Our life has been a little hectic lately and is about to become hecticker (my spelling, my grammar, my blog). Watch this space.
For quickness, as a cheat or out of laziness – take your pick – I have reblogged a post from November 2012. It’s one of my favorites. You may think that reminiscing about pain would mean I’m a bit touched. You may be right.
We’ve two queen sized beds on our RV. That might seem a little extravagant when you don’t know our nightly drill. “Keep still!” “I can’t!” “Wellgetintheotherbed!!” One bed is just kind of there at one end of the trailer and the other one is in a big drawer – a slide-out – at the other end. Once parked, you pull it out and prop it up and sleep suspended in mid-air.
There it is. That boil on the back of the trailer. It doesn’t look big enough to sleep two comfortably. It often isn’t!
If your eyesight is extraordinary you can just see the Tetons on the horizon between Chevy Tahoe and trailer. You may have to take my word for it.
It’s quite cozy with the curtains drawn, reminiscent of a sleeping compartment on a train. The nightmares come before bedtime with gasps and groans, broken fingernails and much bad language as the sheets are wrestled onto the mattresses which cling tightly to the walls on three sides.
To get the idea, try it yourself. Make the exercise authentic by first pushing your bare mattress into the corner of your bedroom flush against the wall on two sides. Ideally, it should be flush against the wall on three sides but your bedroom is probably not that small. Next, flick a fitted sheet out across the mattress and quickly rap your knuckles smartly against a doorframe or other suitable unyielding surface. This will introduce an appropriate level of pain early in the process.
Fling yourself belly down, appendages splayed, in an imitation of Spiderman on top of the rumpled sheet and attempt to tuck all four corners neatly and tightly under the mattress whilst you are weighing it down.
Once you’ve made a poor job of that, rip a fingernail off and repeat the above process with the top sheet. If you can’t bear to rip the fingernail right off then at least bend it backwards until it hurts.
At any point, if you feel the need for a break to catch your breath, you may stop and stuff the pillows into the pillowcases.
Now imagine there is a bunk bed 18 inches above the bed you’ve been fighting with so when you finish with the pillowcases crack the back of your head on the conveniently placed previously used doorframe to disorient yourself before continuing any further.
Next, shake a blanket out over the mess you’ve made so far and smack a knuckle on the other hand (not the one that is already throbbing) on a sharpish object, like the edge of a door, drawing just enough blood to leave a tell tale victory trail on your blanket when you tuck it under the bottom edge of the mattress. You may not be as fortunate as us to have ivory colored blankets to give a good contrast to the blood which will display your pluck.
If you are tempted to cheat and just shake the layers of bedding out, each smoothly on top of the other without tucking and battering of head and hands, you will wake up mummified at some point between 2 am and 5 am when bed making is even less appealing than when you first attempted it.
Seems difficult to imagine that the process could be any less appealing when you are already gasping, sweating, hurting, bleeding and swearing but it is actually true.
Our tolerance levels are tested when we’re cooped up in our shoebox RV. Bad vibes bounce right back to the perpetrator and can ricochet between us with increasing ferocity. Some days I bite back caustic remarks in a bid for peace in the box. Some days I don’t. Some days I try to couch accusations as innocuous statements so as not to be seen to be blaming him.
“The water should be nice and hot. I turned the water heater off when I got up for a wee at 3:00.”
“Was it on all night?” himself asked, his voice raising in alarm as our water heater can be temperamental and hot water spews down the outside of the trailer in its own campaign to escape the box.
“Not all night. Just half the night.” I valiantly left it at that. He knew he had turned it on and left it on. If he thought I’d done it, he’d have let me know. If he thought I’d accused him of doing it, he’d have let me know that too.
The merits of sarcasm, nagging, letting rip and knowing when to shut up often “debated.”
Like daft tourists, not seasoned travelers, we associated Santa Fe with warmth and sun, but discovered that we had strayed far enough north to be almost in ski country in late winter.
Duh. Hadn’t we learned our lesson on our first circuit of the United States the year before at the Grand Canyon where we were frozen to the ground in 5°F weather? Apparently not.
The endless summer we had planned – summer in the north, high summer on the east coast, late summer and snowbird’s winter retreat in the south – never happened. Gales, sweaty heat and freezing temperatures made the circuit with us.
