What is strange is saying good-bye to new friends, people that peel off the top several layers of armor in a week of stand up small talk in the morning sun, the evening campfire, or even a happy hour-or-two of Two Buck Chuck and cheese on toasted chips. People grew close enough to trade phone numbers, email addresses, and even the address of the driveway that would be a 24-hour snug harbor. People I don’t know when, where, or if I will ever see again.
People who shared their stories. People who have part-time lives elsewhere: as sod-busters, train buffs, model sailboat racers, and grandparents.
People who shared their wisdom: about the correct generator spark plug (not the one in the book), where to bang on the inverter to wake it up, secret trout streams, and Mexican border towns where dental work, and prescription glasses are half US rates and US label pharmaceuticals are even less.
I spent a few dollars for memberships that will open doors to groups of full-timers, sometimers, and what-timers.
I spent $50.00 for three light bulbs, LEDs that last forever and, better still, use a tenth the electricity, thus extending the time between battery charges.
I learned that I can dry-camp–manage life without being tethered to an electric cord, water hose, or sewer line–for at least 12 days.
I learned I should not forget to eat prunes.
I learned not to park near someone who snores.
I learned to bathe, shampoo, and rinse in two gallons of water.
I was around people the whole time and not far from town. And I had a fairly reliable internet connection so I was not limited to my own company. I feel like I am a half-step up the plateau stairwell to becoming a character in a country-western ballad. I am not close to achieving Desert Rat status but maybe Desert Gerbil.