Sunday afternoon, May 13
The white Coconino National Forest pick-up truck pulls up to our campsite. I jump out of the BLT to greet the ranger, a young woman in her twenties wearing a tan uniform. We say hello and she holds out a map. “Do you have one of these?” she asks.
“Yes, I do, thank you.”
She then explains she is going around answering any questions people might have about the new rules for camping within 300 feet from the road in dispersed areas and within 30 on campground roads. (You tell the difference by reading the symbols on the map.)
The ranger looks at the BLT.
“You actually are further than 30 feet from the road. I’m going to let it go because the rules are new.”
I thank her for that and ask her how far 30 feet is. She walks 12 paces which must be her stride’s equivalent of 30 feet. She stops at the spare tire mounted at the back of the BLT. “See, you aren’t very far over.”
What a personable ranger!
I mention I’m going to the north Kaibab Forest (Jacob Lake) and she becomes animated. “I love it up there! It’s beautiful! You won’t believe it! And when you get to the little town of Jacob Lake, there’s a store right there. They sell the best chocolate chip cookies. You have to get some.”
“Oh no! I just started a diet!” I exclaim, backing up.
Laughing at my response, she’s goes on about how I have to stop in Cameron, too, and eat a Navajo taco. She explains it in detail, right down to the fluffy taco shell. Hmmm . . . This diet really works. I’m not the least bit tempted.
Monday morning, May 14
I wake up feeling great. This is an important fact because the first morning after starting my diet, I woke up feeling miserable. My head was stuffed up and I had a headache. I wasn’t surprised. Eating all that Greek yogurt is the reason. Too much dairy gives me a headache. A cup of coffee and sitting in the cool morning breeze helped clear my head and I was fine in a short while.
I went easy on the yogurt yesterday and no headache this morning.
Okay. Let’s stop right here so I can say something about all this diet talk. If it bores you to no end, hang in there. I’m not going to turn this into rvsue on a diet and her canine crew. I do think, though, some readers are interested in this.
I don’t feel like I’m on a diet!
I haven’t felt hungry. I haven’t felt deprived. I didn’t writhe in agony longing for a bag of potato chips or half a carton of ice cream. I feel great! Although Dr. Dukan advises one might experience fatigue in the beginning, I’m full of energy. I hadn’t realized how sluggish I’d become.
The best part of all? No yo-yo sugar levels.
My old way of eating had me worried when I took the crew on hikes. I’d forget to bring candy with me. What if I have a low blood sugar attack, out here in the forest? Since I’m not eating carbs and sweets, I don’t feel those up-and-down energy swings.
The crew and I are going into Flagstaff this morning.
I was going to visit Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument on Mother’s Day. It was terribly windy, so I stayed home. I feel like accomplishing something, so we’re going to the laundromat.
Loaded up with dirty laundry and the crew, I drive the PTV up the lane to Ken’s campsite.
He’s sitting outside with Scooter the Attack Lab. “I’m going to the laundry. Do you need anything in town?” I look around for Gail so I can ask her, too, but there’s no sign of her.
“No, I’m good.” He pauses. “I’m going to need to go to the laundry soon, too.”
“You can come with me. I’ll wait. What do you do . . . drive your rig (a Class C) in?”
“No, I ride my motorcycle. I put the laundry in my backpack, and then I don’t dry it. I bring it back home and dry it here.”
“Oh. There isn’t a backpack large enough to hold all my wash.”
He laughs and waves me on.
I find the laundry. Let me restate that. I find the Super-Duper Laundry. I leave the crew in the PTV.
Wow! This is the mother of all laundries!
I see row upon row of brand new washers and driers and even a small arcade for the kiddies (who, of course, do not help with the laundry and therefore need to be provided entertainment.).
Quickly I get twenty dollars’ worth of change out of the machine.
When you find one that works, you go for broke! So many quarters clang down that I feel like I’m playing the slots. I load up the machines and return to the crew. We take a little walk around to the grassy spot alongside the strip mall. I give them a drink and back in the PTV they go.
It’s a sunny day, yet there’s a good breeze, so they’re comfortable in the PTV with windows down a bit. Spike settles down for a nap. He knows the drill. I go back inside. I see Bridget out in the PTV looking at me with The Pathetic Stare That Pierces Plate Glass.
The laundry done, Bridget squeals with delight and we take off for Safeway.
I’m on a stealth mission. I’ve been carrying around stinking garbage for several weeks now. Thank God for Febreeze. Everywhere I go there is a big sign on the dumpsters, “Not for public use. $500 fine. Go away, you transient.” However, Safeway, like Wal-Mart, has conveniently placed waste barrels throughout its parking lot.
These barrels say, “Feed me, you wonderful customer!”
On the way into the store to pick up a few more diet items, I dump a bag of garbage. When I come out, I grab another bag out of the PTVand stuff it into another barrel.
Then I drive over to the water dispensers.
When I carry the empty jugs to the machine, I drop another bag of garbage in another trash can. See how this works? Hey, ya do whatcha gotta do. On the way out of the parking lot, I stop and – you guessed it! – I stuff another bag into another trash barrel. Thank you, Safeway! May your lettuce never go limp and your bananas forever be yellow!
I think part of what makes living like this fun is the day-to-day challenge of taking care of me and my crew.
I go to a new location. Where do we camp? Do we have enough propane? Who will change the oil in the PTV? Where do I get water? How do I get rid of garbage? Where’s the nearest laundromat?
This stuff would be a bore if I were living in a regular house. I’d be following the same roads and the same routines.
My vagabond life is one of constant change. I love that.