I’m on My Way!

Jan 31, 2017

The day had finally come. The day I worked months to make happen. The day I was moving into my motorhome and leaving Sacramento for parts known and unknown. As the date moved closer, the anxiety started building. The endless questions running through my mind and being asked by others:

  • What are you going to with all your stuff?
  • Can you drive that beast?
  • Where will you stay every night?
  • Won’t you get lonely?
  • Will you be safe ?
  • AREN’T YOU AFRAID???

I’ll address each of these questions.

What are you going to do with all your stuff?

This was my third time downsizing and I still have enough to nearly fill a 10 x 15 storage unit! I wasn’t sure about spending $100 per month for storage, but in the end I decided to keep things that I will use in an apartment when I get off the road.   I can see myself traveling for a couple of years and then renting something in the Napa area. However, don’t quote me on that! Many people, including solo women, have been living this lifestyle for 10 to 15 years and would never consider going back to a “sticks and bricks” lifestyle. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see.

This lifestyle is all about freedom, especially if you are solo. The freedom to decide where you want to live and for how long. The freedom to decide what you want to do (or not do!) for the day. The freedom to engage with people, or not. The fact is that being semi-retired is the biggest contributing factor to this freedom thing. The work I do teaching online project management classes for UC Davis Extension keeps me engaged in a subject that stills interests me and provides the supplemental income I need to support my new lifestyle.

Can you drive that beast?

I find I am comfortable driving the beast and towing my car. This isn’t my first rodeo. I’ve driven several times while Ralph and I were traveling and I have taken two trips in preparation for going solo. One with BFF Jane to Yosemite to meet up with my nephew Kevin and his family. The second trip was to Calistoga to join the Sisters on the Fly for a weekend event. My friends Mary Ann and Gerard joined me as they were in the area and Leslie was in California and came up for the Sisters activities too. Don’t you just love it when serendipity works its magic? I could never have predicted that this group of friends would manage to be together camping at the Calistoga RV park. It was such a treat!

Once I’m behind the steering wheel I feel like ” I’ve got this!” I like sitting at eye level with the truckers and having a clear view of the road ahead. I drive much slower than I drive in my car. It takes a lot longer to stop the beast than it does to stop the car. And I find that if I take care of the front of the rig, the back follows right along! Turning can be a little tricky. That’s what the big mirrors are for and there is also a rear camera. There are no blind spots expect for the 15 feet directly in front of me.

My personal policy is to use the 2-2-2 rule. Drive 200 miles or less a day, take a break every two hours and stop for the night by 2:00 pm. I followed the rule on my first day and I was tired after I was parked and setup. So I think I’ll stick to my policy. After all, I have no schedule and whole point is to enjoy the journey.

So the answer is yes, I can drive this beast!

 

Where will you stay every night?

Now this is a question I will have to deal with ALOT! I can’t park this beast just anywhere. It does take planning and thank goodness for the Internet. There are so many online resources and apps for finding RV parks and free camping sites that the hard part is to choose from so many options. My go-to app for finding campsites is Allstays. It’s a paid app and worth every cent of the $10 it costs. It provides information on the campground along with reviews, website, directions, etc. It includes both private and public campgrounds, rest areas, and free overnight stays like Walmart. I also use the RV Overnight Camping app if I only need a place to sleep for the night while in route to a destination. Free campsites.net is a great web-based site for finding free or low-cost (less than $12/night). RVers are great about writing reviews of campsites so you know what to expect. I also check Google Earth so I can actually see the layout and access to the campground. That said, campgrounds are like a box of chocolates…you never really know what you’re going to get (until you get there.) Bottom line…there are many, many places to camp…you just have to do a little research.

 

Won’t you get lonely traveling alone?

This is the one thing I was the most concerned about. I know this about myself; I love social activities with people I care about, especially my women friends. And I also enjoy my solo activities. When I need to recharge my batteries I need to be alone. You can experience loneliness when you are with people too. I define loneliness as the lack of connection with people, not just a lack of their physical presence. There are many opportunities to stay connected with people with today’s technology. If I feel lonely I will reach out to my family and friends for a nice long conversation and I think that will be the cure. Friends have been reaching out to check on me and I really appreciate it!

I have met many people just in my first week on the road. RVers are very friendly people. Just like boat and motorcycle people, the common interest always gives you something to talk about. And they are very talkative! Campground neighbors are friendly and helpful. Also the docent at the small museums I visit are VERY talkative. I think they are so happy to see someone come through the door! It seems that a lot of small towns have a museum. I love learning about the history of a place. A good example is in the small town of Boron. They have two free museums; The Aeronautical Museum ( Edwards AFB is very close) and the Twenty Mule Team museum. For those of you old enough, you’ll remember the Twenty Mule Team Borax TV commercials. Boron is home to one of the few boron mines in the world. More about this later.

