Running From Storms
Embracing the leaks
Storms have been a constant theme of my RV life journey--the only reason I ever hit the road was thanks to one, in fact.
In September of 2016, I was doing a really great job of talking myself out of leaving home. I kept finding project after project to delay my leaving. Replacing the floors took longer than planned; reupholstering was a huuuge pain; and then I found out my upper bed area was leaking (as literally ALL old Class Cs do,) and needed to either be sealed up or have the entire window replaced and closed in.
Basically, I was finding excuses to stay put, left, right, and center.
My goal to leave in July turned into August, and then September. Finally, I had to draw a line in the sand. I realized I would literally never be ready to leave--the longer I stayed, the more things would break, and I could spend the rest of my life fixing and renovating this 20 year old RV.
Remember in the Oregon Trail computer game from the 90s where you have to leave Independence, Missouri at the exact right time, or risk running into snow if you leave too soon, or if you push out too late? It was basically that. I knew if I didn't leave home by September, I'd run into winter weather in every state I wanted to visit.
Then, in early September, with my "final final" date of September 14th fast approaching, Hurricane Hermine hit my hometown. And as she always does, Mother Nature stepped into the equation in a big way. My dad and I "hunkered down" in his house and sat in the dark as the wind whipped around the house. We lost power for a week, heard trees snapping in the wind all around us, but somehow the RV didn't tip over or get crushed by any falling branches.
A night of lost power turned into 3, and then 5, and then a week. It was a few days before the neighbors and the city could get the fallen trees around our house cleared, so we were literally trapped in our AC-less house with our food gradually going bad as we ran out of ice. Each morning I'd go out to a very-leaky but otherwise fine RV and fire up the gas stove, which became a godsend that week, to boil water for coffee.
Eventually, once we could get out of the neighborhood, we drove into town to the Public Library which had opened their doors as a shelter and phone charging station, and I spent several afternoons camped out in their AC, sitting on the floor and talking to people I never would have talked to or met in my normal life. The general storm aftermath, but specifically the communal panic over dead cell phones, made everyone come together that week.
Once the worst of the debris was cleared and power was starting to come back on around town, we realized that a massive tree had crashed down at the base of the yard, splitting me and my sister's childhood treehouse right in half. The tree itself it was built it had been split by a flash of lighting, as cleanly as though someone had taken a giant ax and halfed the tree in two.
This treehouse had been our primary fort and hangout spot my entire childhood, and the surrounding area had been something of an encampment and central spot for the neighborhood kids. Countless hours were logged down in those woods, which were diced up into roads, plots of lands, one for each kid, each with their own street number we "wrote" with twigs laid into the dirt.
Now, I scan my surroundings for signs from the universe like most people search for wifi networks, but seeing that symbol of my childhood split right down the middle, while I was living in my childhood home for the first time as an adult, was one big sign to me--it was time to pull the plug and get gone. That chapter of my life, my childhood and security and comfort of living in my hometown, was done, and Mother Nature wasn't mincing words to let me know.
I left my storm-battered hometown that week, pretty much as soon as the roads were cleared, leaky, not-quite-ready RV and all. I would spent the next few weeks, the worst of Hurricane season in the South, zig-zagging up through Savannah, Charleston, and Charlotte, with a second hurricane on my heels, chasing me around the South and dictating my route.
So it's fitting, almost 2 years later, as I drive back home to Florida, to once again move back home (at least for now), that another storm should dictate my route.
It's not even the start of hurricane season yet--not for another few days--but Mother Nature decided to say screw the rules, and kick this party off early, and I'm almost honored.
My RV life thus far has been book-ended by storms, whether of the snow or hurricane variety, reminding me with every single leg of the journey that my plans are laughable, my sheet of notebook paper on which I carefully wrote out my route would be better used to mop up the water still leaking in after each rain, and that at the end of the day, we're all at the mercy of something much bigger than us.
All you can do is put another layer of duct tape and silicone sealant on your leaky windows, learn to relish the mugginess, the mud, and the detours, and keep on trucking.
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