RVs that the old folks drive. Fitting into one of these two communities would be helpful to Vanta C, as she would benefit from the insider secrets shared within them. Unfortunately, neither community is a good fit and she is out there on her own, learning as she goes, making up her own rules.

I've found as I've begun to cross the big ol' west that I have very little in common with those other recreation-seeking folks in luxury RVs. Usually older, the RV driver demands amenities like working plumbing, a working refrigerator, and full hook-up sites at kampgrounds. They expect their rig to FUNCTION, and when it doesn't, they take it to Camping World and have someone fix it. They are free, essentially, to enjoy their homes on wheels and the beautiful desert scenery in air conditioned comfort.

The trucker, on the other hand is a mechanic. He monitors the fluids of his rig daily, isn't afraid to get his fingers dirty, and uses engine grease to slick back his rarely-washed hair. He parks on the side of the road and sleeps for free, spending his per diem on McDonald's breakfasts and showers at the nearest truck stop. It's all about speed with the truckers. They need to be where they need to be; no time for pictures.

When I can't figure out how to fill Vanta C's water tank, the RVers can't help me. They haven't seen a vehicle so old since they took Judy to the school social and drove her up to lookout point to get fresh. They have no information on finding free, quiet parking spaces to camp for the night or places to find a shower. The truckers are a better source of info like that, but to be perfectly honest, I'm scared of them. All I can imagine are dirty old men who haven't had sex in weeks, staring at my tits and calling out over CB channel 19 for their trucker buddies to watch for me. Plus, when it comes to parking Vanta C, I want to get off the beaten path a bit and no trucker can help me there.

2. People will surprise me

My dear readers, one thing you should know is that your country, the U-S-of-mutha-effin'-A, is full of amazingly generous and thoughtful citizens. It's easy to get divided, to vilify one group or another because they vote differently, or pray differently, or screw differently, but we Americans are pretty cool for the most part. I get lonely on the road sometimes. I eat meals out of cans and poop in a different toilet every day. I spend hours with no one to talk to except Ralgh, and he found my earplugs so he doesn't even listen to me anymore.

Which is why I cherish my interactions with actual people so much. In Salt Lake, I was introduced to a couple who opened up their home, gave me a shower and a comfortable bed to sleep in, and a delightful meal. These people didn't know me from Shinola, but trusted me enough to let me and Ralgh into their home for two nights. On Sunday, I sat in a coffee shop next to a chatty young man with a colorful vocabulary, and later found myself on his porch eating a veggie-packed meal which he had cooked for me.

The food, the showers, and the bed were palpable delights, but the real gifts of these encounters were the moments spent learning about each other and the knowledge for me that people kick ass.

3. I will almost never be right in my expectations of a place.

When I rolled into Salt Lake yesterday, I expected to find women. Long-haired women wearing long skirts and being followed by seven children. This is supposed to be Mormon-land. Isn't this the place where people are all gettin' polyggy wit' it? I know I shouldn't believe everything that I hear, but I really expected this place to be a conservative freakshow. And it's not. I actually like Salt Lake.

And who would have thought that in Ely, Nevada I would find a raucous bunch of locals to sing karaoke with. They were quick to offer their driveways for the night, and they gave my Portland karaoke crew a run for its money.

Ely karakoers in rock solid form

Little dots on a road map betray nothing about a place or its people. I have a lot to learn about my expectations.


Kelly McNiece said...

*jealous sigh

You are far more adventurous than I friend.

SarahBear said...

Hey Eva! Very insightful! And your van looks great. This trip of yours is so exciting!

John Judy said...

Expectations are like the extra pair of shoes you bring with you on vacation. All they do is add weight, and they're rarely if ever useful.

justcruzn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
justcruzn said...

I'm also amazed at the kindness of strangers when on the road...why should I be surprised though??? Hope our little donate will get you some gas or food (hopefully not gas from food) or good times. Larry says hi! John Judy I am stealing your quote!

FYI "donate" button doesn't work in this section.

LiveWorkDream said...

You're sorta right in that generalization about RVers, but we're not all like that, really. Some of us are young and even kinda cool, dammit! :)

If you're coming through Colorado, look for us in Denver over the next couple of weeks, we'll be glad to shatter those stereotypes.

I admire your courage in taking this trip on your own, with your pup of course. The longest solo road trip I ever took was when I rode my Yamaha Virago from San Francisco to Yellowstone. I was about to get married, and I knew if I didn't take that ride then, I'd never do it. I was right, I haven't traveled solo since. I'm so glad I took that trip, I'll never forget it.