Top 20 True Tales from the Laundromat

I don’t care what anybody says. Laundromats are a gold mine of story-telling fodder.

But before I lead you down into that mine of mine, I’ll start with a little background.

One of many “You Do You” facets of RV life is that some folks go for the in-coach washer and dryer, and others don’t.

Here’s our “in-coach” dryer.
Drawback: doesn’t work in the rain

Although we’ve got dedicated hookups for them in our bedroom closet, we opted against installing our own machines, and here’s why:

We didn’t want to sacrifice the storage space, weight allowance, or power & water usage, when we can do our laundry elsewhere — in a facility that someone else has to maintain and repair.

I’ve managed to wash and dry 2-3 loads, once a week, every week since we’ve been full-timing, and it’s really not a hardship. Sometimes, a nearby friend or relative generously offers up their laundry room for a welcome freebie, but I have to admit I’ve become spoiled by the convenience of getting it all done at a laundromat in less than 2 hours, thanks to having access to multiple washers and dryers instead of just one of each.

As for the money, well, I’m not that good at math, but I can guesstimate that at an average of about $6.50/week, it costs us about $338.00/year to do our laundry.

A new set of RV machines costs about $1200.00 (source: quick glance at a few options on a single major national RV retailer’s web site).

So after nearly 3.5 years of full-time RV living, we’ve now spent about as much on coin-op as we would have on our own washer and dryer, but…

I cannot deny the added value of all these stories.

Twenty True Tales from the Laundromat? Priceless.

1. Middle-aged guy walked all the way across the laundromat to tell me, “That looks so nice. You folded it all perfect!”
I think he was fishing for an offer of assistance.
Well.
Some women get hit on for their looks. Not me. I reel in the boys who want someone who can fold their fitted sheets.
(January 2016, Port Hadlock WA)

2. One of our sons is traveling with us, and this is my first time doing RV park laundry for three people instead of two.
It’s also the first time I’ve done laundry for one of my children in nearly a year.
I could have done without the additional aggravation. Hello, spellcheck?
(June 2016, Warren AFB WY)

3. This is a nice compromise.
Usually RV park laundry rooms are all like DON’T YOU DARE WASH YOUR PET BEDDING IN HERE, but this one dedicated a washer and dryer just for that.
Kinda wish I’d noticed it before I washed all our clothes in it, but I suppose there are worse things than coming away with a little hair of someone else’s dog.
(August 2016, Nellis AFB NV)

4. Washing our stinkies, under close supervision, here at the local combination mailbox rental, thrift shop, grocery store, laundromat, bait & tackle, beer & wine barn.
Wow.
(January 2017, Ehrenberg AZ)

5. This may not look like a perfect day to you, but to me it’s a reminder that we’ve spent the past month surrounded by dear friends — the kind who say, “Of course you can bring your laundry over. Any time. Soap’s in the cabinet. Here’s a house key.”
So. Much. Love.
(March 2017, Norfolk VA)

6. Good ol’ Wrinkle Bill…
(April 2017, Shelbyville KY)

7. I want to meet the person who came up with this name for the laundromat at the marina.
Because that is good.
That is very, very good.
(July 2017, Saint Ignace MI)

8. Tim (picking me up at the laundromat, hoping everything’s done): So, did I arrive at just the right time?
Me: That depends. Did you bring me a tetanus shot? Actually, I think I might have cholera.
Yeah, this is a skeevy one.
Check out the professionally — and inaccurately — labeled dryers.
(August 2017, Ashland City TN)

9. October 2017, Manchester TN

10. I’m not sure what begging comforters are, but I think I may have picked a rubber floor mate during one of our shifts at Amazon last week.
(November 2017, Murfreesboro TN)

11. Guess we had a stowaway.
Been a long time since I’ve pulled a toddler sock out of a washing machine.
(January 2018, San Antonio TX)

