A little house cleaning


Dec. 4, Las Cruces, N.M. – We’ve been on the road 23 days now. We’ve traveled 2,340 miles from the Key Peninsula in western Washington and we’re still more than 2,000 miles from our destination.
It hasn’t always been pretty, and it hasn’t always been clean. The above photograph is a fair representation of the sight we glimpsed upon opening the camper door back on Nov. 25 after stopping for gas in Pearsonville, Calif., along U.S. Route 395.
Yes, that’s a soiled diaper at our doorstep. Traveling is always a hodgepodge of the ugly and the beautiful, replete with serendipitous discoveries and missed opportunities. Take Pearsonville, for instance. I just discovered they call Pearsonville the “Hubcap Capital of the World,” a name derived from Lucy Pearson’s collection of hubcaps. And here I thought of it as the Detritus Capital of the World.
How I would love to chat with Lucy and ask her about her 80,000 hubcaps.
Just thought I’d take a little time to provide an inside look at our life on the road and revisit a few things we’ve overlooked in this journal. First of all, cleanliness:
We’ve visited the Y three times so far, once in Beaverton, Ore., once in Redding, Calif., and once in Yuma. That was last Friday, and it enabled us to shower for the first time since the previous Saturday in Minden, Nev.
Like I said, it’s not always clean. That’s about our average when not visiting friends or family. One shower per week. (The behemoth comes equipped with its own shower, but we’re too scared to use it.)
Aside from our long stay at the Yuma Family Y (child watch had nearly closed by the time we arrived, so we had to work out in shifts), we spent most of our time in Yuma at Starbucks International House of Bitterness. We logged a good 13-14 hours at two different locations.
I spent most of that time desperately trying to catch up on this journal. Becky took Max to Chuck E. Cheese the first day.
Other than that they hung out alongside me as I labored fitfully, Max watching videos and Becky surfing the Web and editing my rough-hewn words.
In Yuma we found the cheapest water and gas we’d seen yet. Gas was $3.23 per gallon at the Arco where I met Randall Joe Riley, and water refills were 15 cents a gallon at the local CVS. The gas has been eclipsed, as we bought gas for $3.07 in Tucson. We’ve seen it as low as $2.99 in New Mexico for 85 octane.
We’ve had some success lately in straying from the meretricious lures of the interstate highway system, our visit to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in the wild and wonderful Sonora Desert being notable. We’ve also reduced our reliance on Walmart accommodations, though we relapsed last night for the first time since Southern California. We’ve availed ourselves of the usual array of boondocking options: truck stops, casinos and Walmart. We enjoyed a night of free public parking in Hermosa Beach and spent a trip-high $12 to camp in Organ Pipe. All told, we’ve spent $27 on lodging in 22 nights on the road.

Max at Baker Creek county campground in Big Pine, Calif. That's Mount Darwin at his back, 13,837 up in the Sierra Nevada.

Max strikes a pose at Baker Creek county campground in Big Pine, Calif. That’s Mount Darwin looming over his shoulder, 13,837 up in the Sierra Nevada.

Our first paid stop came Nov. 24, the day we left Minden. We paid the paltry sum of $10 to park in Baker Creek campground. The moon was lush and fat, giving as a wondrous nighttime view of Mount Darwin at our backs. In the morning we opened the door and Lester bolted for freedom. He got about five yards away before he keeled over and abandoned himself to a dirt bath. I hope he was happy.

It took Lester's fur a good 24 hours to regain its customary white luster.

It took Lester’s fur a good 24 hours to regain its customary luster.

That’s about all for now. It’s past noon in Las Cruces, which means its past 1 p.m. in El Paso, only 45 minutes south of here. It’s a good five and a half hours from Big Bend National Park, which we hope to see during this lifetime.
Besides, I can’t stop yawning. Suddenly the fatigue has infested my bones. Maybe I should say something brief about our sleeping arrangements.
Usually Max sleeps on the pullout couch in the back and we repair to the bed above the cab. Often we’ll gather on Max’s bed and watch a movie on the portable DVD player after dinner and prior to bed. Last night Becky cooked up some tasty egg-and-cheese and cheese-and-pepperoncini sandwiches on a multigrain baguette we picked up at the Albertson’s adjacent to Starbucks. Max settled for Ritz crackers and sharp cheddar cheese.
It was late. We had closed down the Starbucks at 11, and by the time we finished dinner, it was nearly 2 a.m. I read Max one of my favorites, Dr. Seuss’ “The Sneetches,” and then we tackled six chapters of “Captain Underpants and the Attack of the Talking Toilets.”
It was past time for bed. But that’s how we roll, the unorthodox family Wallingford adrift in America.
We skipped movie time, and Becky and I went “upstairs” and started listening to a little “Suspense.” I was ready to crash.
Before that happened, Max asked if he could join us. We’re nothing if not accommodating. Which means we never say no. There’s hardly room for three in the little bed, but he clambered up and we all fell asleep as a cozy little family.
Sometime in the night I awoke. Max had already started going perpendicular, as is his custom. We used to marvel last year how my mom managed to get any sleep at all with his feet planted in her neck. By morning, his feet would be sticking in Becky’s ribs.
I made for his bed, and got a few hours’ sleep before the sun rose above the Organ Mountains and slipped in through the blinds that don’t quite close up properly.
Which means I’ve been here in this McDonald’s for long about five hours now. And for the record, I haven’t spent a cent.
Time to move on, though.

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