Friday, September 21, 2012

Maiden Voyage




Well, I learned a lot. 

Lesson One: I got the right rig for my purposes.  The Good Deal Bus - I love driving it and I love living in it!  It’s the minimalist self-contained raging roadtrip machine I’ve wanted for so long.

Wednesday September 19th


Took my time leaving home as it was only an 80-mile drive to FDR State Park in Pine Mountain, GA.  My trusty Garmin took me along the pleasing back roads under clear skies and temps in the low 80’s.  I had a full fridge, empty holding tanks, and a song in my heart.  Well, on the Sirius Sinatra station anyway. 

Stopped for lunch at McD’s in Valley, AL and indulged my love for their fish filet samich.  What does it say about me that I was so content sitting in a homely strip mall parking lot happily chomping away on a Value Meal? 

Moved on to Warm Springs, GA and toured The Little White House – FDR’s modest 3 room cottage in the woods.  For those of you who’ve never been …. go and stop.  This was my 3rd trip and I return because it is one of the most evocative historical sites I’ve ever seen.  The piney seclusion and serenity cover you like a blanket (which must be one reason FDR loved it so). 
I like to stroll through the hushed house alone.  Nothing has changed since the April day in 1945 when FDR suffered a stroke while sitting for a portrait. 
One can almost see the indentation left behind in his small twin bed.  It’s hard to describe the sense of both the man and the time that one gets just being there.  The museum is full of personal treasures and historic documents.  There are cases filled with carved canes that people painstakingly fashioned and sent to FDR. 



Midafternoon, I checked into the rustic office of the FDRState Park.  I have done several overnight backpacking trips here along the 23-mile mountaintop trail but had yet to stay in or even see the campground.  Electric + water = $33.  A bit steep, but worth it because the grounds and the trail are so well maintained.  The campground is quite beautiful. 


Now, I have to tell you, I wasn’t as concerned with my untested technical RV-type skills as I was about the ambience of the campground.  I’ve never had very good luck with established campgrounds – state, national, or COE.  I could sustain an entire blog about my bad experiences. 

My arrival usually coincides with Take-Your-Toddler-Camping Month or the Annual Backwoodsmen’s Inbreeding Seminar.  But not this time.  I got lucky!  I had neighbors several campsites away on either side, but the quiet retiring (and retired) kind.  In fact, I was by far the noisiest resident only because my hair-trigger smoke alarm kept doing its thing. 

It was the ideal setting for a solo shake-down!  Using my evolving backing-up skills, I smugly parked it in Site #302.

It took maybe 10 minutes to hook-up and get the house ready.  Impressive!  Imagine how quickly I could do it if I knew what I was doing.  I fired up the gale-force air conditioner (I think Boeing makes this particular model) only because it was a touch stuffy inside.  The outside weather was ideal - like the first day of autumn come a few days early with a dry sunny-ness and temps in the mid-70’s. 

Campsite backing up to the creek and Delano trail


I had my minimalist camp set up equally quickly followed by Happy Hour which I spent lounging in my tenderfoot equipment.  (You may remember from previous posts that little of my existing camp supplies fit in the Roadtrek so I had to re-outfit; hence, everything was new.  Not the cocktail shaker though).  My shiny chair and table screamed GREENHORN!  Not that I cared.







As the neighbors grilled and enjoyed their campfires, I zapped a delicious Stouffer’s Tuna and Noodle dinner which I served myself with a glass of chilled (!) Pinot Grigio.  Heaven!   I brought along my gas grill along but planned to keep it simple this first trip.  I knew I would stay busy testing all the systems and (re)reading the library of manuals. 

Everything worked!  I’m always surprised when that happens.  By nature and experience, I’m deeply suspicious of sophisticated electronics and I expected multiple glitches.  The only exception, without-a-hitchwise, was the DVD player door wouldn’t open.  O Pioneers! 

I can only guess that the fold-out coach/bed must be comfortable because I slept till 8:45 AM!  It’s hard to determine what time of day or night it is with all the shades drawn.  Like I said …. the perfect rig for me.

                                      Thursday September 20th


After a bowl of cereal, I made a too-weak cup of coffee (even my Melitta Drip apparatus is new) but it was still delish in that satisfying camp-coffee way.  I was able to set off the smoke alarm again in the process.  It goes off for steam.  Really?  I made a better brew on the second cup.  As I say, I learned a lot.    

After breakfast, I went on the briefest of hikes – maybe 40 minutes total.  The creekside Delano Trail trailhead was located right outside my door and basically loops around the side of the hilltop campground. 


Fire ring, creek, and trail from the window

My hiking muscles are in disrepair and it was more humid than I expected.  But the woods were sun-infused, but still lovely and deep.  And I was the only person I ran into on the trail.  I must admit I was distracted by the knowledge that the tasks of unhooking and dumping lay ahead.  Not concerned really, just trying to remember the how-tos.    

But those issues were not issues at all.  I’m learning how to manage the stubborn outside storage doors and the macerator hose that resists confinement. 

