When I first told my parents that one day I would buy an RV and travel around the United States, they hardly batted an eyelash. I was 21, and bedridden from a spinal fusion. They thought it was the medication talking. A year or so later when I brought it back up, still no one thought I was serious. However, when the opportunity finally presented itself, I took the plunge. I called my grandpa and began to shop for a motorhome.
It wasn’t until my “new” 1992 Tioga Arrow was in the driveway that my parents believed I was serious. Even then, no one thought I would really leave. Everyone’s doubts made me nervous, so I planned a “mini” road trip around the state of California for a test run. If it’s going to happen what better place to break down or need help than my home state?
I embarked on my 2 week excursion with my giant dog sitting in the front seat like a passenger a week later. Leaving my mom’s house I learned the most important lesson of all – always have someone help you back out of tight spaces. Or get smart and install a back-up AND side-view cameras. Why side-view cameras? Um, I ran into a rock. Not in the back of my motorhome, but on the side. How does one accomplish this? I’m not sure, I was looking into the other mirror.
Other than that, I was pretty successful. I instantly fell in love with the RV lifestyle. People are taking bets on how long I will last. I think I will outlast them all.
One of my main objectives on my tour of California was to see as many friends as possible. After my stop in Lancaster I was uncomfortable staying in the area. I’d been parked too long in one spot, and the only spot in town I could stay overnight. So I headed to Tehachapi to find a quiet place to sleep.
On the way through the mountains there is a huge cement plant. Behind it is a backdrop of darkened hills and stars or clouds depending on the night, and sometimes the moon. The cement plant stands out in front of it, with tons of starkly twinkling lights. I used to drive by it frequently and I’d always wanted to stop and take a photo… well I tried, and discovered that I forgot my tripod on this trip…. Kind of key for night shots.
I also really needed to use the bathroom and text my mom back. It’s illegal to do that while driving in California, and also really dangerous when handling a giant vehicle. While I was in the bathroom, red and blue flashing lights appeared out the window. My heart jumped out of my chest and I hurriedly ran out of the RV to stop him from freaking Legedu out. Luckily the cop was just making sure I was okay. The irony is, if I hadn’t pulled over to text my mom back, he would have pulled me over anyway. That would have been a much less pleasant encounter.
Driving to Bakersfield, my rear ABS light went on and then my speed gauge broke between Bakersfield and Fresno. That’s what I get for purchasing a 23 year old motorhome. This was followed by some awkward transmission functions, so I decided to stop at AAMCO in Merced. They told me it was fine and I moved on, but not before the guy so nicely tried to help me back up so I could get out of the parking lot. Instead he hit a pole breaking my reflector off the side and bending the metal on the storage compartment so I couldn’t open it. Thank God for my old neighbor and her husband. They fixed it for me when I arrived at their place and I can now open the “basement” storage.
On the way through the Central Valley, I visited my old house that I had just sold a few months before. The place looked great, but it was weird walking by as an outsider. This was my first “home” on my own. I bought and sold it within a year and used the profit to get my motorhome.
My old neighbors and I caught up, drinking and talking as if I’d never left. They let me stay in their driveway that night, and the next day I headed out to CSU Stanislaus where I used to work and graduated college. On campus I felt somewhat like a celebrity, I’m not going to lie. It was homecoming week too, so that made it even more exciting to be on campus.
I spent 3 days in the Central Valley, which was far more time than I planned on spending in such a terrible area. I had to catch up on school, work and get my bearings on this solo travel thing. I was starting to feel anxious, uprooted and paranoid. At the same time, I never wanted to go home.