12. March 2018, Kerrville TX

13. I got the size right, the style right, the quantity right, the fabric blend right, and even the price right.
I neglected to peek inside the multipack and check the two colors that were hiding behind the gray ones.
Which is how Tim now has almost as many pairs of pink panties in the wash as I do.
Which probably also explains why they were such a bargain.
(July 2018, somewhere in SD)

14. You know you’re staying in a rural area when…
(August 2018, Enumclaw WA)

15. I have found my people.
(August 2018, Chehalis WA)

16. So if the laundry room phone rings, do I have to answer in 1993?
(October 2018, Lackland AFB TX)

17. Eeeeeee! Laundry room visitor.
My fluff & fold just got a whole lot fluffier!
(October 2018, Lackland AFB TX)

18. As I was leaning over, tossing stuff into the dryer, I heard the laundry room door open behind me, followed by a male voice saying, “Hey. You were out running this morning!”
He was not wrong, but uhhh, having my backside recognized by a stranger was a little disconcerting.
I turned, readying my “The hell?” look, which I had to camouflage quickly, because I noticed just in time that the gentleman was pointing to the hanging rack over my dryer. “You were wearing those pants!” he said.
Oh.
Oh yeah.
Heh.
I guess those blue leggings do indeed etch themselves on the retina.
(October 2018, Lackland AFB TX)

19. Texas, y’all.
(November 2018, Palestine TX)

20. November 2018, Palestine TX

I’ll keep gathering these precious nuggets with the goal of posting a new collection in another 3.5 years — when we’ll have spent enough at laundromats to have bought a second washer & dryer!


Author’s note: Nearly all of these posts came from my personal Facebook account. I don’t think it’s plagiarism if I copy & paste my own work, but I thought I’d better explain myself to those of you who are thinking, “Hmmmm. I’m pretty sure I’ve read this before…”

 

Whether it’s your ass or your RV: the weight of that thing behind you matters

You know how it is when you’ve put on a little weight. Jeans don’t fit, hips bump into things they didn’t necessarily hit before, things just feel bulgy, and you notice.

But you don’t get ticketed or fined.

Those of us who pull fifth wheels have to pay attention to a number known as our GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating): the maximum weight for the BFT and the Toad combined. That includes fuel, food and water stores, and we three sentient beings, in addition to all our belongings onboard, and of course the two vehicles themselves.

In most states, including the one in which we’re licensed, titled and registered, that magic number is 26,000 pounds. If you hit 26,001, that puts you in CDL (Commercial Drivers License) territory, and may subject you to the aforementioned consequences.

This is our most recent weight reading, from March 12. You can see we have no wiggle room here.

This is our most recent weight reading, from our March visit to Castroville.
You can see we have no wiggle room here.

In other words, even if we have the space for a new thing, we might not have the weight allowance, and that’s why it’s so important to keep up with our “new thing in, old thing out” method of owning less. And it’s why we request that if you must give us a gift, that you make it something consumable. Like wine. Or a box of tacos.

Item in: I found this book in the RV park library. I read it more than a decade ago, but I was so damn happy to find something other than the usual bodice-rippers and Reader's Digest condensed novels, that I brought it home.

Item in:
I found this book in the RV park library. I read it more than a decade ago, but I was so damn happy to find something other than the usual bodice-rippers and Reader’s Digest condensed novels, that I brought it home.

Items out: These two things went to the library.

Items out:
These two things then went to the library to make up for it.

That said, sometimes we are given an item so heartfelt and endearing that we must keep it, and adjust our accumulated possessions accordingly. Last weekend, we received our Christmas present from my nephew (long story involving a different auntie), and even though it weighs less than a pound, it prompted me into a highly productive and cathartic Flurry of Purging.

Item in: An adorable Airstream-esque bank, hand-painted by my nephew, Cole, at his mama's shop. We're using it for laundry quarters!

