Wednesday, April 18, 2018
A few years ago, I read a book about a man who longed to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail, a footpath that follows the eastern ridge of the Appalachian Mountains. A thru-hiker is someone who hikes a long-distance trail from end-to-end in a single hiking season. At a distance of approximately 2,200 miles, the Appalachian Trail, commonly referred to as the AT, definitely qualifies as a long-distance trail.
After twice being denied his request for a leave of absence, this forty-one-year-old man quit his job, strapped on a backpack, and started walking north from Georgia to Maine. He befittingly adopted the trail name AWOL. A trail name is an alias used by the majority of thru-hikers. Trail names fit with the sense of escapism these like-minded trekkers feel as they leave their other lives behind and hike through fourteen states to reach the other end of the line.
Ironically, Harry and I live roughly thirty miles from Springer Mountain, the southern terminus of the AT, and yet, we have never been there. Although we strive to walk three miles each weekday morning, we are not the type of people who like to travel by foot. While we admire the adventurous sprit of the thousands of determined individuals who attempt to thru-hike the AT each year, we prefer to do our trekking in a 37’ Class A, with the all the creature comforts of home.
Our motorhome is not our first RV. We purchased a 23’ travel trailer when our boys were young. Every summer we rented a spot at a campground on a lake an hour from home. Each Friday evening after work, we loaded up the car and headed to the lake. As the kids got older, they lost interest in camping, so we made the difficult decision to sell our RV.
It wasn’t long after we stopped camping that Harry started dreaming about buying a Class C when we retired. Fast-forward twenty years, and he upped the ante to a Class A instead. In 2013, three years before Harry retired, we started visiting countless RV dealerships and looking at umpteen models. The following year, we finally found a unit we both loved and decided to take the plunge. We purchased our landyacht, christened the USS Moho, in Alvarado, Texas in late May of 2014. We flew to Dallas/Fort Worth, and rented a car for the day. That was our first visit to the Longhorn State, but instead of sightseeing, we spent a frenzied afternoon stocking up on the basic necessities we needed for our new RV. The highlight of that day was discovering Whataburger.
After taking possession of our vacation home on wheels, we hit the road on a Tuesday afternoon and headed toward home. Harry handled our new rig like a pro. His middle name is Nemo, and many years ago, I nicknamed him “Captain,” after the fictional submarine captain of the Nautilus. The moniker stuck. As co-captain of our new rig, I dubbed myself Moho Mama. I did not realize it at the time, but Captain Nemo and Moho Mama would become our “trail names.”
Harry had to return to work the following Monday, so we did not have the luxury of driving home at a leisurely pace. “Welcome To” signs for Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, passed by in a blur as we made our easterly trek toward Georgia. Half the time I wasn’t sure which state we were in, let alone the town. We are a gregarious couple, but other than quick conversations with check-in clerks at the various campgrounds we stayed, we did not get to enjoy the company of a single fellow-RVer along the way. Needless to say, that trip was the antithesis of how I imagined our first journey in our new RV would be.
We took two weeklong trips and a few three-day weekends in Moho that first year. We met a lot of great RVers, learned countless tips, and made some lifelong friends. The RV travel bug had bitten us, and we couldn’t wait for Harry to retire so we could take our first long trip.
Harry was under a lot of stress the last few years before he retired. He worked in the telecommunications department at a large hospital system, and he was required to be on call 24/7 every four weeks. Our lives evolved around his on call schedule. Harry tensed every time the phone rang when he was on call. The other three weeks weren’t exactly a picnic either, but I could definitely see a change in him as his on call week drew near.
Our salvation during the countdown to retirement came when we fired up Moho and hit the road. Harry was like a different person when we traveled. He never wore a watch, never worried about having his cell phone glued to his side. Work was a taboo subject. Camping was the ultimate departure from our life back home, and it suddenly hit me one day that we were no different than the thousands of hikers who set off on the Appalachian Trail each spring. While our mode of transportation may be different, we too share the same sense of escapism they do when we travel on the other AT: The Asphalt Trail.