It’s Day 272 of 15 Days to Flatten the Curve and Day 32 of Ohio’s 21-day WuFlu Curfew.
Deb and I are well.
We drove through steady rain and heavy traffic the whole way home last night, the dogs zonked out in the back seat of my truck. This morning we all showed signs that we had a very good, very long day yesterday.
Tripping from Second Chance Ranch to the Cincinnati area means committing to 85 miles of I-71, a stretch of road I rarely drive. For most people it’s little more than a connector, a direct and unremarkable line drawn between here and there. It crosses broad expanses of farmland, punctuated randomly by truck stops, grain elevators, copses and old homesteads.
In Madison County, perhaps appropriately, a large sign by the highway cautions travelers that “HELL IS REAL.”
Ask anyone who’s driven those 85 miles and you can bet they’ll use the word “boring.”
Not me. The long rows and even longer views represent the America in which I was raised. I’m certain that some of those fields have been tilled, planted and harvested by men I know. The sights, sounds and smells are familiar, and the farmhouses are occupied by people who hold the same values I do.
The cold winter wind whipping across those flatlands is the very life’s breath of America’s Heartland. And that makes it Home.
For me, the best thing about yesterday’s early-Christmas gathering was that it was our choice. We came from three different households, exchanged gifts, ate dinner at a big table and had a traditionally un-traditional family holiday. We didn’t wear masks. We didn’t obsessively use hand sanitizer or wash our hands every whip-stitch.
There was nothing risky or reckless about it. If you disagree, you’re a tool.
See, we’re rational, not contrarian — like everyone else, we know that WuFlu is real. We know who’s truly at risk of severe illness and death. But I think we’re all weary of being buried under a mountain of nonsensical and contradictory “rules.” Most of all, we’re tired of being lied to.
And so this family, like the Americans we are, looked at the facts, ignored the bullshit and made its own decisions.
I just heard a public-health PSA, voiced by a celebrity who said, “We now know that you’re twice as likely to get sick from coronavirus if you don’t wear a mask than you are if you do wear a mask.”
That’s categorically false. It’s a lie, and your tax dollars are being used to perpetuate that lie.
If the State is lying about masks, among many other things, why would we think they’re telling us the truth about vaccines?
Think about that before you roll up your sleeve.
Getting into RVing in 2020, as Deb and I have, presents some unusual challenges. While the industry has been thriving overall, with sales setting records, it’s not immune from the same pressures affecting virtually every sector of American business.
Existing inventory, both in manufacturers’ pipelines and on dealers’ lots, fueled the sales boom. Now that’s all but gone, and the retail end of the chain needs to be resupplied. Between a shortage of workers and a shortage of component parts, both attributable to the “pandemic,” thousands of units sit at the OEMs, unfinished — because they can’t be finished, not without parts and workers to install them.
On top of that, many people who’ve bought new RVs this year say that build quality has taken a dive, which has produced a rush on the pre-owned market. But used RVs often need replacement parts, and the same component shortage that’s stopping the completion of new units is being felt at the parts counter as well.
Refrigerators. Toilets. Water pumps. HVAC units and fans. Inverters and converters and transfer switches. The list of backordered items is impossibly long.
Seasoned RVers, generally a resourceful bunch to begin with, are getting even more creative. For a complete trailer or motorhome they’re definitely going to the used market, which saves a few bucks and avoids suffering through the “teething pains” of slapdash new units. For parts, lots of folks are availing themselves of RV salvage yards, which can be found throughout the country, along with companies that service or “remanufacture” components.
We’re all learning about cross-compatibility and equivalents, too. Our Beaver Santiam, for example, under the skin is the same coach as the Monaco Diplomat and Holiday Rambler Endeavor of the same vintage.
Having (or acquiring) the skills required to patch, splice, tinker and fix has gone from important to essential for an RV owner. And when it’s time to pick up the phone and call for help, an independent tech is often a better choice than a dealer bound by agreements preventing the use of aftermarket parts, salvage and responsible “rigging.”
(Pro tip: Every bit of what I just outlined applies to cars, trucks, appliances, lawn mowers, firearms….)
Deb and I have dealt with all of this, one way or another. Since it’s hard to predict when conditions will change, I’m sure there’s more of it ahead. The silver lining, of course, is that this spate of practical adversity cultivates independence, and there’s nothing better than that.
Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay free.
(Header image: A handmade Christmas gift, created by our younger boy and his girlfriend, presented to Deb and me yesterday afternoon.)