What we really do

This is Day 391 of 15 Days to Flatten the Curve. Deb and I are fine this spring Sunday.

We’ve whittled down our list of pre-adventure maintenance and repairs considerably this week. That cleared the way to spend the second half of our weekend re-shuffling the load — tossing what’s unnecessary and (somehow) making room for stuff we want to add.

It’s a game of Tetris in three dimensions, Jenga with stackable totes and decidedly unstackable miscellaneous gear. And if a person is wired in a certain way — and I am — it’s fun.

As usual, Deb worked upstairs while I laid siege to the basement, pulling out and sorting ‘most everything I’d packed so carefully before the shakedown. Today I had to create space for a few more tools, some electrical and plumbing parts, a backup fresh-water pump, four spare filters for the pusher and three for the generator, an extra box of nitrile gloves, a third Stinky Slinky (sewer hose) and a bunch of other stuff.

The trick to it, if there is a trick, is not filling every cubic inch of the space available. What we need at any given moment always seems to be behind or under something else — it’s quite impossible to make everything handy — and by leaving a little extra room we can claim our prize by moving things around rather than unloading gear onto the ground.

Plus, at some point we’d like to have a place for a few bundles of firewood, some groceries or a couple of big jugs of water drawn from a roadside spring. It’s nice to have space to stow it below instead of bringing it into the living space.

By day’s end everything was accounted for and in its place. The cupboards and storage bays were closed. Another big item off the to-do list — check.

Although the first impression of Deb and me rolling across the American landscape in a 40-foot motorhome must be that it’s luxurious, even extravagant, there’s no escaping the fact that Ernie fundamentally is a “tiny home” on wheels.

Sure, it has many of the comforts of our sticks-and-bricks Second Chance Ranch — it’s heated and cooled, it has sinks and toilets and a shower, a kitchen and a bed. It’s not “roughing it” by any means. But compared to a house, a condo or an apartment, it’s pretty basic.

Because storage and living space are limited, we leave things behind and do without. We identify items that can do “double-duty.” We don’t buy warehouse-club packs. We adapt. We compromise.

It’s an exercise in constant creativity, really.

Things we take for granted in a conventional house, stuff that either doesn’t exist on a motorhome or that requires additional work, quickly become apparent. Having the convenience of an onboard toilet, for example, is great — but it’s no longer a flush-and-forget proposition.

And then there’s the hard truth that our tiny house is subjected to the equivalent of a major earthquake each time we put it on the road. Everything not only must be stowed — it has to be secured. It doesn’t take long to develop a “spidey sense” of what’s likely to rattle, fall or break.

Naturally, that seismic reality also puts an enormous amount of stress on the coach’s structure and systems. Everything between the bumpers, from the roof to the frame, no matter how well it’s designed, is under assault. Stuff gets loose, or it comes apart, or it just quits working.

Every RVer learns to check everything, and I mean regularly, almost to the point of obsession, to head-off potential problems. And every RVer eventually becomes Mr. Fixit anyway.

We’re still learning, of course. We know our limits, and we hand-off repairs and maintenance beyond our (current) capabilities.

But y’know what? We’re thrilled with this, all of it. For us, it’s perfect.

On Monday I mentioned that tomorrow I’ll observe the 246th anniversary of the first engagements of the American Revolution. As I approach the occasion, I recall something posted on social media a year ago today by the true Americans at Project Appleseed – Ohio:

“Tonight is a night of great gravity. If our country properly celebrated the moments of greatest risk, courage, and fortitude, the evening of April 18 every year would be observed much like that of Passover.”

That, my friends, expresses perfectly my own reverence for April 19th and, more important, the Patriots whose courage gave birth to the greatest nation the world has ever known.

Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.

#WiseUp #LibertyOrDeath