As I write this blog, Peggy and I are preparing for a trip to Alaska. (Actually, when you read this we will be on our way.) Our itinerary includes driving north through Oregon, Washington, British Columbia and the Yukon Territory to Anchorage and back, a road trip of some 7600 miles that includes the Alaska Highway and travels through some of the world’s more remote and beautiful wilderness settings.
A key part of our preparation is making sure our van, Quivera, is ready to hit the road. She has already been to the doctor and had her check up followed by on a shake down cruise to the Redwoods. (When you return from a trip to the hospital, it’s important to make sure all of your organs are still working.) Next up she gets stuffed– oh, I mean packed. We have lists. Peggy handles the majority of this task. Each and everything has its place and she likes to know where each and everything is. Being the ever forgetful husband, I like her to know where each and everything is.
Peggy loves the van– and that’s a good thing. Having a happy Peggy is very important, especially when you live in a 120 square foot house. I can stand in my office and do dishes. The bathroom and stove are two steps away. The living room, dining room, and bedroom are a distant four steps. (Speaking of Peggy, today, July 5th is her birthday. A proper celebration is required. She is required to make animal noises, which happens to be a family tradition from her side of the family. But more on that later…)
Our grandsons call our home on wheels a Transformer. They are experts on the subject. For proof, they point out the button that turns the couch into a bed. It’s an innovation Peggy insisted on having and the kids insist on using. Up and down, up and down, up and down. Grandma has placed limits.
Pleasure Way, out of Saskatoon Canada, is the manufacturer of our 22 foot long RV. Twelve years ago we visited the plant and were given a tour by Mrs. Pleasure Way. She also gave us a jar of her homemade jam. The folks in Saskatoon are friendly; they also create a quality product. This is the second RV we have bought from the company.
We called the first van Xanadu and the second one Quivera. Both names reflect our wandering ways. Between the two RVs, we have explored 200,000 miles of North America’s highways and byways. Our total road time includes four years of dedicated travel and nine years of shorter trips.
“How do you live in such small space?” people often ask in wonder.
“You have to like each other, a lot,” I respond with a grin. And it’s true.
But there is much more. For one, wandering around North America is a grand adventure… a glorious road trip that most people only dream about. Our travels have taken us from Fairbanks,Alaska to Key West, Florida and almost everywhere in between. The journey has also enabled us to visit our far-flung kids and grandkids on a regular basis. For a while, before the Coast Guard transferred our son Tony from San Diego to Alaska, we had developed a 2000-mile commute route between southern California and Hendersonville, Tennessee.
If things get too tight inside, we have the outdoors. Warm days mean we can spend as much time outside as we do in the van. Even on stormy days, we can amuse ourselves on the porch. Plus there are always bookstores, museums and restaurants to visit.
And it isn’t like we suffer. Quivera comes equipped with a microwave/confection oven, two burner stove, heater, air conditioner, TV and DVD, refrigerator, bathroom, two sinks, two tables, nine storage cabinets, a closet, five drawers, couch, recliner chair and a king size bed. There is even a shower if you are willing to sit on the toilet while you bathe. Peggy and I opt out for campground showers. The van operates off of electricity, battery, generator and propane. Two laptops, a Verizon phone and an Internet connection keep us in touch with the world.
Not all is rosy. Space is at a premium. Stopping to camp means shifting boxes from the back to the front. And there simply isn’t room for everything we want to take. Sacrifices have to be made. Some toys have to be left behind. At least with the advent of Kindles, we no longer have to carry a 100-book library.
NEXT BLOG: A tall tale where we do a shake down cruise to the beautiful Redwood National Forest of Northern California.