THE SPRING ROAD AWAITS

Matilda (motorhome), the Mothership (car), and a jug of sun tea. Life is good, when it’s good.

We waited. We hid. We isolated ourselves. We wore masks and we social distanced (at least 10 miles from anyone every chance we got). Then we got our vaccines, and so did most of the family. So, how about a spring drive to see the ones on the east coast to start our summer? We could take a month, drive slow, enjoy the sights. Easy. Simple. No rush, no fuss, no hassle…

What was that saying about the best laid plans?

We started off in Oregon, along the Columbia River Gorge. We stayed along side the river and watched the windsurfers, played games… and spent a small fortune saving the lives of both dogs. Rusty, and Frankie, being explorers like us, both managed to get into something that made them deathly ill. They each spent 2 days in the animal hospital on IV antibiotics and fluids, and were sent home with lots of fun drugs. 

*** We pause this blog to give a special shout out to everyone at The Columbia Veterinary Hospital for the amazing care and compassion they showed our fur-kids. There may have been tears of gratitude as we drove away with them.***

These windsurfers were amazing!
It looks like a ton of fun. And like I would probably break my body as I was drowning.
Some serious Jesus moves going on here.

After all that fun we thought, hey, the worst part is behind us, smooth sailing from here (Pro tip: Don’t ever assume it will be smooth sailing). Farewell Bend, the Oregon State park along the Oregon/Idaho state border was our next stop. This time, we simply took some pictures, played with our reinvigorated doggos and relaxed along the Snake River.

Farewell Bend, an Oregon State Park.
The Farewell Bend of the Snake River along the Oregon/Idaho border.

Next Stop: Milner Recreation Site in Idaho. Without discussion, we apparently decided to follow the Oregon Trail in reverse as we slowly tootled along the Snake River. Just a few feet away from where the greatest ol’ motorhome, Matilda, sat, were the very ruts carved by wagon after wagon during the westward expansion (and the sad land theft from indigenous peoples) of the United States. Being so close to hundreds of year old history that you can see and touch is quite a feeling. 

Wagon wheel ruts from along the Oregon Trail. Maybe the doggos had preemptively tried to die of dysentery. 
The Snake River in the Milner Recreation area near Burley, Idaho.
Frankie (Doodle Dandy), the Great Tree-bone hunter.
Rusty, making a sport out of watching Frankie work her ass off swimming for tree-bones.

Remember that pro-tip earlier? Well just enough time had passed that we felt like we were truly on the road again. Then we stopped somewhere and a squeal like the banshees of legends greeted our ears. Matilda began losing power and we were forced to pull off the road. We breathed in a sigh of relief at realizing it was just a thrown belt and we could get it fixed and back on the road ourselves (this part of the story doesn’t end here).

Our next mini-adventure found us under the bridge, like trolls. GPS said we should be somewhere else, but it was occupied. So we explored, and we found a hidden, off-grid gem. A gem that turned into an extra couple days stay because our dear Frankie had to return to the vet. The minor infection in her ears that we thought would clear up with the drugs from the previous trip had gotten worse, and was now a full-blown double ear infection. Fortunately they have vets in Utah. The Wasatch Hollow Animal Hospital took care of our little lady (Thank you so much!).

Think bridge trolls are cool? You should see him troll on the Internet.
Rusty meandering through his retirement age like a good boy.
She is always tracking down the tree-bones with ease.

Okay, is that enough headaches now? Should be good to go now, right? Right? We had plans for two stops, one in Wyoming, and one in Nebraska, before making the final jump to our family on the east coast. And yet, nothing went according to plan. 

Just before the town of Rawlins, Wyoming, Matilda broke down again. The banshees had returned and it sounded as if our very souls were in danger. It turned out that the previous belt failure was not due to an old belt, but rather a smog pump that had seized up. After 2 days on the side of the road as we tried to track down a part, we were able to make our way to the Dugway recreation site about 20 miles away. 

Memorial Weekend brought us a patriotic visitor, flying over the North Platte River in Wyoming.
A neighboring camper brought his half Bernese Mountain Dog, half really big bear to peacefully enjoy the river.
Where the antelope roam, indeed.

