Living without a toad

It’s Day 426 of 15 Days to Flatten the Curve. Deb and I are fine.

Lots of RVers tow a second vehicle — aka, a “toad”— behind a motorhome. We made the decision not to do that, at least not to start with. It was purely a dollars-and-cents calculation, sacrificing autonomy and perhaps spontaneity to buy us more time on the road.

The way we figured it, just the entry cost of towing — including a proper tow bar or dolly, a dedicated toad, taxes, registration and insurance — would buy a lot of rental cars, Uber rides and public-transit fares. If we exercised patience and flexibility, it could work.

We’re camped not far from a county airport which, despite being a relatively small strip, actually has two rental-car counters inside its cozy terminal. Deb compared rates for various vehicles, pitted Hertz against Enterprise and chose a plain-vanilla sedan from Enterprise.

Turns out the Enterprise operation at Boone County Regional Airport is one guy, a kid in his twenties who answers phones, takes reservations, cleans cars, picks up and drops off customers, everything. Since there was only one vehicle available for us to rent today, he gave us an upgrade for free.

So we drove away from the airport this morning not in a boring sedan but in a Chevy pickup truck. That’s a big win, and we’ll have it ’til we break camp next Tuesday.

Now, is saving money really worth the hassle of renting? Well, for the price of a top-quality tow bar alone, we could rent this truck for almost two months.

To break-in our rental and get to know it, we ran north into Missouri. Deb wanted to show me the fancy resort in Branson where she attended a national conference several years ago, and I’d never been to Branson, so we made that our destination.

The road to the resort bent and climbed to a hilltop high above Table Rock Lake. When the enormous Euro-style hotel came into view, I was impressed — stunning structure, manicured grounds, breathtaking view.

Thing is, the parking lot was virtually empty. The whole place was all but deserted. We walked around the building, trying doors, all of them locked. Other than two people sunbathing by the pool, we saw no one outside.

As we approached the main entrance a door swung open and a bellhop emerged, greeting us warmly and holding the door for us to go in. Inside the lobby we saw three guests and two desk clerks.

Everything was clean and in its place, but the hotel was essentially empty. Its fine restaurants were dark and closed.

It was damned spooky.

We’re told that the resort has had to scale-back operations because… wait for it… government is paying unemployed people more to stay unemployed than they’d make if they went back to work. So businesses like this four-star resort are unable to woo people off the dole and onto their payroll.

If that doesn’t infuriate you, you’d better check yourself.

We left the magnificent hilltop and drove back down toward the Branson strip, ultimately having a mid-afternoon meal at a ‘shine house before heading back to Arkansas.

So now we have wheels. Tomorrow we expect to point them in a more, shall we say, natural direction. Should be fun.

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

#WiseUp #LibertyOrDeath

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