LOLA LEADS US ON

We spent that Saturday night at the Pilot Truck Stop.  At first, Pony was concerned about running the generator through the night (concerned about the noise, as it were), but I pointed out that we were nestled in among a couple of dozen 18-wheelers, all running their motors as they stopped for the night.  Indeed, the chorus of all that diesel humming made me think of the song of band of several hundred, heavy-metal frogs. 

The truck stop had a Cinnabon shop.  And even though the gal running it was getting ready to knock off for the night, she took a little extra time to make a fresh bun with pecans, because I had convinced her how much my wife was craving just such a thing. 

The next morning, I found that the truck stop dispensed a variety of coffees.  Now, I confess that I have never been a coffee drinker myself, but it looked like there was a decent variety there.  I got Pony a tall serving of “Columbian Bold”, and picked up a handful of French vanilla creamers and a couple of espresso shots that were packaged in a manner similar to the creamers.  This proved to be a fine start to the day, and Pony has decided that we must stop at Pilot truck stops all the way home, in search of more of these little espresso shots. 

One positive outcome from our wandering the previous day was that we had travelled far enough west to miss the major winter storm that subsequently hit the East Coast with a vengeance (my sister told us later that she and the girls ended up having two snow days off from school).  Out next stop was just East of Indianapolis, in a somewhat non-descript RV park.  The showers were nothing special.  Actually, they were downright awful.  One of them didn’t work at all, and the other two seemed to have only a choice of cold or colder water.  I ducked my head in to wash it a bit; that was all I was up for.  The thing I was trying to understand was the folks who apparently had settled in at that RV park for the winter; weatherizing their rigs, putting insulating tapes on the pipes and such.  It’s not that I couldn’t imagine spending winter in an RV somewhere.   I just wondered: why here?  Why ten miles east of Indianapolis? 

The next day was decent driving, and we stopped just outside of Peoria at a “Jellystone RV Park” (images of Yogi Bear and his friends in prominent display everywhere).  We got there before 4pm, well before sundown, which allowed for a comfortable, unrushed set up and settling in for the night.  This was Monday, and we would have an easy drive into Burlington, Iowa, the next day, with plenty of time to get settled in for the handful of gigs I had lined up for the rest of the week.  What’s more, my brother’s buddy, Brett, thought he had found a suitable new tow car for us.  Things were looking a bit better. 

LOLA LEADS US ASTRAY

Pony named the RV Ceci (for Cecilia).  Early on, we invested in a GPS from the Good Sam club.  Originally, we had it programmed with a female voice, but we found that voice…. well….. annoying. So we switched to the male voice and dubbed the GPS Lola (with a nod to the Kinks’  song).  Lola is supposedly designed to help us with RV-related travels.  She is supposed to help us avoid low bridges (although there was one specific incident where she almost deliberately took us on a road with just such a hazard), she is supposed to steer us clear of towns that having zoning against vehicles transporting propane, and she is supposed to help us find places to get water, get propane, make dumps, camp, and so on. 

Lola has proved a bit of a bust on nearly all of these points. 

On Saturday, December 7th, we started off with the plan to stay on highway 50, out of Annapolis, and, for the most part, through Maryland and West Virginia.  However, once we got past the Beltway, Lola already steered us off that route and onto I-70. 

Okay.  Change of plans, then. 

So then we planned to stop in Morgantown, West Virginia for the night.  As we approached Morgantown, Pony suggested that maybe we should consider getting an electric space heater to use inside the RV (with the hopes of saving a bit on the propane used for heating), so, upon arriving in Morgantown, we stopped at a Walmart for that purpose.  Then we headed out, presumably to find the campsite Pony had identified in Morgantown.  However, it seemed that Lola took any stop in Morgantown as sort of “mission accomplished”, so she took us on this merry chase around a very narrow, two-lane, country road that eventually ended up on a totally new interstate and far from the directions Pony had for getting to the campsite (incidentally, she had called ahead to the campsite and had been told that GPS’s frequently fail to find the place; small defence for Lola’s actions). 

Okay.  Change of plans again. 

We ended up driving all the way into Ohio, where there was supposedly another campsite (a state park that was apparently still open, despite the season). 

Lola couldn’t find it.  Instead, she took us on yet another merry run around a country road (that went from gravel to just dirt at one point) before taking us back to the highway.  We stopped at a Pilot Truck Stop.  At this point, Pony had a bit of a melt down.  She was tired of the mishaps, the gremlins, the death of a thousand paper cuts, as it were.  And all I wanted was to help her regain some of her good humor and composure, at whatever the cost.

“What do you want to do?”  I asked her.  “ Do you want us to quit?  Do you want to pick a town, settle down, and I’ll get a job selling insurance?”

That did it.  She broke into a spell of laughter, and we were ready to keep it going. 

DECEMBER 6 – DOING THE EAST COAST LIMBO

The Tuesday before Thanksgiving, Pony and I began house-sitting for our friends, Gordon and Stacia, as they headed out for a ten-day cruise of the Bahamas.  My sister let us borrow her kitty carrier to haul the three kitties and the dog from Gaithersburg to Annapolis.  It took a good part of Tuesday to make the move, but by the evening we were all settled in.  Our friends allowed that the kitties could stay in their garage, which was something of an improvement on circumstances, as it is a large room, with several windows that let in a lot of natural light.  And it is heated, as well, which, again was something of a step up from my sister’s garage.

Meanwhile, our RV was being worked on.  There was taking care of a bit of the damage from when we got rear-ended.  The insurance company wrote off our Yellow Submarine as totalled, so we now had the additional task of finding a replacement vehicle with the money from the settlement.  This was proving a bit of a challenge.  It was a challenge finding the Yellow Submarine back in Denver; we need a manual transmission car in order to be towed (there are a handful of automatic transmission cars that can be towed, but they are as hard to locate as the stick-shifters).  In addition, everything on the East Coast seemed to be a good deal more expensive,  at least regarding this particular quest.  I ended up calling my brother, Steve.  He has a buddy, a car dealer, who regularly visits auctions out in the Midwest.  Our plans changed in that we would drive sans tow vehicle to Iowa, and hope that Brett (my brother’s buddy) would be able to find something for us by the time we got to Burlington.

I have nothing but a great deal of gratitude for family and friends as we have tried to sort things out through all of this: my sister letting us put up the kitties in her garage, then Gordon and Stacia agreeing to the same, and my brother connecting us with his buddy for the purpose of finding a new vehicle.  Still, I waited with hard-earned patience for the RV to be ready for us to reclaim.  Ceci has truly become our real home at this point, and Pony and I were both missing having all of our family gathered together in one place.  We would go into the garage a few times throughout the day, to check on the kitties and sit with them and pet them and all.  But for all that, they were feeling a bit neglected overall. 

We retrieved the RV on the 4th of December and began moving our various things back into it.  On the 6th of December, Pony picked up Gordon and Stacia (and their kids, Ben and Hope) from Port of Baltimore.  We spent the afternoon doing a bit of last minute shopping and packing.  Stacia made a wonderful evening meal while I played guitar for hours.  Gordon and Stacia were concerned about a storm front coming in, and tried to persuade us to wait a day or two, but I was worried that waiting would only increase the chances of further delay, and we had to get to Burlington to play some shows that started on December 11th.  We held fast to our plan to head out the morning of December 7th.