Part 17: 42 States

I left my mom’s house in the middle of January; and it’s been a wild ride. The trip west was thankfully mostly uneventful. At least, I didn’t break down again. Not going west, anyway. (More about that later.)

It was really nice to be back on the road again, especially being parked mostly for the last couple of months – after a month with my sister and almost 6 weeks with my mom. I mostly stayed at stores and truck stops on the way west – if I am in a hurry and there aren’t any conveniently-located Harvest Hosts or campgrounds, it’s usually just easier to stay someplace right off of the freeway. So that’s what I mostly did as I made my way west; with a few exceptions. The first night, I made it to Chattanooga, and the next day I drove southwest through Alabama and into Mississippi.

My second night, I stayed at Turkey Creek Water Park, a lovely lake campground in Decatur, Mississippi, which was very nice and peaceful, even if it was just for one night. If I had had the time, I could have stayed there for a week.

The next night, I was in New Orleans, so I stayed at a cool Harvest Host that’s right off of the freeway – Faubourg Brewing. It’s a huge facility that allows overnight parking for RVs whether or not they are part of the Harvest Hosts program.

It was a great stop. They checked Covid vaccine cards (unlike pretty much everywhere else in the South), so I felt safe drinking indoors, and they had lots of empty space, both in the RV lot and in the tasting room. I had a nice evening, drinking and enjoying the view.

My sister still lives in Houston, but since I left her house in November, I had wanted to stop at a restaurant near the coast. There was a Texas travel magazine at her house that I picked up at some point – it had a feature on the Schooner Restaurant in Nederland, where they specialize in barbequed crabs.

Basically, these crabs have haunted my dreams ever since I read about them. I decided to stop in Nederland for the night – camping at a Wal-Mart parking lot across the street from The Schooner – then I would drive the short two hours to my sister’s, so I could spend the day and the night with her and my brother-in-law and get on the road again early the next morning.

The crabs (and blackened trout, hush puppies, and deviled crab) at the Schooner were just awesome. It was totally worth going out of my way to taste them and enjoy the Gulf Coast.

The rest of my trip west was uneventful – no bad weather, crazy people, or mechanical troubles.

I made it to San Diego on a Thursday, with doctor’s appointments Friday and all of the next week, interrupted by a day of fun with my brother at the Peanuts Festival at Knott’s Berry Farm.

We had an awesome time, but after all that driving, then doctors, and a theme park, I was exhausted.

I laid low for the next few days, resting and getting some of my medical tests out of the way. The department that handles my bone scans (I get full-body bone scans, brain MRIs and abdominal CT scans every three months or so) was super backed up, so even though it was barely February, I couldn’t schedule my scan until March 1st.

I decided to take it easy on Dolly as well, especially with gas prices on the west coast flirting with $6 per gallon. I spent a couple of weeks hanging out on the beach in my beloved OB, and seeing other friends around town.

I also planned to go north for a week or so to Oxnard to see my brother and my sweet kitty Janis.

It was a great plan, but fate had other ideas.

Dolly broke down again on the way, leaving me stranded on the side of the 405 for hours while I waited for a tow truck. I managed to get a tow- finally –

… and spent the night in a CVS parking lot, then Dolly started up just fine in the morning and I drove the rest of the way to my brother’s house.

It was so great to see Janis again.

I miss her so much, but it’s good to know she’s happy and really spoiled. She spends most of her day chasing a patch of sunlight across the living room.

My stepbrother was also in town for work and had free tickets to a comedy show, so my brother and I decided to join him. We had a fun night; the comedians were funny, and we had good food and cocktails.

Forty-two states, you guys. Almost 50,000 miles.

Almost two years traversing the country during a pandemic. Mostly using cloth masks.

I was in red states, with most people refusing to wear a mask or get vaccinated, when the Deltra variant was spreading.

I was on the road for months before there was even a vaccine or hope for one.

In all that time, I never got Covid.

Back in California, they lifted the mask mandate. Two days later I went to a club with my brothers and two of us got it.

It was really weird the way it hit us, too.

We are pretty sure we got it at the comedy club on a Saturday night. On Monday, my brother had a fever and cold symptoms, then tested positive using a home test in the morning. He stayed isolated (luckily, they live in a big house). Everyone else got tested and were all negative, for days. Sunday rolls around – a full 8 days after exposure – and my nephew’s fiancée flies in from Canada. I got to meet her, and we all enjoyed a big dinner, including my brother’s elderly mother-in-law. About two hours later, I get extreme chills, a fever, and body aches. Monday morning, I tested positive, so I isolated in my RV.

