I left home at 67. That is, I left the idea of home. Last August, I bought a 20-year old, 22-foot motorhome and took off to Texas to see my brother, who was in hospital after a medical emergency. I was in a bit of a hurry. As tends to be my style, I didn’t pay attention to the details of the vehicle, even though I was a manager in the car business for 10 years. I did not know much about RVs. I liked the inside. particularly the big windows on two sides of the bed in the back. Everything seemed to work. Drove well on a Chevrolet van 350 chassis. I bought it As-Is. (I can hear the veteran RVers laughing).
On my first trip, from San Jose to San Luis Obispo, a rear tire blew bits of the wheel well through the cabinet wall into the front cab. Turns out four out of six tires were 10 years old and ripe for delamination. They looked good, but they had been in storage for years apparently. Although the coach inside is comfortable, the roof had a couple of leaks. All-in-all, it wasn’t the best deal probably, but experience (I am now 68) has taught me that things rarely work out as planned and one needs to be consistent about what one wants in order to see a single direction through the changes.
After making sure my brother was taken care of, I returned to California and began to learn about boon-docking, state parks, RV resorts and life at 10 miles to the gallon. Initially, I wasn’t too concerned about the likelihood of leaks in an old rig because it had only rained three or four times all season in Northern California the year before. Rain was rare in the Golden State. This year turns out to be a record year for rain. I have spent the last three months hiding from it in the Southwest desert. I have since coated the roof with liquid rubber and sprayed Flexseal on the most likely suspects. As if I knew what I were doing.
At first, the independence on the road was a little baffling. Where do I go? When? I have a limited budget. Ten miles to the gallon means sorting priorities. My master plan is to drive north to Canada when it warms up. The Fall and Winter months have mostly been filled by visiting friends. I went looking for photos a couple of times on the central coast and by the Colorado River.
In Arizona, I stayed in a Canadian friend’s house to clean it up and get it ready for sale. Sleeping in a room for a month … my view constantly bashing into four plain walls … showed me how much I was enjoying being out and about inside the southwestern landscape.
I am currently in Palm Springs, waiting for the latest record storm out of the West. We will see if I have to bring out the saucepans again. Then I am heading back to San Luis Obispo. Both my temporary bases in SLO and San Jose have been flooded and are closed for repairs. I will figure it out. I have learned that. In a couple of weeks, I am driving Alice (my 1996 Tioga Arrow) to Las Vegas, where I will shoot the USA Sevens rugby tournament with my old friends Ian Muir and David Barpal. I will definitely cover that in a blog.
These days, I like taking the time to appreciate what is around me. Sunrises and sunsets are glorious in Arizona. By the ocean, the waves roll in from the horizon and connect me to the edge of the world. In the desert, the winds carry smells that seem to be alive. There is nothing else I am expected to do. Nowhere else I am expected to go. Ironic … going on the road to be here now.
Beginning sometime in April, I will start the trip north, along the coast. I first made that trip in 1974, in a tiny 2-cylinder, 600 cc Honda coupe, with my first wife. We made it up to the Yukon before I had to turn around and protect the little car from the Alcan highway. I did it again in 2006, after my second wife and I separated and sold the house.
The second time, I drove a 2000 Toyota Camry up the coast and then over the Canadian Rockies to Edmonton. There I covered the 2006 Women’s Rugby World Cup for Rugby magazine.
In the Sixties, I was an English Literature major at UCLA. In the Seventies, a high school teacher. In the Eighties, I was a manager at the Mercedes-Benz store in San Jose. In the Nineties, I worked as a marketing consultant/sales trainer. For a couple of years in the early 2000’s, I worked as a manager at Mercedes-Benz of Beverly Hills – to get that company ready for sale by Jardine Matheson of Hong Kong. When that was over, I had enough of business and I learned to work as a professional photographer. I used to teach high school photography, once upon a time. From 2005 to 2012, I covered college and pro sports in the Bay area. Worked every day. Fair to say, it was not Mercedes-Benz money though.
In 2012, I moved to the Russian River. I lived in a house with a wood stove for three years. I loved it up there. Wrote a couple of books. I expected to make a fortune and travel the world, writing about stuff. No fortune was forthcoming. I returned to San Jose for a year and went back to shooting high school sports for Maxpreps. For me, there wasn’t the money in it that there once was. I had to accept, once again, that there is no going back. It was time to hit the road. Time to see everything differently.