Greetings from Able Orchard in Hood River, Oregon! My Ruby Slippers spent a summer here while still a pile of scrambled bits, so it’s a sweet return, especially with a new flock of chickens on the grounds. As you may know, I fantasize about having chickens of my own, so for a coupla days, I’m pretending they’re mine. Mr. Bojangles the rooster crowed right on cue at dawn. Which in the Pacific Northwest in summer, is really damn early.
So this morning, the mister and I, in our cozy RV, are hammering away at our dueling laptops, sipping tea, realizing we have no particular plans for the day. Which seems a delicious time for an update, in the form of lessons from the road.
1. Mice like wiring.
Our intrepid wanderers left Oakland in the rain on June 1 around 10 am. Shortly after lunch, still raining, they found themselves camped out in the waiting room at the Ford dealership in Corning, CA, leafing through past issues of Ducks Unlimited and eavesdropping on talk about torque.
The verdict? Mice. Rodents had chewed through the cruise control wiring. The fix: two hours and $187.
2. Sometimes, you are the mouse.
When two eggheads climb into an RV, high comedy will surely follow. Knowing nothing about how the water, sewer, electrical or hydraulic jack systems work on their new vehicle, our adventurers spent the first three days in the RV without water. And without functioning hydraulic jacks. For RV novices out there, jacks stabilize and level the thing when you’re parked so all the blood doesn’t rush to your head while you sleep.
Fix #1: After much swearing, despair and self-flagellation, call the former owner, who will walk you through how to turn the water valve from “closed” to “open.”
Fix #2: After even more swearing, despair and self-flagellation, make an appointment at an RV mechanic to get your hydraulic jacks fixed, only to find out that one needs only push in the parking brake first and the things work just fine.
Lesson: Be grateful when mechanics don’t laugh at you, charge you almost nothing, and track down a copy of the operator’s manual.
Note to self: Find the manual about how to empty the sewer tanks.
3. Public radio and public libraries rock.
Here’s the place to give a hearty shout-out to KLCC public radio in Eugene, where I was a guest on Tripp Sommer’s award-winning “Northwest Passage” on June 3. Tripp’s got a fantastic beard, and is also a curious, interested interviewer who threw me some great questions. Where else can an emerging writer get a hearing like that? And sandwiched in between “Fresh Air” and “All Things Considered,” I felt almost famous.
Shout out #2 to the Eugene public library, where I was a guest for the Summer Reading Series. What a terrifically smart audience and thoughtful organizer. Will someone please send Scott Heron some flowers?
The lesson: Local cultural programming enriches communities and gives artists much-needed venues to share their work. Next time the pledge drives come around or the funding initiatives show up on the ballot, I’m there.
4. The Mister, aka Captain Trips, aka Frederick Marx, is a fine filmmaker and a treasure of a man.
He’s driven every single mile so far while I’ve been posting status updates and tweeting, patiently endures sleeping with his feet hanging off the end of the bed, and praises My Ruby Slippers at his own film screenings. So here’s to Frederick and his terrific film, “Journey From Zanskar.” If you’re in and around Tacoma on Thursday, June 9, you can catch it at 6:45 at the Grand.
After that, I’ll be at Elliott Bay Books in Seattle on Friday, June 10 at 6 pm.
Until later, Happy Trails!