On April 1, 1992, an ominous day notorious for foolishness throughout history, while sitting before the evening televised news I spoke that fateful phase to my equally tired spouse.
"What if we were to sell everything and hit the road?" Her reaction was a slight smile before thumbing through the local T.V. guide for anything to stir her delights. I listened to the commentator and heard the poles for the upcoming presidential race. Steadying my aim I directed the total sum of destiny toward the magic window of our existence and pressed the Off button. This action brought a stunned gaze from above the magazine.
"What if I said that we are going to die from a long-suffering illness that no doctor had a cure nor any hospital had the money to bother with?"
My wife politely closed her book and tilted her head with that ‘Here we go again' look on her face. "The bills are a cancer that will surely kill us as any other. I for one will not lay down and let this happen." I said with a tap to a stack of envelopes atop the coffee table.
"Bills are a part of life, look at all we have." She commented. "Do we?" I probed softly. "Do we what?" She asked. "Are we truly the masters or the slaves to all we own?" I answered with a glance to the monstrous black-eyed machine across the living room.
"You love your football." She mused.
"I love life, this is far from living." I injected while holding the remote control.
Many weeks, paychecks, long talks passed until my wife finished that ‘What if' lament with words as powerful as ‘Abracabra'. "Why not?" We began to take ultimate control over our lives while casting off the chain of excepted existence. Our friends believed we had secretly joined a cult and thought they would find us at the nearest airport handing out flowers. We tried to explain at first, then decided that this was a type of religious journey that everyone must find for themselves.
November first, six short months later, found the door opening on our prison cell. As with that little girl from Kansas we also had to find the start of our rebirth. Backgrounds have a funny way of relating things in their purest forms. I retired from the Navy where my background was as a Boatswain mate. My loving wife was a Wallpaper installer for over twenty years. Ladders played greatly in both our careers and directed our steps to the real ‘Yellow Brick Road'. From the southern most point at Key West, Florida to Vancouver, B.C. We began the now six year voyages of happiness on the road, crisscrossing the United States with short trips to our neighbors north and south of the borders.
State and National parks have been perused in the passed years and miles. We elected to enjoy many of the dwindling military camps for several reasons. Foremost, as many of my comrades can attest, ‘Use it or Lose it'. The feeling of family is always present, even after many hours of driving and of course the helpful but incorrect directions to the Fam-Camp. As the sun appears from behind the early morning mists there is always a smiling face of another person, who is also on this freedom train. Sometimes we joke about the vehicle and pets of our fellow travelers yet we never berate their selections of mode or manner.
From the numerous shades of browns of Texas to Nevada, to the cooling greens of California, up through the misty heights of Oregon and Washington. Our first trip across the States brought the distance of two hearts to be measured in millimeters as the miles passed under wheels. My wife has said that I on longer bring her flowers. I now present her a garden of every type of flora from the orange-blossoms of Florida to the Rhododendrons of Washington, including the apple blossoms of Michigan's Upper peninsula. Her flowers are as fresh and fertile as the soil that brings life to our country.
As to with Flora, this trip as also presented numerous forms of Fauna. Birds of color, animals of style and adventure with each encounter. Having a Blue Jay pluck spaghetti from a boiling pot and viewing a scolding because it was rushing the cook brought tears of laughter. Finding a pair of Raccoons readjusting the elastic straps on a cooler on a cold autumn morning however was humorless until the second cup of coffee.
Nature has its own set of rules that every pioneer learned by trial and error. Most rules are stated by fellow travelers or camp hosts. When you believe the book is full it's the perfect time for the weather to upset the applecart.
"We haven't had this kind of, A. Heat, B. Cold, C. Dry-spell, D. Rain, E. Wind, in twenty years!" These multiple choice forecasts follow many escapees as they pull into the various campsites across the land. I've often wondered if we really did bring such factors packed away in some odd box in the trunk or strapped to the luggage rack.
People you'll find are as diverse as the overhead clouds. Some are self-proclaimed Daniel Boone's while others are Long Island White-bread's going to find that one tree in the forest. Greenhorns, Tenderfoots, Novices, everyone starts on the first rung of the scenic ladder. Time still has a way of tempering souls for the journey. Once a young girl mentioned to a man attaching his awning that she hoped he has good steaks. The man answered he'd just returned from the market. That night after the wind shifts, the young girl's words had new meaning as the awning was carried over the camper.
"Be prepared." As any good scout can tell, is not only a motto but something that should be well thought out before it's to late. We have offered our proclamations to those who seem to be disoriented as they read the instructions for setting a tent or finding that illusive switch to change their motor home from AC to DC.
All three factors have played fully in the years of our travelers. Using an electrical cord as a cloth line to sprinkling soap powder to absorb an oil spill. However, watching a man dressed only with shower sandals race along the bank to catch his canoe filled with supplies tells more then most want to know.
Life is too short to be wasted on believing you'll always have the time next week or year to enjoy yourself. Those fleeting moments are vapors of Monday morning dreams before work. Some will remain as always but for those who stare at magazines and ponder ‘What If?', we say "Why Not?"
One day you might find yourself waking to view a flapping pennant that stirs adventures locked away in your past. Our rig displays the Pirates' banner that symbolizes true freedom and happiness of being alive. Give a Holler and come aboard for a cup of coffee and a couple of Sea stories.