Think this part of the adventure is a simple buy a new part and replace the old one? Oh no, that would not make for a juicy story. Nope, we had to discover that the shop that had installed the previous pump had duct-taped the back of the pump together. Not only did they duct-tape the main air line to the pump, but they also skipped installing the check valve or even the right high pressure air lines. In all, we learned that we had previously paid an $800 bill for a shoddy installation of the wrong parts.

But wait, there’s more… 

We were forced to wait for 4 days to find out if we could even order the part, only to find out that it was available for 2 day delivery the whole time. At least we now had a nice quiet spot with a decent view. The only advantage to living our life when Murphy comes to visit. 

Dammit, Murphy.

Is there any good news to talk about for the last 2 months? Sure there is.

The wildlife that visited us was amazing. We spent the majority of the 2 months alongside a couple of rivers, and the seclusion was wonderful for both of us, our writing, and our dogs to run and play. 

Mourning Dove looking for it’s love.
American White Pelican
Beetley Buddy
Red-Tailed Hawk
American Bison
American Bison
Bald Eagle
Pronghorn Antelope. Dat booty, tho’

So now what? Well, we cross our fingers, leave offerings and say prayers under seventeen different religions and spiritualities, check the dogs’ temperatures, triple check every belt, fluid level, electrical connection, and then hold our breath as we turn the key and get moving on. The Traveling Writing desk will not be held back (at least not for long). 

The road awaits.

 

 

The Existential Dread of a Broken Heart

by M.D. Parker 

 

I call myself an author

Are we really the things we call ourselves, especially when the actions that make us those things are not being done? Am I becoming less than I was, or just more of something else? Am I worthy of any of the titles I have ever carried? Yes, this is the sound of dread setting in. These are among the numerous questions I’ve spent months toiling over. 

2020 was quite the —  well let’s use ‘interesting’ as a descriptor — year. Wildfires, murder hornets, UFOs, civil unrest around the world, the loss of a higher than average number of cultural icons, and of course a global pandemic. 

At first when the pandemic took off in the U.S.A., we lost focus on other items as we tried to figure out how full-time RVers navigated this confusing and ever-changing time. My writing suffered as I found myself stress-eating, driving to a new location, or just sitting and screaming at an orange tinted, bloviating narcissist, lying to everyone about the dangers as tens (and eventually hundreds) of thousands died. My writing suffered. 

We really don’t miss hearing from him.

As the fall came I began picking my writing up again and finished the 27th draft of The Genesis Echo – part 1. My muse was hanging out with me and my imaginary friends were coming over for coffee in the morning. Then horror struck. The existential dread I’d been battling all year fully shut me down. My writing assistant, my dude, my four-legged best friend, died suddenly. 

Milo looking like an angsty music video, gazing out the window longingly.
Milo always willing to lend a lazy smile and tail wag.

Still reeling from Milo’s passing, we got a call. My father was in the hospital requiring emergency surgery after falling and breaking his hip and laying helpless for hours (his med-alert button failed). He was going to need us. We returned to Oregon and began caretaking the man who would suffer complications that would run him in and out of the hospital a few times over the next few months. 

My writing came to a complete and total halt.

As the first 3 months of 2021 would pass, we’d see difficult, but positive progress on my father and we were beginning to adjust to life without Milo. Our other amazing fur companion, Rusty, was there with us every step of the way.

The best heart healer ever.

At the end of March we hit the road again, but I had yet to really hit the keyboard. Just before we pulled away from our home town, we took a peak at the dogs that needed rescued from the shelter. 

Our eyes were drawn to a 12-year old boxer mix named Frankie. We told each other we had to go meet her. I wasn’t sure I was ready for another dog just yet, but the thought of this doggo sitting there without a home, knowing that adoption at her age was near impossible, didn’t sit well with our tiny sappy hearts. We scheduled a visit for the same day (COVID restrictions still in place for health and safety, the shelter was forced to work by appointment only, which also lowers the adoption rate).

Meet Frankie and her new tree-bone!

