A month on the road. What have we figured out so far? One thing I’ve learned is that we are a lot slower than I had expected we would be. I had envisioned getting to the east coast in three weeks and here we are still in Indiana after four. This not a bad thing, just falling into a groove that works for us. We are not only taking more time by staying more days at locations we like, we are taking our time behind the wheel. Rarely do we drive more than 60 mph, We usually set the cruise control somewhere between 55 and 60, then relax, well if it’s not windy and requiring a death grip on the wheel, we relax and watch the countryside roll past our windscreen. Our long time neighbor and friend from my Dad’s neighborhood, George, calls it the 2-30 rule. Drive until 2:30 or go 230 miles. We kind of do a version of that, only it seems like it is always a bit later on in the afternoon when we arrive at our destination.
What am I learning personally? I am learning to wait, sometimes gracefully, sometimes not so gracefully. I think lack of patience is my biggest shortcoming. From past travels, I’m accustomed to getting up early and driving hard, getting into a zone and stopping only for gas when necessary. I’m slowly adjusting to 10:00 or 11:00 being an early start and making numerous rest breaks along the road. Resisting this routine causes undue frustration and friction among the members of our team. An hour to pick up a few groceries at Walmart? What better things do I have to do at this moment?
I’m also learning a lot about the U.S.A. I’m not sure what I really expected from some areas – Illinois would be all urban, Oklahoma would be a dry dusty flatland, Missouri farms with few trees. I knew actually nothing about these places. The woods and tall trees of Missouri and Oklahoma were amazingly green, beautiful and plentiful. The majority of Illinois is agricultural with lots of open woodlands in between. The local people in the southern region call the northern 20% where the population centers are Chicagoland and express a sense of resentment that their voices aren’t heard by those in power at the state level.
A number of our friends have commented and expressed concern that we might have made a navigational error in planning our route into Mexico. One of the nice aspects of retirement is the freedom to make changes in the game plan and do things spontaneously as we set our course in our land yacht. We had been having a number of mechanical difficulties and setbacks with the motor home. Problems with the suspension, electrical system, and the coup de gras being the overheating issues right as we were heading out of the door.
After a lot of prayer and meditation, I kept getting an image of PJ’s father swimming in his little round doughboy pool. I was wondering if God might have alternative plans for us and the vehicle issues were His way of bringing that to our attention. We discussed things together and decided that a shake down cruise in the U.S. might not be a bad idea where we can readily find RV parts and repair facilities and that it would be really good to spend some time with PJ’s parents in Rhode Island. So, we set our compass to the northeast and have been sailing that course. I know, most shake down cruises don’t usually entail 5000+ miles but we’ve always been a little extreme.
So where does that leave us? Well, we’ve come to an understanding with Lexi that we just don’t push her too hard on the hills and she runs like a champ. I no longer spend so much time worrying about her, constantly staring at the temperature gauge. An occasional glance and an intuitive feel for how she’s driving allows me to relax and enjoy more of the surrounding beauty going by. PJ and I try to be gentle with each other and remember to eat on regular intervals and take care of our health. The dogs? Just wish the little fussbudgets would eat more, but overall they seem to be having a good time other than the driving part of the deal. So, we’ll keep on rolling and see what tomorrow might bring. A buggy full of Amish farmers? A goat tower? Wild horses? Blue butterflies? Or the most beautiful river rolling through a cathedral of tall green oak trees with mist rising off the water. Guess we’ll fire up the engine and go have a little look see.