RV, Travel, Friends and Observations on Love.

I’ve been traveling since December, just before New Years 2021, with the intention to recreate as much of a magical 2020 as I could. Last year, there were a number of great rallies scheduled for people who have the same type of RV as I do. It was my goal to be at them all. In the attempt, I visited twenty five states and traveled about 22,000 miles. I started in January, and by the time everyone was sitting up in March and actually taking notice of Covid, I’d attended the first three rallies;  Quartzsite, AZ, in January, Paso Robles, CA in February, and Tallahassee, FL in March. Everything came to a shuddering halt in March. Thereafter, all the rallies were canceled.

The first 2020 Rally, at Quartzsite, in Arizona was huge. There were over 250 coaches, and probably over 400 people, and it was great. I assist in moderating a Winnebago View/Navion Motorhomes Group on Facebook that, this year, has over 8,000 members. I had no responsibility at the Quartzsite Rally except to have fun, meet with people I communicated with on line, and lend an occasional hand with fixing something that wasn’t quite right.

Quartzsite is a different place, and semi famous among the right groups. The town of Quartzsite depends upon RVer’s visiting in the winter. There are large tracts of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) surrounding town where tens of thousands of RV’s spend the winter. You can stay for six months for under $200, and for two weeks for $80. There is a dump station, and water available on BLM property, but no defined campsites, and no services. You are on your own for water, sewer, propane and electrical management. Fire rings litter the BLM desert landscape, and the town is filled with all type of vendors, a pair of grocery stores, a couple restaurants, and at least one laundry. Rock shops dominate some roads in town, and a large tent that houses an annual RV show.

I felt like a very, very minor celebrity (it was nice) last year at Quartzsite. It as very satisfying to hear from people you dealt with on line, providing information and guidance, especially since they were happy and satisfied. It was an exceptional time, but the most satisfying part of the experience was making new friends. I became friendly with a number of people and we loosely traveled after the rally and to the next rally in California.

The word love gets thrown around loosely, and in an offhand manner. You ‘love’ a restaurant, you ‘love’ a panorama, you ‘love’ to go to the theater, you ‘love’ chocolate. That is not love. Love and like are quite different. I like acquaintances, like I like butter pecan ice cream. I love my children, I love my deceased wife, I love my mother in law, my sisters, brothers and I love my friends. I love, real love, all my friends. Love always involves an emotional exchange. People can get uncomfortable when you start to talk about love. If you examine the difference between friends and acquaintances, you enter a vague, cloudy realm.  Miriam Webster defines love as a strong affection for another, arising out of kinship or personal ties, or affection based on admiration, benevolence’ Webster opines that love is a result of common interests or attraction based on sexual or emotional relationships. It’s that sexual attraction part that seems to put things askew and make people uncomfortable.

It’s easy to tell family, sometimes, that you love them. It’s important to tell family that you love them, as you really never know when your next opportunity will arise, or not. It’s more difficult to let a friend know that you love them by actually saying it out loud. More often than not, it has to be by your actions, and the words you use interacting with them, that there is a regard and value to your relationship. Love between friends seems to have a balancing component to it, even though love is incapable of being quantified. People can attempt to measure love like it’s an ingredient in a recipe or bank account. It isn’t that way.

Thinking about all my friends who have been so critically important to my mental and physical well being for several years, and the basis of our relationships, I suddenly comprehended, the other night, the minutia of a relationship I had years ago. I fell madly in love with a college coed. There was no physical desire as part of the love. The physical component of the relationship was missing. The love was all emotional and intellectual, which was strange, for a healthy almost twenty something. The fact that she was cute certainly contributed something, but it wasn’t the driving emotion. Lust was not a prime factor.

She liked me, as if a favorite seat in a restaurant. I thought we were friends, but there was no emotional connection on her part. She could say goodbye to me, with the same emotional connection as you would to a favorite clerk at the supermarket after your shopping. Possibly less. In retrospect, it wasn’t love, it was confusion on my part. I was young,; impressionable. She was intellectually very interesting to me and personally nice. It wasn’t love, it was a severe case of like. We had no emotional relationship between us. I had a lot of emotion, she had none. It only took fifty years to figure it out. We were acquaintances. Who knew? Certainly not me, until now.

You see, real friends occur when there is a mutual emotional relationship. Fire is always fire, be it a birthday candle, or a California wild fire that consumes everything in its path. Love is always love in the same manner. You should love your friends, you should like your acquaintances. I love my friends because they all have a role to play in my life. Think of the relationship as if an orchestra. Someone must be the percussion or bass to keep the music (life) on rhythm. No piccolo for ‘Peter and the Wolf’ and no school bell or wood block for Leroy Anderson’s ‘Syncopated Clock’, and there is no music; no story. We all have a role to play in another’s life. We all have a contribution to make in someone’s life. We should do our best to make it a positive, loving, contribution. Life without friends is a very lonely place. We all need good friends.

This year there was no question about going to Quartzsite, even though there was no RV Rally. People were just planning to meet in the desert. The RV show was being held again, but there were no Rally pot luck dinners, camp fires, or activities. A group of friends gathered, and wandered around the RV show, which was pretty thin of vendors, who were selling junk that was available at better quality, and cheaper prices elsewhere. Even with Covid, the big tent still had a carnival atmosphere with far less people than last year. Everyone was a mask wearing customer,. The local Turkey Leg Bar B Que ‘restaurant’ only had a few chickens out grilling. Last year the table tennis sized grill was covered with sizzling unctuous chicken. Everyone went there to see friends, stay in the warmth, and tell tales.

We are all retired, so every day turns into a Saturday.  We opted to head south of Quartzsite to the Imperial Dam on the Colorado River after a number of days to set up residence in the warm California sun. There, for $75, a pass for the Yuma area BLM Properties was purchased. Even though Arizona BLM administers the area, part of the area is in California.  Coming and going from our warm refuge, we have taken hundred mile jaunts to Albuquerque, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, and back. A bunch of friends, having fun, staying warm during a miserable winter. Life is sweet, and if you’re lucky, filled with love.