Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Me & My Motor Homes

I admitted in an earlier post way back in New Zealand after my first experience in a motor home, that I have always dreamed of owning one.  I’m infatuated with them, to say the least.  When I was little I thought I would make my arts and crafts and travel all around in my motor home to the summer craft fairs selling my work.  The arts and crafts part of that dream I came true.  When I was about 13 I started making and selling my crafts.  My mom taught me how to sew and I started making and selling hair scrunchies (yes, remember that fad?).  I sold them everywhere: to friends, local stores,… My younger brother Jeff was my “representative” and took a catalog around with him to school with all the different fabric samples.  After that, I got into FIMO, then jewelry, ceramics, then jewelry again……But up until now, I hadn’t lived the motor home part of that dream.

In my previous life (pre-road bike) I was always making something....I loved jewelry design

Now I see the sunny skies and I can't be indoors!  Hope to go back to jewelry making some time soon....

I don’t know if I find them or they find me, but I’ve loved my experiences with motor homes on my trip. You see, about 90% (more like 95%) of the people who drive motor homes are retired, older couples.  Retired couples are incredibly pleasant, at least the ones who drive motor homes.  They are usually traveling on the road for months on end, been all around The States, enjoy sharing their experiences with others, and don’t have a worry in the world or any obligation that makes them rush from here to there.  That’s pretty much my life too right now.  Newt, my first recent motor home experience, fits into this category, although I met him not knowing he actually had a motor home.

Newt and I hiking in Arches National Park

I wanted to see Arches National Park, but wasn’t up for riding out and back over steep climbs.  I had had a couple of long hard days, and the idea of hiking and the idea of hitching a ride in and riding out sounded more appealing.  The park ranger didn’t advise hitch hiking obviously, but very seldom do I take their advice to heart!  I plopped myself, and my bike, right outside the visitor center entrance.  I was determined to wave down the first pick-up truck I came across.  I have to laugh looking back at this experience now.  I hadn’t been on the side of the road two minutes when I saw a huge black pick-up driving up.  I waved my hands frantically, out of desperation, as if there was an emergency.  I remember the man driving in the cab put his arms up in the air as if to say, “What the heck girl,…are you talking to me??!?? Are you trying to flag me down?”  You see, I wasn’t going to take no for an answer.  I wasn’t going to stand on the side of the road in the heat longer than necessary.  He rolled down the window and I asked him if he was going back into the park.  Just like that, he agreed to take me.  We put my bike in the back of his truck, with all my bags, and headed into Arches.

Here's his fifth wheel, truck, and my bike
I mentioned Newt in an earlier post. I was delighted to meet him.  He told me a bit about himself and mentioned that he had a fifth wheeler back at an RV park in Moab.  A fifth wheeler, ……now that was a term I didn’t know in the world of motor homes.  I’m a curious person, and I fired away with all sorts of questions for Newt about his fifth wheeler.  After our afternoon together, I felt like I could almost call myself an expert.  I learned about fifth wheels to class one motor homes, slides, the Good Sam discount parks, and all the essentials for hooking up such a vehicle.  After Arches, I went to see his motor home at the RV park, an impressive work of art! 

It's actually a pull-out sofa, but just normal it's wider than my tent

I sort of took over with all my bags, but it's a very spacious motor home

It just so happened that Newt was headed to Pagosa Springs, then up to Estes, Colorado, towns that were also on my itinerary and he invited me to stay with him.  I would have been happy pitching my tent outside the motor home, but he said RV parks really frown upon that.  Therefore, when I got to Pagosa, I found Newt at the Riverside RV park and I spent the night on his sofa, just like I did with Linda and Gary in Death Valley.  Both sofas are actually wider than my tent, so they were quite comfy for me.  Newt and I both love a good wheat beer and managed to find a great restaurant in town with microbrews on tap, just like we did in Moab.  We even ordered the same beer, to accompany our meals; he got pasta and I tried my first half stack of baby back BBQ ribs. Delicious!!!

Why did I wait so long to discover BBQ ribs, yummm!!!!