The whole experience was wonderful and the trip home was pure fun.  The Good Deal Bus really is a delight to drive – in town, winding back roads, downhill, uphill, interstate.  And it's comfortable in a way that a car just is not.  I didn’t really expect that.   

My next trip may start next week.  I have a cousin who lives in north Alabama I want to see.  She and I have been promising ourselves a nice long visit since about 1972.   After that, my tentative plan is to wind my way southward toward home with detours to a state park or two. 
After so many years of intense work-related focus, I feel liberated by the absence of concrete plans.  Turns out, stating "my next trip may start ...." is not a sign of weakness.  I’m developing an aversion to commitment that I consider healthy and long overdue.  

At any rate, I can’t wait to get back on the road! 

P.S. some of you have requested more interior photos so check out The Good Deal Bus link up top.  I'll post them there.







27 comments:

  1. An excellent first trip. I wish you many more like it.

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  2. What a nice cozy evening shot out the window. Looks perfect...safe travels to Alabama!

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  3. Yay, you went camping in The Good Deal Bus!! How exciting! My alam goes off sometimes too when I cook. I guess no one else around me cares because NO one has ever ran to my aide! ;-)
    If you don't, use the vent hood while cooking. That helps draw out the moisture & smokeys. But I do have to pull my battery sometimes if I want a quiet cooking experience. Looking forward to more adventures from you! Again -- YAY!

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  4. It's great that your first trip was a success. I don't think it's going to take you very long to get into the real swing of things. We toyed with visiting FDR State park back in February when we were in the area, but just didn't make it. Safe travels on your next journey.

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  5. Alarm that is, somehow missed hitting the r. And the smoke alarm battery that is.

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  6. So great to see you out there doing what you've wanted for so very long. I'm happy for you!

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    1. Awww, thanks Annie! You and Roxanne are an inspiration.

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  7. Kim
    Glad your adventure went so well. Nice when the weather cooperates.
    If your camping gear from years past are needed there is a Stowaway2 cargo box that fits off hitch that could be helpful.
    When I go to Kissimmee, Florida in Winter for a couple of weeks I take along more stuff to enjoy being out of Roadtrek. It may defeat the "minimalist" concept though.
    Bill G

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    1. Bill,

      I've said that if I ever need to add auxiliary storage, I'll get a bigger rig.

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  8. Smoke alarms can sometimes be a pain in the asparagus. Overall, a fantastic beginning! :)

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    1. Thanks Judy. I'm learning that is the consensus about smoke alarms in RVs. Can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em.

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  9. YAY! I'm glad you missed your usual two conventions. And glad that the GDB is so deeply satisfactory.

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    1. Duckie,

      Thanks for hanging in there with me - you probably wondered if I would ever leave the driveway! You and Annie & people like you made this easier than it would have been otherwise.

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  10. Glad to hear that you found the right rig for you. I don't want to add any exterior storage to the back of my RV, either. But I did add a really good sturdy bike rack. I have a convection/microwave and no range hood the smoke alarm is on the ceiling just a few feet from it and it goes off if I try to use the convection oven. I do not have a stove or range hood.

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  11. Teri,

    I really enjoy cycling and will be tempted to add a bike rack. But I've found that when I rake my bike, I can't use it. Then it's just in the way. But when I don't have it, I desperately want it!

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  12. Great start, especially the fish burger. I love McD's fish burger's!

    I try not to use my vent fan when cooking because it's so darn loud, so I open windows. Then if the fire alarm goes off, I take out the battery. They can be a pain in the neck, but I always put the battery back after cooking, just in case.

    Looks like a really nice campsite! Welcome to "not having to make a decision, never commit." I love it, changing my mind about where I'm going and when.

    The Good Deal Bus sounds like a perfect it. Isn't this fun???

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  13. I just love it when a dream comes true, and it looks like yours finally has -- after a lot of twisty turns along the way.

    Congratulations, and I'm looking forward to following you as you pursue your new freedom on wheels!

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    1. Thanks for the well-wishes, TC. I wish you would do some interior design for me!

      For all of you who haven't visited, check out tinycamper's blog. She has the most beautiful Casita I've ever seen.

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  14. Whooopppeeeee! You're on your way. Do savor every moment of your newfound freedom. Love your travel cabin! Can't wait to read about all your travels to come!

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  15. Thanks Levonne! I bet you are my only Canadian follower. LOL!

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    1. HEY !!! Where do you think I hail from !!?? LOL

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    2. Oh dear, Sassy. I didn't forget about you (I swear), just about your origins.

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  16. Wonderful! First off, my brother lives in Valley, out on Lake Harding! (We have a house in Dadeville AL)..and we've been to the Little Whitehouse. This looks like a great trip, a great rig, a perfect first campground. Maybe part of the quieter park is that the kids are back in school? It all sounds wonderful...so glad you're happy with it all!

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  17. Kimmer ! You wouldn't believe how excited I was reading your post ! I savoured every word ! So glad that everything went smoothly and that you loved every second of it.

    Hope to hook up with you in Q this Winter !

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  18. SOOO happy for you! It's going to be hard to stay home.

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