Friday, July 10, 2020

Lunch In Sebring

Sebring for lunch, some pictures on a blazing hot July 4th outside the van, while Rusty and I walked.
On my road trips I enjoy the small Florida towns and I miss being able to stop off and walk at will.
We found ourselves surrounded by people not wearing masks which limited our ability to wander and look.

Lots of empty spaces but she stopped right here and walked away to a crowd leaving lots of empty spaces fifteen feet from her badly parked car left with it's diaper trailing.
I took a few photos of things that caught my eye as we walked. Not Key West this week...

The blue dot marks the spot.

And afterwards north on Highway 17  lined by orange groves.
And characteristic dips in the road. 

Social Distancing On The Road

From the Ocala National Forest we took two days to get home making a  total of three nights on the road. Our idea was to see how we coped with various sleeping situations which are so different from what we knew on our sailboat. So after our wet experiences in the forest we got on the road and lumbered down sand roads to the pavement at sedate less than 30 miles per hour.  
The van cruises  at 70 mph on cruise control but fuel consumption dips to 15 mpg. I found that holding 60 mph I could see computer numbers (accuracy undetermined) hovering between 18 and 20 mpg. We had nowhere to be in a  hurry. Driving is easy enough but you need to anticipate your braking with a ten thousand pound van and equally after you have stopped for a traffic light you need to wait a while to wind up the acceleration again.   It will take off like an overloaded scalded cat but the point here is longevity not speed so babying the transmission seems the most sensible course of action. Stability control keeps the box upright and my wife loves the cubbyholes and storage pockets throughout the cab.
My wife had a plan to stop at Camping World in Ocala to check out Stuff, something we can't do in South Florida where Camping World has yet to establish a beachhead. However while we sat in the parking lot and I sweated to replace the electrical plug I broke driving off last week, my wife looked for masks going into the store and saw none. We decided to keep moving but as evidenced by the stuff for sale, we were back in civilization.
Rusty resigned his post as Chief Security Officer for a while choosing to plug in and drop out to recharge his batteries.
One has to resign oneself to the less than attractive spots and we took lunch followed by a copious nap in a rest area. Grilled cheese and tomato soup can apparently bring on the exhaustion of a fully lived life and the three of us passed out as comfortable as you please under the air conditioning in the middle of the parking lot. Rather weird but the price was right. 
In a time of coronavirus when you live with concerns about getting the disease this has to be the best way to get around and sales of RVs and campers are soaring for the time being. But I cannot see many of those purchases leading to a desire to spend days or weeks or -God forbid!- months in a small space such as we enjoyed. Sure, we had our doubts and discussed them but we went through all that doubt when first living on  a  boat and we knew what to expect this time. The space itself is much smaller than a 34 foot catamaran but the outside world is vast and easy to access, no dinghy required. I think for us to enjoy the interior space we need to have untrammeled exterior space.
For us there is not much value in paying to sleep in crowded campgrounds cheek-by-jowl with other refugees from reality. We both got the idea that for us travel without reservations, without fixed destinations, with pauses here and there to eat and sleep and hopefully one day to actually dine out like our civilized past, is how we want to travel. Van life stuck in one spot would be dreary, an invitation to rent a home temporarily, something we plan to do on the road. Equally for us if we have a small nimble home driving around pretending its a forty foot apartment that needs to be plugged in every night would be absurd. I see a way forward that we might very well enjoy but I readily accept that in an increasingly regimented world run on satellite time we may be veering off into the unpredictable world of nonconformity. With three weeks vacation starting next week these vague ideas will start to be put to the test.