So we said recently that, in our seven years of full-timing we had met several interesting people. Well, of course I need to say that everyone we meet is very interesting in one way or another. You’ve been places we haven’t; they grew up in a different part of the world; she is an avid hiker; he scuba dives. Everyone is interesting, and we are blessed to have met so many people.
But of course, I’m talking about those who struck us as being more unusual in some way.
The first interesting person we met on the road was Leif Hatlestad. When we met Leif, he was painting the Class C he and his wife Shirley lived in. But he was painting it with a small brush and acrylic paints, in designs based on the original Alice in Wonderland characters from Lewis Carroll. Not the Disney-type characters, the originals.
When I asked if I could bring Suzy and her mother down to see his work, he was pleased, and when we returned I asked if we could take his picture. He asked if we were terrorists, then said sure, go ahead. We did. Here’s Suzy’s Mom doing an inspection.
We kept up with Leif and Shirley, meeting them in RV Parks in Nevada, Oregon and California, then after a few years, lost track of them. For more pictures of Leif’s artwork, check out our Web Album.
In Wyoming one evening, a small camper pulled into the site next to ours. Nothing unusual, except that it was built on a Ford F550 truck body, was painted silver, and the doors had a message: “Around the World,” and a listing: “Anchorage – New York – London – Paris – Vladivostok – Sydney.” Dick and Pip Smith were indeed touring the world in their EarthRoamer XVLT, shipping it from continent to continent, then driving across and through those continents before shipping across the sea once more to the next continent..For more pictures, click here.
Dick, it turned out, owns a very large retail and wholesale grocery company in Australia, as well as that country’s version of Radio Shack. He also is the first person ever to fly a helicopter solo around the world, and he’d done it about five times., When I asked Dick if I could take his picture and write a blog about the two of them and where they were going, he hesitated, then gave me some limitations. Seems he is a leading aviation spokesperson in Australia, and is critical of some of that country’s policies and practices. He did not want us to be specific about his route or his whereabouts, as some folks might take advantage of that information!
We met Old Bear at the Verde Valley Thousand Trails Camping Preserve in Arizona. Suzy and I were wearing T-shirts we had bought at the Cherokee Heritage Center in Oklahoma, and this gentleman stepped into the road ahead of us, greeting us in the Cherokee tongue. When we looked puzzled he introduced himself as a Cherokee elder. When we asked to take his picture, he brought his wife out for the photo shoot, then sent us this picture of himself in ceremonial dress, At Thousand Trails, Morgan Hill, CA, we chanced upon Dr. Solar and his magic wagon show. Dr. Solar, in “real life” Terry Robinson, gives puppet and magic shows to tout the use of solar energy. More pictures are available on the Web Album
When we attended Life on Wheels in Tucson a few years ago, we met Dave and Sandy Baleria. Dave and Sandy were both retired police, Dave a trainer, Sandy in personnel and a former 911 dispatcher. In those days, they were instructors at Life on Wheels, FMCA Rallies, Gypsy Journal Rallies, etc. Their primary topic was personal safety, and they also led seminars on traveling this country along the back roads, the “highline,” the heart of America, and decried what they called “Generica,” that sameness of stores, fast food joints, strip malls that covers this country near the Interstate Highways. At age 60, Dave died suddenly on February 28, 2008, leaving a great hole in the RV world, and a greater hole in the heart of his lady. Sandy has gone on to harness her grief by developing and leading grief support groups in person and on line.
What a wealth of fascinating individuals make up this land of ours, and share the highways and byways with us. You folks reading this are part of that wealth, and we are honored to have you with us in … Our Life on Wheels.
End note: my personal “most interesting person, “Suzy, is going to have surgery Friday, December 18, for a total left shoulder replacement. Your good thoughts would be appreciated.