Before I left on this adventure, I read several solo women’s blogs and they all talk about the rich social environment they have found in the RVing community. There are so many RVing groups out there. There are women’s groups, solo groups, specific interests group, etc. I can choose to travel with a group if I need he social interaction, and I probably will at some point.

I’ll also be able to stay in locations to visit friends and family. Now I am in Yuma, AZ near my nephew and his family awaiting the debut of the newest Furtah. Family members from Florida will fly in during my five-week stay here to welcome the baby and I’ll be able to connect with them too! I am now the perfect house guest. I bring my own house!

So, yes I may get lonely traveling solo but I have strategies to help deal with it and I will live through it. But, somehow I don’t think it is something I’ll have to cope with very often.

Will you be safe?

I think I’ll be safe but how do you ever really know? You could be lying in bed in your house and have a tree fall and kill you ( storms in Sacramento). You could slip in the bathtub and hit your head and drown in four inches of water (a friend’s father). Who knows???

I am a fairly cautious person when it comes to safety. I listen to my intuition and act on it if necessary. I have pepper spray and I did decide to bring my small handgun. Have I ever felt the need to pull out either? NO! But they are there if I need them.

I feel a real urgency to LIVE my remaining years on the planet. To get out there and experience people and places until I cannot. So I’m willing to accept the risks that come with this lifestyle.

Aren’t you afraid?

Afraid? No. A little anxious? Yes.

What if I do something wrong with disastrous consequences? What if something breaks? What if I have an accident? What if? What if? What if? I’m not going to live my live driven by my fears. I’ve already had a few ” mishaps”.

I drove from Quartzsite to Yuma with my TV antennae up. Thank goodness there is nothing overhead in the desert. I had already put it down and didn’t remember. So I cranked it “down” again! Which left it up! Stupid mistake. When I arrived at my destination and got out I noticed it immediately! Dodged a bullet there! Lesson learned: when I do my last walk around, LOOK UP TOO!

I’m still laughing about this one…when I arrived in Yuma I went directly to Kevin’s house to unhook the car and he was going to help me back into my site. This was my first “back-in” site. So far the others were “pull through” sites. So I came over in the car to get checked in and paid up and said I would bring the rig back when Kevin got home from work. It seemed like a good idea at the time! However, when I brought the rig later I ended up going to the wrong RV park and went directly to my site and got all settled in. Now before you say WTF? Let me explain. This is like the Stepford Wives of RV parks here. There are two that are EXACTLY the same! The office and rec rooms exactly the same. The layout of the sites, exactly the same. I didn’t find out until the next day when the host came a knocking on my door to tell me I didn’t belong there. I showed her my receipt and she said, “You’re in the wrong park!” And if you don’t pack up and vacate this site were going to charge you for another day.

When I arrived in the office of the correct park ( two driveways down the road) the entire office was laughing. Me included. Kevin’s still taking me about it! And news travels fast. When I went to the rec center the next day for the BBQ some people had heard about it. ” So you’re the one…”

More lessons learned…

  • Don’t check in without the rig
  • Let the host escort me to my site and spot me when I back in.
  • Keep my sense of humor cause I’m sure going to need it.

I am finding  RVing a lot of work. When Ralph and I travelled together we had blue jobs and pink jobs. Now I guess they are purple jobs and they are ALL mine! Ralph trained me well on the blue jobs. We bought the rig in 2012 so I have had four years of practice. I know how to do all the jobs now but it does take some time to get them all accomplished. The up side…maybe I’ll lose a few pounds from being more active ! I always try to look for the silver lining.

The Trip to Yuma

Here’s a few of the highlights from the trip from Sacramento to Yuma.

I took a week to get to Yuma. My first overnight stop was in Colinga and I followed my 2-2-2 rule. I took I5 instead of Hwy 99 because it is a much better road with lots of rest stops. First day a success!

Next stop was Boron, Ca and I decided to stay at the Arabian Oasis RV park for two nights. And no, there were no Arabians (horses or otherwise), and the word oasis is definitely an overstatement. I’ve stayed there before on the way to Quartzsite. It’s right off Hwy 58 and has pull through sites so it’s an easy stop. The 20 Mule Team and Aeronautical museums are located in beautiful, downtown Boron.

Boron is home to the U.S. Borax Boron Mine, California’s largest open-pit mine, which is also the largest borax mine in the world. A large borax deposit was discovered in 1925, and the mining town of Boron was established soon thereafter. This borax deposit is now the world’s largest borax mine. It is owned by Rio Tinto Minerals (formerly U.S. Borax. It is operated as an open-pit mine, the largest open-pit mine in California. This mine supplies nearly half of the world’s supply of refined borates. Rio Tinto Minerals is Boron’s primary employer, employing over 800 people.

The 20 Mule Team Museum is definitely worth a visit. There is a 20 minutes video that explains the history and uses for boron. I was surprised to learn that borax is used in many things.

