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Friday, 4/13/01 - South to Georgia

Another morning visit to Kinkos in Charlotte was all I needed to do research for the last minute edits on my manuscript for my third book and FEDEX it to the copyeditor. Then we took the Montana minivan back to Enterprise, got a ride to Metrolina Dodge, and about an hour later, I was driving the Apache out of Charlotte. It turns out it was only a kink in the fuel line, starving the engine of gas - something fairly easy and affordable to fix. Thank goodness!

At first, I drove tentatively, testing out the engine, making sure it wasn't going to start bucking again. By the time we passed Columbia, SC, I was able to relax and hold it at a steady 65 miles per hour.

Halfway to our destination for the day - Savannah - we stopped at a Cracker Barrel, a very RV friendly oasis along the highways of America. Nevermind that their food has high cholestral written all over it. Give me fresh biscuits and cornbread and a fried chicken filet with buttery mashed potatoes any day!

I noticed that after giving my name to the hostess and hearing her call out the next parties in line - "Harris for three," "Smith, party of five" - she simply called out "Sherman" for me, the lone diner. Maybe it is residual paranoia from my days when I couldn't bring myself to eat alone in a restaurant, but I swear people were staring at me as I sat without a group or companion.

So for fun, I called my Dad on my cellphone with the earpiece in my ear, and played the role of slightly crazy woman talking to herself at her table. Whose to say I'm not just a little crazy, anyway? savannah

We camped for the night at the Savannah KOA, a beautiful wooded campground with a large lake. Half a dozen mosquito bites later, I realized lakes are nice in pictures, but on hot days and nights, they bring unwanted pests. Still, the Berts and I enjoyed a walk around the campground before the sun set, and I happily rubbed on Aveeno anti-itch cream afterward.

Saturday, 4/14/01 - Entering Florida

I took the Berts on another walk through the woods and to the lake before trying to get organized for the day, cleaning up the RV and getting on the road to get to Jacksonville, Florida in time for a 3:00pm booksigning.

The drive was long, hot and irritating, and I found myself needing some diversion to keep me focused on the road. For some reason, I devised a little game for myself where I'd glance quickly at each car that passed me on my left (I'm always driving in the slow lane) and note what make and model it is. savannah

Part of my mind was considering each car as a potential future car for me to own and the other part was trying to get a feel for what the most popular cars on America's highways are.

In terms of car I'd like to own myself, I couldn't decide. In terms of most popular car on the road, it was a pretty close tie between the Ford Explorer and the Dodge Caravan.

It amazes me how big American cars are, how Americans must drive big cars. When I lived in Europe, the smaller the car, the better. But here, you aren't in a car until you take up the entire road in a behemouth monster vehicle. We are such consumers of precious resources, with our giant cars and ever-expanding roads. Beautiful countryside, open fields of green, thick patches of trees, all razed, flattened, torn through for more road.

I drove my huge RV, that gets barely any miles to the gallon, down the big highway, feeling like a hypocrite. How can I justify doing what I'm doing from a ecological and conservation standpoint? I can't.

Maybe I'll find a new place to live, buy a little house, and never drive a car again. Bicycle riding, here I come.

The signing at the Barnes and Noble in Jacksonville was so much better than the last half a dozen I had done. People in the area were so nice, coming up to talk to me even if they didn't end up buying a book, starting conversations about books, book publishing, writing, the Internet, and standing with me for 20 minutes, keeping me company. In most bookstores, when I'm set up at the front of the store, people avert their eyes so they don't feel obligated to buy my book. But in Jacksonville, everyone took a moment to say hello.

I got back on the road after the signing, hoping to get as far into Florida as possible so I'd get to Ft. Lauderdale early the next day, but between the flattened, sun-bleached highway, hypnotically plain I-95, and a big traffic jam, I didn't make too much headway.

Another Theory on Human Nature

When I stopped at a rest area and checked my email, I received another "why didn't you contact me" email from a really nice woman on the Classic RV list. She had helped me with some information for the Jacksonville area in support of my book signing, and for some reason, I had gotten it in my head that she would be out of town when I arrived on Saturday, so I didn't email her again to remind her of my booksigning.

Turns out I confused her email with another woman who was going to be out of town when I passed through Tallahassee on my way out of Florida the following week. Yet again, I was chastised for not being in touch properly, for failing to make contact.

I am developing a new theory about people: The world revolves around each one of us. Each of us lives our life somehow convinced that everyone is attuned to our needs and expectations in the same way we are. We are so sure that others are fully aware when we are waiting for their phone call or expecting an email, and are certain that others are focused on us in the exact same way. We go about our lives, with our needs and expectations met some of the time, then drastically ignored most of the time. And we can't understand how others can slight us, because the world revolves around us.

I'm guilty of the same thing, in a way. I don't expect people to email or call, but I do go about my life these days as if everyone should know that I'm on the road, detached from most timelines, removed from the pressures and focus of life in the same place, with the same schedule, day in and day out.

I think I do expect people who are in more stable, consistent environments to understand that I'm a roaming free right now, and if they want to catch me, they need to get in touch and not wait for me to do it. Because for me, one day blends into another, and I often don't know if it's a Tuesday or a Saturday, a weekday or a weekend. I'm sorry if I can't keep track of everyone else's expectations. We're all just plagued with that human mind trick that the world revolves around us, and we set ourselves up to be disappointed.

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