Traveling across America without killing each other

A good start to a trip… I guess?

Sunday 22nd August 2021

Have you ever had the feeling you’re still dreaming? In theory, you’re awake, getting on with your day, but there’s still that lucid feel to it. Well, that was me Sunday morning. It was 6 in the morning, and I had barely any sleep, so technically I should have still been dreaming. Bleary eyed and doing everything on autopilot. I don’t remember what we ate for breakfast or even if we had breakfast. Besides, everything we owned was now in the camper. 

The dogs were happy to get going. “Yay, truck ride!” they said with wagging tails and all sorts of craziness. (Yes, I speak dog, as do most other parents caring for their fur babies. Don’t even try to deny it.) 

In the truck, Patrick sat on my lap, watching for cows (we’ll get to that in a bit.) Jake on the console in the center. (Please forgive me English peeps if this is spelt wrong. I’m losing my English authenticity and need to return to the homeland and take a crash course in London slang.)

Okay, back to the truck ride! We live in the middle of nowhere, New York, and there is a farm down the road with cows that hang out and sunbathe in one of the fields. For some reason, unknown to man or woman, Patrick has taken a disliking to cows and feels the need to hurl abuse at them from the window. As we approached this field, Patrick stood with his paws on the dashboard, his nose pressed against the window, quivering with anticipation. (I may have exaggerated the nose pressed against the window bit just a little.) His ears pricked up at the sight of the first cow, his chest expanded as he took in a great lungful of air, and with a tear in his eye, the air turned blue as he spat curse after curse at the cows, bidding them a farewell. 

And then he sat down and was fine after that. 

We took a pitstop at the Seneca Indian reservation. I’ve never been to an Indian reservation before and was rather excited about the ordeal. As it turned out, there wasn’t much to it other than a petrol station, but that didn’t stop me from grinning as I stuck my face to the window like a Garfield stuffie with suction cups that my sister had when we were kids. I think I squealed when I saw the tall statue of an Indian chief, at least I did in my head. I may or may not have begged hubs to let us stop and look at the handcrafted gifts, and he may or may not have said we’ll be seeing plenty more during this trip. I then may or may not have pouted. 

Even the petrol station fascinated me with feathers and other Indian things printed all over it. 

While hubs filled up the truck with diesel, I took the boys out for a leak, and holy hotter than the gates of Hades, was it hot! There I was, in jeans and a hoodie, because it wasn’t that hot that morning, and we had the air conditioner set to freeze a 10 lb. turkey. 

The soles of my trainers (sneakers to you American folk) were melting on the concrete and making a squelching, popping sound as I walked. My skin was sliding off my bones beneath my hoodie, and plopping on the ground, and by the time we reached the grass, or dirt, or clay, or mixture of all three, there lay a puddle of my former self, still panting under the heat lamp that was more like a grill.

Of course, the heat didn’t bother the boys as they sniffed every blade of grass, every speck of dirt. No stone is un-sniffed by our boys. Or peed on, as I’m sure there was nothing left but a puff of air every time Patrick lifted his leg. 

Finally, they had their fill, or maybe it was the prospect of being left behind, according to Jake, as he ripped my arm from my socket to race back to the truck, dragging me across the ground. It was like a cartoon where the drag-ee is bouncing along behind the drag-er.

Back in the truck, minus one hoodie as it was thrown in the back with Jake, we were on the road again. (If you’re singing “On the Road Again by Willie Nelson” then my work here is done.)

Seeing the welcome sign for Pennsylvania wasn’t anything special, I’ve been there a time or two, but seeing Welcome to Ohio, a giant hand came out of nowhere and slapped me across the face. Clutching my cheek, my eyes grew wide, my mouth fell open and I’d lost the ability to speak. I had to use sign language to point out the obvious to hubs, “We’re in Ohio!” (And by sign language, I mean a lot of poking him in the arm, the ribs, and pointing out of the windscreen. He mirrored my excitement with narrowed eyes and pursed lips, his voice low and flat as he growled, “Stop poking me.” 

But our excitement didn’t really last long when we realised Ohio looked just like New York.

Then came a loud pop! As my lucid bubble dream state burst, another slap on the other side of my face to match the invisible handprint. We’re actually doing this. We’re actually travelling. 

My stomach filled with tissue paper butterflies that were soon torched by the beast who decided now was the time to wake up and whisper the what if’s and did you…? 

Did we lock all the doors? 
What if we get burgled and the thieves get annoyed that there’s nothing to actually steal and take our carpet or burn our house? 
Did we turn all the lights off? 
What if the mice have a house party? 
Did we let the cat out?
Wait a second, we don’t have a cat.
What if a stray cat entered our house when we weren’t looking and has a house party with the mice? 

I had two choices, to say something to hubs or let all these fears and worries eat away at my insides. 

I chose the obvious choice. I let all these worries and fears eat away at my insides. 

But hubs has a superpower and one look at me and he knew something was up. Or it could have been because I was chewing the stubs of my fingers where my nails once were, and the distant stare and glaze over my eyes. 

As any loving hubs would do for his neurotic wife, he told me it’s too late to turn around now, to enjoy our trip and we’ll either come back to a pile of ashes or a concrete pad where our house once stood or not. I hadn’t thought of the possibility that robbers might steal the entire house. That, of course, cured all my fears as I laughed weakly and began chewing my nails, all the way down to my knuckles. 

7 hours into our trip, a few pee stops along the way, being so thankful for the porta-potty we were dragging along behind us, we finally arrived to our first campsite, Round Up Lake Campground. Two exhausted adults and two exhausted dogs were ready to park up and pass out. Hubs went to check in and get our site number and with map in hand, we promptly got lost. Who would have known we would be entering the labyrinth of campers? Posh campers I might add. 

We’re not newbs at this camping lark, but I do feel we were being tested to see how well we could maneuver a 36-foot camper around streets wide enough for a small car. Just ignore the squeal of metal scraping across metal, hubs took those corners like a pro! No dents or bumps or exchanging or insurance info for these happy campers! But it didn’t change the fact that we were completely and utterly lost in this sea of RV’s. This place was magical, and not the good kind, as we took another turn and “haven’t we already been down this road?” 

But then they came, our knights in shining golf carts, their capes flapping behind them in the breeze. 

“What’s your site number?” they asked, using their telepathic powers, or simply because they’ve been watching us circle the same block a few hundred times over. 

Our hero’s spun the tires as they sped out of there at 5 mph and lead us to our site.
Yay! Thank you heroes! 

Here’s the fun part. The hokey-pokey. “You put your camper in, your camper out, in out in out wave your fist about… We love the agonising, rage building, face reddening task of parking a camper especially when we’re tired. But we did it! Our first, official day of travelling across America. 

Until next time!
Much love,
Robyn.

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