We left Oklahoma — with profuse apologies to all the snakes who were fantasizing about how good Roo would taste — and had to head to Indiana because the camper, that paragon of stolid Amish craftsmanship, had developed yet another leak and had to be returned to the factory to be rebuilt for the second time in less than two years.
We wended our way up through the Bluegrass Country of Kentucky, which might be the most perfectly emblematic part of the country: It's stunningly beautiful countryside and charming towns littered with Confederate flags. If any of you ever hear that Roo and I are thinking of moving into your neighborhood and would like to keep us out, just hoist a Confederate flag and we'll keep on our way.
In a little camper, where space is at a premium, one ends up doing complicated things with running wires and storing things. The usual rat's nest of cables and wires from a computer and printer would take up the whole place if it wasn't all properly coiled and stashed, for example. And everything being in it's place takes on huge importance. As a result — and I still don't understand how this is true, but it is — it takes about four hours to unload and six to re-load. Roo and I booked a motel room, and once the thing was emptied, I brought it to the factory.
The master Amish craftsmen did their thing. I'll get more into it in another post, but it's a huge job, and they like you to think they're doing you a favor by living up to the warranty. But, in short, the problem is that the floor can't be replaced without taking the whole camper apart, which can only be done at the factory, and they use a cheap flooring that is prone to quickly rotting if it ever gets wet. The last time they replaced it, it leaked immediately. This time, after waiting for some rain to subside, driving it on wet roads, you guessed it, filled it with water.
It's just junk and there's no fixing it any more. What's the point. They're not capable of getting it right.
So, Roo and I drove up to see an old friend nearby in Michigan, The South of the North. Any time a mosquito researcher contacts me to ask where they should go when they need to load up on specimens, I tell them Michigan. Within two days my arms and hands were bleeding from all the bites. Not a store anywhere sold the natural, dog-safe repellents, and I don't use the other stuff when there's a risk of her licking it.
Last year, I had the bright idea of avoiding summer crowds by escaping into the high Rockies, which worked, but it was grueling. I have a post prepared on the decision not to return, which wasn't easy, because Roo let me know, in concrete terms, that that's where she was happiest. That's coming. (It's been hard to keep up with work with all this damn camping. I'm SO done, but that's yet another story.)
This year, Memorial Day weekend crept up, and everything was crowded to the hilt. We were forced to make a decision. West or east. If I don't get out of this camper soon, I am going to shoot myself, and so, we'll be heading east soon.
In the meantime, though, Roo had a bad week. What with a few thunderstorms, and then crowds and unexpected noises, it seemed to get to her. She became more nervous than she's been in a long time. Her stomach began to bother her again and she started to refuse to come out of the car at all. So, for her sake, I returned her to a state park in Indiana where she can run and swim and hunt, and where, by not moving for a few days, I can try to catch up on work. She is so sweet, and her sensitivity is only mitigated by lots of exercise. It's crippling me, but it's all she's got.
[Roo's jerky addiction is worse than crystal meth and costs ten times as much. If you'd like to keep her withdrawals to a minimum, sign up for our Patreon—it's as little as a buck a month....]