Our Maiden Voyage

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

                When you have a dream you build up an image in your head of what it will be like when you finally get to live it out.
                When I dreamed about our RV life I had visions of sing-alongs as we rolled down the road, pleasant chats with diner patrons, beautiful landscapes, and the feel of real freedom. Things are not always as you imagine them.
                Now I don’t want you to think I am not having fun. This has been a lot of fun and I am sure it will only get better. It is just things are not exactly as I had dreamed they would be. After our tearful goodbye that you can read all about in my last post I realized something. I had never driven anything this large that far.
                When we got the Defiant it was not far from where we were living. When I drove it home it was on back country roads that I knew well and we did not see many other drivers on them. After that she sat parked in the yard while we worked on her and raised money to start our adventures. We took her a few places locally, like the inspection station and Mammaw’s house, but again all back roads I knew well.
                Our first trip was 1000 miles to Kansas and most of it was interstate and driving on the interstate was a little different then country roads in NC. The defiant has a strong motor and I know that, but still a piece of me was worried that she might not

make it up to 70 and I would be in the way on the highway. Before I even got on the highway I realized another mistake I had made, I never properly adjusted my mirrors.         
                Merging on the interstate was a bit of a trick. I could see out the mirror but I had to contort into a most uncomfortable position to do so. Thank goodness for the backup camera. Once we got on though it was a smooth ride, and we easily made it up to 70 MPH. Then a thought popped in my head “I am going 70 MPH down the highway in my house” I had not really thought about that 'till I was doing it.
All the way through NC was all white knuckles and oh shit moments. The Defiant ran fine, and I think I stayed in my lane, and looking back on it everything was okay; but like I said it was everything I own streaming down the road with an inexperienced driver at the wheel.      One of the first things I noticed after driving our RV is it felt like sometimes it had a mind of its own. Whenever a big rig would pass us on the highway (and a lot of them did) she would move over away from it as it got near the back end and pull towards it as it passed us. 
                After a few miles, well almost SC, I thought a little radio would help me relax but I am the kind of guy who turns down the music while I am looking for an address, so that did not last long. It was hard to pay attention to the news as I glanced from the road to the mirrors, to the road, to the gages, to the road, to the backup cam. The whole time I was trying not to let on that I was a nervous wreck so Kayla could enjoy the ride. She had her own distractions though as our cats were as high strung as I was and her job was to tend to them.
                When we finally got to the visitor center in SC I was more than ready to pull over and catch my breath.  I tried to pass off my wobbly legged walk as exhaustion. It was nice to get out so we could walk around and the visitor center was cool. They have a two hour parking limit and I took advantage of it and sprawled out on the bed and took a nice little nap. I was awoken by a knock on the window. It was a nice surprise to see a familiar face on the other side of the window.
                Kayla’s uncle Dave is a truck driver and he said he thought he saw us. So he stopped to chat and gave us a little travel advice while suggesting a few places we might like to stop on our journey. His visit was short but pleasant, I was rested, and it was time to get back on the road.
                I felt a little more at ease on the interstate this time and I did not hold on to the steering wheel with the same death grip I had at first. I still was not ready to listen to the radio and I could not enjoy the scenery as I was laser focused on my driving. The time flew by and before I knew it we had made it to Georgia. Again I was ready to stop at the visitor center.
                While we were at the visitor center we ran in to a couple who have been full timing for ten years. It helped a lot to talk with someone who had been through this before. They told us stories of their favorite camp grounds, where they liked to work, and what we could expect for our upcoming work at Amazon. They were full of advice on what groups to join, what camps were nice, and some general rules for RVing.
                We said our good byes to Bub and Tinker, exchanged cards so we could keep in touch and we were on the road again. 
                The hour was getting late and we were not far from reaching Atlanta. I really did not want my first big city driving experience to be in Atlanta during rush hour so we started to look for a place to call home for the night.
                We had thought at first to go with KOA just because the signs are everywhere and we knew what to expect but after our chat with Bub and Tinker we decided to be a little more adventures and look for other options. We soon came to a sign that pointed to Victoria Bryant state park. The name made us think of the queen Vic (an Eastender's reference) so we decided to give it a try.
                I'll leave it to Kayla to tell you all about the beautiful park (click here to read her review) but I will tell you it was so nice to pull in to that little secluded spot surrounded by trees to rest for the night. There was no internet or cell service and that was just fine with me. I needed the time for just us to decompress after all the tension from driving.
                The night air was cool, just right for cuddling, and the park was quiet and peaceful just right for sleeping. We stayed up for a while talking and enjoying the park but it did not take long before we both found ourselves in the bed. I think the ride was even taxing for the cats as we did not hear a peep out of them all night. I remember lying there in bed listening to the crickets wondering if this was the right decision, after all this was so unlike anything we had ever done before.
                I know this is all a little scary but this is our dream. There is too much country out there to confine ourselves to that little familiar corner of NC.
                I know that with Kayla by my side and the Defiant to get us there, we can handle whatever comes our way. So I fell asleep that night content in the knowledge that were doing the right thing and making our dreams come true.

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