TWO TIRES vs. FOUR WALLS

I am not ready to live within four walls, and trade in my two tires.

After consideration of sister Becky’s generous offer of an empty 3 bedroom 2 bath house in Raleigh, I have decided to stay in my 20′ of living space and the outdoors.  Living in an unfurnished house, after just getting rid of the last of my housewares and 5×5 storage space — I just couldn’t do it, virus or no virus.

Fortunately, Becky was able to quickly rent the property and I have started to explore becoming a campground host.  In August I will be at Kerr Lake (pronounced ‘car’).  Kerr Lake State Recreation Area is a North Carolina state park on Virginia’s southern border. Located near Henderson, NC, the park includes 3,376 acres of woodlands along the shores of the 50,000-acre man-made Kerr Lake reservoir.  Hundreds of campsites among five of the access areas offer a range of outdoor experiences from RV hookups to group camps, and several swim beaches, according to the webpage.

Public campgrounds often have campground host positions.  Hosts serve as off-duty hour monitor when park staff isn’t working, greeting campers, some light maintenance such as trash collection, raking campsites for arriving campers and this summer monitoring social distancing.  For the month of service, I will have a full hook-up campsite (water, electric, and sewer) FREE.  At $30 per night, and a limit of 14 nights, for campers, a campground host can stay the full month at a savings of $930.

I am looking for other host positions in NC, South Carolina and Virginia for July, September, October and November.   It isn’t the trip I had planned for the 2020 summer, Maine, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin, but it will allow me to continue my Road2Reinvention lifestyle and not have to worry about park closures.  That is of course if parks stay open and campers are responsible for social distancing and wearing masks.  Who knows what the future will be, but for now this is my plan for our new normal.

For those of you who enjoy camping, I hope you will consider coming to a campground where I am hosting this summer.  I’ll keep you posted on other assignments.  But for now, I am in Florida through June and will head north in July.

Please subscribe to this blog by adding your email address on the right side of the page below Maggie’s picture. Stay tuned.

A DRIFT IN FLORIDA

I am not ready to leave the beach, and my friend Michelle and Duane’s pool.  So I have extended my stay until June 1, before heading north.  If I needed a sign I made the correct decision, yesterday as Maggie and I walked onto the beach for our evening walk, what did I find?

A sea bean! 

To be exact: Thick-Banded Hamburger Bean.  Yes, they look like little hamburgers, but they are seeds!  They have traveled long distances from  Jamaica, or even as far away as the Amazon River.  Falling into a freshwater river traveling downstream into the ocean, only to land thousands of miles away on a south Florida beach.  The bean is a bit larger than a quarter.

“Mucuna fawcettii, was named by Ignatius Urban in 1908, from specimens found in Jamaica. Presently, it is a bit of a dilemma to those interested in drift seeds. The problem: This species has been described as being endemic to Jamaica… i.e., it grows ONLY in Jamaica. Additionally, there are statements that it is probably extinct from Jamaica (see: Perry & Dennis, 2003:179)… i.e., it probably doesn’t grow there…IF it no longer exists at the ONLY place that it grew, then why do we keep finding these seeds washed ashore?”

I will never know where my little sea bean came from, but I was so very excited to find it, these are very rare.  Could it be a sign?  Also, I shot an 89 golf score on Sunday.  A good sign of things to come?

Regardless, I am staying put on the Treasure Coast of Florida until June 1, enjoying Michelle and Duane’s pool, daily beach walks, finding shells and seeds, and improving my golf score.

Stay healthy everyone!

WHAT TO DO IN THE DAYS OF COVID-19?

If you have never seen the 1959 movie On the Beach, this is probably not the time to watch it.  After a global nuclear war, an American submarine surfaces and heads to Australia where the cloud of radiation circling the globe has not yet arrived.  Australians must come to terms with the fact that all life will be destroyed in a matter of months.  Based on the book by Neville Shute, an English novelist and aeronautical engineer he also wrote A Town Like Alice.  I have always loved the movie because it starred Gregory Peck as the submarine captain, with Ava Gardner, Fred Astaire (plays a serious scientist, not a dancer), and Tony Perkins (without the knife).

