We drove back to Eugene from Seattle on Saturday, March 14. It rained most of the way and took nearly twice as long as it normally does in a car, even though we only had two or three short stops. We’re learning that for RV travel, we have to reset our internal clocks to turtle mode. Kate keeps singing, “Slow down, you’re going too fast.”
We got to Eugene in the dark and unhitched the car in an Albertson’s parking lot before driving up into the South Hills, where we would camp out in our friends’ driveway. When I went to start up the car, the battery was totally dead. (Lesson Learned: Don’t leave a cassette/iPod connector in your car stereo while towing. When you tow a CRV, you have to turn the ignition on so the power steering doesn’t lock, so any interior lights left on (or radio) will drain the battery.)
It was pouring rain, so we left the car parked catawampus in the lot and got Bessie settled into our friends’ driveway. After a quick, delicious dinner that Robin had waiting for us, Kathy drove us back to the car, which managed to start up all on her own. (Just needed a little rest, I guess.)
The next morning, we discovered that one of the large outside storage compartments was holding a half inch of water. Fortunately most of our stuff in it was in bins, but we had to empty everything out. We were taking Bessie to the shop to have a poorly sealed window replaced on Monday, and they would have to deal with that, too.
It was perfect to do the trip this way with sort of a false start and quick return. It gave us a chance to test what works and doesn’t work in the RV, and we’d filled three boxes with items we really didn’t need to bring. Unlike pioneers, who just tossed their extra weight along the Oregon Trail, we got to store our things in the house’s locked storage.
We stayed in Eugene for three days, and each day was packed full of last-minute tasks:
- Buy, hem, and install curtains for Jennifer’s office, which is now offered as a bedroom.
- Paint the pantry walls and shelves, which looked so dingy and stained after we emptied it.
- Touch up chipped baseboards.
- Take Bessie to the shop for repairs: a new window that wasn’t sealed right and fix the leaky storage compartments.
Take Bessie and the CRV to Hitch Pro to have the brake-assist checked, and to install a light on Bessie’s dash to indicate when the CRV’s brakes are engaged. (The lights on the tow bar were impossible to see in the backup camera, and you need to know when the brakes are coming on so you can adjust the sensitivity. The brakes on the CRV had smelled hot sometimes from overuse.)
- Go to the dentist to get Jennifer’s bite adjusted for her new crown.
- Get one last chiropractor adjustment and massage for each of us.
- Buy and cut a dowel to hold up the RV bed when we need to get into storage. (Once we added the mattress topper, it wouldn’t stay up on its own.)
- And numerous other small errands.
On Monday night, we had to leave Bessie at the shop, so we brought our pajamas along with us to dinner at Anita and Hilary’s and stayed for the night.
It was hardly a restful stopover, but it was good to see friends and our son, Jesse, one last time before we hit the road, this time for at least a year. Good to be able to put finishing touches on the house and get Bessie and the car in top shape.
We have a tenant!
For months now, Kate has shrugged every time someone asks if we have renters for the house yet. Her intuition is almost always on target, and she felt sure that the right person would come along as soon as we were out of the house. On Tuesday, we were in our garage, loading up after our final goodbye to the house, when we saw a nice-looking man parked across the street, peering over at us.
His name was Pat, and he’d come to meet the property manager and see the place, but he was early, so I offered to show him myself. We liked him right off. He’s middle-aged, a single dad with a son in high school and a daughter at college. He had a bike on the back of his car, and his German short-haired pointer named Ursa sat primly in the front seat. He’d moved back here from Wisconsin to start a new job and have his son live with him.
He liked the house a lot, and appreciated that it was furnished. But the only hold-up was that he would really like to not have to move till his son had finished the school year, in June. Kate and I looked at each other and shrugged, “Why not?” I guess we can stay gone a little longer. Or come back and work something out temporarily until June. It was only a couple extra months, and we had a really good feeling about this guy.
When the property manager arrived, we left them talking, and while we were driving on the Redwood Highway in California two days later, we got the call. We have a tenant!