I just drove 2500 miles or so across the country in a smallish RV. I sketched every day but didn’t have the energy (or the wifi) to do blog posts as I travelled. So let me catch you up. I stopped in a different state park every night, which was delightful. I took all my own food and only had to touch gas pumps, water spigots, and the electric plugs ins at night (to keep the fridge going so I didn’t lose all my traveling food). I was much further away from people than I have been at home, where joggers routinely run up right behind me without warning while I’m walking in my park. It feels in some ways self indulgent to travel in these times, and my own safe traveling bubble is the only way I would even consider it, but I also hadn’t seen my partner since January, and if I didn’t go before snow hit, it would have been a full year and a half without seeing him in person. Part time is really perfect for me — I get deep art time and autonomous daily life while also having deep and loving time with someone else — but a year and a half was far too long. Plus, I really have felt safer walking where there’s not such a crowd.
My first night was my very favorite one, at Long Branch Lake State Park in Missouri. I lucked into a spot with a tiny private beach just down the path from my site. (I could see water in the photo of the campsite, so I chose it, and it turned out great.) The bigger RVs liked the level ground a little further in, so that worked out great for me. My camper is built on a Ford truck body. It’s exactly the perfect size for me and Mr. Darcy. I totally lucked into a 20 year old one. I would never, ever have dreamed of getting one before this situation, but I think it’s going to be the gift of the pandemic for me. Instead of driving across and schlepping a dog bed, banjo, cooler, and overnight stuff into a different motel every night in a not very scenic setting, I found myself sitting for a couple of hours on the beach, watching the sunset, hanging out with a great blue heron, and listening to the water lap the shore if a fishing boat came by. After the first night (and with some long distance consultations about how the fridge works on the various power systems), I felt easy and at home. I also loved the state park crew. There were lots of families, and I felt very safe staying on my own, especially with an 85 pound dog.
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Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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