My simplification plan has been this:
Get out of the big house that required lots of maintenance, was too big for me and Charlie, and was expensive. The second part was to move to a low-maintenance condo where I could leave for long periods of time and not have to worry about anything. This required parting with many of my possessions. All of this has been addressed in previous posts. It has been a big change.
The third part has been to get a Sprinter van that I could travel for extended period of times when I want to and, perhaps, see if I can get to such a minimal level of possessions that I could live in it. The first two parts happened simultaneously while the third part has been an exercise in patience to the point of becoming a running joke for several of my friends.
Well the joke is over!
It was not-so-bright but early when I boarded the red, white and blue Frontrunner car to head to the airport last Wednesday. After 45-minute train ride with the morning commuters and a switch to Trax in Salt Lake for another 15 minutes, I was at Salt Lake City International Airport.
A quick check of my backpack with TSA and a rush down the terminal found my plane already boarding for the short flight to Las Vegas.
I arrived in Las Vegas after enduring a crowded flight that required me to be in a center seat. After exiting the plane I headed for baggage claim only to find my backpack hadn’t arrived. I was politely informed by the attendant that it would come on the next flight about four hours later and that I could come back and pick it up or they could deliver it to my hotel or home. I explained I was actually heading to pick-up a vehicle and would make it back later in the day. She politely explained I could just park in Express parking and run in and get it when I returned.
With a plan, I headed out to passenger pick-up and waited to be picked up by Daryl from Wagon Trail RV. After about 30 minutes Daryl who’d I’d only met once back in March, drove up and we took off to the dealership. It was about 9:15 am and the staff of the dealership was just getting going for the day. The coffee was just being brewed, people where just setting into their desks and I was probably the first customer to walk in.
After taking a phone call, I was ready to see what I’d been waiting for all this time.
This van has been a long time coming. Delayed in production due to availability of the Mercedes chassis the arrival was thee months after what I’d originally planned for. Now after the formality of paperwork, I was ready to be educated on how everything actually worked!
After three hours of head-spinning instructions on everything from how to operate the stereo/navigation system to how to dump my human waste I was given the keys and headed for the airport to get my bag.
So just for the record, I don’t consider myself a stupid person. I try to think of obstacles I’m going to have along the way and navigate around them. With that attitude, before I left for the airport, I looked on the airport website to check and make sure that there were not any height issues that would prevent me from getting into the parking lot so I could pick up my backpack that now would have been sitting there for a couple of hours. At nine feet, nine inches tall, this van will have problems going in some structures but according to the website the airport wouldn’t be one of them-vehicles up to 13’5″ were welcome.
Off I went into Las Vegas in a 10-foot tall and 23- foot long vehicle where upon total panic set in. This van was huge compared to anything I’d driven in the past and traffic was thick. For the next five miles I worked by way through traffic, learning when I could make lane changes and getting a baptism-by-fire by missing the turn-off to the airport and being routed in the heart of the Las Vegas strip. At least by now I’d adjusted to the size and was getting around pretty good.
After a 15-minute detour I was back in route to the airport.
As you head into the Express Parking at the Las Vegas airport, you come into a little horseshoe turn that then opens up into a fan of lanes offering you several destinations. It helps to know where you are going as you don’t have much distance to get into the lane you need. Imagine my surprise when I came around the corner and the three lanes that I had an option to continue down had yellow bars over them that said 7′ and under vehicles and 8′ and under vehicles. I suddenly felt relief that my van had a toilet in it and horrified that I wasn’t sitting on it. I slowed down to 5 mph with cars honking at me as they whizzed by me. In total panic I was looking for a place to pull over and figure out what to do when a little yellow sign to the right popped into my line of sight. “Oversized vehicle emergency exit” and an arrow pointing into the taxi line. I quickly determined this qualified as an emergency and pulled into the taxi line where it became clear I could move in to the shuttle-vehicle lane where the rental car and long-term parking shuttles were going about their business.
A deep sign of relief was exhaled and I continued in the lane to the point where I estimated the Southwest baggage area was. I pulled over into an obviously illegal parking spot, jumped out and ran into the terminal to get my bag.
After quickly getting my bag I ran back out to the van where three men had gathered around. One of them said, “Nice van.” The other said, “You can’t park here?” I replied with, “Where the hell could I park?” “It’s a $100 ticket for parking here.” Now in Nevada, they don’t put any sort of license plate on a new vehicle. No paper version of a license plate that many other states do. Instead they put a little pink sticker in the front passenger side of the windshield. I quickly thought, “Who’s gonna stop me?” I threw my back in the cab of the van, said, “Write me up.” And climbed in and drove away.
A quick stop to at Target and REI and I was on my way!
To be continued.