After meeting us and walking and playing with Rusty, Frankie took it upon herself to jump in our car. She wouldn’t leave. She stared at the both of us, and had responded to every other thing we did or say, except the order to exit the car. She had made her choice — who were we to argue? She remained in the car while I went inside and completed adoption paperwork. 

 

Frankie says, “I picked ya’ll. Deal with it.”

Now, less than a month later, and after a scary illness that hit both her and Rusty hard, and the fear of losing her already, I’ve come to realize how much she has already done for us. She has not replaced the hole in my heart from the loss of the best fur-companion I’ve ever known. Instead she has helped remind me of the lessons Milo tried to teach me. Her presence has allowed the love he put in my heart to expand; shrinking that hole down to a manageable size. Rusty was there to comfort us, to grieve with us, for he had lost his brother as well. Frankie has come to show us, Rusty included, that the best way to heal is to love even more. 

So, from the bottom of our damaged little hearts —  for myself, my wife, Rusty… and for Milo, I say thank you and welcome to the family Frankie. 

Thank you for choosing us. 

Pals.
Rusty and Frankie are ready to get down to the business of exploring the world.

Please visit PetFinder, or visit your local shelter to adopt a new loved one today. 

 

 

 

Golden, Oregon

Golden, Oregon – State Heritage Site

Golden, Oregon is an abandoned mining town in southern Oregon near Grants Pass. 

In contrast to other old west mining towns there was no saloon in Golden, but they did have competing churches. The first church in the community was built around 1840 by Reverend Samuel Ruble, who was a preacher for a group known as Campbellites.” Campbellites were a large religious movement in the 1800’s that were dedicated to restoring religion to “Primitive Christianity.” “Primitive Christianity” was basically a stick-in-the-mud sect of Christianity that wouldn’t even allow musical instruments to be used in churches during worship. 

Reverend Ruble’s House of Fun
These pews were so uncomfortable…hard, cold, and squeaky to make sure you didn’t nap during worship.
The empty church…Reverend Ruble’s worst nightmare.
Ruble’s Party Podium

However, another group led by Reverend Mark Davis moved into the area. Reverend Davis used the schoolhouse to lead his worship services – I would like to think that ol’ Rev. Davis allowed some pretty rockin’ music during his sermons, which was of course the inspiration behind School of Rock. This is absolutely not true, though, 

Rev. Davis’ School of Rock

Despite the bible thumping between the dueling reverends, more people moved to the area to work in the mines. By 1892 the population of Golden was just under 200. In 1896 a general store was built, which housed a post office as well. 

Golden General Store and Post Office
Stock boy needs to start hustling.
General Store and Schoolhouse
Plumbing updates?

By 1920, Golden went the way of most mining towns…devoid of gold and people. 

View out the church window…

 

Schoolhouse
Inside the Golden Schoolhouse.

Around 1950 some locals rebuilt the church. The general store, schoolhouse, carriage house, and an outhouse still stand. The State of Oregon took over Golden in 2002 and added the town to the National Register of Historic Places. 

In 2017 paranormal investigators from the Travel Channel show Ghost Adventures conducted an investigation in the town of Golden. They, of course, claimed it to be haunted…by the Reverend Ruble himself. I don’t know for sure if Golden is haunted, but if it is, it makes sense that it would be by the grumpy reverend with no appreciation for music.

Here is the church, here is the steeple, open it all up and see all the…haunted reverends. 
Golden, Oregon

 


For more information

Oregon State Parks

Travel Channel

 

Here we are; four months have been completed as we begin level 5 of the year 2020. What has the glorious year brought us so far?

Happy New Year 2020!!  *write on the road is not responsible for any of the signs of the apocalypse

The whole world has been collectively kicked in the shin. We started off with the 3rd state of emergency being declared for the Australian brush fires (remember them?), then the United States killed the leader of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and we all worried about a war coming. 

In January we first started hearing widespread talk of the novel corona-virus, COVID-19, but we aren’t really there yet…

The royals split up, with Prince Harry and Megan giving the middle finger to the rest of the family. For many (not us) this was big news. Iran retaliated for the killing of its military leader and the White House lied about casualties in Iraq until it couldn’t lie anymore. The world shrugged as it all got lost in the news feeds. Then a plane crashes, turns out Iran accidentally shot it down. Suddenly, Iran dropped some of its war rhetoric.

