I can’t remember anything. Ever. At all. Big things, little things, conversations, names, faces, events… all of it disappears quickly. If I didn’t know better, I’d worry I have early-onset Alzheimers or some such thing, but in my case, the onset would have been when I was about 6 years old, so I’m pretty sure it’s just my internal wiring. Which is unfortunate, but there’s not much I can do. Through the years, I’ve just relied on various tricks to help me get through life, which brings me to my cell phone.
Over time, my cell phone has become my memory. Thank god for this blog because at least it gives me some excuse for the extraordinary number of photos on my phone, but still, looking through them at any given point raises questions. I take pictures of some weird stuff: things I see, places we go, but also screen caps of news events, reminders of various errands I need to run, and funny memes. Then, there’s the truly random stuff, like the featured picture above – a photo I took at the grocery store of what appears to be watermelon grown on the fertile soil at Three Mile Island.
Now that I’m more than three months behind on this blog, I’m relying on my phone pics more than ever to help me remember what we’ve been up to. It helps and hurts that these three months cover the period of time in which everyone was living an endless Groundhog Day, but it also means my pictures are even weirder than normal.
From anguish at the grocery store:
to exuberance at the grocery store:
Of course, not all of my pictures are weird. Once we got to our Air BnB in Austin, there were the usual things to take note of…
The husband and the dog…
Just kidding. It was the dog…
But then I run into pictures that make me think: “Oh right… Texas.
And pictures showing that our seemingly normal neighborhood:
…was not completely normal.
For example, there was a house a couple blocks from ours with this mailbox:
What would Mister Rogers say about this??
Of course, in the other direction, there was a whole different level of hostility.
As I was wandering the neighborhoods with Thor one day, I looked up ahead of me and saw something hanging from a tree. That’s never a good sign. As I got closer, the sense of foreboding only got worse. Soon, I was looking at this:
For a split second, I thought “Maybe it’s a Halloween decoration?”
But it was March.
Then, I looked closer and I saw there was a stake through the doll’s head, so I wondered if it might be a reference to a show or movie about zombies. We’re a little out of the loop on the pop culture references lately, so maybe it was just something I hadn’t heard of yet?
Then, I walked to the other side and saw this:
So, is this just a threat?
I guess it makes sense. Why go with a boring “No Trespassing” sign when you can threaten passersby with a bloody-stake-through-the-brain style hanging?
Even weirder, just down the street from creepy noose guy, was this house complete with random mannequin legs in a tree.
And another mannequin leg peeking out of the left side of the front porch.
Alright everybody, say it with me: “What the hell???”
I have no idea, but next time someone asks why we want to live on the West Coast when Texas is so much cheaper, I’m showing them these pictures.
Passing Time During the Pandemic
While we had one solid week of normalcy, the vast majority of our time in Austin was consumed by the pandemic – which made me really identify with this tweet:
I spent too much time online reading about it and taking screen caps of the things that made me laugh….and I am easily amused, so there were plenty of them.
Of course, I saw plenty of other things I identified with perhaps a bit too much…
Every blessed day…
In the meantime, we took part in Pandemic-appropriate activities – including breadmaking:
and Kevin started a meth lab.
Ok, it wasn’t a meth lab, but he started brewing Kefir water.
“What the hell is Kefir water?” Think of it like a flavored seltzer or homemade soda. You take these grains, dump them in water, feed them sugar, they fart out carbon dioxide, and then you add fruit or fruit juice which causes more farting and more carbonation.
(There’s probably a more appealing way to describe all that, but I write about travel not food. So… Sorry.)
Anyway, like many of Kevin projects, this one started off small and then continued to grow to the point you’d almost forget that we live in a motorhome.
Additional projects that take up space but made sense, included Kevin changing the oil and lubing the chassis for the RV. We typically bring Barney in for servicing, but given the complexities of dealing with the pandemic, he just decided to get the stuff and do it himself. He found some good tools and youtube videos, so if you have any interest, I listed them on our Favorite Things page (under the “RV Maintenance” section).
