There were no cell phones. Home computers were barely a thing, and most people didn't have one in their home. There was no internet. But oh was there music!
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The sun was low and the soft white clouds stretched across a dusky blue sky. The wind had died down significantly from the gusts of the afternoon to a gentle cool caress. So many times out on the road we are confined to the cab of the truck. Miles and miles to run as the clock counts down. "Hurry up, go." it says, "hurry up and get there." But last night it was quiet. Last night there was no rush. We were out on the road, somewhere in the middle of nowhere Pennsylvania without a care in the world. No load to rush to. No clock taunting us. No highway teasing us. Just he and I and a peaceful evening breeze blowing through the open windows of the truck.
"Let's turn the truck off and go sit outside," he says. "Do you want to?" It should have been a rhetorical question. The weather was so perfect why would anyone want to stay cooped up inside? After dinner we took the four-legged fur baby for a long walk all around the perimeter of the large parking area of the turnpike travel plaza. She ran and pranced and had a furry good time. The wind whisked through the long white strands of her tail making it look like a flag waving in the breeze. By the time we got back to the truck she was ready for some water and a soft spot to curl up for a nap.
After fixing some hot chai tea, grabbing my laptop and my jacket, he and I headed out to the front of the travel plaza where there were some wire mesh table and chairs. You are probably thinking sitting outside a busy travel plaza on a turnpike would be neither relaxing nor romantic. When you are confined to 73" of space day in and day out, any change of environment is a pleasant change of pace.
We sat and and watched the setting sun against the rolling hills of the Pennsylvania landscape. The cool breeze was a wonderful change from the scorching heat we are used to this time of year in Florida. No pesky bugs or humidity to intrude on the evening. I sipped my hot tea and worked on an article I had been procrastinating on for weeks. He had a soda and looked through a magazine. Every once in a while the distinctive sound of good old-fashioned jake brakes coming through un-muffled straight pipes would get our attention and we'd look up to watch, or drool, as the beast rolled by.
We talked about our dream truck. We talked about our near future plans. We talked about long-term future plans. We whispered sweet nothings and blew kisses in the soft winds. It was fully dark before we headed back to the truck. My article was complete and we were both completely refreshed and relaxed.
Its the little things that matter. Spending time together matters. Getting out together, even if it is just at a picnic table at a travel plaza. Anywhere is somewhere special, as long as the person you are with is special to you.
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So we are heading to Southern California which will take us right through the Mojave Desert. Naturally I am excited. We have a lot of time to get to our drop destination. That means time to stop and take pictures. There is something about the southwest's desolate beauty that appeals to me. Maybe because it is so radically different from where I grew up.
This trip out we have better organization in the truck. When we were home he installed a 3600watt power inverter. This will help power the new refrigerator, microwave, and coffee pot. And of course we already had the crockpot. We lucked out at Sams and found a nice fridge on sale. Its about 2 feet tall, like the ones you usually find in hotel rooms. Now I'm able to keep fresh veggies, milk, and enough meat for two or three meals at a time. We can now have fresh hot coffee every morning, home cooked meals, cold drinks, and healthy snacks. He also installed some small dresser drawers above the bed for better organization and storage.
Most of the cooking is done in the crockpot. I found these crockpot liner bags that make cleanup a breeze. The clean bag goes in the crockpot, then the food for cooking. After we're done eating I wipe plates, cutlery, and stuff down with paper towels to remove food particles and grease. Then wipe everything with lysol wipes with bleach which kills germs. Finally, I have a spray bottle with water, which I use to spray everything down and dry with a clean paper towel. It may not be as ideal as a dish washer, but it still kills germs and is less wasteful than disposable plates, bowels, cutlery, etc... All the trash goes in the now empty crockpot liner and throw it all away.
Of course cooking while traveling down the road is great but presents its own challenges. You don't realize how bumpy, crooked, or otherwise imperfect our highways are until you are balanced on one foot, on top of a spring mattress, reaching on tip toe to grab something out of a cabinet; or trying to cut veggies on a small cutting board on a small slide out table and keep said veggies from bouncing to the floor at the same time. I feel like the girl on the flying trapeze. And did you know a bed makes a great prep area? It has become my assembly line. Everything gets lined up on the right side of me. As I use it, it gets moved to the left side. Strap the crockpot down and put everything away again.
When you are confined to a 73" living space three things become important. First, you have to have organization. In small spaces it doesn't take much for trash and clutter to build up. A cluttered space is depressing and unhealthy. We try to keep everything put away. Trash gets taken out evry day. He even installed an air hose in the cab to help blow out dirt and dust.
Second, you have to make time to get out and walk around. Sitting for long periods is bad for your health. It can create blood clots in your legs due to lack of circulation. Being sedentary is bad for your blood pressure and your metabolism, as well as bad on your joints and nerves. When we stop at truck stops he always parks in the very back, which gives us lots of leg stretching time when we walk back and forth. Having Missy with us helps too, because we have to walk the dog several times a day. And on the days when we aren't pressed for time extra stops for pictures and site seeing help too.
Third, its important to have hobbies. Being cooped up in a small space with nothing to entertain your mind causes cabin fever, grumpiness, high tension, and other forms of stress. He and I spend a lot of time talking and joking with each other. We talk about the things we see as we travel, as well as future dreams and plans. I look up places we're going to and we discuss the history and other trivia. We listen to a lot of music. We listen to the news and have discussions on what we hear. I spend time blogging. Yes, I do updates and check ins with my friends and family on facebook. I read on my kindle app. I have my drawing materials for when we are stopped. And currently, I am again trying to teach myself to crochet.
Also important I think, is for each of us to have time to ourself. Not that easy in such small confines. He gets up in the morning and shuts the sleeper curtain allowing me time to wake up slowly. This is his time to listen to his talk radio shows. After I wake up we spend some time together talking and planning. We plan the trip route together, daily stops, fuel locations, and work on paperwork together. Usually some time in the afternoon I will go back in the sleeper to read, cook, rest, or listen to music with my headphones on, and let us each have some "me" time again.
I think we are managing a good balance. We manage to be considerate and respectful of each other. There's always lots of laughter and I love yous. And overall I feel this adventure has been good for us. Adapting to a new lifestyle isn't all smiles and sunshine. But when two people work together the bumps in the road don't seem quite so big.