Saturday, September 26, 2009

The endless journey....ends!

Parts 1, 2, 3 and 4, oh yes 4 parts before this last segment. You made it to the end though!

The Great Utah Basin: route 50, the loneliest road in America. Aye that it was... We started out in the fog, so even if we hadn't been the only ones on the road, we would have felt like it. Ravens were all over the place as well as this weird black and white bird picking at carrion in the middle of the road and on every fence post. It sure looked like a different world. Pretty soon, the birds disappeared, no road kill, no trees, and only short brown vegetation could be seen for miles around.  Right at the Nevada/Utah border we stopped at a cute little hunter’s camp/gas station/hotel/diner and shopped a bit for fake Native American artifacts and crappy souvenirs. After a hearty round of strangers staring at us, we in our clothes of three days (Darlene’s teddy bear pajama bottoms and autumn leaf patterned fleece top, and me in my cat fur covered sweat pants and fur infested fleece top) the pinnacle of our travel fashion ensemble, (and I'm sure the hairstyles looked good too,) we took off and crossed the border into a new state, although the scenery disappointingly did not change....

I did think that the Nevada/Utah basin area was supposed to be pretty, but one can’t imagine the amount of time you can be driving in one of those basins before you reach the edge. For hours you will be in the middle of a flat valley bottom, mountains ringing all around you but miles off, and thinking you can’t be much more than 30 miles from the mountains in front of you, but then it’s been hours. And you’re still driving. It’s nuts. And no animals and no cars and no people. What is the point of a place like this? Perhaps you could grow something, but then no one has chosen to do so. You can imagine the earliest settlers or native Americans walking, riding, driving their wagons across these basins for days and days. It must have been so discouraging. Heck, we only spent 4 or 5 hours there and it seemed like a lifetime.

We did make it to Reno by 8ish and found out that the RV camp we chose was only at the end of the most frightening maze of highway construction on and off ramps ever made. I think I actually did a few rounds in the highway fun house carnival attraction before I hit the road to the Reno Hilton and RV camp. Yes, we were camping next to a casino. Not just any casino, but a casino with a convention present, although we were yet to figure that out. Sadly, we had arrived too late to get the key to the showers, or access to anything the lot had to offer basically. We inserted our money to pay for our slot, lord knows we didn’t want to wake up being towed away from some spot we hadn’t reserved. Our only option was to clean our stinky selves up as best we could and take a walk over to the casino for some dinner. As we walked through the casino to the local Chevys we thought it was unusual how many weird people, and I mean really weird people, were attracted to casinos. I suppose it made sense, with our uptight opinion that gamblers and compulsive gamblers had to have something wrong with them, or some social disorder in order to spend hours in front of flashing lights with cherries spinning before their eyes. But these were some funny looking people, not the best  and brightest, and not the cream of the looks crop either. I suppose in those dim lights no one was looking either.

We returned to the RV parking lot after dinner and began to hook our ‘home’ up to figure out where the heat was and how it worked. I saved the poop disposal for the next day thinking I’d do it at the last minute. After reading and re-reading the manual and flipping all the switches and banging on everything, we couldn’t get the heat to work. So I called the customer service hotline. Turned out we had a blown fuse, and sadly no one had told us to procure spare fuses before our trip to protect ourselves from exactly such an occurrence. Heck they put the fuses into the fuse box in such a way that it took my very own teeth to remove them just to see if they were blown! Apparently we were supposed to take our RV, drive through the insane maze that was Reno’s freeway construction zone, find a store that sold fuses in the middle of the night and then return, right? Well, we merely replaced the broken fuse with another seemingly random one but even trading that one out didn’t fix the heat! Our friendly phone operator told us they couldn’t get anyone out that night to help us, but perhaps the next day. Uh, we’re returning this heap of crap to your people the next day dude, so thanks, but no thanks. We settled uncomfortably in to the idea that we were spending one more night at subzero temperatures with just some cats and sleeping bags to keep us warm. Our adventure, that had started off with excitement and good cheer had turned into ‘Thank god it was almost over…”

When I woke up that last day of our cross-country RV journey it was all I could do not to kick down the door of the shower house. We hadn’t showered since Illinois, which was at least 3 days, 4 packs of cigarettes and some bad food ago. It was time. And like hell I was showing up at my boyfriend’s house with my hair glued to my head in heroin addict street roamer fashion. I went on the hunt for the key. The store opened at 9am so I bided my time tidying up the RV and snacking on some breakfast-like food (leftover triscuits and cheese anyone?) Soon Darlene woke and we attacked the bathrooms. After showering for some reason, I had saved the biggest task of the day: emptying the toilet basin thingie.

