with Lorelle and Brent VanFossen

On the Road Again – Day Three – Arrival in Mobile

[Warning – Contains Colorful and Useful Language]

Brent originally estimated three days then revised it to four days, but we actually made it in two and a half days. Of course, we certainly didn’t stop and smell any roses along the way.

We are here in Mobile, Alabama, and already I’m in hell.

Stopping for gas not far before the Alabama border with Mississippi, we heard the gas attendant over the loud speaker as we came to a stop. She was talking to someone in the lane next to us. “Yahl ken tern da gahz on nah-owe.” Brent and I looked at each other and screamed.

Following the directions to the RV park we’d made arrangements with over two months ago, we found no signs anywhere along the main road directing us. Most campgrounds put up signs along major roads and highways to direct traffic to them. Nothing. Not even a little sign post. We had a copy of the ad out of the RV Campground book (from Brent’s parents) and a print out from the web page. We turned, sure we were on the wrong road, and just as we were about to give up, there was the sign next to the drive way of the campground. No warning. Odd.

The sign of the first campground we stayed at in Mobile, says office but its missing letters and hard to seeWe pulled in to find the sign for the office was spelled “__fice” and followed the broken arrow which we assumed meant straight ahead. There was another sign for the office that pointed to two vacant campground spots, then finally, around on the other side of the spots there was an office building with a bigger sign, hidden behind bushes. We just stopped in the road and Brent went out to register.

As I sat with the cat in the truck, pulling together the odds and ends of our “on the road activities”, this horrid looking woman limped into view on the road with her little white poodle dog adorned in a bright red felt “jacket”. She was over dressed in black and red with huge white gray poof hair with gallons of hair spray. Her black designer sweater featured a bright red and white snowman and Christmas symbols where there should be a pocket near her waist. Her face was very wrinkled and she wore too much eye shadow with drawn lines on her brows and a bright red lipstick mouth puckered around a cigarette or fake cigarette for those trying to stop. Her mouth was so tight around the white stick that it looked like a red ring on the end of it where her face stopped. On her right leg was a half leg brace and cast, causing her limp. An elderly couple dressed all in khaki grays to match their gray hair came up to say hello to her as they held hands for their walk around the campground for evening exercise. They looked interesting, but this other woman looked horrid. Brent later told me that she was a perfect cartoon character. “Disney couldn’t have drawn her any better.”

Panic started to overwhelm me. I don’t panic often, but the overbearing fear of being trapped in the hicksville American south bible belt started to grip me. I grabbed my cell phone and called the only person I could think of who could truly appreciate this moment other than Brent. My mother.

“Mom, I’m in fucking Alabama and I’m in hell!”

An old fifth wheel trailer stands filthy and falling apart next to where we parked oursI described the scene around me, broken signs, broken down parts and pieces needing repair, the people, the accent, all of it. She agreed it was truly hell and said she wished I was closer. I cried, “I wanna come home.” She understood. A rare moment.

I know I’ll survive and I know it won’t be as bad as it seems, but the badness was reinforced after we parked the trailer and some old guy came over to meet the new residents. Brent talked to him for a while and then came to tell me that he’d made a new friend and the guy’s little dog is called Muffy. Who calls their dog Muffy any more? People without imagination. “I’m in hell!!!! You’ve brought me to hell!!” I yelled through the storm glassed windows at him.

Our first campsite in Mobile, Alabama...a piece of hellWell, we’re going to shower for the first time in three days and get all this travel dirt off of us, and hopefully relax a muscle or two. We’ll go out tomorrow and check out the other two campgrounds, one of which is very close to his new office, and where all the WalMarts, grocery stores, post offices, and gas stations are, to find our way around. Got to find a laundry, too. I’m pissed that I just got a new washer and dryer in Tel Aviv and now I’m back to freakin’ laundry mats again. I barely had time to enjoy the thrill of a washer and dryer after a decade of laundry rooms. Poop.

We will figure out if we will stay here or more to the closer campground in the next day or so and then I can start unpacking and cleaning things up and looking for an Internet connection.

Oh, we did have one minor adventure. We have braces that compression fit above the ceiling of our slideout to keep it from tilting open as we drive over rough terrain. Still learning how everything works, I forgot to remove them until I opened the slideout and Brent yelled “Stop!” I closed the slideout immediately and Brent came in to help me undo the braces. He found that the back one had punched a hole in the inside wall of the trailer. Shit.

With the slideout fully open, you can hardly see where the rectangular impression is, yet, while checking it, I stuck my finger in to feel the depth of the damage and it came out not only wet but with rotted wood on it. More shit. I checked all along the wall’s edge and found that it was all damp and flexing. The whole back corner of the trailer had or still has a leak and the wood is rotted. This is a serious problem as it supports the back end of the slideout and will require the slideout to be removed before the wood frame can be stripped, dried out, and replaced. Serious amount of work and money. We could do it ourselves if it wasn’t for the slideout, but we don’t know how to take the slideout out without special equipment to support it like a fork lift or something. Crapola.

For now, we’re going to ignore it and deal with what we can and the new job starting. We’ll check the local RV places to see if they can handle this kind of thing and go from there. This is the kind of damage that I was afraid of and relieved when we didn’t find it. The punching in of the wall was accidental but led us to discover this serious damage. Not fun.

So this is life in a mobile home in Mobile, Alabama. Let’s hope that this is the worst of it.
Mobile, Alabama

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