Yesterday John Prine, one of my favorite singer / songwriters, passed away after complications from the COVID-19 virus. So, with his amazing songs playing through my ear buds, here’s a quick update on things.
Tonight is our last of seven nights at the KOA St. Louis West…about forty miles West of St. Louis. Instead of all the museums we had hoped to see and breweries we had hoped to visit, we remained hunkered down with the exceptions of grocery shopping. Walking the aisles felt like a Pac Man game which came to life….everyone hell-bent on avoiding close contact with others. Our fridge and freezer are stocked, toilet paper reserves are adequate and my biggest hassle is keeping an inventory of fresh fruit.
This KOA campground has been a pleasant find. Upon arrival we were escorted to our campsite and just before I pulled into the site, I noticed four premium sites which each came with a brick-paved area featuring a picnic table, Adirondack chairs, a Weber gas grill and a fancy fire pit. We called the office, found one was available and paid the additional $11 / night. After weeks of “Functional Campgrounds” on the sides of highways (Las Cruses, Albuquerque, Amarillo and OKC), we needed and thoroughly enjoyed this treat.
While we enjoyed our time in the St. Louis area as well as the previous week in Springfield, MO, we found it next to impossible to get a real sense of a community when all you experience is empty streets and closed businesses. The more time that passes, the more I think that much, if not all, of this Summer will include varying levels of social distancing.
Speaking of distance, tomorrow’s drive will be my longest to date at over seven hours. We learned yesterday that all state parks and even all private campgrounds in Indiana were suddenly closed by governors orders. That nixed our plan for five nights West of Indianapolis prior to our service appointments the week of Easter. Within an hour of learning about Indiana campground closures, we learned that Newmar was closing their service center from April 9 through April 27. So, our 20+ hour / 2,000 mile trip to Newmar fell apart. Yay us. I immediately called the factory and they rescheduled us for Tuesday May 26. So, that’s the good news….The bad news is that we have to kill time for almost seven weeks waiting for our rescheduled appointment.
So…..its 7:00 PM and the rig is about 80% prepped for departure at 9:00 AM tomorrow morning for our 412 mile drive all the way to Newmar’s service center in Nappanee, Indiana. I emailed their service manager and asked approval to park at their service center “campground” which is essentially a parking lot with full hookups. We’ll stay there for the seventeen days until they re-open their service center and at that point we’ll ask them if we can hunker down there for another four weeks till our appointment.
Good times….its enough to make a guy drink. We are also keeping our appointment for Monday April 13 at Spartan Motors for our annual chassis service. Essentially Spartan assembled the chassis and Newmar assembled and connected the “house” portion of the motorhome. So service involves both chassis and house items. This $2,300 chassis expense covers fluids and filters for the engine, transmission and generator. They are located about two hours North of Newmar in Charlotte, Michigan. So, on Easter Sunday, we’ll leave Newmar for Spartan and spend Sunday night in Spartan’s parking lot. Due to the virus, customers must stay in their coach while exterior service is performed. So, essentially we’ll just hang out for the day….hand them a bag of money and then head back to Newmar to hunker down some more.
If Lynn and I were doing more exciting, fun stuff…..well I suspect that recent blogs would be – you guessed it….more fun and exciting. So, I’m thinking about blogging about some pre-RV’ing / Road Warrior stories in the coming weeks. Stay tuned.
On a personal closing note, about two weeks ago we were in Oklahoma City and while Lynn was working out in the rig, I was in the Jeep speaking with my therapist about circles of influence and trying to stay more in the moment. When the call concluded, I sat for a few minutes and then exited the vehicle. The people in the campsite next to us had left that morning and as I looked across their site I saw this….
My eyes immediately noticed the contrasting two colors not quite found in nature.
A maximum of four people reading this blog understand….they will smile and perhaps one might shed a tear. That’s OK – the rest of you I hope can relate to the premise of opening up a book or receiving a call and finding exactly what you needed at that moment. Practicing as much restraint possible (difficult for me), I can only elude to the fact that there was once a NERF football and this friend that I’d play catch with. Obligations took this person all around the world to places you would not want to see. Somehow our NERF football also saw the world. Sometimes from 35,000 feet up…..others perhaps on an undisclosed US Embassy roof, tossed around by very determined people far from their homes. This person tormented me over the years by stealing, I mean borrowing, the NERF football and then sneaking it back into my house. I never knew where it was despite the fact that sometime it was in my garage rather than in Kabul.
Of all the things that I needed at that moment but could never possibly expect was this stray NERF football. It buckled my legs and its now in the Jeep, along with us for the ride.
Happy Easter and stay tuned for blogs from Camp Newmar in Nappanee Indiana!
Lynn’s 2 cents – Well, one of the aforementioned people is crying right now, but the memories are of beautiful happier times. On another note – yes, you read that right – we are heading back to Newmar. We are due for our 1 year service. 1 whole year on the road! What a journey it has been. Like everyone else we are pausing our life and plans, but the journey is not over. We can’t wait to hit the road again when it is safe.