Now be warned, we’re talking about human waste here. I had to take a hose, attach it to the pipe sticking out the bottom of the RV, stick the other end into a sewer and open the floodgates. Now I had been smart, I only did number ones the whole way, I saved the chunky stuff for the rest areas, but I don’t suppose that makes it much better. Because at some point you have to disconnect the tube from the still dripping pipe because for some reason it never stops dripping!!! Oh, I was prepared, I had brought along a brand new pair of yellow rubber gloves expressly for this purpose, but nothing can prepare you for becoming a sanitation specialist. I suppose the trick would have been to hook it up the night before and let it drip all night. Well now I know.

The last thing most of you probably want your boyfriend to ever see, no matter how much you believe he’ll love you through everything he ever sees, is you handling human waste products. But I get ahead of myself. We only had about a 4 hour trip to get the rest of the way to San Francisco, so we packed up and headed out. It was a beautiful sunny day and we got to drive through some more mountains. Now this was concerning considering the performance of the RV in the last set of mountains, but the views soon erased our concerns as there were snow peaked mountains and virginal pine forests everywhere you looked. I can see why people escape to the Sierra Nevadas because they’re incredible. Mind you that you should keep your eyes on the road because at any minute a really dumb deer may jump out in front of your fully downhill accelerating RV and stop causing you to slam on your brakes, throw three kitties up against the front windshield, not to mention our own heads had we not been strapped in, and shortening our lives by at least 5 years due to the visions of hell that just flashed before our eyes.

Oh I like wildlife and I even like deer, but here I am with, like, a 16th of my trip left and some bloody juvenile deer is going to wreck the RV, killing two women and three cats with one turn of his head? I think not. And you may well know that hooves and pavement do not make good traction, nor do blind turns with semi’s barreling downhill at 60 make for good companions when you’re stopped dead in the middle of a highway. But, we survived. And so did the deer if you care, although you may be one of those deer-loathing people that blame the deer for running across a road that was built long after evolution created the deer brain.

So, we made it out of the mountains and were surprised to see that the plains of California looked much like central Illinois! There were cornfields and dairy farms every which way, which just seemed weird. We enjoyed the rest of the ride, and even called up the Triplet King as we crossed the Bay Bridge so he could come out on the balcony of our rental apartment and wave as the RV crossed the last segments of bridge. Yeah, our apartment was like 5 inches from the bay bridge which made for awesome views but a constant sound of rushing cars if you wanted an open window. You win some…

We pulled up to the building to the back loading entrance and proceeded to unload. We had limited time to get the RV to the rental facility so we had to unload in undue haste. I grabbed one, two, three cats and raced them upstairs so that the concierge and security couldn’t count how many there were. It turned out that they couldn’t have cared less, but TK being a good law abiding citizen and us having one more cat than our rental agreement allowed, we snuck them in quietly and efficiently.

But it gets better. Because after we unloaded the RV, with a suddenly burgeoning amount of crates of crap, I had to open the septic pipe again because the rental company had warned me that if I showed up at the  RV return center with the pipes closed I’d have an automatic $200 fine. Lord knows they didn’t want to do the dirty work so there was the threat. Even if I opened it after arriving there, I’d be fined, and now I know why. So, having thought I had successfully emptied the toilet not four hours earlier, I put on my gloves, and opened the pipes with crossed fingers. Now I don’t know what the fine is for peeing on the streets, but thankfully we were parked at the end of a dead end street with the pee hole facing no one but us and some barrier plants. Because at least a quart of full on urine with bits of toilet paper gushed from the pipe right onto that street. This is the first memory I created with my boyfriend TK upon arriving in the beautiful city of San Francisco. A vision of me pouring urine on the street and him grimacing and trying not to smell. After that delightful interlude there was nothing else to be done but to hightail it to the rv return center that closed in less than 30 minutes, so with raw sewage dripping from the rear vehicle pipe, I took off in the RV again for the last leg of our journey: dumping the rattling crate of crap back into someone else’s hands.

And that, my friends is the end of the story. Yes, the rental agent expressed disgust that we had been given such a rattletrap to drive thousands of miles, to which I naturally agreed. Yes, they said the thing should only have been rented for local drives and would now be auctioned off because it was not in quality condition to be rented out again. I must say. That I was chosen to be the last driver of that hunk of junk on my once in a lifetime cross country drive with my most important worldly possessions inside gave me little pleasure. But you know what? We made it. And it makes a much better story this way doesn't it? Although a couple of nights of heated sleep would not have been bad to have.

You made it through the epic tale. Now what do you want to know?


  1. I for one think you were incredibly brave to drive a rental RV across country! you did great with it!!

    just think, taking care of the septic tank and emptying it was just preparing you for a life of triplets :)

    thanks for telling this part of the story; now of course we do want to hear more; your getting use to San Francisco/California, your relationship with Triplet King, etc

    hope you keep telling your story as you can :)


  2. What an adventure:) I have always wanted to drive an RV across the country! I didn't think about the whole waste-product situation though. That's pretty nasty. Then again, I use cloth diapers so, I'm kind of used to getting up close and personal with poo..

  3. So fun to read Mira!! Thanks for sharing. Now how was the first week of living together?? =)