Thursday, October 09, 2003


The giant 29 foot Winnebago began rolling northward today. For those following along at home, we moved the Beltsville furniture to the new vacation home in Arkansas. The stuff didn't fit, of course, so boxes line every room, boxes of such variety and combinations that the house looks like it might be a sort of training center for young men who dream of being movers one day. The garage is full. There is space enough to lay on one of the two beds. You could stand on a kitchen counter, but you'd be unable to walk out either of the kitchen doors. There is a wall of boxes by the front door that looks like a fort built by children full of sugared drinks.

Yet, our stuff is safe from weather. The house will serve as our storage home away from home and we've left it in the caring hands of my in-laws. I secretly hope that a tornado will come through and take it all away, the furniture, the clothes, any of that old stuff that was too useless to fit in the big rolling coach.

But you gotta meet my in-laws. They are aces. They fed us for the the few days we were in Arkansas getting ready to run, and now they will wait behind and make sure the boxes don't get out onto the street, where they might be struck by one of the two cars that rolls through the sleepy burg. My wife's parents are remarkably supportive of this journey, but as I do with everyone, I imagine that inside they continue to wonder what sort of madness has overtaken us.

We made our promises to drive safe and keep in touch, and in the gloom of a Thursday morning, with pelting rain coming down, we creeped out of northwest Arkansas, into Missouri, and then up Highway 71.

The RV is top heavy. It's 12 feet high and 29 feet long, but it feels like the first pebble is going to flip it like one of those alligators doing a death roll on Discovery channel. At any speed over 55, the steering wheels pushes and pulls back and forth. The whole experience in the driver's seat is like wrestling a big angry hog, slick as snot, mad as hell. But when it's sitting on the side of the road, it's pretty great. Air conditioning. Big dish on the roof to beam in TV anywhere on the globe. The living room is roomy already, roomier when you activate one of the two slideouts - the other expands the bedroom nicely so you can walk all around the queen sized bed.

We eat lunch at a truck stop. But far too soon, we're out on the giant slab again, the wind from 16-wheelers buffeting us from both sides, the coach drifting from the white center line to the warning marks on the shoulder. My wife drives, too, and none of the above bothers her. I see her with cruise control on, her hand limply on the steering wheel. She's listening to "Rhythm is the Dancer" on the CD player and humming along. I want to scare her, or throw a badger in front of the vehicle to make her swerve. I want to see some of the wild grim fear I've been feeling.

What the hell is wrong with her?