19. Aging gypsy

            What does it look like when a gypsy reaches 73 and is still traveling alone?  Well, some changes are required.

            I reluctantly decided to give up my two-wheel motorcycle after a compression fracture caused by a collision of a sudden onset of stupid and my 900 pound Goldwing.  I now ride a Spyder RT (two wheels in front, vibrant orange, and fun).  Though I miss the ability to lean into the curves, I thoroughly enjoy being out on the road.

            A cardiologist suggested I get a Service Dog.  Since I love dogs, this was a prescription with no side effects.  Plus I could take my dog everywhere I go!  That’s how I got Maya, a 40 lb rescue from the streets of El Paso, courtesy of Arizona Border Collie Rescue.  Mary Ann Coleman, a service dog trainer in Tucson, flunked four dogs before she found Maya. She explained. “You can train tasks.  You can’t train temperament.”  And Maya clearly has the temperament for a service dog.  We’ve trained regularly with Mary Ann. Maya is doing great; I need more work.  Maya is a gentle, quiet soul who retains some of the skills of a street fighter.  She’s “non-reactive”, meaning she’s fine with other dogs.  Unless they start something, and then she’s going to finish it.   She teaches me many things, including how to defend my boundaries. I named her after the poet, Maya Angelo; her poem “Still I rise” speaks of Maya’s four-legged history.  Maya loves to run wide open across the desert (the zoomies, a phenomenon known to those blessed with a Border Collie). She reminds me of Pig Pen in the Peanuts cartoon, except she moves in a cloud of joy rather than dirt.  We’re working on her image as a biker chick; she likes the Spyder but doesn’t like having to wear a seat belt.  Hopefully she’ll get to the point she wants to ride every time I go.  Otherwise, she’s going to miss a lot. 

As I’ve aged, my personal thermostat doesn’t work so well, and I find that the Arizona desert heat is very hard on me.  This summer, with Covid 19 raging, I had to cancel my plans to go from southeast Arizona to the Olympic Peninsula of Washington state. So I left southern Arizona to spend the hottest part of the summer in Silver City, in southwest New Mexico at 7,000 feet.  I drove my 27 foot  Lazy Daze motorhome and pulled by three-wheeled Spyder on a trailer.  No car for three months.  I was delighted to see I’m very comfortable – in comfortable weather – without a car.         

Some people buy and sell stock or real estate.  I tend to buy and sell RV’s.  I don’t want to count how many I’ve owned over 20 years, but they have gotten smaller and smaller. Being locked down by Covid, I’ve had too much time to think.  And I’ve thought that, though I love my 27 foot Lazy Daze, maybe I’d be comfortable down-sizing to a diesel conversion van. I liked the smaller carbon footprint of the diesel engine (22 MPG vs. 8) but wasn’t sure about the size challenge of living in a  van. This Fall a friend decided at the age of 90 to hang up his keys and offered to sell me his 22 foot 2005 Pleasure Way Van (Sprinter chassis, Mercedes engine.)  It has a bathroom with a wet shower, stove, microwave, fridge, AC, furnace, generator, solar, comfortable bed, and a place to sit and write.  I can rationalize anything; my thoughts went something like this.  I’ll buy the van and keep the Lazy Daze until the first of the year, in case I decide I can’t live van-small.  In case you’re counting, that means I have a 22 foot van, a 27 foot motorhome, a Honda CRV car to pull behind the motorhome, a Spyder motorcycle, and a trailer for the Spyder.  Compared to non-gypsies, I don’t have much stuff.  But today I have a ridiculous number of vehicles.   

I’ve moved into the van and have made a few short trips.  I’m pleased with the way it handles, and so far I’m not claustrophobic.  I can park almost anywhere, and Maya likes the bigger bed. TBD.

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