An unforgettable scene shows the streets of San Francisco deserted.  Last night the PBS News Hour showed deserted streets in Paris, Rome, Venice, and Time Square reminding me of One the Beach.  Peck and Gardner have great on-screen chemistry because they had a true-life steamy affair while filming the movie in Australia.    

I have grown up in the era of fearing nuclear war practicing “duck and cover” under my elementary school desk.  Since 9/11 we are bombarded by news reports on terrorism and possible dirty bombs – “If you see something say something”.  But, I have refused to live in fear.  I continued riding the Metro daily or city buses to get to my job in downtown Washington, D.C.  Remember the news article that a 40 something single woman was more likely to be killed by terrorists than get married?  I do.

Sure there are movies about plages and pandemics, but we didn’t really pay attention.  Did we?  Radiation and viruses don’t explode or make for great special effects of visual mayhem and destruction.  The vacant streets of our cities today prove it is the things we can’t see we should fear.  Billions of dollars spent on the military-industrial complex, and it is a natural unseen virus that has brought us to a stand-still.  Don’t mess with Mother Nature.

How can I put into words my feelings, what we all are experiencing, and dreading?  It was just a few months ago I was hanging with Michelle and Duane; and, sister Kerry and I were enjoying the beach together and planning trips.  We were all living our lives looking forward to summer plans, travel, graduations, vacations, weddings, public parks, and swimming pools.  Now we are anticipating funerals we may not be able to attend.

Yes, I am depressed!  Aren’t we all? 

Mom and Erv are locked down at Carolina Meadows retirement community.  So far so good, except we cannot visit.  My summer plans to travel to Ohio, Michigan, and Maine, gone.   I spent a week making reservations and now I am spending time canceling and in some cases losing $10-$20 cancellation fees.   Thankfully many campgrounds are giving full refunds because they too are closed.   I hoped for at least another five years on the road, maybe more.  Now, who Knows?  I really am NOT YET ready to give up my traveling lifestyle.  But what am I to do?

The Martin County Commission closed golf courses to non-residents last week.  I am not a resident, but I am a snowbird and have a lease for the Venture III community where I have been since December.  My favorite course has accepted my seasonal residence and allows me to play golf.  Otherwise, I would go nuts.  Golf courses are taking virus precautions, removing rakes from bunkers, singles in all carts, and turning the cup upside down so there is no need to pull the pin or touch surfaces.   Golf is a game of social distancing, I prefer not to talk when I play, and I am always single.

Becky to the rescue!  My eldest sister Becky has offered me one of her many rental properties, a house in Raleigh with a big lot where I can park Scout.  Seems like the practical thing to do is go there and camp-out until the quarantine is lifted and a vaccine is available.  It is ironic that I just got rid of the last of my housewares and now I might be living in an unfurnished house. 

I wish all of us good health.

IT LOOKS SO SIMPLE ON YOUTUBE

When you are practicing social distancing and sheltering in place there are no excuses to put off those minor projects.  I have been carrying around a new black tank value for months having the intention to replace the one because the handle had broken.  It always looks so easy on YouTube.  Flush the tank using a Camco RV Flexible Swivel Stik, Calgon and lots of freshwater.  Under the category of TMI, I don’t do #2 in the trailer.  I use public toilets in campgrounds for the big stuff.  So my black tank is pretty clean, as black tanks go.

Camco RV Flexible Swivel Stik is a wonder!  It has a rotating value that sprays water everywhere cleaning the tank thoroughly.  Add the Calgon and a bit of Dawn dishwashing liquid and your black water tank is really clean, as black tanks go. 

Remove four bolts, pull the old out and insert the new.  I watched several YouTube videos prior to doing this job.  Looks easy enough.  The location of the value is at the back end under the trailer (no pun intended).  No matter how many wrenches I have, I never have the correct size – inches or meters.  DAMN!

