You know you’re in for an underwhelming museum experience when the docent at the entrance greets you with “We don’t have a lot of exhibits right now.”
There’s a lot to read and very little to see at the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas, California, where Nobel Prize-winning novelist John Steinbeck…I dunno. Was born? Grew up? Went to school? I was unable to differentiate, assimilate and process what I wanted from the barrage of words and pictures and plastic dioramas that make up the permanent collection, all competing for attention.
Since the exhibit hall is essentially set up for children to enjoy, this should be easier.
I had a choice to make upon leaving the Alumafiesta Airstream event in Tucson. Drive north an hour to the Biosphere research facility and educate myself about Earth systems planning and policy? Or slog east toward El Paso on the I-10 to Dragoon, Arizona?
No contest. I went to see The Thing.
Every driver passing through the Southwest has seen the garish yellow billboards that command you to go to The Thing. As you near fabled Exit 322, they come fast and furious, dominating the scenery. “Mystery of the Desert” the signs proclaim. “Have You Seen It?” they tantalize.
My diagnosis came during Alumafiesta.
I was sitting in a computer repair shop in the bad part of Tucson, waiting for my iPhone to be resurrected after it fell headfirst into the toilet at LazyDays RV Park. Leafing through a GQ, I came upon an article about an interesting new disorder that I now know I have: FOMO.
Fear of Missing Out. The tongue-in-cheek article detailed the anxiety and self loathing you experience from overconsuming social media and discovering with every click (or swipe or flick) that your friends and acquaintances are having more fun than you are.
“On the road again…” Without fail I sing that out loud when I put the 4-Runner in drive with the Airstream in tow. This trip, Ralph was spared (left behind to continue shaping young minds at COCC), but I had Raven by my side as I embarked on a long-ish journey through the Southwest.
Among other activities, I was researching the lesser-known fossil dig sites of the West for a magazine article. My first order of business was to study up on the geology of Nevada. First stop, Reno…and the nearby Nevada State Museum in Carson City.
Despite the terrible online reviews, I overnighted at the Silver Sage RV Park in Reno.
You’re fully recovered from Blue Monday—the most depressing day of the year—only to be thrust deep into Sad January. (Is that a thing? Let’s call it a thing.)
At this time of year those of us up north are either A) preparing to tow south to Alumafiesta or Alumaflamingo, or B) miserably regarding our winterized Airstreams out in the driveway, glumly counting the days until spring. But after learning more about winter towing, I propose option C): beat the post-holiday doldrums by fleeing to, not from, the cold and snow.
Even before we met, I liked Tom.
I had the opportunity to interview him over the phone but we didn’t meet in person until we shared a beer when he visited Bend two Julys ago.
About six months prior Tom published Airstreaming, a story about, in Tom’s words, “family, relationships and characters that would intertwine and cause each other to do surprising things.”
I was curious to find out how, since then, Tom has been changed by both Airstreaming the novel—and his own recent Airstream lifestyle.
So, here’s what didn’t work.
My effort to prevent devaluing my fabulous collectible Chris Deam DWR Airstream with the WBCCI Big Red Numbers resulted in a frightful defacement. “Take THAT,” snickered the ghost of Wally Byam.
My own displaced vanity and lack of ability to think a process through is really to blame, of course.
The first flakes of snow are sticking, and the larch in the yard is bright yellow. Time to talk winterizing.
No self-respecting RV blog is complete without a post on winterizing (just a posh word for “drying out” the trailer), a function Ralph has executed exactly twice.
A couple of years ago we moved from the mild, wet, green side of Oregon to the dry, cold, High Desert side where it freezes at night so early and often the tomato growing season lasts eight weeks.
Spend any time at all on the American highway and you’ll see one: the world’s largest [fill in the blank].
The Frazee, Minnesota turkey. The Vergas, Minnesota loon. (Giant fowl are popular in MInnesota). The Medicine Hat Teepee in Alberta, Canada. The list is endless; their aficionados, legion.
If you have a very long Airstream you’ll have trouble turning it around—especially if other gawkers pull in behind you—at the site of Salem Sue, the World’s Largest Holstein Cow, who makes her home at the top of a steep hill in North Dakota.