He had an actual book version of the USA/Canada road atlas, how cool!
I forgot to mention that motor home owners and me also have something else in common.  We both love looking at maps!  It provides us with hours of entertainment.  We talk about roads, passes, elevation, the scenery, the services along the roads, you name it; maps fascinate us!  Newt and I spent a good deal of time talking about different route possibilities for my trip. One of the first big trips he and his partner took in their fifth wheel was up to Alaska.  I asked him for the low down on heading up through Canada, and I hate to say he planted the idea in my head about possibly riding all the way up to Alaska……I’ll keep you posted on that route option!

First class breakfast in a first class vehicle

The next morning he made me French toast and sausage before I set off and headed to New Mexico.  If all goes well, I’ll meet Newt again in Estes, Colorado.  He’s going to watch his grand daughter’s softball tournament and I’m headed up there after my detour to New Mexico.  I do hope our dates coincide, he’s great company for me.  He’s done a ton of hiking in The Rocky Mountain National Park and the wheat beer we had was from a brewing company in Brekenridge, which is right next door!

Stephan and Marian at Spruce Tree, Mesa Verde

Remember how I said 95% of the people who drive motor homes are older retired couples, well the 5% that is left over are tourists on vacation, usually foreigners who are doing the “Cruise America” motor home deal.  This was the case for my second recent motor home encounter.  Again, I wanted to see Mesa Verde, but the idea of cycling up and down and all around was exhausting.  Once again the park ranger tried to deter me by threatened me by saying “If a law enforcement officer sees you hitch hiking in the park, they will arrest you!”  Well, for me, that just meant hurry up and find someone to ride up with!  The first people I asked were a little sketched out by picking up a young woman hitch hiker.  They declined, and thankfully because then I asked Stephan and Marian.   They looked like a nice young couple and sounded like they were talking German.  They didn’t even hesitate to say yes.  My bike was back at the visitor center, so this time I only needed a ride.  I thought I was just going to hop in a small car, probably a Volkswagen or something, but no, they walked me up to a motor home, and not just any motor home, a HUGE 31 foot motor home!

Yes, it is really that big!  31 feet

What a riot! These guys had rented the biggest rig possible to travel around Colorado.  I sat at the table and talked with them while Stephan drove.  They told me the story behind the big motor home rental.  Last summer they were also over in The States and rented a motor home, but it was so small and the windshield wasn’t great for viewing, so this time they decided to go “ A lo grande!”  They had a good laugh when they picked it up as well, not really knowing just how big a 31-foot motor home would be!  It was indeed perfect for their style of traveling.  They had total freedom to stay the night wherever they wanted, prepare meals, and have some privacy.  Just like I’m infatuated with motor homes, Stephan and Marian are in love with The United States.  They’ve done so many tours out west; it was great to pick their brain again about my route.  In between sight seeing in Mesa Verde, Marian and I shared the front seat (which was also enormous, plenty big for both our buns) and looked over the Colorado map and their German tour guide of the western states.  They wanted to make it all the way up to Mt. Rushmore, and gave me the idea that it might be a neat alternative route to go to Yellowstone.  They had traveled all throughout Wyoming a few years back and told me some pointers there for places to visit.

The seats, wide enough for two bums.  Stephan felt like he was driving a bus.

Stephan and Marian were like a breathe of fresh air and just as pleasant as Newt.  We traveled all around Mesa Verde for the middle of the day.  I don’t know if it’s the motor home connection, passion to travel, or our open-minded and adventurous spirit, but it felt like we were lifelong friends.  I don’t think I will see these two again, but they will give me a review after completing their route in time for me to decide if this is something I should also do!

Counting the motor home trailer from New Zealand, staying with Gary and Linda in theirs in Death Valley, Newt’s fifth wheel, and Stephan and Marian’s motor home,….I’m on a roll.  I might never own a motor home myself, but I sure am having some great experiences in other people’s motor homes that help fulfill my childhood dream! Who would of thought that would happen on a bike trip!


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