Expensive clothes, heads down, walking fast, face in phone. Jewelry, watches and foreign faces avoiding eye contact. My "good morning" is met with a quiet grunt. In the bathroom I'm surprised to find toilet seats and you're now allowed to flush the paper. The bar serves stronger beers than my rapidly buzzing brain is accustomed.
I'm feeling culture shock, or perhaps it's reintegration shock. It's been five months since I was on U.S. soil and I'm having to remind myself to respond with "yes" instead of "si."
Customs inspections and searching for my connecting flight is my mission. I answered "no" to the question of bringing food with me from a foreign country, then immidiately remembered I had some leftover tacos in my bag that I was saving for later. I threw them in the nearest trash can to hide my accidental smugglings. When I walked through the scanner I was asked what was in my back pocket.
When I tried to grab my carry-on it was being searched because I forgot about that bottle of water.
Don't I remember anything? Luckily the agent stamping my passport only asked my final destination and didn't want to know details of my return plans. Surely the true story is far too outlandish to save me from a cavity search.
My connecting flight was caught and before I knew it I was offloading in Norfolk, Virginia. With no cell phone and the internet in the airport refusing to work, I was wondering how on earth I was going to find my ride. Then there she was...
Enter: Deborah Crosbie, Jacqui's one and only mother.
Now you may very well be wondering what on earth I'm doing getting picked up by Jacqui's mom without a Jacqui next to me. Well, Mrs Deborah and her husband Arthur (aka Butch) are working hard towards their dream of retirement and life on the road. Being that I know a thing or two about what NOT to do when buying an RV, they asked if they could fly me out to help inspect, guide and drive their hopeful new home.
The following morning things went smooth. The vehicle inspection came back with thumbs-up. Our walk-through yielded the same results. The test-drive was more positive. That big-boy was getting purchased which meant we had to drive it from Virginia to Hamilton, Massechussetts. Road trip!
For a couple of days we pushed the 31ft monster of a house on wheels hard to close the gap with home. With power-steering, cruise control, air-conditioning, paved roads and more than enough power in a giant V10 motor, it was far smoother-sailing than a certain little rig still parked in Mexico has yet to offer.
A few thousand miles away a certain girly was working hard in that very van fighting Mexican Mosquitos and watching storms pass by. Jacqui was holding down base, keeping in contact with the people trying to hunt us a motor, upgrading our blog, building the foundation of her own company and reading messages of her parents comical new-to-RVing driving arguments relayed by me. It's adorable to watch the family grow to road-hardened adults.
Before we finally made it back to Hamilton we'd already done an entry-level Camping World shopping spree and I taught the family, from a safe distance, the least pleasant part of owning an RV: Emptying the black-water tank.
It's really inspiring to feed off the excitement and learning of a couple new to the road. Using what I've learned and researched we were fast-tracking Deb and Butch into making the right purchases to make sure they were going to be ready to hit the road full time. Mere weeks prior Deb and Butch had put their house up for sale, it sold in two minutes.
They're purging belongings, finishing housing inspections, preparing to live in a manner they have zero experience with, finishing out the last few weeks of work and altogether just preparing their minds for the giant mental and physical transition that is about to take place. It reminds me all too well of when Jacqui and I took off in the Dolphin.
In a mind-numbingly fast paced blur a million things will fall into place, some easily, others forcefully. In the blink of an eye they'll hand over their keys to their dwelling with a foundation, walk to their house on wheels and say to themselves, "Uh....where to now?"
The only thing they'll know for sure is that they can't stay where they're at because the driveway they are parked in will no longer be theirs. If on their day of departure they were graced with enough time to do some practice camping runs in their new home, they might take off and successfully make their rig road-worthy. If not there is a good chance they will find a few things that didn't get put away properly when they come to the first stop light. The first few days they'll probably feel like everything is more expensive than they imagined as gas, food and camping prices start adding up. But hopefully they will keep a level head though all this and understand that as you climb up that steep learning curve of life on the road, your frugality will flourish.
Then again, maybe their first few days will be far different than the experiences Jacqui and I had. I certainly hope to help them avoid a few lessons.
Currently I'm trying to install whatever gizmos I think will make their life on the road easier and feed advice for the new experiences ahead. All I know is that there has been some very happy and very excited faces while new things for the new life keep rolling in.
As for Jacqui and I things are as random as you could ever expect from us. After a few days of hanging in Boston, Jacqui flew out as well. There is no sense in having her sit in Mexico for an unknown amount of time while we try to answer the never ending question of what to do with the PennyWagon. On the bright side, Mama-Deb gets to have her daughter back home for a bit while they make the fully nomadic life transition.
The new home!
Jacqui's flight back
Butch's 75th birthday party and farewell to the soon to be travelers
Exploring Downtown Boston
Taking advantage of easy American shopping to gear up and get a few things for the PennyWagon