Saturday, December 7, 2019

Road Trip: Livingston, Texas: Part 5: Reconnecting With Fellow Travelers

Lamp glow in Missouri. December 2006.

False sun in Jefferson City, Missouri. December 2006.

Before going any further in today's article, I invite you to read On the Way to El Paso: A Remarkable Thing, as it introduces you to "Travis" (and indirectly, "Lark"), who I met at a Motel 6 in Junction, Texas, one sunny morning back in 2016.

After I published my post about that day, I sent a link to Travis, and ever since then, we have remained in touch, mostly by email and the occasional phone call.

But all three of us were able to meet up at a Burger King in Houston when I passed through there on my way to Tucson in early 2019. Again, all of my belongings filled my car. A newer car

And now, almost a year later, we could meet again on my road trip to Livingston.  Grand!

Lark and Travis drove up to Livingston from Houston on a crisp Sunday morning to see what was what at Escapees RV campground and CARE Center

The two pulled into my dry-camp site and peered into Chez Prius while I led a rig tour of my bed, kitchen, toilet, and dining room.

The three of us sank into big, soft furniture in the CARE Center's living room. Lark and Travis listened, without the diversion of snacks or commercial interruptions, while I regaled them with telenovela plot lines from real life.

Eventually, we drove into town for lunch, settling in at Joe's Italian Grill after a bit of a look-around at the options. Savored the best garlic rolls I've had in years. Warm, buttery, garlicky, yeasty. Decent fettucine alfredo.

Lamplighter on Baratashvili Street, Tbilisi, Caucasus Georgia. May 2012.

On travel styles and the freedom of Motels 6

Like me, Travis and Lark are travelers. Not nomadic, as they maintain a home base in Houston, but frequent road trippers.

Watch a handful of or a hundred youtubes about #vanlife or #rvlife, you notice that "freedom" is a common theme.

Yeahhhhhhhh, well, "freedom" is a relative term.

Downtown El Paso, Texas. September 2016.

Van dwellers and RVers are most free if they possess all of these:
  1. A rig that is short enough to negotiate most roads into and out of desirable camping destinations; 
  2. A rig that performs well in most weather conditions, i.e. hot, cold, snow, rain, wind, and typical thunderstorms; 
  3. A rig that that can be self-contained for food storage, food prep, and toileting if one is stuck inside due to a day or more of inclement weather;
  4. Sufficient financial resources to support both boondocking and hook-up fees, at will;
  5. Sufficient financial resources to move from one location to the next, at will, irrespective of fuel cost to travel from one spot to the next; and
  6. Sufficient financial resources to execute Plans B and C when their rig is admitted to the hospital.

A lot of van- and RV-dwellers must rely on boondocking to make the lifestyle economically feasible, because campground fees (private or public) - and fuel, for the most frequent movers -  ratchet the cost of living to unsustainable levels. With boondocking, one's direct, overnight costs are "free," but there is a cost exacted in time taken to find new sites. There are limits to how long one can stay in a place; the durations are a function of how long the land manager allows boondockers to stay (generally up to two weeks only) and how long one's supplies and power last without having to drive from what may be a remote spot to a distant town.

So the "freedom" of boondockers is circumscribed.

When one considers the direct and indirect, and tangible and intangible costs of RV living, being a "moto6er" vies, in my opinion, for equal "freedom" status.

Delta Queen Hotel, Chattanooga, Tennessee. October 2013.

As moto6ers, Lark and Travis enjoy a similar level of freedom, albeit in different formats, as most RVers and van dwellers:
  1. While driving a fuel-economy car, Lark and Travis can road trip almost everywhere (or close to everywhere) in the country; 
  2. Private toilet and shower (with no worries about black water tanks or water storage or power for hot water);
  3. Electrical outlets to recharge one's devices;
  4. Most of the time: small fridge, microwave, access to coffee
  5. When they're ready to leave, they pack up their car and go - no battening down the hatches of a rig, hooking up a tow car, or even making the bed or cleaning the bathroom
  6. They can bring in their own food if they want, with various options for cooking same, either in or outside their room
  7. On-demand climate control
  8. They can leave stuff safely in the room while visiting more remote locations in their car for sightseeing, hiking, etc. 

Da Gabi Hotel, Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico. November 2010.

If a moto6er desires an economy of scale by moving from nightly rates, they can go to weekly or monthly rates - or opt for short-term rentals in an apartment or house as sole or co-housing inhabitants.

Bottom line: All "freedom" has limits; we can find freedom in a style that works for us.  Some find it in RVs, some in vans, some in cars, some in tents. Lark and Travis enjoy freedom as moto6ers.

Goha Hotel, Gonder, Ethiopia. January 2011.

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