Empty Handed Not Empty Hearted

We took the Amtrak from TX to CA in hopes of buying a Class B Motorhome. We came back empty-handed. But not empty-hearted.

Have you ever heard of trail angels?

These self-appointed volunteers assist long-distance hikers on one of the most grinding outdoor challenges in the world — comparable, many say, to summiting Mt. Everest. And they do it with little or no compensation, other than the grateful smiles and occasional post-trail postcards.LATimes.com

We once played the role of trail angel, picking a former co-worker up from a segment of the Pacific Crest Trail and providing transportation, food, shower, and internet.

We weren’t hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, but we were visited by three road angels on our way home from California to Texas.

Road Angels #1

We got off a 33 hour train ride to immediately view the RV. The rust we knew about was worse in person. There was recent water damage that the seller wasn’t aware of.

It wasn’t an immediate “yes”, but we didn’t want to say “no” either. We were exhausted, hungry, and pressed for time with the seller only having a couple of hours before having to be at work. We wanted to sleep, eat, and then discuss the RV with each other.

But we hadn’t reserved a room anywhere.

It was Spring Break. In San Diego. Just around the corner from Sea World. MsBoyink started calling local hotels, but there were no affordable rooms available.

This comment came across our Instagram feed:

If you need a place to stay tonight let me know.Jen from PedalAdventures

Suburban Sheep Shirt

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We let her know.

She and her family were just a few miles away in a VRBO rental. Not only did they have room, they were leaving a day early.

We’d have the entire house to ourselves.

Just a block off the ocean.

We grabbed an Uber and headed over.

We talked briefly with Jen and her family as they packed up to head out. We had survived on our own food on the train but desperately needed a hot meal. We walked a couple blocks and had a fabulous breakfast burrito.

It was years since we last saw the Pacific, so we walked down and dipped our feet in the water.

From there we walked back to the house where we collapsed and slept.

When we were both awake again we looked at each other and knew the Class B wasn’t the right one. Our first RV had water damage. We couldn’t do that again.

I emailed the seller and turned down the RV.

Now we needed to get back “home” to San Antonio. MsBoyink investigated all the options again. The train back was booked, so a rental car made the most sense. She booked one and we fell asleep again.

We’ll never forget this moment of being in need, and God working to fill that need.

Thanks Jen!

Road Angels #2

San Diego to San Antonio.

1300 miles.

I-8 to I-10. We’ve driven all of this before.

Could this somehow be more than just a drive home?

There was the Superbloom going on.

We saw a chance to build community instead.

We’ve traded a few emails with Marc and Julie of RVLove.com. They were in Tucson. On the way.

We got a cheap hotel and drove over to see them in the morning.

We toured their rig. We talked about how, when it comes to Thousand Trails, we are the yin to their yang. We talked about other aspects of fulltime RV living.

Like so often happens when meeting other travelers, you say two things and before you know it 5 hours have passed. We took a quick photo and hit the road again.

Thanks Bennets for making our drive not just a drive!

We dipped our toes in the Pacific for the first time since 2013.

We dipped our toes in the Pacific for the first time since 2013.

When someone you just met gives you keys to a house.

When someone you just met gives you keys to a house.

We spent a morning with Marc and Julie of RVLove.com.

We spent a morning with Marc and Julie of RVLove.com.

No new RV - so we had to drown our sorrows somehow.

No new RV - so we had to drown our sorrows somehow.

Our road-trip angels, The Gebbias.

Our road-trip angels, The Gebbias.

Sunset at City of Rocks State Park.

Sunset at City of Rocks State Park.

Sunset at City of Rocks State Park.

Sunset at City of Rocks State Park.

Boyink and MsBoyink at the City of Rocks

Boyink and MsBoyink at the City of Rocks

One day I'll have a photo of my Class B by these rocks.

One day I'll have a photo of my Class B by these rocks.

Appreciating the view

Appreciating the view

The Gebbias on the way back to their home - seen off in the distance.

The Gebbias on the way back to their home - seen off in the distance.

When a 40' fifth wheel is dwarfed by rocks you know they are big.

When a 40' fifth wheel is dwarfed by rocks you know they are big.

Road Angels #3

While driving we learned that the Gebbias were going to be at the City of Rocks State Park in New Mexico.

We first met Gebbias a year ago in a different New Mexico State Park, and had a second visit with them at the recent Fulltime Families Rally in Florida.

We had overnighted at the City of Rocks during our first year of travel and one night wasn’t enough. It’s a gem of a State Park with a unique other-worldly landscape.

A great park with great friends? Can’t pass that up.

We headed that way not knowing how we’d spend the night. We called the park and they didn’t think they had any open sites.

We could sleep in the car in the overflow parking. That didn’t sound any worse than another crappy hotel room.

We arrived just as the sun was setting. We caught up, took photos of the sunset, and were - again - treated to tasty dinner.  Hearing we were planning to sleep in the car, Gebbias offered an air mattress on their floor. We took them up on it.

In the morning we headed out for a couple hours spent playing on the rocks. I’d love to have this place just outside my door all the time - who needs a gym plan when you can go have fun scrambling around?

Near mid-day we felt the call of the road. Looking at the route, if we put in a solid 10 or 11 hours driving we could be in our own bed that night. Our backs and wallet appreciated the sound of that.

So we said “see you down the road” to the Gebbias, freshened up in the park restrooms, and headed back to I-10.

Thanks to the Gebbias for being our third Road Angel - we’re blessed to have such generous friends.

Jiggety Jig

I drove. Crissa napped.

Crissa drove. I napped.

Mix in a rare stop for gas (our rental got 40 MPG - we made it home on ~$80 in gas), potty breaks and food and that was the rest of our day.

We rolled into our own bed in Texas at 11PM.

Was the Trip a Failure?

We came home without a new RV.

You could say that the trip was a failure. A waste. Irresponsible even.

The thing is, you choose how you view experiences.

How you look back on an experience, how you re-tell it, how you blog about it - these are all choices.

I’m choosing to view the trip this way:

  • We had a new experience and new adventure taking a long Amtrak ride
  • We saw the Pacific for the first time in years
  • We avoided buying another water-damaged RV
  • We got to see the hand of God work directly in our lives, filling immediate needs
  • We got to make new “in-person” friends with people we only knew online previously

We might have come home empty-handed, but we didn’t come home empty-hearted.

Have You?

Have you ever felt the presence of angels on a road trip? How did they show up? What did they provide? Leave a comment - we’d love to hear about it.

 

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