August 15. [Paul Wheaton is passionate about permaculture as way to feed the planet. He thinks and researches and talks about it all the time. This tour of the Western United States was Paul's opportunity to tell more people about permaculture, its benefits for human health and the health of the planet. I can't speak to permaculture like Paul can so to learn more about it, head on over to www.permies.com. This blog is simply about my experiences as the tour driver.]
After sorting a number of packing and logistical challenges, Paul Wheaton and I set off from Missoula, Montana, for his brother Tim's place north of Spokane, Washington to pick up the RV we refer to as "The Land Whale." On the way we stopped at the Long Lake Dam where we encountered an osprey nest filled with a mama and two youngsters. It's always nice to see the raptors doing well. At Tim's place, we got a cursory tour of the Land Whale, its features and its systems and tossed our stuff in it and headed out. Call me Ishmael. Or maybe Captain Boomer.
Tim and his wife, Kristie, told us it was going to be a different kind of driving than I was used to. They attributed it to sitting in a driver's seat that was positioned forward of the wheels, but offered that I would get used to it by the time we reached San Diego. As soon as we set out, [Odometer: 63,395.7 Mileage: 0] I knew the Land Whale would handle in a way that was different than my 12-year old PT Cruiser. First, it is more than twice as long so there is much more to keep track of. Second, the 1990 Land Whale (a "Sprint" by Mallard Recreational Vehicles) has air shocks that rode us down Tim's dirt driveway in a pitching roll that reminded me of a bear juggling feathers while riding a unicycle. The steering was mushy and not terribly responsive with a slight hesitation after every slight turn of the wheel as if the rig was thinking about what I asked it to do before it did it. No racing at LeMans for us! It led to a day of constant steering/counter steering all the way to Woodenville near Seattle and harkening back to Procul Harem, my knuckles were a whiter shade of pale as I attempted to negotiate our behemoth in big city traffic. (More about that later.).
Shortly after passing an out-of-control wildfire near Cle Elum, we found ourselves in a forced time-out as road crews undertook seasonal blasting chores on Snoqualimie Pass. It was probably a good thing I got a bit of a rest because the next hour or so of driving was a lot of high speed, bumper to bumper stuff and, although I had the height advantage, 'nimble' was not a quality on my side. It was all I could do to keep between the lines and make my lane changes in a timely and safe manner. It wasn't as if it was simply me versus the road elements and traffic. Once, as I was turning left at an intersection, a guy in sports car in the lane to my right decided to perform a U-turn by crossing in front of me. Probably a death wish.
We did arrive at our destination, the home of Jocelyn, the gal Paul says he is keeping time with. I guess she is a clock or watch to him, but she is a very nice woman with a grand heart. I am pretty sure he agrees with me about that. We got the Land Whale parked and I chose to sleep in it, and too my surprise, it was a comfortable, restful place. In the future, I will be trying to sleep in it with three or four other people for a three weeks or so; it remains to be seen whether murder, mayhem or nightmares ensue.