Ten days away from home, eight of them in the company of some 250 RV entrepreneurs. 2,000 miles out and back. Altogether a whole lotta time, solitude and experiences provided fodder for reflection.
Summit sessions were filled with wisdom, actionable advice, encouragement and inspiration. More than a month after I headed for Texas, I’m still processing all I took in. So if you were hoping for a serious recap post, this is not it.
Here is what I can articulate: A series of small realizations and goofy, shoulda-been blinding flashes of the obvious, related only by a crazy, cross-country solo road trip.
Welcome to my world.
- I still get excited every time I see the Mississippi River. Even though I drive across without stopping to admire it. It’s so BIG.
Photo: Damian Entwistle, via Wikimedia Commons
- Shreveport looks like Las Vegas, as interpreted by developers from Atlanta.
Photo: Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau, via Wikimedia Commons
- Boy do I love cruise control. I can find that sweet spot just a hair over the speed limit, and get there fast. Without inciting the po-po.
- If there are good parts of Lousiana, you can’t see them from I-20. Also, I-20 itself is not good in many parts of Louisiana. As a libertarian it should make me giddy that they don’t spend money on the highway. But to be honest my first thought was that I had to get off the highway because there was something wrong with my tires.
- Letting the gas tank get too empty is a bad idea. Finding a safe place to fill up and use the restroom along sparsely-populated stretches is a dicey proposition, even on an interstate highway. Once I got desperate and jumped off where an exit sign indicated gas. By this time I was almost running on fumes. The station was several tenths of a mile off the exit so I couldn’t see that it was closed until I got there. I’ve lived in metro areas all my life, and forget that it’s really not normal to be able to show up and buy things in the middle of the night.
- Trustworthy, healthy and fast are the only important criteria for eating on road trips when you just need to get there. No roller dogs, quaint, mom-and-pop barbecue joints or Montezuma’s Revenge for me, thanks.
- If you want to drive straight from Atlanta to Texas in one go, two Thermos containers full of bulletproof coffee are almost enough to get you there safely. My recipe: 2T of Kerrygold butter, 1T coconut oil, a pinch of Himalayan sea salt, and sometimes a little cream or milk. Throw all that in the blender with your coffee. Zap it in the microwave for 30 seconds or so to warm it up, and you’ll be good to go for hours. Something about all the fat in the coffee evens out the caffeine – no real spikes or dips.
- When you use the Chick-fil-A app once, at a location that’s 900 miles from your house, proximity won’t deter the store operator from doing his/her best to convince you to come back. It’s funny how they know so much about me, except for blindingly obvious things like 99% of my visits occurring in Douglas County, Georgia. Equally funny: The Chick-fil-A nearest our house was torn down a few weeks ago, and we’re getting e-mails and offers because we haven’t visited in a while.
- I am too tall to sleep comfortably…or at all…in the back of an Infiniti QX4. I tried. Twice. First in the campground parking lot, after pulling in around 3AM. Again a couple of days later when I wasn’t sure my tent would hold up under the predicted bad weather. The first time I think I actually did get some sleep. The next, I just got severe muscle spasms.
- Per-capita pickup truck ownership is even higher in Texas than in Douglasville, GA. At least, it looked that way to me. Also, they tend to go for the BIG models.
- Cowboy hats are still required accessories for a small percentage of Texan men, if my two trips to run everyday errands are any indication. Did not do a big-belt-buckle survey as I was busy marveling at the number of men wearing hats to and in the grocery store.
- H.E.B. is as dangerous a grocery store for me as Whole Foods. At least, the Fredericksburg location was. I had all the food I needed back at my campsite, and just came for adult beverages. The entrance I used put me square in the middle of a gorgeous produce department, arranged and lit in the most calculated way, I’m certain. And, it was BIG (because, Texas? or is this just H.E.B.?). So many things I could never buy in Douglasville that it makes me want to buy all. the. things. I settle on a chopped salad kit in a bag, even though it’s large enough for three. That night I eat the whole thing, because it’s every bit as delicous as it looked in the store.
- Forget about good hair in Central Texas in February. Got it done the day before I left and thought I’d be good to go for like three days. Joke was on me and my vanity. I looked like hell the whole time, but it was OK. I needed to get over myself.
- My guts know when they’re not on home turf. Doesn’t matter if I stay in a place a week. Good thing I ate that whole bag of salad else it would have been worse. Even keeping up my daily green smoothie habit was of little help. Don’t recall experiencing this phenomenon when camping in our RV.
- Springtime weather in Texas Hill Country is just as unpredictable as springtime in GA. We had crazy thunderstorms and rain, temperatures in the 30s as well as the 70s, and high winds. No snow, though!
