Sunday, August 05, 2007

Riding in a Penske Truck: Texas to Pennsylvania

Big enough to haul the trunks and Suzie's stuff, but not too big that I'd be afraid to drive - that's the criteria Ed and I used in selecting a Penske rental truck for my run from Texas through Missouri and on to Pennsylvania. Our choice ended up being a white 12 foot box truck. We picked it up on a Thursday night. Friday with the help of the high school kid who works as a cook at Rodberg's Diner in Whitehouse, we emptied the rented storage space and loaded the trunks. Packed and padded to prevent damage to our stuff, I left Texas on June 9th.

I went as far a Joplin, Missouri on that first day. When I called Suzie to tell her that I was in Missouri, she and her roommate Kaylee squealed into the phone, "Mama, we can be there by midnight!" I was tickeled by their offer but I convinced them that I was tired from the drive and tomorrow would be soon enough to see them. The next day by 3 PM, their live squeals and hugs greeted me at an Interstate 70 gas station when I arrived in Montgomery City, Missouri.

Suzie and I waited for the sun to drop before unloading the truck. We hauled boxes maked "Suzie" into her summer rental and placed the kitchen table and chairs (the only unsold furnishings from our former home) in her empty dining room. She welcomed that little piece of home where we crowded around for meals, played aggressive games of canasta, and held family conversations.

I visited with Suzie until the morning of June 13th, a calculated date based on the seven day limit of the Penske rental agreement and the miles I still had to cover. When I once again manuvered onto Interstate 70, I was bound for Pennsylvania. Audio books made the miles roll by as I crossed through Missouri, Indiana, and Ohio.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Farewell to Rusty

Rusty tilted his head and looked up with his big brown eyes as if to ask, "Who are those new people going in and out of our house? Where is my favorite green couch? And, why doesn't anybody let me in the house when I bark at the back door?"

Conditioned by 7 years in our Texas home, Rusty our Cardigan Welsh Corgi simply did not want to give up his known environment. During the time when we had the motorcoach on the upper lot of the Whitehouse, Texas property, we'd find Rusty lazing in his favorite spot on the front porch. Sometimes, he'd bark at the back door of the house and LaJuana or Travis, the new home owners, would invite him inside to lay on the familiar cool tile floor.

During our three weeks of the house sale, I'd hear Ed say, "We are selling to the ground to go full-time as RVer's. We're even looking for a home for our dog Rusty." Each time I heard that I felt an urge to cover Rusty's big ears. Do we really need to find a new home for Rusty? I asked myself over and over again. My heart said "no" but in all practicality I knew the right answer had to be "yes".

Rusty needed a family with kids who would play and treat him to the unwanted remains of their dinner and an occasional Dairy Queen ice cream cone. Since Suzie had gone off to college, Rusty lost his playmate for "keep-away" and snuggle pal at bedtime. I needed to find him a new family.

I created a small poster picturing Rusty in the flowerbed of daises and offering to give him to a loving family. Within in hours of tacking the poster to the community message board at Dad's Barbecue, Ed received a call.

We made plans to meet the family and that evening three kids hopped out of a red SUV. Shy at first, they hovered around their Mom and Dad. Ed drew them out as he showed them Rusty's tricks. Smiles grew, Rusty barked and we knew we had found a new home for Rusty, a family.

Our New House on Wheels

As we vacated our Texas home on Old Tyler Road, we moved into our "house on wheels" - a gray and green colored Prevost XL Angola Bus Conversion. The reduction in space - going from a 2,000 square foot home to a 40 foot long, 102 inch wide coach - is the only sacrifice we made. The coach is equipped with all the conveniences of a house (AC, washer/dryer, 20 gallon hot water tank...) and many amenities like a granite floor entryway, awnings, water filtration system, external propane barbecue grill, stereo system, and a fishing mural that reflects my love for the sport.

Ed especially likes the joey bed that spans the full width of the coach. This space is off-limits to me as I learned early in the transition to the coach. Ed has tools and coach supplies filling the space. He's pleased with the Detroit 8V92 engine, the 12.5 kw Martin diesel turbo gen-set, and the recent purchase of the Demco tow dolly for hauling our car, a Toyota Corolla CE.

The interior of the coach bears few reminders of our house with the only exception being the gray bedspread, a Seiko clock, the silverware, and a tasseled brass lamp mounted to the small table in the coach living room. All else is new. We've even packed Grandma's Desert Rose dishes for storage and use a new a microwavable black and white non-breakable plastic dish set from Target.

Simple, yes, but we have all the essentials in our new house on wheels.