Life on the road…

32 campsites, 126 days, 3,024 photos and over 7,800 miles….and 1 heart attack.

Well, I’m back home in Florida. After a hair raising trip across the south on Interstate 10 from the California-Nevada border to Interstate 75 in Florida, I am now camped under an Oak tree in Palmetto, where I have already made a new friend…an awesome brown and white 6 toed cat…ala Hemingway’s Key West. After only 2 days she is sitting on my lap “allowing” me to pet her while I type this epilog. Maybe it’s the little pieces of cheese I’m offering. The neighbors tell me she’s a stray. So I will make sure she has food (real cat food), water and companionship for as long as I am here. I’ll call her “Cheesy”. Oh, and she appears to have a brother. they are very similar in size and color so I’m sure they’re related. He is the only other cat (of which there are many around here), that she allows inside “our” home. I’m calling him “Dog”……because I really wanted a dog.

The trip lasted a total of 126 days and covered a total of 7, 863 miles. 5,609 miles pulling my little home around and over 2, 250 miles exploring. Not bad for a 60 year old man with a 22 year old travel trailer driving a 12 year old Tahoe that now has over 235,000 miles on it…and it only used a half a quart of oil. It was indeed the trip of a lifetime and I’m already planning next year’s adventure. I’m thinking straight up I 75 all the way to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and turn left. I hear there’s great fishing and kayaking on some of those Minnesota lakes…and I’d still like to do a return trip to Alaska.

I learned a lot about RV parks and campgrounds. Mainly to stay away from the $10.00 a night places. That was an adventure all by itself. From drunks wandering home from the local tavern falling against the side of your rig to hold themselves up, to kids sleeping in tents as permanent residents. Yes, that’s right. I actually saw 2 kids, a boy and a girl about 10-12 years old, get up in the morning from their tents, go inside their family’s run down travel trailer (that wasn’t much bigger than mine) and get ready to catch the bus for school. Dad left in an old beat up pick-up truck to go to work…I guess. Oh, and I should mention the brown water. The guy says “we just had it tested last week, but I wouldn’t drink it”. And trains…don’t forget to ask about trains. One place had 3 tracks within 50 yards of the fence and the ground shook whenever one of the trains came barreling down the track. There were also more full time residents in the cheap parks. Mostly people with addiction problems just trying to keep their buzz going. I guess for 10 bucks a night…you get what you pay for. Come to think of it, I kinda liked the cheap spots. Real Americans living a real life. And the thing is, they were no less friendly than the retirees in the high priced parks with their $500,000 land yachts. Everyone has a story to tell and we all enjoyed the comradery of “mobile life”.

I met some great people while on the road…and some I’ve known forever but haven’t seen in years. Kim, it was so special for me to see you. It has been to many years and I promise it won’t be next time. And I loved seeing Caitlin and Cody. Cody probably would think I’m nuts but…He looks like me. Of course having Jason stop me out on the highway with lights flashing was great fun also. Thanks my friend, you made my day. I think fondly of Angie, my first experience with a full time resident/alcoholic/chain smoker. She would go on and on about that shithead ex-husband of hers. But I enjoyed hanging out with her for a couple of days while I was camped in Mississippi…and she could cook a pretty good burger on her grill. Oh, and she could mix a pretty mean screwdriver as well. As I am embarrassed to admit it, another one of my favorite people was the 82 year old guy who owned “Prairie Song”. I can’t remember his name but I’ll find it in my notes. Prairie Song was the place where the guy and his buddy spent 32 years building a replica of an old western town. He took me on a private tour and afterward invited me to “stay over” and help him as a caretaker. Sounded like a pretty fun gig. And then there’s Gary from Dallas who taught me how to catch the rainbow trout in New Mexico. Man that was good eatin’. We drove around in his brand new Chevy dually diesel truck (that he pulls his 40’ fifth wheel with) and listened to “Willies Roadhouse” on satellite radio. Fun guy to hang out with. There certainly are many others that come to mind but I can’t forget to mention Linda from Oatman, AZ. There is a picture of her in one of my Arizona posts decked out in old mining town cloths with a six shooter strapped to her side. I think she was the honorary (if not elected) mayor of Oatman. She and I had a great conversation on many different topics and I found her to be extremely intelligent…for a woman who has lived in a town up in the mountains with a population of around 120 souls for nearly 30 years. JUST KIDDING Linda…I think you’re great. Dang, I almost forgot Jerry. He saved my life when I was having my heart attack. Thank you sir, I owe you my life. In fact, I would like to thank all the people who helped me out when I needed it the most. From the neighbors at the RV Park who kept me calm and sitting upright while we waited for the ambulance to the cardiologist who rammed that wire up through my groin and into my heart…I didn’t feel a thing. And the ICU nurses were great at keeping me upbeat when I felt down.

If I had to pick a favorite area it would be southern Colorado and northern New Mexico. I was totally enthralled with the mountains…and the trees…and the trails…and the fishing…and the wildlife…and the… I could live there if it didn’t snow 10 feet at a time all winter long. BRRR! My least favorite area would of course be the desert. Good God folks…I had a heart attack there!! It was 108 degrees nearly every day. The mountains were all brown and rocky with no trees…although beautiful in their own way. And the only wildlife was big eared rabbits that would run off like a bullet if you got within 50 feet of them and coyotes that you could hear every night but never see during the day. Now, I did enjoy the burros in Oatman. It was fun watching them come down out of the hills every morning to spend the day in town with the tourists and then wander back up into the hills around sunset. But the best wildlife viewing wasn’t even “out in the wild”. Bearizona Wildlife Refuge was awesome for wildlife viewing…because all the animals were fenced in. Well, I guess it is what it is.

Anyone who has been following my adventure knows how I have been moved by my encounters with the Native American spirits. Each and every place I traveled where the Native Americans lived and died…before and because of the European invasion (I mean US), I felt spiritually changed. The energy in these areas was sometimes almost overwhelming. I sat for hours in places like the “Painted Desert” and “Apache Pass” in Arizona and was transported to a new spiritual level. I don’t mean to sound corny, just writing it as I feel it.

I took 3,024 photos while roaming around from campsite to campsite. I will continue to add photos to my blog over the coming weeks. The photos are in no particular order…just like my world.

The Adventure Continues…..

7 Responses to Epilog

  1. Avatar Starloe Galletta
    Starloe Galletta says:

    My kind of traveling… And I get my best stories from the cheapest campsites…. Glad you made it back… I-10 East is a hellava re-entry… A shock to the wandering soul…

  2. Avatar Alison Godden
    Alison Godden says:

    An epic adventure Dennis. Something to chew on and remember for ever. Life is too short. You’ve shown that we need to get out there and seize the day! Xx

  3. Avatar Julian Holloway
    Julian Holloway says:

    Outstanding writing, Dennis. What a great adventure!

  4. Avatar Juliann Pick Reynolds
    Juliann Pick Reynolds says:

    You could publish these

  5. Avatar David McClung
    David McClung says:

    Well I would call this an adventure of a life time but I know you have more planned for the future. Florida will seem pretty tame for now but a nice place to stay warm for the winter. If you get back to Michigan you need to get in touch Julie and I would love to see you. Take care Cuz!

  6. Avatar Dolly Young
    Dolly Young says:

    Dennis, good to know you are back!
    I still say you are quite a writer. I have enjoyed reading about your adventure, but if you wrote before about your heart attack, I missed it. I hope all is well now.

  7. Avatar Juliann Pick Reynolds
    Juliann Pick Reynolds says:

    Definitely would like to meet you. Maybe sometime I will be in Florida