As China recorded its first Corona-virus death, we began the Impeachment trial for Donald Trump. Of course that ended with his own people saying he did it, but that they don’t care, let him stay in office. Famous people died, mass shootings at a brewery and fast food restaurants happened, and earthquakes hit. Did you even know that Puerto Rico got hit with another earthquake this year?

‘Merica

And then the rest of the world got the epic level smack down from COVID-19. Lockdown after lockdown in countries around the globe. The US joined late, but we had to; had to make sure we would take over the number one slot in all COVID stats as our primary election season was torn to shambles and our stock market nosedived. Then, just as armed dime-store cosplaytriots got all dressed up to storm the castle (capitol buildings) 2020 hit another snag…

“Bye, bye, Boys!”

MURDER HORNETS

Yes, you read that right, just when we thought it couldn’t get more bizarre, we’ve now been alerted to the oncoming assault of hornets that destroy honey bees and can sting and kill you even if you aren’t allergic. Oh, and they’re bigger than normal too. 

Seriously? WTF, 2020? Who even made this?

What does all this mean for RVers? A lot actually. First came the hoarding. We experienced two problems as the toilet-paper-apocalypse set in: 1) We couldn’t understand why toilet paper was the first thing people wanted to hoard and 2) We live in a motorhome! How do you stockpile in a home this size? 

Go, go, go! Operation Asswipe is a GO!

Answer, you don’t. You’re stuck going to 5 different stores in one day just to find a can of tuna, a single package of Kleenex, and a dollar store coloring book.

We didn’t panic until dog food started getting hit by the hoarders. By then, the next nightmare began. Closures. We were in northern Washington when it all began, 40-50 miles from the epicenter. We began to worry as we lost our state park reservation for March, and had to scramble around to find a place. We couldn’t go off-grid, had to stay in contact with family members still working through the first lockdowns just north of Seattle. Around we bounced. We looked like toddlers chasing a superball from the coin machines.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We quickly came to realize that pandemics and full-time RVing are not necessarily a good mix. On one hand, you could take your RV and disappear from society only to reemerge after it is over,

WHAT YEAR IS IT? *&%$ this.

or as we did, you find a long term park that can squeeze you in for a couple of months. 

Social distancing, you’d think is easy, but we learned something else that makes it difficult: pantry and fridge space. While we’d love nothing more than to pack a freezer full of stuff and make monuments in homage of the old gods out of our can food pile,  we can’t. Only so much can be stored in an RV-size fridge. Thank goodness our motorhome fridge is bigger than our old Serenity travel trailer, but it still leaves us with store trips 1-2 times per week. And 1 per week is stretching it when it comes to snack foods when you have to binge Tiger King. 

Goddammit!

Don’t mistake this little story for something it is not… are we complaining about our lifestyle? Not at all. Although we are currently stuck, we know that we’ll be back on the road soon enough. In the meantime, we can do some upgrades and redecorating (cue the crafting video binges). We are, however, wondering if we can speak to 2020’s manager, because this is not what we’d call good service, 1 out of 5 stars – would not recommend!

Fembots!!

We ARE complaining about those that fail to understand social distancing and other preventative measures, like wearing a mask. We are in this together, and we need to lean on our humanity first. Think about being kind before we get all dressed up in our second hand tacti-cool gear and threaten scientists and spit on, or even shoot, store staff who risk their lives to serve us. 

2020 is trying hard to kick our global ass. Let’s fight back, by standing tall (6-feet apart) as the human race, and not as some tribalistic, my way or no way, entitled little shits. 

The Earth has spoken, and she wants us to grow up, care about each other, and her.  

Mother Knows Best.

 

In September of 2016 we began an adventure. We documented our journey for our faithful reader (maybe two) on this website. For reasons, we had to move the website, and being the amateur web designer that I am…we lost everything down into a dark void of WTF do we do now? 

What we do now, we decided, is to follow the teachings of a great Sicilian philosopher…go back to the beginning. 

…and then I procrastinated.

 

Alright, alright! Welcome back to Write on the Road!