Since I was still a RV drivin’ newbie I wanted to take it slow and steady. I left Blue Earth MN, drove roughly 150 miles into Iowa and decided to call it a day. I was happy about the distance I had covered and figured I deserved an easy and uneventful day. I pulled into a rest stop feeling a sense of accomplishment and set up camp for the night.
This was the first night it started to feel real to me. I was out of my home state and it was just me, my cats and Mander. I did it! Look at me! I’m living on the road! Albeit, in a very nice rest stop with RV parking away from the semis, free WiFi and clean bathrooms but baby steps people. Baby steps. I was relaxing in bed and I saw I had a message from an Instagram friend (doing a van conversion) that lives in Iowa. He knew I would be heading through his neck of the woods and offered me a place to park Mander and the use of his tools if need be. The “vanlife” community is truly amazing! I decided to take him up on his offer because I thought it would be fun to meet a like minded individual…not because I thought I would need his offer for parking or tools. Can you sense the foreshadowing here?
I got his information and opened google maps. Before I could plug in his address, a bit of info I could have gone without seeing was staring back at me. In big, black letters and numbers google maps told me,
You are 3 hours and 28 minutes away from home.
Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuck you google maps. You obviously don’t know what I’ve been through! What a demoralizing dose of reality to get hit with when you feel like you just finished climbing an emotional mountain…in a blizzard…with no shoes on. It delivered a smack in the face but with undeniable comedic timing. How could I feel like I’ve come so far, yet covered so little distance!? I had to laugh.
The next day I set out to visit my soon to be new buddy, Sky. I started driving and Mander spit, sputtered and came to a stop before I could even get out of the parking lot. Mander wasn’t ready to go. Instead of stressing out about it, I just put her back in park and headed out to go hike the trails behind the rest stop. I was meaning to do that anyway so no sweat off my back!
I got back to Mander and gave her a start. This time she was ready to roll! I pointed her towards Des Moines and left that comfy little rest stop behind. As I got closer and closer to Sky’s, it was becoming clear some mechanics were starting to go awry. I pulled into his driveway, shut Mander off and became officially broken down. She refused to start again. Mander had made herself at home. I looked at these warm and welcoming strangers and said,”Hi! I’m gonna live in your driveway now. I hope you like me!” Mander had not finished showing me her powers of bringing wonderful people into my life. All things considered, I was keen to allow it.