Honeymooning in a Tent

“Every safe generality I gathered in my travels was cancelled by another.”

We came through Eagle’s Nest and Angel Fire and over the brilliant red Sangre de Cristo Mountains into Taos, with its bright blue sky and sun-baked adobe. Here is a place where artists own galleries full of overpriced pottery, paintings, and jewelry, all aimed at tourists, and all done in the bright colors that seem to reflect off every surface of this landscape. The bikers populate dusty bars at odds with the tourist money that lubricates the cogs of the bustling downtown, in silent conflict with the artists over ownership of this beautiful corner of the world. The ghosts of the bohemian artists who originally populated the town would hardly recognize the place. We were surprised by the sprawling suburbs spreading down from the foothills and onto the distant desert floor. There were lines of traffic snaking in and out of town, the blinding sun glinting off German hood ornaments. We turned off the traffic-choked highway and into the mountain passes, looking for a quiet place to spend a desert night.

When we pulled into the campground under a sliver of moon and a dazzling blanket of stars, Matt was muttering under his breath, “Please don’t let us be next to that giant RV, please don’t let us be next to that giant RV… we are. We’re right next to that enormous RV.” But after we met the occupants, we were happy with our temporary neighborhood. We’ve even forgiven them for running the generator several times throughout the day, which is unusual magnanimity for us, reserved for people we genuinely like.

Harold and his wife Alice, and Katie, their little black poodle, are consummate wanderers. We met Harold this morning as he was standing next to our fire pit, practicing his golf swing. We discovered that he is a member of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, an exclusive organization open to membership only by invitation. In the three years we lived in St. Andrews, we never managed to gain entrance. Harold has a world-renowned collection of antique golf clubs, which he started collecting long before it was fashionable. The sale of individual pieces from this collection is what continues to fund their mobile life.

“The first time we came back from Scotland, I had a shipping container full of the things,” Harold remembers. “It came into the Port of Long Beach in California. I had to go down there and pay an import duty, but nobody could decide what a shipping container full of old golf clubs was worth.” Harold grinned and winked one watery blue eye. “I suggested five cents a club. They just shrugged and went for it. I tell you, even in the 1960s that was a steal.”

We were invited in for a tour of their RV, which was warm, comfortable, and convenient. It was the first time during our trip that we got to see the inside of one of these vehicles we had passed so many times on the road. While trying to pass them on two-lane roads and overtake them on mountain passes, we had seen them only as an annoyance, but once inside, they become a place of warmth and friendship, a truly mobile “home” in which you can welcome strangers and turn them into friends. While we preferred our tent for its privacy and mobility, we were tempted by the comfort and camaraderie of their self-contained world.

Harold and Alice told us tales of their travels and their migration from an old, square-sided canvas tent to their current 22-foot RV, which Harold calls “cheating.”

“We honeymooned in Yosemite, 66 years ago, in a tent.”

We did the math and figured out that Harold was 94. He and Alice have been all over. Their first RV trip was in Tasmania, where they rented a rig. He had fond memories of Adelaide and the Great Barrier Reef. He kept up their rig himself, Alice informed us, and while he insisted it was no trouble, she told us it was a lot of work. We believed her. Harold and Alice come from an active generation, where everyone did for themselves, and all that activity keeps them young. They have no children, which seems to have given them a lot of freedom and maybe even promoted longevity. Harold jokingly suggested that having kids takes 18 years off your life expectancy.

Our time with them was short. “We’re keeping you from your hike,” Harold kept saying. “Nobody wants to listen to old people talk.” On the contrary, they gave us hope and courage. It was much needed. Harold said he’d see us in Scotland. We really hope he makes it.

We know we’ve been surrounded by these Leviathans too long when we see their RV in our rearview mirror and Alissa comments, “Actually it’s not that big.” Everything American is huge. The cars, the trucks, the landscape, the farms, even the sky is bigger out here.

8 thoughts on “Honeymooning in a Tent

  1. Talking about Scotland. Back in 1980 I was working on a farm in County Carlow, Ireland. I decided to take a train to Dublin and then to this other town. I then hitchhiked into Northern Ireland and took a ferry to Scotland. I stayed in Dundee for about a week.

    I was walking down this street in Dundee and this tourist bus pulled over. The door opened and the bus driver asked me for directions. I told him that I was from the States. He asked where. I said Iowa. Then the whole bus erupted into a big cheer. The bus driver said that these guys were from Carroll, Iowa. What are the odds of that happening? It is such a small world. (the high school I went to played Carroll in football)

  2. Never been in Scotland, but it seems to be nice place for visit.

    BTW, Nice Mazda. How many horses it has? My Opel Vectra OPC (in England Vauxhall Vectra VRX) 2.8 turbo has 280 horses. I guess that Mazda beats my old car. LOL.

    Happy blogging and travel.

      • I guess that it is speeding from 0 to 100km/h at the same speed than my family car. You were the first blogger that I have seen understanding cars. My admiration.

        I have the same problem in Finland and I have solved it so that I and my wife visit frequently in Germany where are no speed limits! After driving there fast we can drive slowly in Finland. You must go to Germany and feel the speed. That is great.

        Here are some photos from our family car:

        My blue car

        Last year we made a car trip:

        Beyond the Arctic Circle

        I made 14 posts beyond and 3 south of Arctic Circle. In every post there are link to next and previous post.

        Here is my

        About me

        I am senior citizen who enjoys Speed.

        Happy travel and blogging!

      • Wow! What a wonderful trip. We have always wanted to travel beyond the arctic circle ourselves, but we haven’t had the chance yet. It’s too bad the weather wasn’t better, but your photos came out great.

  3. The only thing more evocative than those place names is your writing. That couple give me hope, too! You’re never finished travelling until you stop.

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