August 31, 2020
We crossed the bridge to Portland, stopping at Cabellas to drop off the tent with the screen room. It was no longer useful, taking too much space in the back of the mini van. The screen part never worked quite right. The netting left too much space on the bottom, leaving a large opening for armies of ants to march in followed by skittering ground spiders. I suffered bites oozing with pus on my arms and one time found an invader digging into my ear.
We have grown tired of setting up a camp with a kitchen, fire pit and separate sleeping area. We are still committed to traveling out of the mini van and camping without having to set up a tent with all the fixings.
The night before we parked at Walmart. For the first time, my first time, I slept in a vehicle in the Walmart parking lot like thousands of campers and displaced people have taken the opportunity to do for years and years free of cost. I didn’t feel weird. I didn’t feel like a loser. I loved saving the money. I reveled in the adventure of sleeping in a parking lot under bright lamp posts illuminating the parking spaces, the growl of revving engines, the slamming of doors from the shoppers leaving at closing, the workers at the end of the night shift collecting the shopping carts, the wheels scraping by our van as they rolled passed while we nestled inside our sleeping bag watching movies on our phones.
Tonight, we are at a Red Lion Hotel that has seen better days. The conventions and business visitors vanished when the pandemic arrived. We are taking advantage of the inexpensive rates, the empty hotel, maybe less than a quarter full.
From a Walmart parking lot to a King Suite with a Jacuzzi bath and a view of the river below. This is life, traveling and living on the road. Earlier, we stopped for lunch after a beautiful back road that meandered through the green forest hills overlooking the city below. In one of the dips, heading down, we found a local burger joint. It took us back to the 1970’s. Hotel California played on the radio on a hanging speaker over the picnic tables out back by the parking lot. An old mural with painted figures of car hops with curves and tight fit clothing serving juicy burgers and sodas to young guys in classic cars on the wall behind us. We listened to the music transporting us to a slower time as we feasted on cheeseburgers, chili, and onion rings with a chocolate peanut butter milkshake to chase it down.
Tonight, the fancy hotel room is a much needed break from sleeping in tents, in the back of the van at fairgrounds, at cheap hotels off the Interstate Hwy. My partner asked me out on a date. He is buying me a cocktail in the hotel lounge at 7 p.m. Tomorrow, we begin a week-long house sit in a house with a garden bursting with vegetables and a housecat, a siamese named Simon.
From what we gather, Simon loves to cuddle, he plays with feathered toys, and from time to time has stomach aches. He is seventeen. We can’t wait to meet him. Scott talks of holding him in his lap while he watches movies.