Friday, April 3, 2009
Introducing the Good Ship Millennium Parakeet
"I want to shake the dust of this one horse town. I want to explore the world. I want to watch TV in a different time zone. I want to visit the strange exotic malls...I want to live, Marge! Won't you let me live?"
Lately, I've been thinking a lot about the economy and the general state of things in the world and my expected remaining decades on this planet and I've come to several conclusions.
1. First, as everybody with half a brain already knows, the economy is in the crapper. My retirement savings and stocks have gone south like everybody else's and I see little reason to invest good money after bad.
2.Global warming is here whatever the cause and the ability to 'get outa Dodge' should a hurricane be blowin' in our neck of the woods ain't a bad idea. Like Homer, I too am bored with the same old same old around me even though my home town is a pretty good place to park.
The road as yet unexplored beckons. I've decided that I need some new adventures--before my knees and hips get too creaky to go.
3. Yes my little bloggers, now that my parents are gone and my children are grown and having babies of their own I'm starting to feel, emotionally at least, like no spring chicken. I am still healthy and strong but am a grandmother after all, twice over as of the birth of Bailey Lynne last week. Three tines over since Stephen and Casey let me be a sort of grandparent to the wonderful Gavin. That's totally fantastic and I am enjoying every moment of my Nan Nan state, even if it seems impossible that I can be as old as my drivers licence says. I look in the mirror and still see my ten year old face smiling back at me but in the truth is revealed in photos: I am, uh, mature. In the past year or so one friend not too much older than me died of cancer, another succumbed to Alzheimer's disease and is now unable to live independently, another was diagnosed with Leukemia...well the list could continue...but the point is that life is fragile and time is not a friend. So, my conclusion is that delaying fun new experiences is probably not a good idea. Life and death can get in the way.
So, all this is leading me into my real story. Bear with me.
Several week ends ago we drove to the beach. It felt so good to be out of town even for a few hours that it reminded me that I haven't travelled in a long long time. Since 9-11 I have not been able to force myself onto a commercial airplane. I don't like flying in those big uncomfortable tin buckets anyway. That leaves trains, boats, and automobiles. I prefer dry ground. That leaves trains and cars. Trains don't do it for me. I get over fatigued and squirmy sitting still in cars on long trips. I don't really enjoy sleeping in hotels and I hate the bother of packing suitcases. And most importantly, I don't like leaving my dogs behind. Danny hates commercial flying and he also doesn't like being away from the dogs. Still, we both agreed we'd like to do some traveling. Danny suggested a motor home. We could take the dogs. I could move around instead of sitting still. "Well, maybe some day," I said. Didn't think much more about it.
But, the wanderlust continued. We drove to Montverde for a friend's St Patrick's day party. On the way we passed several RV sales lots. "Maybe we should look at some one week end," said I.
"How much would one cost?" Danny replied that a used one would be as much as a luxury car...not a Ferrari or Bentley (unless you are shopping for the behemoth mega homes on wheels which do indeed cost as much as a house but you really could live in). Would cost as much as a good Lexus or BMW. "Hm," I said, thinking that I still had some money left over from the sale of my late mother's house that I hadn't decided whether to invest yet or not. "That might be possible."
So last week end, we we're looking for something to do. No movies we wanted to blow thirty bucks on, nothing we needed at the mall or IKEA, it was rainy which ruled out beach or theme park, so I said, "Lets go look at motor homes." There is a new dealer near home. I'd never been inside a motor home. I happily explored several dozens for several hours. Looked a prices, weighed benefits, thought of possibilities. Like I said, some of these really big babies have granite kitchens and bathtubs and are totally posh. The big babies were out of the question, of course since I am not a rich athlete or rock star but were really fun to see. If you wanted to fork over several hundred K on one you couldn't care about nonexistent gas mileage or that you'd have to tow a car for getting around town once you get where you are going. But I guess if I was a rock star I'd ride around in limos with security guys anyway.
The ones that are essentially trailers that have to be pulled by trucks are surprisingly posh and much less expensive. One actually had a working fireplace. The downside to these is that you have to have a big powerful truck (which we don't) and nobody can ride in the trailer part while it is on the road. Wouldn't work for us or the doggies.
But then, there she was, the Millennium Parakeet. That's not her real name of course. She is really a pre-owned Winnebago View, c class Motor Home, a twenty four foot little beauty with a Mercedes diesel engine built on a Dodge Sprinter chassis. She is only the size of a Fed Ex or UPS truck which means she can be parked in the average parking lot or on the street. No extra tolls. Fifteen to twenty miles to the gallon. One slide out. A complete galley kitchen with microwave, convection oven, gas cook top, fridge and freezer, folding dining table and booth that becomes a bed. Another sofa bed and a bunk over the drivers cab. A full bath with shower. A generator of course. Small TV built in over the dining table. Cherry wood cabinetry. Navy blue upholstery that will stand up to the Mutley Crew. She was not to big, not too small, just right for us since we are not large people.
As Mark Twain said, "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the things you did. So, throw off the bowlines. Sail away from safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in you sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." My usual habit is extreme conservatism. Save the money for disaster. Invest the money. Not this time. I invested most of my inheritance and, well, you know how well that's gone. Sigh. I digress. I went home, calculated my cash holdings, decided what was a reasonable down payment and a reasonable monthly payment and what term would be acceptable.
It took me four days of emailing and phone calls and bargaining. I refused to budge on my deposit or payment or loan term. The salesman came down on the price enough that the monthly payment including warranty and taxes was exactly one dollar over my requirement. I decided that was reasonable. Parakeet became my little bird, on paper at least, Wednesday night just before the art festival wrap up meeting. She's being detailed and we pick her up next Wednesday after an operations class.
The insurance guy told me that I can go anywhere except Baja Mexico. Too dangerous. I'm not going there anyway without Vin Diesel and Jason Bourne. The accountant told me the sales tax and loan interest are deduct able. Danny said the diesel engine can be converted to burn bio fuel. I said, "But doesn't that stink?" He said, "Yeah, like McDonald's french fries oil." I don't think so, folks. Not unless things get a whole lot worse on old Ma Earth.
Anyway, the maiden voyage will be soon. I have pledged to myself that I will write a Blog, poem, essay, short story, cooking on the road recipe, or travel tips with dogs on each and every trip. Maybe a book there someday. There's a whole subculture of RV afficionados out there to read it. Once, long ago, when I really was young, in a galaxy far away, I drove zippy little sports cars. Now I shall drive slowly and carefully in a Winnebago.
"There are many spokes on the wheel of life. We're here to explore new possibilities." --Ray Charles
Stay tuned for my second upcoming Blog, Dan Dan and Nan Nan which will feature the voyages of the Millennium Parakeet (Star Wars fans will get the name), her continuing mission to explore strange new places, to seek out new fun, to boldly go where we have never gone before.
Live long and prosper.