What’s that curve called where you start out with a bunch of excitement and enthusiasm, go through a dip, then climb out into more of a steady state? Whatever it’s called, I hit the low point two days ago. The trip has been great for sure, but for a variety of reasons that day was my emotional low point.
It started with my realization the night before—after setting up camp at sunset on beautiful (if unfortunately named) Strom Thurmond Reservoir thinking I was going to spend the entire next day there beside its waters—when I realized that I didn’t have the extra day I thought I did to get up to DC to meet my dad and daughter for Memorial Day weekend.
I was disappointed I didn’t have the time to relax for a day, but I was equally disappointed in myself for getting my calendar wrong (something for which I am notorious, sorry Val).
On top of it, I had the feeling I was letting some people down who were having to pick up my slack as I’m out galavanting around the continent. They’ve all been supportive, told me to have fun, and haven’t complained, but if there’s one thing I excel at it’s taking more responsibility for things than I need to.
This was all after I spent a long day rushing through Mississippi and Alabama through torrential rains, construction (quick aside: I’ve decided that, at any one time, the percentage of US highways that are under construction is 100. 100% of them are under construction at all times, especially when you’re trying to traverse several states in the same day, or Texas, whichever is bigger, which is usually Texas), and countless semi trucks, including one carrying (I am not making this up) a 16 foot wide HOUSE and taking up both lanes. At a point, house truck got as far over in the right lane as it could so traffic could pass. As I made my way past, through driving rain, on a bridge, David Bowie (the trailer) decided to fishtail. It was a terrifying 20 seconds or so out of an 8 or 9 (I forget exactly) hour day of driving after the previous day’s 8 or 9 (I forget exactly) hour day of driving.
Anyway, the above is a recipe for exhaustion and depletion of one’s emotional reserves. It wasn’t a big surprise, then, that I ended up feeling pretty sorry for myself the other day as I drove towards Atlanta and her 8-lane wide Perimeter (which is intimidating at any time, but especially when you’re hauling a trailer and there are seemingly a kajillion cars on all sides going roughly twice the speed limit).
I’m pretty confident that yesterday was indeed the low point and that things can only look up from here. I’ve already been boosted by meetups with Sharvari, Nick, and Lisa over the last couple of days. Thanks for getting together, y’all!
I assume y’all want me to keep sharing stats from the trip, right?
Days on the road: 13 (seems like longer, tbh)
States visited so far: 15 (well, 13 states, 1 commonwealth, and 1 district)
Miles driven: 4371.5
Gallons of gas used: 319.5
Average miles per gallon: 13.7 (down from 14.2 last time, I blame that damn headwind I fought all the way across Texas)
Average gas price: $4.46/gallon (down from $4.67/gallon last time)
Cheapest gas: $4.08 in Madisonville, LA (usurping Cuba, NM)
Most expensive gas: $7.04 in Fields, OR (I don’t expect this to be surpassed)
Animals seen since last issue: deer, armadillos (3 of them, all dead on the side of the road), monk parakeets, grackles, cat, crane, egret, turtle, heron, woodpecker, mouse, goats, shetland pony, donkey
I’m just making this all up, so I’m going to give you a ranking of the campgrounds at which I’ve stayed so far. This is completely arbitrary and based pretty much only on my enjoyment of the places on the one night I spent at each and/or my desire to return. I don’t know why I feel the need to provide a disclaimer. It’s my newsletter. If you want to rank campgrounds, you can start your own newsletter.
Alvord Desert – A pit toilet and vast expanses of playa at the leeward foot of Steens Mountain; what else could you want?! It’s not actually a campground, but if you can navigate the road down to the ancient lake bed, you will be treated to one of the most unique camping experiences anywhere.
Angel Creek – Set at the foot of the gorgeous East Humboldt Mountain Range and boasting the cleanest pit toilets around, this spot was a treat. I’d love to go back later in the summer and stay at its sister campground, Angel Lake, which was still closed for the season when I was there.
US Corps of Engineers Ridge Road – This campground is set on a beautiful peninsula on the unfortunately named Strom Thurmond Reservoir. It’s a bucolic spot, but gets knocked down a spot or two due to the outhouse-like toilets and the rowdy crew in the campsite next to me. Oh, and Pat. She was a little ornery when I rolled up breaking the 10mph park speed limit and with the gall not to have reserved a spot in advance. She flagged me down later and sweetly apologized for being curt with me. Very cute.
Fairview-Riverside State Park – This park combines the natural beauty of the nearby the Tchefuncte River (which drains into the north side of Lake Pontchartrain) with a bit of Louisiana history in the form of an old plantation house on the grounds. The campground was big, so I was able to get a spot off in a corner by myself. It was hot as Hades the night I was there. Maybe visiting in November or something would be more pleasant?
Raven Rock State Park – This park had the best & best-maintained facilities I’ve ever seen at any park, state, national, whatever. Honestly, it should be higher on my list, but I’m too lazy to reorder it. This was a peaceful spot to camp, but my knock on it is that it’s just a clearing in a forest. I got no sense of the surrounding geography from within the park boundaries. Apparently Cape Fear River flows over Lanier Falls nearby. I had no idea. Maybe if I stayed more than 16 hours I could have found out.
Park Place RV Park, Odessa – I admit it. I got sucked in by their branding and the fact that this was the only moderately highly rated place to park my trailer overnight in the surrounding area, but I won’t be going back. In fact, I won’t be going back to Odessa if I can help it. The place was flat, windy, surrounded by freeways and oil rigs. There’s nothing to recommend it, from what I saw.
Dad & Erin are in the air as I type. They get in late tonight to DC where we’ll spend Memorial Day weekend. The highlight should be Sunday at high noon when my dad will read from his book, Trump Über Alles, at Lafayette Park across from the White House.
After that, I’ll continue north to Jersey City, New Paltz, and Burlington. More adventures await!
I’ll leave you here with a few photos from the past week. Until next time!
“Valley of Despair”
Loving this newsletter! Hope to see you soon in Maine :)