Southern Arizona was at least a comfortable temperature until the sun went down. A “nation” of saguaro cactus “people” with their funny arms held up in greeting had welcomed us to Tucson and given at least the impression of a hot landscape.
Saguaro National Park
Saguaro National Park
The dry air, calming buff colors, and peacefulness of the Arizona desert were most appreciated after so much lousy weather and soothed our need for warmth, but our winter sojourn had been meant to entail leisurely swimming and sunbathing, beach combing and sitting in the balmy shade of our awning for the margarita hour.
I risked a couple of “heated” swimming pools, one in Sarasota and one in Tucson. Getting into the cold water (heated means not icy) was a shock. Getting out into the cold air was agony.
Sunbathing hadn’t happened at all and our skin thanks us for that. Beachcombing on the Gulf coast was done in winter jackets while powering ahead. To stand still was to risk windburn and then hypothermia.
For our margarita hour, we substituted red wine “indoors.”
Neither comfortably cooped up inside nor drenched in perspiration or shivering outside was the relaxed experience we had anticipated.
Tucson in March was our first destination since leaving Washington State the previous July (picture a clockwise trip on the edge of the States from Washington all the way around to Arizona) where we could sit comfortably outside or stroll languidly in t-shirts and shorts, particularly galling as Washington had had their best summer in years after we left.
Coyotes yipping in the distance setting off the distinctive yips of several packs of their chums at 3 a.m. the night before had added a thrilling ripple of fear to the spell the desert had cast. Quite unused to this particular wildlife encounter, we exchanged notes the next morning.
“Did you hear the coyotes in the night?” he asked.
“Oh, yes. I went back to sleep and then wondered if I’d dreamt it.”
“They ran right under us. I could hear them pounding back and forth and panting!”
Camped for the night under stately and beautiful but dripping giant redwoods in Crescent City, Jimmy had googled the weather where we were headed. “Do you want to hear the forecast for Olympia?”
“Go-o-o o-o-n-n,” I groaned, expecting the worst.
“Rain today. Showers tomorrow. Scattered showers the next day. Wait. Let’s look at the 10 day forecast.” Spare me. “It’s going to rain for the next 10 days.”
The only thing worse than the predicted 10 days of rain was the thought of 10 days of rain cooped up in an RV.
We’d have permanently cold damp towels to look forward to. Clean clothes that have languished in a locker for a few days feel damp when they’re fresh on. There’s nowhere to put soggy coats. Muddy shoes end up kicking around our very small floor space just as we will be kicking around our very small floor space.
Instead of the balmy east coast summer we’d expected halfway through our second circumnavigation of the U.S. we’d endured gales and torrential rain from Maine to Delaware.
Maine-iancs at the seaside. We were wearing sweaters!
Delaware fishermen are all at the pub. Note the heavy sky.
After a serendipitous trip to the grocery store for dinner fixings and wine, we found ourselves marooned within half an hour of our return as rain lashed down and filled in a moat around us at the Cape Cod Seashore.
The de-humidifier, my special spaghetti and meatballs and a bottle of red wine kept us from caring too much.
Summer turned to autumn while we were in England and on our return we just caught the end of the leaf show on a trip through the Smokies; only a few tenacious leaves had clung to the trees for us. The rest made a carpet of gold for our drive from Nashville to North Carolina.
The southeast coast was unbearably humid for two people used to the weather of a northerly latitude on a par with Calgary. Thanksgiving in Fort Lauderdale was uncharacteristically muggy, as were the Keys where one felt wrapped in a warm wet cloth each time we stepped from our cool trailer cocoon.
Views from our idyllic but sweaty campsite:
Evenings ‘round the campfire on Long Key, which we felt were compulsory on our sublime beach front setting, became an endurance test. Covered from head to foot and slathered with insect repellant against the sand flies, we steamed as though in a sauna in the stifling night air.
“I don’t think I can stand this!” himself exclaimed on emerging from the air conditioning in full bug-proof regalia.
“I’ve already lit the fire,” I wined.
“This is ridiculous.”
“Go back in then.”
“No. I’m here now.” The seductive flames were already leaping and I knew he wouldn’t be able to resist sitting and staring at them. Our bodies would slowly warm up, become clammy and acclimatize.
