Camped down by the river

Lately, when I’m thinking about where we are, I am reminded  of the excellent description given by Verne Troyer in the movie “The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus,” when he is asked “Where are we?” by Heath Ledger:

“Geographically, in the Northern Hemisphere.  Socially, on the margin.  And narratively, with some ways to go.”

Sometimes that’s how I feel too.  If you overdo it when traveling, all the campgrounds can start to look the same, making your location seem less special and more like “somewhere in the Northern Hemisphere.”  And socially, we are occasionally reminded that not everyone views our life in an Airstream as exotic; for some, we are itinerants who live in a trailer.

In fact, today that’s exactly where we are: living in a trailer down by the river. In fact, it is the Broad River, running silently and swiftly about 20 feet behind our back bumper through the shady trees. I view this as a fine location for camping, but I’m sure there are those who cannot fathom what in the world makes us choose this quiet spot in west-nowhere-North Carolina instead of a fancy hotel in a cosmopolitan city.

This is not the sort of place we normally choose to camp.  It is a commercial full-hookup campground in the middle of nowhere, where our phones barely work, and we bypassed a couple of interesting-sounding state parks to be here. That’s because we are meeting Super Terry and Marie, and they picked the campground.   But this is a good thing, because it looks nothing like the places we have been lately and that aspect of diversity helps us stay oriented.

Also, I like the break. Having no “bars” on the cell phone means I can justifiably turn it off and have a phone-less weekend.  The campground has satellite-based wifi, so the blog can continue, but it’s slow and that justifies leaving the computer off most of the time too.  Although it is Friday afternoon on an absolutely gorgeous Fall day (75 degrees, sunny, dry), there are very few campers here and so the place is nice and quiet.  We floated little leaf-and-stick boats down the fast-flowing river to the “rapids” and watched them sink, then we played a board game on the dinette, and now I have the enviable option of lying down on my comfy Airstream bed and reading a book.  At times like this, our trailer magically transforms from our home and office on the road, to a getaway vacation cabin, all without packing or unpacking.  Time to break out some cold drinks, chips, and guacamole, and snack our way through dinner.

The town is Rutherfordton, which we have not seen since we are in the boondocks (and there may in fact be no town center).  The name sounds to me like they couldn’t decide:  “Rutherford, or Rutherton?  What the heck, let’s call it both: Rutherfordton.”  Rutherfordington Center would have been even better.  I’ll post that in the town’s Suggestion Box if I can find it.

I have to post  a small warning about stinkbugs.  These guys have been plaguing us since Pennsylvania, the origin point of these annoying fat flying insects. They are harmless but in the Fall they will invade an RV in massive numbers if they get a chance.  We caught the beginning of the stinkbug invasion season in September at French Creek State Park, then encountered them again in Falls Church VA, and have been finding a dozen or so every day inside our trailer ever since.  They are seemingly endless.

The strange thing is that we never actually saw more than a few flying around while we were camped.  They have an amazingly ability to sneak into refuge points when you’re not looking.  I’ve found them in the screens, in the vents, rolled up  inside the awning, inside windows, and every other possible crevice that they can get into.  I would like to say we’ve got all of them, before we carry the little nuisances to Florida, but as the temperatures warm, more of them show up.  And there seems to be no practical solution other than to find them all by hand (or by vacuum cleaner).  Fortunately, Emma likes to capture them with her bare hands.

This weekend while Emma is catching the bugs, Super Terry is going to take a look at our brakes, bearings, and tires.  We last serviced all those items in January 2010, back in Riverside CA, and since then we have logged about 8,000-9,000 miles.  That isn’t a tremendous amount of mileage but we have historically had problems with brakes pads wearing unevenly, and tires failing and so I’m being extra-cautious.  If there are any hints of trouble, I’d rather know now.  On Sunday and Monday we are going to log a lot of miles very quickly, and from there we will be doing a lot of towing around Florida.  At this point I have no indications of trouble (tire wear appears nominal and braking is excellent) but we’ll pull all four wheels off and take a look anyway. I’ll post an update on that later this weekend.

In other words, narratively, we still have some ways to go.

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Editor & Publisher of Airstream Life magazine