Apr14 5

We are inexorably drawn to the West. We really tried to convince ourselves to go East on this trip. We woke up yesterday morning still planning on going that way, but then we checked the weather, saw that Pensacola was going to get rainy and cold for a week, and said, “The hell with it, we’re going west again.”

Truth is, when I would look at the atlas and think about the next few months all I could see east of the Mississippi was a tight web of interstate highways. Ahh, but out west… Out west a man can slump over the wheel on a long straight stretch of county road and daydream for hours.

I could stare at that road atlas forever, and my eyes would rarely drift over to where the green forests begin. I like the desert. I like the vistas. I like open roads, and towns where the local’s hangout is the gas station. I like pulling off the road and not being bothered. And I like that Ali likes that too.

Ouest asked me this morning when we were going to go to the beach. I told her that we were probably going to go to the desert and mountains first. She thought that was okay because in the desert she could build a big sand castle.

So anyway, the east coast will remain a gaping hole in our travels for now. Some 60 or 70 countries in our life, but never a visit to New York City, D.C., or an Atlantic beach north of Florida. Maybe if we head west long enough we’ll get there.

We left New Orleans this morning. We didn’t see or do nearly enough there, but the city will still be around next time we pass through. Another ugly storm was brewing and we decided the best way to deal with it was just to blast straight on through it.

The biggest downer with the bus at the moment is the leaky windows. Every single window seal needs to be replaced. Even the back window that we pulled out and paid to have reinstalled. It leaks terribly. The passenger seat window is horrendous. There was actually a gap between the window seal and the fiberglass that we could see through. Like everyone else with these old leaky windows I tried slopping some sealant in there, but that half-assed approach never worked on boats either. Anyway, for now, rain really sucks.

Inevitably when I walk into a gas station these days the cashier asks me what year the bus is. When I tell them they immediately turn to their co-worker and say something like, “I told you it was the 60s, not the 70s.” Today a lady asked me, “Do y’all live in there?”

I told her we did and she replied with moon-pie eyes, “That’s awesome. I love it.ย We love it.” She pointed to her friend.

“How many kids have you got in there?”

Two. Just two.

“Why don’t you go on and pour them each an Icee? It’s on me.”

I haven’t run across a single person yet that has said that we’re crazy. Instead it seems that what we’re doing right now is a near universal daydream. Sailing is a nichรฉ, but traveling the backroads in an RV is something that anyone, at any age, and any income bracket, can get out and do.

This morning we found ourselves in Abbeville, Louisiana. We walked around the small town a bit and then went into the Depot. It was a knick-knack shop inside of an old train depot, with two totally restored old-time cabooses parked outside for anybody to climb through. The kids like trains.

The owner asked me, “What brings you to Abbeville?”

“Slow roads,” I said with a shrug.

She just nodded. That was as good an answer as she expected. She gave me tips on a few more.

It has to be strange running what is essentially a tourist shop in a non-tourist town. I can’t imagine there’s much money to be made selling baby alligator heads to locals. Ouest refused to believe that they were real alligators. After climbing around in their train cars I felt like we should buy something, but in the end we walked away empty-handed. What’s the point in buying an alligator head if your kid won’t even be scared by it?

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19 Comments on “West”

  1. Cindy

    Sounds about right to me! When I was a teenager I loved just getting in the car and going and going ang going to see where I would end up at the end of the day. I was totally smitten with the Charles Kuralt style of wandering and finding characters in small towns to chat with. Anyhow, we’ll see you out east at some point. There is lots of beautiful, small road country out here ya know. Safe travels to you!

  2. George Huffman

    Go West young man! Pensacola and the East Coast will still be there. You don’t need to re-read Zen and the art of Motorcycle Maintenance you’re living it (the fun parts).


  3. donald

    Soon you’ll have enough playground photo’s for a coffee table book…one of those 2 square foot jobs about 1 1/2 inches thick ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Karen

    Good decision! Head for the mountains of Colorado and Montana for the summer – lots of free boondocking and cheap campgrounds in the national forests and parks. Cool little mountain towns too. Make sure your brakes are good though.

  5. Andreas

    Come up to Canada too.

    A good friend of mine just returned home from his Toronto-Alaska-Tierra del Fuego-Toronto trip. Solo, on a motorcycle.

    He’s a big, burly manly man of a man who then proceeded how often he was moved to tears by the natural beauty surrounding him during his trip.

  6. Andreas

    PS: Of course, if you want your kid’s Spanish to stick, Mexico is a worthwhile destination. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. TerminalCityGirl

    I know your last trip to BC was kind of a drive through due to bad/ cold weather and such but there is beautiful camping to be had and I think you’d enjoy Vancouver Island especially. July/ August/ September/ October are the best months. You can drive the Alaska Highway north and then take the Alaska State Ferry back down the coast – a spectacular trip although maybe a bit more costly with with the “new” bus rather than your old VW.

  8. Courtney Davis

    That’s right, keep coming west…all the way to Phoenix! ‘Cause I know you don’t have enough people to visit. We don’t blame you for following the heat after spending the last 3 1/2 months frozen.

  9. Mark Joiner

    Great call. So many awesome roads out West – New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, California and the list goes on. Each one worth several seasons! Unless, of course, you hang a left in Texas! ๐Ÿ™‚
    Happy travels!

  10. Meral

    When you’re ready to head back east and see all 4 corners of the US, put the Blue Ridge Parkway on your list, as well as the little stops along it like Fancy Gap, VA. In August the Old Fiddlers Convention in Galax, VA is definitely worth the trip. Plenty to see and do off the beaten path, an you only got a small taste with the rally. Happy Trails – and thank you for sharing your great adventures!

  11. Nan & John

    You are headed in the best possible direction. We will be summering in the high elevations of New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado….all on Bureau of Land Management land…in other words,, NO CAMPING FEES! we do have solar and that is a great bonus. If you are interested in solar, email us and we can lead you to the best for the least!

  12. Bash

    If you happen to make it to the mountains of ski country Colorado before July 4th, let me know! You guys have inspired me to get out into the world away from corporate America and make my own adventures now. I leave to backpack Europe for a few months in July, to start hiking the major trails around the world and to eventually circumnavigate also.

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