- Apparently, I’m as susceptible to Cedar Fever as anyone else in Central Texas. Thank god for pseudoephedrine. When I had to submit to the ID check to buy it I thought briefly about cooking meth in my tent. The feds would never find me. Side note: No one cites anything but anecdotal data on the pseudoephedrine registry’s efficacy in reducing meth use. Probably because there’s been no reduction. Every meth-head knows how to get around the registry. But, being an inconvenienced and federally-surveilled allergy sufferer is a small price to pay for ensuring that Los Zetas cartel remains profitable.
- I needed every square inch of the space inside the four-person tent I brought. The crazy weather meant I had to keep everything inside, or trek to the SUV to retrieve it. Possibly in the rain. I carefully arranged my gear, clothing and sleeping setup so it was only somewhat claustrophobic. I don’t have claustrophobia, but I find it extremely difficult to function in cluttered environments.
My tent. But not my reality. Photo: Amazon.com
- The way I’d shoved all my gear up against the tent walls to make room was no bueno. A more-experienced camper (thank you, Chuck) warned me that it would have encouraged water to wick inside in some spots. Duh, right? I rearranged my gear so nothing touched the tent walls. I now had the equivalent of a bivouac tent. I was not a happy camper.
- The ALPS Mountaineering tent stood strong through all the crazy weather.
- The ALPS Mountaineering tent footprint was no match for the torrential rains that drenched the campground. Water wicked up through the floor, and I had to rearrange my gear once again, this time around puddles. Even less space. Even more uncomfortable. I was even crankier. But by this time, more determined. Life begins outside the comfort zone, right?
- You CAN use an immersion blender while camping! (if your site has electricity) I was so glad I brought it and the ingredients for bulletproof coffee, despite having to kneel on the tent floor to use them. Most days it kept me going on an even keel and only wanting two meals. Which was good, because…
- Preparing, eating and cleaning up after meals was a pain in the ass, even though I brought easy(ish) backpacking meals and premade green smoothies.
- Starbucks Via tastes just like freshly-made Starbucks coffee. I was shocked at how good it looked, tasted and smelled. Via made bulletproof coffee preparation less of an ordeal. If it wasn’t so expensive I’d quit brewing coffee and switch to Via.
Photo: Mike Mozart
- 100% do not like having to rely on a campground bathhouse to shower and use the toilet. The one at the Fredericksburg Jellystone was spotless. But shuffling my stuff back and forth, getting my towel to dry between showers, drying off after a shower without a clean bath mat…ugh. All little things, but little things that rattled me since they don’t normally take up time or mental space.
- Fellow RV Entrepreneur Summit attendees were generous, helpful and often fascinating people. When I rolled in, Eric and Brittany Highland greeted me and let me know they had a heater for me when it got cold. Andrea Elkins offered me a comfy bunk on the coldest night; hubby Shawn made me a big-ass cup of hot coffee the next morning. Drew Bensen helped me figure out how to stake out the quirky rain fly on my tent after I’d given up. When allergies started kicking my ass and threatened to ruin the trip, Kelly Wimp doctored me with essential oils that brought relief. Might’ve produced a cure if the attack hadn’t been so severe. Camille Attell gave me the Reader’s Digest Condensed version of her Pinterest course, clearing up misperceptions and missteps that made my use of the platform ineffective. Debbie LaFleiche indulged my curiousity about her new Oliver travel trailer by giving me a personal tour. Marcia Hopper did my nails with sparkly nail strips, making me feel at least a little girly despite my bad hair and campground casual attire. Several people checked in with me throughout the Summit – including Heath Padgett, 1/2 of the Summit’s lead organizing team – to make sure I was OK in my tent; I’ve no doubt they’d have offered help with anything I needed.
Photo: Joe Hendricks
- I very much enjoyed my drive along the two-lane road between Fredericksburg and Killeen, Texas. It’s quintessentially Texan: Gorgeous hills. Cactus. Big rocks. Wide-open spaces. Cattle ranches. It had a soothing, meditative quality. Instead of putting on a podcast, I let the views from the highway slowly bring me back to earth after a week packed with people, experience and learning.
Photo: Joe Hendricks
- Every road trip I’ve ever taken has been a means to an end. Getting from home to destination and/or obligation, as fast as possible. No scenic detours, stopping to explore local places or even slowing down to admire the scenery. We’re about to have the option to do things differently. How often will we take it?
The biggest takeaway from this trip, outside of the Summit sessions? I am a glamper, not a camper.
Speaking of –