Stay or Go
During the course of our time in Austin, we wondered over and over what we should do going forward. When I wrote about this last, it was early on in the crisis and we felt it best to stay in Austin as long as possible, even though we didn’t know anyone locally. We’d considered extending our stay in the Air BnB, but couldn’t justify the cost, so we figured we’d move back into the RV, set up in a monthly site at a local campground, and stay put. I mentioned in that post that one of our concerns was the Summer heat in Texas, but we figured we’d take things as they came.
Well, turns out, that concern was well justified:
So, what to do?
Way back before the world went sideways, our plan had been to spend this Summer up in Alaska and then make our way to San Diego where we would try out settled living in an apartment of some sort. Six months ago, we were burned out on RV life and thinking we might be ready to move onto something else.
So, one option was to head directly to San Diego from Austin and try to find an apartment rental, but once we started looking, we realized that would be a bad idea. San Diego is extremely expensive and in the middle of all this craziness, we didn’t want to commit ourselves to a huge new expense – especially when we wouldn’t be able to take advantage of all the things the city has to offer.
Next, we considered renting an apartment elsewhere – some other city where we might be able to find a deal – but, nothing was really grabbing us and each option we looked at had a glaring problem.
The more we talked about what to do, the less certain we were. There’s just so much unknown at this point. The virus, the upcoming election, the social climate, the economy, healthcare… all of it: unknown and unknowable for the foreseeable future. Between now and the end of the year, anything can – and probably will – happen. 2020 has been nothing if not eventful. We realized we just don’t know enough to make an informed decision about our future. The obvious answer, therefore, was to just keep doing what we’ve been doing until we have more clarity.
So, with all that in mind, we moved back into Barney on May 1 and set up in our new monthly site at La Hacienda RV Resort in the northwest section of the city. It turned out to be a great decision. The campground itself is really pretty nice – good spacing between sites, solid amenities, convenient location, and reasonably close to the city. Even better, for the vast majority of our six week visit, we had no neighbors on either side.
Life was really pretty good there…
But, as Spring turned to Summer, we knew we weren’t going to be able to stay. It would be one thing if we could do indoor stuff, but with our concerns about this virus, most indoor, air-conditioned things are off limits. We’re not going to restaurants or concert venues or museums or historic sites. We’re keeping to ourselves and trying to spend time outdoors – which is a lot harder to do when it’s 100 degrees with 75% humidity.
Bottom line, if we stayed in Austin, we were going to spend the following three months climbing the walls in a hot tin can.
…Kevin’s Amazon purchase notwithstanding.
So, where to go and what to do? The obvious answer was to go somewhere cool where we could hike. Hiking is about the safest thing we can do, it’s easy to keep to ourselves, and with some good scenery, we’ll be properly motivated to stay active.
For the various places we’ll be staying this summer, I’ve been monitoring local news to make sure visitors are still welcome. We don’t want to go anywhere where we’re not wanted – though, it’s likely opinions will vary depending on whom you ask, and our Florida license plates may earn us some side-eye (Thanks, Florida.) Undeserved contempt notwithstanding, our intention is to be responsible visitors, comply with local directives, and not create any additional burdens for anyone else.
I was able to snag a lengthy reservation near Yellowstone, after which we’ll set up for a month at a commercial campground near Glacier National Park. Beyond that, I’ve got some loose plans and reservations, but we’re expecting those may change depending on the state of things.
So, there you have it. Three months of weirdness wrapped up in one post. In real time, we’re enjoying cooler temps, fewer people, and lots of natural beauty in Idaho. Assuming all goes well, which it probably won’t because this is 2020, I’ll update again soon.
Stay well. And…
…wear a mask!
Where we stayed:
La Hacienda RV Resort, Austin, Texas