Item in:
An adorable Airstream-esque bank, hand-painted and personalized by my nephew, Cole, at his mama’s shop. We’re using it to store our laundry quarters!

Items out: Three bags of stuff we thought we'd use but haven't since we started full-timing in August. They're on their way to the nearest donation box.

Items out:
Three bags of stuff we thought we’d use, but haven’t, since we started full-timing in August. They’re on their way to the nearest donation box.

Item in: Sassy silver and purple ear cuff, the purchase of which supported a local artisan. There is no corresponding item out, but I've lost another pound this week, and that more than makes up for it!

Item in:
Sassy silver and purple ear cuff, the purchase of which supported a local starving artist here in San Antonio.

There is no corresponding item out, but I’ve lost another pound this week, and that more than makes up for it!

Walked our butts to the Butteville Store

From our site here at the Champoeg State Heritage Area just south of Portland, OR, we took a little trip back in time along the Willamette River.

Two miles out to the red 5, two miles back.  Yep, in the rain.  Because it's the Pacific Northwest, and if you don't get out and move, you'll mold.

Two miles out to the red 5, two miles back.
Yep, in the rain.
Because it’s the Pacific Northwest, and if you don’t get out and move, you’ll mold.

The bigger picture

The bigger picture

It was a gray and drizzly day...

It was a gray and drizzly day…

Oregon's longest operating store is closed for the season, which we knew before we headed out, but wanted to see it anyway.

Oregon’s oldest continuously operating store, established in 1863, is closed for the season. We knew that before we headed out, but wanted to see it anyway. Worth the walk to peer inside the wavy glass and see the old tables, chairs and countertops inside.

"But Emily," you inquire. "We know you hate mud. Why did you go hiking four miles on a rainy day, idiot?"

“But Emily,” you inquire. “We know you hate mud. Why did you go hiking four miles on a rainy day, idiot?”

Paved trails, bitches! I win.

Paved trails, bitches!
I win.

Here’s where I go all gypsy and foretell our future. Sort of.

1987. I was a gypsy in a high school play. Wasn't everyone?

1987. I was a fortune teller in a high school play.
Wasn’t everyone?

When we hatched this full-time RV plan, our primary mission was to find our future home, and I wrote a little about that here. However, since moving aboard in August of 2015, we’ve been choosing our parking places out of necessity — for working on one house (Norfolk – rental) or another (San Antonio – on the market), for medical appointments, or for this current long and necessary-in-a-good-way visit with family in WA.

That changes in 2016, but not until April. We’ll be heading back to the San Antonio area for the first quarter. It’s our home base for medical needs, and we’ve both got follow-ups to manage over the coming months. I won’t go into details here, not because they’re secret, but because they’re private, and not the focus of this blog. Let’s just leave it at nobody’s dying. Fair enough?

Anyway, while we’re there, we’ll also go ahead and get the last of the furniture, left behind for staging purposes, out of the house.

After that, it’s time to start selecting places we may want to live permanently, and go park there temporarily. We’re thinking of staying maybe 6-12 weeks at a time, to get a feel for the place, its neighborhoods, perks, and people. Some of our wants and needs, in no particular order:

  • Access within a couple of driving hours to forests, lakes, rivers and/or ocean
  • Longer summers than winters
  • Small house on large plot
  • Mid-sized town with small college or university
  • Military retiree friendly
  • Major airport within a 3-hour drive

Yes, we regularly review various online lists with exuberant titles like “Great Small Town Living!” or “15 Places You’ll Want to Retire!” or “America’s Best Beach Towns!” And those are helpful, in that we can focus on cities that appear on more than one list. But we are also open to personal endorsements of places you’ve lived or visited, and you are welcome to put a sales pitch in the comments below. In fact, we’d prefer recommendations from friends to those generated by editors who are merely compiling statistics, and who have likely never set foot in the cities they endorse.

And since I hate asking something of you, while giving you only one photo in return, here are two more. I just… well, I haven’t found another use for them yet, so you get them here. My pleasure.

