I suspect that an outsider judging my life from social media posts would surmise that I live a grand life of luxury. I suspect even some of my friends – and maybe even family – aren’t real clear on exactly how I travel. They just know that I do a lot of it. So on a recent 250 mile drive with unvarying scenery I got to thinking maybe I should do a “day in the life” kinda thing. So here it is:
Monday May 25th, 2015. (It just happens to be Memorial Day, but could be any day on the road for me when my goal is just getting from one place to another.)
4am: Because 4 in the morning is an awesome and mystical time that’s where we will start the day. Some sound or sensation wakes me from a deep slumber. Maybe it’s a truck passing by, or maybe a limb has fallen asleep. No matter the interruption, I glance at my phone to see the time and decide it’s time to flip over. No small feat in the back seat of the Zoom Zoom – thankfully there are the grab bars which I have come to rely on for exactly this purpose (and others to be detailed later!). I’m in the back seat of the car on the mattress I purchased for exactly this purpose – it extends the back seat into a twin size bed. I have to look at the clock because the blackout curtains black out everything!
06:30: Time to get up. Any later and I’m wasting daylight. There’s also the noise and traffic that picks up with early morning traffic. I shove the sleeping bag back into the stuff sack (you really should make your bed everyday, right?) and reach for my clothes. The grab bar comes in handy once again as I need to shift around and get dressed. A quick peek through the curtain reveals no super close cars or lot attendants, so I methodically take down the curtains, put on my shoes and scoot out of the rear passenger door with my toiletry bag and coffee mug in hand.
After a quick splash of water, teeth brushing, and coffee getting, I hit the road for the next destination. Today’s target is Reno. Not for any reason except there’s an REI and I need to return a thing and since it’s their annual sale, I may as well do a little shopping!
09:30: Getting hungry, I stop at a rest stop and plunder the mobile pantry. Since there’s no rush and I’m a little tired of the usual boiled eggs and peanut butter crackers, I decide to make Rest Stop Tuna Salad (I just came up with that name – complete Road Trip cookbook in the works!) The ingredients are mostly basic staples I pre-purchased before hitting the road and the fresh stuff has been kept mildly cool in a crappy collapsible cooler with frozen drinks and those blue ice blocks. I learned early on not to buy stuff that would actually spoil if not kept cool.
Podcasts help the miles pass by. I like music, but get tired of changing the radio station every fifteen minutes. The BeyondPod app and a bluetooth JBL speaker make the Moth Storytellers sound like they are in the car with me! Audio books are good too, but I don’t have one downloaded for this trip. Historical Markers, Points of Interest, and Scenic Views are entertaining and give me a chance to stretch the legs or change layers.
1:00: Finally get into Reno and find the REI. Spend way too much time and cash there, but rationalize that it was all stuff I would have bought sometime in the next month anyway, so at least I saved a little since it was on sale!
3:00: I had already decided that today was a “down day” with no touristy things on tap so with Mom’s help, I made my way to a local eatery offering happy hour and free wifi and fired up the laptop. It’s not easy to find places to just sit and chill and get some writing or trip planning done without breaking the bank or the waistline. Coffee shops are okay, but often too crowded and noisy. Libraries are good – but usually you can’t eat or drink or make phone calls. I lucked out with this place. it was mid-afternoon with only a few patrons, the hostess was super nice and suggested a seat near a power outlet, and they had fairly healthy bar snacks (olives, roasted chicpeas, etc.) Three hours, two glasses of wine, and a coffee later it was time to move on.
6:00: I knew I needed to do laundry in the next day or two and since it was too early to turn in but I wasn’t hungry for dinner and didn’t really feel like finding anything entertaining to do, I sought a landromat. JACKPOT! Duds n Suds was a terrific find. Reasonably priced washers, great priced beer, free wifi and in a great (non-sketchy) location.
7:30: Time to scope out the over-nighting situation. A Pilot Travel Center outside of town does the trick. The closer-in ones were too small and too busy and had questionable types hanging around. This one isn’t so bad. Most travel centers have showers for “rent” but it also isn’t unusual to see people brushing teeth in the bathroom or changing clothes, etc. I skipped the showers this time since I’d scored a .75 cent/4 minute shower at a campground at Crater Lake the day before. (again – a hole ‘nuther post about the places I’ve showered could happen!)
8:30: Once happy with the parking spot, the sun visor goes in the front window, and I make quick work of hanging the blackout curtains in the rear side windows. Crack the front windows just enough to allow air to circulate but not enough to let rain (or arms!) in, then I scoot into the back seat (those grab bars again!) and secure the blackout curtain on the rear window. The shoes have a place, the phone and keys have place, and earrings and jewelry have a place.
I pull out the sleeping bag, adjust the pillows and reach for my book and headlamp (right where I left them!) and settle in. It doesn’t take long to adjust to the noise – the rhythm of the trucks and cars pulling in and out, the train, the highway. And I’ve parked where there really shouldn’t be too much foot traffic passing by. With any luck, it’ll be a good night of sleep!
It isn’t for everyone – or anyone over 5’1″ tall or claustrophobic, but it really isn’t bad. Just unconventional in most circles. It’s like sleeping in a hardened tent. Or having a tiny home that moves. I’ve got a pantry (front floorboard), a desk (passenger seat), a bedroom (back seat), and a closet – the trunk. Just like any home – you have to keep it maintained and tidy. Being in such a small space means putting things back where they belong or else its complete chaos within 100 miles.