Checking the calendar, I see that we’re nearing the end of our seventh week on the road. Neither Deb nor I has ever been away from home (or house, or a fixed address) this long. The sense of liberation is delicious — not merely the mobility, but also the satisfaction we derive from meeting and conquering the inevitable challenges.
Each day begins with the same routine, more or less, whether it’s a travel day or, like today, we’re staying put. The dogs get walked and fed. We make coffee, coax ourselves into consciousness and draw a bead on the condition of the bus.
This week, of course, that’s revolved around controlling temperature.
When I awoke this morning, Ernie’s bedroom was a delightful 69°F, owing to it being a small space and the rear AC running all night. The living area, benefiting only from its HVAC fan, was 76°F. The sensor in our new fridge read 37°F — perfect, although we’ve had to run the unit at its coldest setting to keep it there.
Often we’ll sit outside a while, wherever we’re parked, and that’s one of the best things about our American Life on the road. Morning sights and sounds and smells are different everywhere we go. Sometimes they’re civilized and sometimes they’re wild, but they’re never boring.
In the Hill Country we’re treated to quite the show. Deer. Raccoons. A stunning array of birds — eagles, hawks, road runners, jays, cardinals, buntings, sparrows, swallows and lots of those famous Texas doves.
Hummingbirds are everywhere. Wildflowers bring color to this craggy ridge.
Ranches and homes dot the hills. Our hosts, having left behind their life outside a large Texas city, are homesteading here in Bandera — a couple of years ago they brought in a 37-foot travel trailer, a “destination” model, sited it on a concrete slab and built a shelter over it. They put up a deck around it and erected an outbuilding.
It’ll serve until they build their permanent home.
As much as we love Campground Life, this sort of “moochdocking” arrangement has a few advantages — the company of friends, for one, and a knowledge of the area that comes only from someone who lives here.
During any extended stay, we use the time to resupply. We patronize businesses close to where we’re parked, as much as possible, to support the local economy. Still, there are times when Amazon is our only option for an item we need, or want, and not every campground permits deliveries to its guests.
Our hosts here have accommodated us. The delivery driver leaves our packages in the mailbox or (if the driveway gate is closed) simply drops them over the fence, and we fetch them the next time we’re out at the road.
Scout and Dipstick will be glad to see two 40-pound boxes delivered today. Looks like we’re almost out of dog food.
Until now, our general itinerary has been shaped by visits with friends and family. That’ll happen again down the road, certainly, but when we leave here in a few days we’ll pretty much be going where our spirit takes us. And that begs a question we hear a lot, mostly from folks who’ve never done this sort of thing — “How do you know where to go?”
The best answer we’ve found, the one that suits us, came from a YouTube video we watched some months ago. It featured a guy who converts retired ambulances into capable RVs (and who does it very well, by the way), and then travels all over the country in his creations. When asked what charts his course, this was his response:
“I follow the butter. If the butter gets soft, I head north. If the butter gets hard, I go south.”
Needless to say, right now our butter has melted all over the damn place. As much as we’ve enjoyed our stay in Texas, we’ll be pointing Ernie’s nose due north from here. It’s still summer in The Lower 48, so we don’t expect to be breaking out the thermal underwear any time soon, but we should be able to firm-up our personal butter a bit.
We’re thinkin’ the Dakotas and, eventually, Montana. We’ll keep an eye on the butter — stay tuned.
Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.