The ‘Itchy Feet’ Syndrome — Traveling vs. Arriving

After almost three months of living life as nomads, we can reasonably conclude there are two types of people who inhabit RVs — serious travelers and those who can’t seem to resist putting down roots, even on a temporary basis. The latter will journey a few hundred miles from home and then park their expensive RVs for weeks. I can only hypothesize at what motivates them but running from below zero weather in Bemidji, Minnesota, seems a reasonable guess for many. I’m not certain I would stake out a claim in a shabby RV park in East Jesus, Texas, with my million dollar motor home but it must work for them. The couple from Dallas with a new Liberty Coach (probably $1.5 million) that had been parked for two months 325 miles from home struck me as odd but they seemed happy.

And then there are the rest of us. A couple of days in one place and we start to get the RV equivalent of ‘cabin fever’. The laundry is done, the larder is full of granola, oat bran and tofu, the refrigerator stocked with fresh vegetables and absolute boredom has set in. Once we decide to move on, there is almost a child-like, Christmas-morning sense of anticipation about rising early and going through the ritual of ‘hitching up’ and hitting the road. After the familiar drill — empty the waste tanks, disconnect the hoses and cables, put away the awning, raise the stabilizers, hitch up to the truck, hook up the equalizers and sway bar, attach the safety chains and electrical umbilical cord, check the lights, do a final check (Kathy handles the inside preparations for travel) — it’s extremely satisfying to pull away from the site and begin the journey to another destination we haven’t visited or one we are looking forward to seeing again. The process sounds rather tedious but we continue to enjoy this part of RV life after having done this 35-40 times in the last three months. It may seem as trite as ‘Travels with Charlie‘ but there is something uniquely American about this desire to see what is around the next bend and over the next hill. I’ll leave it to the social scientists to explain but it certainly keeps us interested.

Pictures, At Last

I hope to organize the picture section better when I sit down again for another update later this month. In the meantime, here are a few of our favorite pictures. To minimize the page download size, I have collected the pictures into separate pages. Sometimes thematically (national parks), often not. Oddly enough, I can’t find any pictures of a favorite location — Big Bend National Park. I either misplaced the images or simply failed to take the shots. Too bad. I guess we’ll have to return to fill out the album …

Oliver Lee State Park (Alamogordo, New Mexico)

It feels as if we have been in a time warp with the days passing in a pleasant, soft blur. It may be a travel truism but we often have to stop for a moment to recall the day of the week and where we were last week. In the last two months, we have driven over five thousand miles, visited seven states (well, eight if you think, as most Texan do, that one Texas is at least equivalent to two ‘regular’ states), toured at least seven national parks/monuments, enjoyed many lunches and ‘stretch’ breaks on quiet back roads and reveled in the splendor of simply stunning scenery. Tonight we are back at one of our favorite places, a little state park in the high desert of southern New Mexico. Striking landscape, incredible sunsets, warm days, cool evenings, wonderful night skies and the place is almost empty. The monster motor coaches are non-existent, apparently preferring creature comforts over beauty. We even have a neighbor in another Airstream which is quite unusual.

So how are we doing? Splendidly! Kathy is doing very well and this type of travel agrees with both of us. We have absolutely no regrets about the decision to undertake this odyssey. And it really is an odyssey since one of the primary objectives of our journey is to find the place where we will build our next home. We have discovered that we really enjoy quiet, even remote, places and that the high-intensity life we led in San Francisco is no longer as appealing as it was just a year ago. Invariably, after a few days in a large city, we look forward to heading back out into the hinterlands. I really don’t think we are inclined to become recluses but we have the good fortune to be able to choose a place to live where relentless traffic and super-sized everything (stores, SUVs, RVs, people) need not be a part of our daily routine. The search continues but lots of sunshine and a sense of visual spaciousness are key criteria in our search. We are still working on whether we can deal with cold winters since almost 20 years in California have made us confirmed weather wimps.

I’m also working on ideas for my post-Paremus, post-technology career. I’m not ready to retire but I have decided it’s time to pass the baton to another generation of startup executives. I certainly don’t feel old enough to retire but, after almost 30 years in this business, Paremus will probably be my last high-tech startup. I know, ‘famous last words’ but I’m serious this time, really …

A few highlights since we last posted:

National Parks: It was somewhat unplanned but we ended up visiting many of the major national parks and monuments in the West (Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Zion, Capitol Reef, Arches, Canyonlands, White Sands and Big Bend) with what seemed like hundreds of rented RVs full of Europeans dashing from park to park. When you see an RV labeled ‘Cruise America’ or ‘1-800-RV4RENT’, it’s an even bet that the driver speaks German or French. Nice, quiet travelers and I’m delighted to see them enjoying our parks while helping reduce our trade deficit. Our favorite parks — Big Bend and Capitol Reef. Really stunning vistas and not too many people. The former is quite remote and its harshness is almost breathtaking. Definitely an acquired taste since it’s not your typical park. On a positive note, its very remoteness means the usual tacky tourist joints simply don’t exist just outside the park entrance as they do with most national parks. Terlingua, Texas, is the western entrance to Big Bend and it’s definitely not even far enough up the scale to qualify as tacky. It’s simply a dumpy little West Texas town with a down-at-the-heels motel and RV park. Refreshing if you don’t need to spend much time there.

Texas: Texas deserves it’s own entry. Incredible variety. We came in through Pecos, stopped for coffee Marfa (remote and as charming as the NY Times article described) on the way to Big Bend, dashed over to San Antonio where I flew up to Denver for a sales call, spent a couple of days in Austin so we could have dinner with a friend and his wife, stocked up with groceries at the home of Whole Foods, headed back west through Hill Country, passing through El Paso (an unpleasant place) on the way to tonight’s stop. People in Texas are quite pleasant and I found myself striking up random conversations with people. Very out of character for me since I have spent years cultivating my curmudgeon persona but obviously there is something in the Texas water. Texas is probably not on our list of places to settle but it’s definitely an interesting place to visit. I don’t think it was the three-foot snake meandering through the luxury RV park in Kerrville that put me off Texas but the ‘Snakes of Texas’ book prominently displayed in the travel section of Barnes & Noble in San Antonio did give me pause for thought. Certainly not your typical California travel section with a surfeit of wine books.

That’s it for this entry. Look for another update in late November or early December. I need to prepare a fund-raising package for Paremus and start the process of speaking with VCs this month. This will consume a big chunk of my non-travel time and absorb most of my creative ‘juices’ (a startup business plan is inherently fictional since it’s a story that has not completely unfolded). My feelings of guilt (and I’m not Jewish or Catholic) precludes me from enjoying the pleasure of writing this journal when I have ‘serious’ work to complete. Delayed gratification and all that nonsense …