Boron is a chemical element with symbol B and atomic number 5. Boron is concentrated on Earth by the water-solubility of its more common naturally occurring compounds, the borate minerals. These are mined industrially as evaporites, such as borax and kernite. The primary use of elemental boron is as boron filaments with applications similar to carbon fibers in some high-strength materials. Boron is primarily used in chemical compounds. About half of all consumption globally, boron is used as an additive in glass fibers of boron-containing fiberglass for insulation and structural materials. The next leading use is in polymers and ceramics in high-strength, lightweight structural and refractory materials. Boron compounds are used as fertilizers and in sodium perborate bleaches. A small amount of boron is used as a dopant in semiconductors, and reagent intermediates in the synthesis of organic fine chemicals. (Thanks Wiki). You can learn more about Boron here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boron,_California.

Note: Hover over photos for captions.

The next stop was Needles, CA for two nights. Originally I was going to meet a friend in Needles and we were going to Oatman, AZ to hike and check out the historic mining town. Her plans changed and I decided to go anyway. I’ve wanted to visit Oatman and knew I wasn’t going to be back in this area of Arizona for a long time. I’m happy I did. I chose the Desert View RV resort and this time it the word resort fit. It was a nice, well-kept park with a swimming pool and fairly large sites. I arrived at 11:00 am (only a short drive from Boron), parked and then jumped in the car to head up to Oatman, AZ .

Oatman is a small historic mining town about 25 miles from Needles. You can read about its history here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oatman,_Arizona. Today it is known as the town with donkeys wandering the streets and it is a popular destination for motorcycle enthusiasts.   I’m glad I took the time to go. I loved the donkeys…they are very domesticated. And they are little mooches! They follow people around looking for handouts. You can purchase small bags of alfalfa cubes to feed them. These few photos will tell the story.

 

 

 

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Dollar bills stuck to everything!

 

 

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Trying to steal ice cream

 

 

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Best T-shirt!

 

 

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One last try for food as I leave Oatman

 

From Needles I drove 85 miles to Quartzsite, AZ for one night of boondocking on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) before driving 90 miles to Yuma and settle in for five weeks.

My initial plan was to go to Quartzsite for the big RV rally in mid-January. I was going to camp with the Escapees Solos and do some socializing and then caravan with a few of the solos to Puerto Penesco, Mexico and camp right on the Gulf of California. I’ve been dreaming of camping on the beach in Mexico since I began reading about it four years ago. But, alas, it was not meant to be! The torrential rains in Sacramento and being sick with whatever creeping crude was going around, delayed my departure for three weeks. So that dream will have to wait until next year!

The Adobe Village RV Park in Yuma is where you can find me until March 17. Then I’ll be heading to Tucson for the Escapade RV Rally for a week. I’ll be helping Kevin and Mariya with whatever I can as we all welcome the newest member of our family.

 

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Desert sunsets…the best!

 

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16 thoughts on “I’m on My Way!

  1. Wow Rochelle! I just saw this and am so impressed with your courage and sense of adventure! So sorry we haven’t stayed in touch! Three bilateral knee surgeries in 5 years have kept me grounded and way too self focused. Walking has been nearly impossible, but I have hope that the latest surgery 6 weeks ago will finally allow me to walk again. Sending huge love and hugs! Beth

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  2. I have questions. What did you do with your house? Where did Ralph go? How long ago did you buy the beast?
    I remember 20 mule team borax. Lol In fact Shelby and I use it in this well water from our laundry.
    Debbie Messina

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    1. Hi Deb
      I sold my house four years ago and then I moved in with Ralph. Ralph doesn’t want to travel full time. He’s still in Sacramento in his house. We bought the beast in 2012. And yes, it’s surprising how many people still use borax. My nephew here in Yuma has some of it in his laundry room. The water is very hard here. Thanks for commenting! Hope you are well.

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    1. I love that! Nevertheless she persisted! That’s the story of my life! I will get up your way evidently. Did you see that Medford is trying to open a pot-friendly RV park? LOL! Hope it’s close to your house!

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    1. I can’t tell you how many people have asked me those questions. When is your next trip to CA. In June by any chance? Jane will turn 60 June 4th or 5th and she wanted the three of us to celebrate like we did for 50. Well, not exactly like 50 but you get the idea.

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  3. You did it again “Inspired me” – I am also thinking this through for myself – pretty sure my rig will be much smaller – oh, and I’ll have a dog – Love and Hugs

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    1. Hi Barb! Whatever size you choose…go for it! I find this is the perfect size for me and a big factor was I had experience with it for four years and it was a lot less money for me to buy out my boyfriends portion. Let me know if you end up on the road. My plans are to stay out west so if you end up out west (which I highly recommend!) we can caravan for a while. I left the cat with Ralph because he didn’t travel well. I’m thinking about getting a kitten that I can rig train.

      Keep me posted!

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  4. Glad to see you finally on your way Rochelle, Chyerl & I will hit the road late spring headed East and South, hope to meet up somewhere along the road. Drive safe, we will follow your blog to see where you are.

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