I was in the Oxnard/Ventura for over a week before I tested positive, waiting to hear from a guy in Riverside who supposedly could get the part to fix my fridge. There seems to be no rhyme or reason for why the breakdowns happen, and Dolly always starts up again and runs just fine afterwards. I guess this is just going to have to be part of the adventure- I never know when I’ll just be stuck and my plans will be disrupted because Dolly wasn’t feeling like it. (That fridge guy has stopped answering his phone, too.)

I stayed isolated a block from my brother’s house until I felt better, then I headed south to San Diego. I was still worried Dolly would swoon again, so I didn’t go far the first night. I was lucky enough to get a spot at Leo Carillo State Park, which was amazing.

It’s normally next to impossible to get a reservation there because it’s literally on the beach in Malibu, but it had been closed due to flooding, and I think most people didn’t realize it had reopened.

I spent a lovely night there – practically in a canyon, just steps from the beach. I could have spent a few more days there, but I was still super sleepy even after my fever and other symptoms went away. I haven’t had that type of exhaustion since I had chemotherapy! I was so sleepy, I barely got to enjoy my surroundings at Leo Carillo.

I made it back to Ocean Beach, but I stayed isolated – except for masked trips to get groceries – until I tested negative on the home test.

I had to postpone an already-late bone scan and an MRI on the lump on my wrist because I was sick, and I just got them all done. I need to meet with an orthopedic surgeon to see if surgery is necessary. In the meantime, I am enjoying parking on the beach and being able to hang out in Ocean Beach like I used to.

As you can see, I have been parking on the street in OB. San Diego allows people to sleep in their vehicles, provided they are moved at least every 72 hours. I never stay in one spot for more than 48 hours (usually just for one night), and I am always clean, quiet and respectful. I don’t leave trash behind or disturb the neighborhood. And for weeks, I haven’t had a single problem.

Last night I was parked in OB, and after I turned out the light to sleep, I heard yelling. Apparently, it was the guy whose house I had parked in front of, and he was yelling “Move on, Tennessee!” and “You can’t camp in my fuckin front yard!” I also heard weird banging noises. I was parked on a public street, and I had done nothing to disturb or offend this man. I didn’t know what he would do, so I just stayed still and went to sleep. In the morning, I discovered that the banging noises I heard were him chucking half-full water bottles at my RV in the middle of the night.

Needless to say, I got out of there.

I think he was upset by my Tennessee plates – maybe I need to put a big OB bumper sticker on my RV so people know I live here.

For the record, I registered Dolly in Tennessee, at my mom’s house, and under both of our names, because I am going to die soon, and I don’t want my mom to have to deal with a probate court to get my stuff. This way all she has to do is send the county clerk a copy of my death certificate and they take my name off of the registration.

Regardless, it seems to be pissing people off. As soon as I had moved away from this horrible angry person, I managed to find another. I was moving to a slightly different part of OB to see my friend. I found a great spot near a church and on a wide, empty street. It looked great.

Not even ten minutes after I parked, I got this lady going nuts on me.

Now, San Diego has legalized sleeping in your vehicle, and any laws that deal with oversized vehicles do not apply to me (definition per law of oversized is over 27 feet long AND 7 feet tall, and Dolly is only 22 feet long). Also, since it was morning, she had no way of knowing if I was camping there or not. It’s legal to park there, but this old hag decided that it wasn’t going to happen in her neighborhood.

After she threatened me, I stayed on hold with the San Diego Police non-emergency line for 30 minutes, until she came back and started harassing me again. Then, I called 911, told the dispatcher someone was harassing and threatening me, and … the cops never showed. After about 20 minutes the old lady gave up and went home; I waited a little longer but clearly this wasn’t a priority for any police, so I moved.

This just happened a few hours ago, and I am starting to feel kinda anxious. Weeks with no problem – and two people going off on me in less than 24 hours – is making me feel kind of weird. But there’s not a lot of other options that don’t cost a ton of money.

My birthday is coming up on April 1, and my mom will probably be coming out here to join me for it. I’d like to go back to Paso Robles for my big day, but the way gas prices are right now, maybe staying close to home is a better idea. Stay tuned to see where we end up!

Follow me on social media for updates, and I’ll see you all out there on the road!

Are you enjoying this content? Want to help out Dolly’s gas tank? Donate to my GoFundMe here: https://gofund.me/b8333d49

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