As a child we camped in our motor home most summer weekends. As soon as dad pulled into the driveway on Friday, we piled in and motored off. What seemed fun as a kid sounded less appealing as a forty-three year old adult. Today my idea of vacation included more hotels and less camping.
So when my wife suggested buying a motor home for us to vacation in I was leery. Sensing my hesitation she assured me that the vehicle she was researching was more of a condo and less of a motorhome. It had a separate shower with a sun roof. The interior of the motor home was tastefully done in white leather. The floors were tile, it had a full refrigerator and freezer and a microwave with convection oven. There was a stove top and even a wine rack. Above the swivel seats in the cab was a full sized flat screen television and dvd player. There was no denying it was fancy. The only negative I could put my finger on was that it involved camping.
Four days after our second wedding anniversary, Sandy and I embarked on our first camping trip in the new rig. We had all the necessities covered: wine, pasta, popcorn and of course chocolate. We headed for the ferry in Coupeville. We planned to go through Port Townsend to the Olympic National Forrest, to Seaside, to Cannon Beach and back.
The ferry trip was terrifying. The water was so rough it slapped the ferry with furious force. I decided not to watch. Once in Port Townsend, we parked and checked out the town. It was not unlike our Fairhaven with its historic buildings and quirky shops. We visited the ice cream shop then strolled through the town and enjoyed the sights.
As the sun began to dim we started to search for a place to park the RV for the night. We found a space at the local fairgrounds. We parked and found the check-in board to pay. They only accepted a check or cash of which we had neither.
Now completely dark, we had no idea how to get back to town to find an ATM machine. We were out of range and unable to use our mobile maps.
We spotted two women washing out litter boxes and dumping their septic. Never one to miss a possible cat encounter, Sandy asked how many cats they had. I wondered who takes cats camping?
"We have two", said the elder of the two women.
"We are headed to Florida to live", said the younger woman. Sandy explained our situation and asked what they thought we should do.
"You can stay the night without worry. No one seems to be here to check whether or not people are paying" said the younger woman.
We decided to take our chances and stay the night.
Moring came and my back was killing me. I hoisted myself up and over Sandy. I felt every muscle in my body screaming out in pain. I found my boots and some towels and headed to the bathroom to take a shower. I would have used the shower in the motor home but I didn't want to wake Sandy.
I hung my towels from a hook dangling by one screw. I piled my clothes on the bench and hoped they wouldn't fall onto the wet cement floor. I climbed into the shower and turned the water on hot and full blast. Three spindly spiders flew out of the shower head with the water and I squealed. I scooted as far into the shower as I could so as not to encounter the spiders again. I thought about how much more relaxing this was than soaking in a nice jetted tub in a hotel. somewhere, anywhere.
We headed towards the Olympic Forest where we planned on spending the next night. We drove through Forks where the Twilight movies were filmed. They were still hanging onto that claim to fame. We passed several run down stores with oversized card board cut outs of Twilight movie actors. With a population of just over 3,000 I wondered how many of them were now vampires.
We drove until it was dark. We found the place we had planned to stay only to find out that it was full. The wind was blowing and the rain hit like bullets against the side of the motor home. We had no choice but to park just outside the ranger station. I hoped that the wild animals knew better than to eat anyone near the ranger station. That night my back was even more sore and I was beginning to question the sleeping conditions of our condo on wheels.
The trip out of the forest and back to the highway was sunny and bright. It was easy to forget the bluster of the night before. My back ached but a few ibuprofen later it was better. We made a pit stop at an ACE Hardware store for a hot air mattress and a coffee pot. Few necessities we had over looked.
The Astoria bridge was four miles long. I planned my escape route in my head for when the bridge collapsed and our motor home plunged to the bottom of the Columbia river. I was realizing that I would never survive if the bridge were to collapse when Sandy announced that we were in Oregon. I opened my eyes and sighed in relief.
As we drove through the Seaside camping entrance I was hit with nostalgia. I could sense the excitement of unrealized adventures. I smelled campfires and pine trees. I could picture my dad hooking the motor home up to the hook ups...
"Lorinda!" I snapped back to reality and saw my wife standing in her boots holding a red hose in her hand. You mean we had to hook up our own crap hose? Aww, where was my dad?
We didn't have gloves which right away I realized was a major over sight. Sandy got down on her hands and knees and crawled under the rig. She unscrewed the cap for the septic and hooked up the red hose. I held my nose. She looked over her shoulder at me and I shrugged.
"Put the other end into the hook up in the ground." I gingerly picked up the hose with just my finger tips. I shoved the end into the cracked, plastic hook up in the ground and then gave it an extra shove for good measure. Right away the hose swelled and I could hear the sound of liquid running through. So much more pleasant than indoor plumbing at a hotel, I thought to myself.
That night we blew up our hot air mattress and it was like sleeping on a cloud. Until Sandy rolled over. Then it was like being catapulted off a trampoline in my sleep. Clearly we had not blown it up quite enough.
The next day we travelled to Cannon Beach and took a walk along the water to visit Haystack Rock. The shore line was lined with houses and hotels overlooking the water. I sighed. I imagined sitting on the deck of one of those places, looking out at the water and writing. I belonged there. Not camping.
On our way back we planned on staying in the Olympic National Forest but we didn't find a vacancy. When it began to get dark, we decided to find a place to pull off the highway. As the night went on and the vehicles blew past us I realized I was not going to sleep. Vehicles pulled in and out next to us. Drivers honked their horns and flashed lights as they drove by. All night. By 2:30 in the morning, I pulled out my phone and began to play solitaire. I played like a crazed person. Game after game.
When Sandy woke up, I was cranky. She happily agreed to getting breakfast. So we stopped at the Blackberry Inn, in Joyce. I ordered waffles and cocoa. As I licked the whipped cream off of my hot cocoa I could feel a shift in my mood. There is little hot cocoa, whipped cream and a waffle can't cure.
Fort Worden in Port Townsend was by far the best place Sandy and I stayed the whole trip. We pulled into our spot and then jumped out to explore the beach. Sea Otters, herons, seals and the crash of the ocean waves filled our senses. We walked hand in hand down the beach, stopping every now and then to take it all in.
We spent the rest of that night eating popcorn, sipping wine and watching movies in our motor home.
We got in line for the ferry the next afternoon. I looked over at Sandy sitting behind the wheel. She had the most serene and relaxed expression on her face. I realized then that I was going to miss being out on the road in the rig with my wife. I'm not saying given the option that I would never pick the hotel. but now I'm confident that I would also not be opposed to picking the rig.