I had a 5/16 socket wrench, but not the corresponding wrench to hold the nut in place while removing the bolt head.  It was the little round end of a wrench I needed, (my friend Dave informs me that is called the “box end”.  But it is round, not square. Who knew?)  Of course, I had a crescent wrench, but it was tough to hold the nut in place while lying on my back under the trailer.  A sight to behold. 

I got the bolts out, pulled the old value – no problem.  When I went to insert the new value I couldn’t pull the pipes apart at the same time sliding the new value into place.  YouTube didn’t show that – DAMN!  It is always something.

When you are stuck in an RV Resort where everyone is social distancing how are you going to find someone – “a man” to help you?  Enter Bob.  Fortunately, I had met Bob a couple of evenings before, we shared some wine and conversation, 6 feet apart. 

So, earlier when I was lying on my back under the trailer cursing under my breath, Bob had driven by,  

Bob: “What are you doing?” 

Alison: “What does it look like I am doing, replacing a value”.  

Bob: “I am going to the beach”.

Alison: “Have a nice time”.

Luckily that evening after Bob returned from the beach I went over to ask if he would help:

Bob: “Tell me it isn’t the shit value”.

Alison: “Of course it is the shit value, but there is no shit”.

Project completed, with help from Bob.  It is just so DAMN frustrating that I couldn’t do it myself.  Especially, in the time of social distancing.  Bob headed for upstate New York this morning.  I hope I won’t need any more help with my projects.

Stay safe and healthy!

BEST LAID PLANS

If you aren’t scared you should be, that according to my niece Rachel an emergency room doc; and Marina, Michelle’s daughter an emergency room physician assistant.  Both are confirming there is not enough protective equipment for medical personnel and it is only going to get worse.   They ask, “please, stay the F*^K home”.

So after making plans to travel north including lots of campground reservations I am staying put in FL for the foreseeable future.  I feel very safe here because I am in the out of doors and certainly more than 6 feet away from anyone.  All my Canadian friends left days ago to get across the border to the safety of their health care system.

After the Spring Break fiasco, the local governments have closed public beaches, including our favorite dog beach Walton Rocks.  Many of the local golf courses are still open.   Keeping 6 feet from fellow golfers is not a problem, so far.  If the courses close I can always walk on, there is no one there to take your money or tell you to get off.  I remember my first Christmas in Washington, D.C. the temperature was in the 60s and I called Mom in Alaska to let her know I was playing golf.  Even if the course was officially closed.

Speaking of Mom, she and Erv are in their assisted living home together, but no visitors are allowed and their meals are being brought to them in their apartment.   Fortunately, they can go outside and get fresh air, take their meals out on the patio.  But, isolation even with another person isn’t what any of us would wish for.  We are so woefully unprepared.

I especially feel for the grocery store workers and truck drivers in their valent effort to keep shelves stocked. They should get hazard pay.  I am going to start tipping the cashier $10.  Thank goodness FL grocery stores sell wine and beer.  It reminded me of the first Snowmageddon in Washington, D.C., I stood in line with Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis at the Capitol Hill Safeway, we both agreed we could go for days with canned food but not without wine.  Floridians have commented this is worse than any hurricane they have experienced.  Isles are empty and not just toilet paper.

I don’t have a large pantry or refrigerator.  I enjoy shopping every few days and buying fresh produce and fish.  Now I have a real challenge of how to pack my fridge and even smaller freezer.

Looking through my lifetime of photos from my storage unit and photos on my phone, it is inconceivable what has happened.  Just days ago I was walking on public beaches, swimming and playing golf.  Now we are hunkered down because of an invisible enemy.   There are millions of refugees around the world fleeing bombs dropping on their homes.  Bombs you can see and hear.   I hope if nothing else comes out of this horrific event we might be more sympathetic to refugees and other displaced persons fleeing violence in their communities.  We are the most privileged and wealthy nation in the world, but we are also vulnerable.  Walls and bombs won’t stop viruses.   If we don’t work together we will die together.

Be safe and keep hope alive.