"What a wonder life I've had! I only wish I'd realized it sooner." Colette

Nov 30, 2016

11,000 Miles and Counting

A fellow in a snazzy-looking Beemer wearing a 1950s hat was pumping gas in front of me in one of those storybook towns along the Hudson in New York.  I asked for direction but he didn’t know so he asked his wife, who pulled out a phone and started doing that finger-spreading thing I’ve gotten used to seeing.

“Where are you heading?” he asked as she spread.

“Well, I’m from Oregon... I was trying to get to California.”

I don’t own a GPS; just a compass on the dashboard and a road atlas, and I don’t mind getting lost.  It's more interesting. So six months and 11,000 miles later I arrived back where I began: in Southern Oregon, just before a cold front hit Mt. Shasta and the Pass got tricky.  Safe and sound; rubber side down.

It took me 5 weeks to get from Medford, OR to Matawan, NJ.

"Christ, Andrea, people WALK across the country in less time!"

It wasn't out of choice, but because the majority of my money was going for gasoline and more than once I needed to stall until the next month's stipend.  I often hopped from Walmart to Walmart if nothing else cheap enough was available.  Think what you will about the conglomerate; they have my thanks forever for safe havens along the way.

To briefly recap, the purpose of my trip was to visit my increasingly-frail Mother, and I'd been preparing my 1992 21-ft RV home for the journey for 6 months.  When the weather cleared and my Winnie was in good-enough shape I took off with BC in tow.  (Alter-) Ego Amy snuck along for the ride, I discovered along the way, which caused me some trouble but nothing un-fixable.

I dodged hailstorms in Nebraska and a hurricane in South Carolina; battled nature and usually lost, but gained a much better awareness of my surroundings in general.  My Mother passed away in late summer, but thank God I had that chance to spend quality time with her so the trip was a resounding success, in a sad sort of way.  I re-connected with yet another cousin after 40-some years, yeah!!  But where’s there a Yin there’s a Yang, so I also learned that sometimes friendships don’t stand up to the test of time, sadly.

BC suffered more dog attacks from beasts whose owners swear their dogs are under control when they’re clearly not.   No wonder she’s become more aggressive.  I’ve picked up a bicycle to give us both some exercise and maybe even work out our frustrations, but I've also begun carrying Mace on a key chain.

Strangers have been most helpful.  Two fellows nicknames Bobby 1 and Bobby 2 from South Carolina were a couple of favorites.  We exchanged knowledge, like, “Get yourself a hatchet,”(to me) for a DVD of the Corps of Engineers’ lakes and campgrounds (for them).  I rarely came across unfriendly people; and those I did were usually on the roads back East.

My biggest disappointment in America was, by far, fast food restaurants and their To-Go policies.  Here’s what happened in Indiana, keeping in mind, please, that going out to eat for me anywhere is a REAL treat.

I grabbed the bag, returned to my RV and moved to an out-of-the-way parking space.  I'd been drooling for miles at the thought of fried cholesterol, but inside the bag there were no napkins, no fork for the mashed potatoes, and no butter or honey, OR knife, for the biscuit. Fortunately I travel with my own kitchen, but still I returned to lodge a complaint and took back the untouched biscuit.

At the young manager’s blank expression I suggested she at least acknowledge my words; say she’ll do or recommend something or other; at least offer me another hot biscuit with butter and honey.

“You have to ask for butter or honey.”

“Why is that?”

“I dunno.”

“So, will there come a time when you just throw the food at us as we Drive-Thru?” I tried to say it sweetly.


I know, I know, times are tough for chains and I should have kept my mouth shut. Next time I will, but be forewarned: I’ll be the one at the counter carefully examining my bag, holding up your progress while I ask for this and that. Complain to their management.

So there’s my map with a black-lined route which took me an hour to create. Maybe it will inspire a road trip in you. Remember the Access Pass  from the National Park Service, for disabled and those on SSI, which is worth it’s weight in platinum.  I recommend the Lincoln Highway, which is the predecessor to Interstate-80 and runs from San Fran to D.C.  It’s easy enough to hop on and off again if you need to make up some time.

I have a couple things left to do here, but then it’s back into California to visit family I missed in my mad-dash final stretch.  After then is too far away to think about.  Happy Trails to You! 

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