My harrowing after vaccine travels, and how to deal with disasters

A two-hour ride to Mike Roess State Park

A couple beautiful short hikes in the Mike Roess State Park ended with a gorgeous sunset. At dark the nightmare of post-vaccine covid symptoms attacked me.  

Since 2020 was the Twilight Zone year, we called our 2021 travel plans, The Outer Limits tour. We were avoiding people by staying in or around seldom-visited parks along the edges of the nation.

Then we learned the vaccine would be available. With priority given to seniors, Bill took his jab in January. As time slots became available for people with medical problems regardless of age, I took my prescription for the only February appointment I could get — 200 miles away.

I hastily canceled most of the Outer Limits plans for February and March to stay back til my booster, then altered course to visit grandkids (outdoors) two weeks later.

Wee flower fallen from tree...
Sign of spring awakening in the South

We advanced the motorhome only 100 miles on our journey from Mike Roess park northward. I spent the day in bed. I lost precious grading time for the end of a course. 

If the vaccine could cause such suffering to one with a rare neurological disorder, I now know that I did the right thing staying home for a year and being super cautious to prevent this frightening virus that attacks neurological tissue.

Emotional instability and disability travel

Thanks to instability in my brain, I’ve lost my ability to handle emotions. Travelling can help but also hurts. 

Though the vaccine side effects improved, the next segment of I95 destroyed my brain. Why, South Carolina, why do you think your section of I-95 only needs four lanes? It was stop and go and the surfaces were in horrible condition. 

We chose class A motorhome so I could travel without my neck brace. Fortunately, I keep the spare brace handy in RVoyager for bad stretches of highway.

Dear auto drivers:

If you see an RV in the left lane, please be nice and go around to the right because the right lane is probably a minefield of potholes that are killing the people in the RV.

Signed, Motor HOMErs concerned about the coffee pot leaping from the countertop.

Also, South Carolina, what’s up with the tires? The craters in the road so bad tire trucks lose their cargo here?

This stretch of I95 in South Carolina is so bad, concerned citizens provide spares?

SOS: Good Samaritans save our stuff

The sliding bin floor crashed into the bin door and popped it open when we turned onto the highway, unbeknown to us at first.

“That sounded funny,” I said as I sat in back, computer out, to see if grading would be possible on the interstate.

Even as I realized that I could never work while we drove, people were honking, shouting and gesticulating as they passed us, so I understood (finally) there was a problem and yelled at Bill to pull over. He went outside to check and returned with a sick, tearful expression. “The bin door must have been open.”

Apparently the funny sound I said I heard was two of our big bins of supplies crashing the bin doors open then flying out, onto the side of the road.

Bill handles all the bin duties since it involves squatting and bending, which I no longer do very well.

He appeared so instantly remorseful, for once, instead of woe-is-us-ing, I quickly said, “just detach the car and go back. I’ll stay with the RV.”

and so he did.

It was emotional and gut-wrenching for us because we spent the last month packing and organizing. We filled out inventory sheets and taped them on the top of the bins in the hope of making it easier for us to find our supplies. 

One of the bins broke.

“It looks like we were paid forward by a Good Samaritan,” Bill said, “Someone put everything together in a pile for us.”

Forever we are amazed that Bill’s 1.75L bottle of moonshine (aka, our sanitizer) survived the ejection in a 1.75 L. Everclear glass jug. I had sharpied XXX on its label as a joke. 

We visualized Sunday drivers — coming home from church kind of people — as those who likely fixed up our roadside mess for us.

What is this stuff? Y’all from California?

Passers-by the bin spill

Do people eat this?

  • Organic Tofu?
  • Almond flour?
  • Cashew milk?

Bill, an Alabaman, laughed at the lack of temptation our goods held for someone from the deep South who likes soul food or old fashioned Sunday cooking. He said, however, “if this happens in California, you can bet our stuff will be gone in a heartbeat.”