Lighting a campfire in the sultry heat of the Keys was ludicrous, but bites and sweat apart, the night sky, the low rumble of the surf and a backdrop of firelight reflected on the ocean was enchanting. Shooting stars, satellites and one sighting of the Hubble were our entertainment,
“There! There!” until the sand flies penetrated our defenses and we dived into the cool depths of the trailer.
From the time it took us to get from Key West to Destin on the Panhandle, the temperature plummeted and in “tropical” Florida the iguanas, torpid with the freeze were dropping out of the trees like they’d been shot. They weren’t dead. Apparently they’d come round and amble off once the weather warmed up.
We shivered through Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas and Texas. Tumbleweeds hopped around our fenced in campsite all night at Amarillo, with one giant tumbleweed landing at our door in the morning. Like daft tourists we each posed next to it, shivering, for a photo.
Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo TX. Cold!
Tumbleweed, Amarillo TX, Colder!
It was at this point that we’d planned to include Nebraska in our tour and see the sandhill cranes at the Rowe Sanctuary on their migration north but atypical cold and snow kept us on a more southerly route.
We were only 500 miles away. Good decision? There was more disagreeable weather to come.
The diagnostic testing was inconclusive so there is no treatment plan. Derek is slower than ever and I can only conclude that he’s sulking. The tech was too kind to say but my diagnosis is senescence as many of you have suggested although there was a degree of prejudice against his kind where a preference for an Apple exists.
Derek will be destined for an old people’s home while I find a toy boy, technologically speaking that is, but until we decide Which Way Now – USA or Europe – we will hang on to Derek as well as Bill and Bob the naughty 2G phones that refuse to play with the new cell phone tower next door.
Derek thanks everyone who has shown concern for his welfare but has been quite distressed at the number of people who feel I should trade him in for a piece of fruit.
Now he’s been mesmerized by this slide show of white-tailed deer at Ochlockonee River State Park in Florida:
Signs like this are common in the Southwest but shocking to an East Coast suburbanite! And rattlesnakes tend not to inhabit the places where the signs are. You stumble on them unexpectedly. Thank goodness for the warning rattle.
Derek, the laptop, is still in rehab. Posts will be a bit hit and miss for a week or so. He has the equivalent of a little head cold, nothing serious, just a little run down.
The bills are paid, the checkbook is balanced. I’ve had a last troll through WordPress Reader, Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, Pinterest , three different Hotmail-now-Outlook email accounts and Amazon, both .com and .co.uk. The local-to-seven-time-zones-away newspaper has been checked for football (you call it soccer) results; BBC.co.uk has been scanned a last time. Zoopla.co.uk and Zillow.com have been perused for houses. Again.
The time has come. Derek the laptop is being sent away for treatment.
His problems are two-fold. We’ve filled his belly with double doses of music, photos and text files which is partly to blame for his worsening mental functions. None of us perform well after a big lunch. But a rapidly developing early onset dementia is now made apparent by blank screens and infuriating little circles that go ‘round and ‘round and ‘round which indicates I’m thinking before he blurts that tired old message, the only one he can recall, this page can’t be displayed. His instant recall is rubbish.
Not helping his troubled mind, Derek has been at odds with the new AT&T tower next door. He feeds his poorly brain with a 4G Verizon signal but AT&T badgers him so he constantly loses his train of thought.
To give him a break from the neighbor’s harassment I take Derek to the library for a refreshing dose of free Wi-Fi. His condition causes him to repeatedly drop the signal, like a baby with a rattle. He won’t pick it up and I can’t pick it up for him. The other boys and girls are playing happily on their laptops, but Derek made me complain to the librarian despite the fact that he was the wayward one.
The signal is fine. See that green circle? No-one else has complained. I think the problem is . . . . . . . , and she looked at me sympathetically before her eyes dropped to Derek.
Back at home he returns to his meditative state. My brain is always full of chatter but Derek can clear his mind beautifully and just ooooooooooom.
I could put Derek in a home and use the library computers but their browsers aren’t up to date and don’t support spellcheck on WordPress. As I am a teribul tipist and my speeling is werse I have developed a spellcheck dependency disorder. Which means I am co-dependent with Derek.
And I would miss his warm presence on my lap.
C’mon Derek, off you go. There’s a good lad. The nice man won’t hurt you. He’ll hook you up to life support, run some diagnostics for a couple of days and then put you on a detox.