Slow Gypsy Life of Lynda and Bob travel blog

So long F450

To be truthful our recent whirlwind started when we were leaving Florida; broken slide-outs, blowout repairs, foggy windows, and our thoughts of getting an apartment in Portland, OR. After overcoming that bit of hysteria, we put the rig in “time out” (i.e. storage) and drove to the Baltimore – Washington area in a rental car. We needed a break from truck and trailer!

On Thursday April 14 - or was it the day before? – We were driving down Eisenhower AV in Alexandria, VA when Lynda said, “Turn around, I want to say hello to Don Allen!” We had just passed Don Allen’s Service Center where Lynda had her Toyota serviced for several years, and bought her 1992 Mercedes that she drove until we started our RV journey in November, 2007. Our daughter-in-law Deb still drives it as it approaches 200,000 miles.

Little did we know that this impromptu stop would, as Emeril would say, “knock it up a notch!” Our whirlwind, that is. As Lynda got out of the car, I saw Don’s eyes light up as he called “Lynda!”

As we were updating Don about our adventures, we explained the current plan to park the rig permanently in Southern California and sell/trade the truck for a car. My ideal situation was to find an even trade deal. At issue was finding a vehicle that we both fit into, perhaps a small SUV, our thinking at the moment. Don then responded, “Perhaps, I have just the car for you, a one-owner (little old lady) Mercedes 2003 E320.”

After some further discussion we learned that our truck was worth more than the car, so he would pay some amount of cash to boot; how much would depend on seeing the truck and working a deal with a long-time friend who deals in trucks. The Mercedes was at his place in Maryland, but he would have it driven over the next day if we were interested. Making a trade with someone Lynda trusted implicitly and not having to spend substantial time making the switch later in California was quite attractive, so we agreed to test driving the car the next day.

As I’m sure you have guessed we made a tentative agreement with Don. His statement of the range of what the truck would bring was more than satisfactory and we knew he would abide by his estimate. Now it was a matter of getting the truck to him and arranging to have our rig transported to Jojoba. Using the Internet I arrived at Showroom Transporters and a price of $3395 from Atlanta to Jojoba. They will pick it up on April 27 or 28 (i.e. today or tomorrow) and deliver it to our site on or about May 2. It will be waiting for us when we arrive in late May.

So on Sunday April 17 we drove back to Atlanta with plans to return to Alexandria on Wednesday to close the deal on Thursday morning April 21. This meant removing some more things from the rig for our trip west and arranging for insurance, registration, and plates for the new car.

The next day we went to the storage facility to get the truck title and gather some of our things. We quickly learned that the battery was dead so I hooked up the rig cable to the truck giving us power to open slides etc. Then I got the bright idea to start the generator. We hadn’t run it in over a month. We’ve actually used it only once in three and a half years; but I try to run it once a month to keep it working. We got it originally because we thought we’d need it. Since we never “boondock” we haven’t needed it. What a waste! Oh well, it’s insurance should we ever lose power.

Anyway, when I tried to start the generator we lost power completely; and with two slides partially out. Apparently the power from the truck is not enough to start the generator. This was a defining moment that it was time to end our mobile life. Yes, we’ve had problems with our rig beyond what one might expect, but, as in this case, a number of issues have been caused by our own – mainly mine – ignorance. This has been aggravated, I’m sure, by my total lack of interest to learn about the inner workings of these mechanical devices. As we’ve both said, my toolbox is a telephone. In this immediate circumstance I don’t even have jumper cables; and never owned any! Now what?

Fortuitously, in a few minutes a truck driver for Georgia Power came in with his tractor where he keeps it while off the job. Lynda went over to him and suggested he hitch up our rig and drive it off a cliff somewhere. Instead he brought his personal truck over and jumped our battery. Then he got the generator started after several tries. We were back in business and Lester made our day!

Tuesday morning we were up early and back on the road for Chattanooga. Lynda wanted Beth, our computer expert that we rely on even on the road, to look at some weird happenings with our laptop. We also would try to have lunch with friends Sue and Ron before continuing the trek back to DC. Both planned activities were completed by 2PM, so we were “on the road again” to break up the long drive north.

After overnighting in Wytheville, VA we arrived at Don Allen’s before 2PM. When he completed perusing the truck, we signed the necessary papers and he wrote us a check for $2500 more than I expected. Now that’s how to do business!

That night as planned we stayed at the Marriott Courtyard in Springfield, VA. (Lynda here – the Marriott was on the old site of Blackie’s, where I did ballroom dancing for many years – until they asked us not to return because we didn’t drink enough and intimidated customers who weren’t as talented as our group. Blackie’s now owns the Courtyard and I had a nice chat with the manager, a former manager of Blackie’s DC location, about old times.) We celebrated this significant step in our transition off the RVing road at LaPorta’s Restaurant in Alexandria. It is one of our favorites that we frequented on a regular basis during our time in the area.

It is a family business currently operated by the four middle-aged LaPorta children. Sons Ralph and Phil are best known to us, so we were slightly disappointed when we learned they were both off that night. Fortunately they both dropped in while we were there so we had a chance to have a five or ten minute conversation about our travels. We also learned that brother Doug who greeted us was the restaurant’s Chef. We had not met him before and he told us, “They let me out of the kitchen once a week now!”

I first went to LaPorta’s shortly after it was opened in 1986. One of my early CEO clients had his office in an adjoining building and we often had a lunch meeting there. When Lynda and I got together it became our favorite dining out venue. Whenever we’re in Northern Virginia we make a point to stop in for an excellent meal, and often some good jazz.

Thursday we drove to St. Michaels, MD on the Eastern Shore to see our dear friends Peter and Conni. We had missed seeing them on our last two trips to the area. After the usual good food and conversation, we drove back across the Bay Bridge to spend the night once again with David and Cris.

Father and son watched the Washington Capitals win their series with the New York Rangers that afternoon on TV while Cris studied for her next exam and Lynda visited an old friend, Liz, who was her next door neighbor in Japan 40-some years ago. Liz, now 97, lives in a Senior Complex not too far from the kids. Although becoming frail she is still sound of mind, so they had a nice visit. We all celebrated the Caps victory and our “new” car at an Ethiopian restaurant that evening.

Easter Sunday was our travel day back to Georgia. It’s amazing how much smoother the highways are in a car rather than a truck. Driving is fun again, not work like pulling a rig with a F450 truck. It was an adventure I don’t regret but I doubt I’ll miss it.

This week is about catching up with washing, blogs, etc. and preparing for our home’s departure and our trip to Jacksonville, FL for my high school reunion. This reunion is a variation on a theme since it includes three classes and is not in Miami where our high school is located. Many of the activists in my class have moved north and they argue that the response from those in Miami has been poor. Furthermore, the Chief Organizer, Laura – my HS love – now lives in Jacksonville. Because of her hard work and the likelihood that this may well be the last organized event for the Class of ’54, I look forward to attending. We’ll leave Rick’s on Friday and return Sunday May 1.

Our current plan is to depart for California on May 4 and arrive at Jojoba on May 27 with intervening stops in Columbus, MS, Oklahoma City, Amarillo, TX, Albuquerque, and Scottsdale, AZ. Details will follow as they occur and I have the time to enter them.

So now you are up to date. We look forward to settling down at Jojoba for awhile and getting some substantial writing done on our respective family histories. We are also considering producing a somewhat edited hard copy of our adventure for family, friends, and us. Any thoughts you may have in this regard would be welcomed.

Best regards until next time.

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