Nov 7, 2013

Testing the Rig and Ourselves

2013-11-07 (2) Tuesday, we left the incredibly easy comfort of our friends’ home in St. Louis and hit the road; for about 100 miles. Our destination was Hermann, MO, a tourist, winery, historic town off of the main roads. It is really off of the main roads, too. The highways leading to Hermann are practically mountain roads. Twisting, hilly, and shoulder-less, I’m hard-pressed to understand how a full-size RV would navigate these roads. We have ten days to get to Lake Texoma on the Texas-Oklahoma boarder, about 300 miles, I think.

Often, I had one to three cars and trucks backed up behind me, waiting for a spot to pass. Unlike most of the world, I’m not in a hurry. I have a great sound system in the RV, the vehicle gets slightly better mileage at 3,000 rpm in 3rd or 4th gear than it does if I feel inclined to push it harder or lug it, and there is nothing fun about hustling a 22’ RV around tight corners at speed. So, if you find yourself stuck behind me, I recommend that you pass you fuckin’ nitwit. What’s the point in driving an oversized pickup with a motor big enough to tow a battleship or a douchy make-believe sports car if you don’t have the balls to hammer the throttle? If you think I have some reason to give a shit about your personal schedule, you’re overestimating your self-importance by a factor of infinity.

There. That’s out of my system.

Once we landed in Hermann’s very nice city RV park, we unloaded the WR and wandered around Hermann for a few hours. We found a decent Mexican food joint, my wife bought a beautiful hand-tooled belt from the Salaigh Mountain Leather Company, and we window shopped and gawked at the city’s sights. This is an incredibly friendly little town and we might blow another night here if the weather is either miserable and we feel like pretending we’re socked in or beautiful and we feel like exploring the wineries and history sites. I do not know how a motorcycle could be much more perfect for tooling around a Missouri town. The WR is light, torquey, quiet, maneuverable, and comfortable for two-up short trips. My wife was jazzed about her ability to get on and off of the bike and with the stuff we saw on our first motorcycle outing.

When we stopped at the bike shop, the very nice woman running the shop asked, “Are you the two cool people riding around town on a motorcycle?” Yes we are. Thanks for asking.

We spent a cold, noisy night in the Hermann town campground; lots of rain, lots of loud trucks passing close to the campground, and an old couple blasting bad country music from their RV about four camp sites away. In the morning, my wife was ready to hit the road. So we did. I do what Robbye tells me, sometimes.

2013-11-07 (7) With no real destination in mind and some cold wet weather to avoid, we headed south and west. About 150 miles east of Springfield, I decided to look for our next camp site. We aimed for a site in the Mark Twain National Forest, but I was worried that it might be closed before we got there and deviated to the Bennett Springs State Park; great decision. This is an incredible park and campground, even off-season. Wednesday, we owned the place. We were the only campers in the place and that was an incredible luxury. One of the maintenance guys collected firewood from a dozen abandoned campsites and delivered it for us to burn Thursday afternoon.

Our site, picked for convenience and parking simplicity, was a drive-through about 15’ from the nicest campground shower I’ve ever enjoyed. I used it more than once in the next two days. It was practically like a sauna and I really like saunas. I’d show you a picture of me in the shower, but . . . you know.

Thursday was a totally lazy day. There was frost on the ground when we crawled out of bed, but by 8AM most of it was gone and by 9 the sun was out and the temperatures were climbing. We hiked to the trout stream and watched people fish. We hiked along the river and saw more fish than in an aquarium in the most crystal river I’ve seen in decades. I unloaded the WR and rode it into to Lebanon for groceries and chain lube. If I had a lick of multi-media sense, I’d have filmed the ride into town because it freakin’ rocked. The road was practically mountain-quality. The scenery was amazing, including a huge herd of long-horn steers and a small herd of large draft horses. There was no traffic and no cops and I had a ball riding the 13 miles to town and back. I snagged some steaks, some stuffed mushrooms, and other goodies and stopped at a bike shop for some over-priced Polaris chain lube. Then I ripped my way back to the campsite.

2013-11-07 (6) After unloading the groceries and coating the WR’s chain with liquid gold, we geared up and rode back a few miles to the fish hatchery. More hiking, more sight-seeing, and more great scenery. When we wore out the daylight, we rode back to our campground. Now, there are two other camp-groups in our area of the park, but we still have massive privacy. I packed up the gear, loaded the bike and tied down the trailer. I stacked the firepit and got a good fire roaring and had the steaks and mushrooms on the grill just as the sun went down. We feasted while the last of the vultures circled our campground and the stars came out. Just to bring it all back to something less wonderful, I worked on a song I’ve been trying to learn and added some dissonance to the universe.

We’ve been away from home for 9 days and on the road for 5. So far, this has been a wonderful way to start retirement.


Chunk Norris said...

Hmmm. You're starting to sound... patient. Gonna be Geezer without a Grudge if you keep this up.

PS I enjoy reading the RV stories.

T.W. Day said...

Patience my ass, I'm gonna kill somethin'. or not. Could be. However, a day in Springfield, MO touring the homes of the 1% and I'm ready to immigrate to Canada. Hell, I've been ready to immigrate to Canada since 1980. I am most comfortable on the move, though. It's hard to be impatient when you are rolling. Once we stop and, if I'm dumb enough to check the "news," I'm pissed off again.

Years ago, I read a RS interview with Tom Petty who was saying that it was hard to keep a R&R edge when you travel in first class, flying over the country with a glass of whiskey in one hand and a plate full of caviar in the other. All it took, for him, was to read some Steinbeck or listen to a Reagan speech and it was ready to set the word on fire. It's always easy to get pissed off if you have anything resembling a sense of justice. You can only maintain that edge so long, though, without some kind of break.