Or, maybe it was fellow RVers who empathized. Pretty sure all RVers experience some crazy goofs like this in their travels. 

Traffic jam sessions: find scenic routes

After the re-settling of the bin that didn’t break and the contents of the other, the e-map lit up with yellow and red streaks in our path.

What you miss if you stay on the interstate. Many small town downtowns are crumbling.

We ventured off and took an alternate route that paralleled the highway. Some of our U.S. highways adjacent to interstates might have better pavement because they are less traveled. So, for the most part this stretch was way better than the I-95 stretch we were avoiding.

When we got back on I-95 closer to our destination, we were passed by a truck carrying a strange military boat on the back that we had seen earlier in the traffic jams. So we didn’t lose any time and we had pleasant scenery and peaceful quiet. 

Sssshhhh please don’t share this secret with everyone else. Actually we did recall seeing a segment we think might have been on the RVers site, gone with the Wynns. They recommended avoiding most of the major highways and the stress.  

But off highway there’s some stress about roads that Google maps picks. All too often the route chosen works great for an ATV… you know the kind of road Google maps enjoys springing on you, if you have seen the RV movie with Robin Williams.

We probably should splurge a little on a navigation tool to make sure we are on the smoothest easiest routes for our size. The farthest we’ve gotten is a trial of Sygic Truck. If you have thoughts on map apps for height and width clearance, and smoothness, please comment!

So many times I wish that I had a better ride or that I could be in a smaller more agile vehicle.  

Work experience: the road is not calling

Work provides constant crises.

Often, we have to pull over to a rest area, run the generator, and pull in a special wire so I can get a cell phone boost for video class.

It can take us a grand total of eight and a half to nine hours to travel 180 miles because of slow speeds for towing, frequent stoppage for stretching, and long times waiting to pump gas then pumping gas.

If I try via cell phone while in passenger seat, some near crash happens and I have to stop, look up, and freak out. It just became impossible and overwhelming to try to work with the motion of the vehicle and constant stop and go of this crazy traffic and crack and bang a gazillion potholes.

Don’t get me started on the lack of engineering feats to solve the apparently unsolvable problem of making a bridge and highway meet without an earthquake for your vehicle.  

We didn’t want me to have to wear the neck brace and that’s why we’re in this gigantic motor home… but I do wear it when the roads are bad and the traffic is heavy. 

Brace yourself for the Outer Limits’ first stop: Congaree National Park and grandson Barrett.

Even with our gigantic suspension system, we can get beaten up bad. Even Bill is sore. Every travel day I think I may have to quit and go home.

In some ways though, emotionally having the vaccine fully in my arm and going to see family we haven’t seen in a year and a half still seems like a fair trade. Sometimes you need emotional and as much as physical therapy. 

Recipes for disaster undos

Yet as our fellow travelers in RVs must well be aware, each disaster tries to outdo itself over the last one. Emotional control, good luck!

Our freezer door must not have latched and at some point we hit a bump and a smoothie that I had in a to-go cup hit the floor and poured a quart of smoothie green with kale…mostly all over our linoleum but also onto the carpet we just spent $260 to have cleaned. And on the new kitchen rug.  

How to clean an RV rug:

  1. Remove moisture with towels
  2. Spray a cleaner
  3. Vacuum
  4. Relax, it is only a camper, right?

Yes, I have to come to terms with the stress my brain disorder over-generates. I have to accept that we flood the inner space. That spaghetti sauce will spill. That items will fall and break. That my head will pound and my body will ache. But that, finally, no matter how tough it is, I have no reason to complain.

The instant I committed to RVoyager journeys, I became blessed beyond belief. I have a chance to experience much of what I will not be able to experience in a few short years to come. Knowing that these days of diminishing abilities are numbered, even the “difficult days” are better now than they will be in the future.

That’s why we don’t say SOMEDAY. We book it.

O, the sights we will see!