We have an emergency exit in our bedroom. Jealous? I know what you're thinking. "If only these had been a thing back in college..."

We have an emergency exit window in our bedroom. Jealous?
I know what you’re thinking. “If only these had been a thing back in college…”

And every morning I wake up to this on my ceiling. I think it adjusts the TV antenna, but to me it's a friendly lion-elephant bidding me a silent good day, and I think everybody should have one.

And every day I wake up to this guy on my ceiling. I think it adjusts the TV antenna, but I see a friendly lion-elephant bidding me a silent yet cheerful good morning, and I think everybody should have one.

First I was going to die of I-5 traffic. Now I am going to die of mud.

But then that’s what happens when you spend a week traveling up the 5, all the way from San Diego to just north of Seattle. ‘Twas dry and warm and overcrowded at the bottom; and it’s sopping wet and chilly but slightly less crowded at the top.

The ground is saturated here in the PNW, so wiping muddy boot and paw prints off our little entryway now makes for a full-time hissy fit job.  But we saw more people we love along the way, and we are parked for a good 3 weeks surrounded by even more people we love — including our big boy! — so it’s all good.

On Dec. 11, we drove from Escondido to Travis AFB. Other than the rainbows, the journey up the 5 was really rather unpleasant, and we do not intend to take on LA traffic in an RV ever again. Ever.

On Dec. 11, we drove from Escondido to Travis AFB. Other than seeing rainbows, the journey up the 5 was really rather unpleasant, and we do not intend to take on LA traffic in an RV ever again. Ever.

Took the wrong exit for Travis AFB, but lookit who we ended up behind!

Took the wrong exit for Travis AFB, but lookit who we ended up behind!

We spent two nights at the home of Tim's cousin Kim and husband, Rajiv, in Lafayette. She fed us, shared wonderful wine (it's her job), and let us borrow her car to drive into San Francisco to visit even more cousins. Four stars!

We spent two nights at the home of Tim’s cousin Kim and husband, Rajiv, in Lafayette. She fed us, shared wonderful wine (it’s her job), and let us borrow her car to drive into San Francisco to visit even more cousins.

The view from Kim's kitchen

The view from Kim’s kitchen

Across the Bay Bridge we went, on the dreariest possible day.

Across the Bay Bridge we went, on the dreariest possible day.

Parking in San Fran: Mercedes, Mercedes, Audi, potty

Parking in San Fran: Mercedes, Mercedes, Audi, potty

Family time! This is my cousin Mark's wife, Claire, and their son Ryan. Mark was out of town, but we'll catch him next time. Hadn't seen these two for 20 years!

Family time! This is my cousin Mark’s wife, Claire, and their son Ryan. Mark was out of town, but we’ll catch him next time. Hadn’t seen these two for 20 years!

Claire and Ryan took us to their favorite place for crepes...

Claire and Ryan took us to their favorite place for crepes

... and then down the street for a smidge of ice cream for dessert. A smidge!

… and then down the street for a smidge of ice cream for dessert. A smidge!

Ryan gave Tim a demo of Google Glass. Those two tech-heads are a lot alike!

Ryan gave Tim a demo of Google Glass. Those two tech-heads are a lot alike!

On Dec. 15, the mountain passes between California and Oregon looked clear and thus safe for travel, so we headed northward and enjoyed fantastic views of Mount Shasta from the valley.

On Dec. 15, the mountain passes between California and Oregon looked clear and thus safe for travel, so we headed northward and enjoyed fantastic views of Mount Shasta from the valley.

Hello snow in Oregon!

Hello snow in Oregon!

On these mountain passes is where I learned to use the manual shift mode on the BFT. Nothing like learning while doing, by necessity, according to that man I married and who coached me through it. Really, it's a wonder we're still married. And not at the bottom of a cliff.

On these mountain passes I learned to use the manual shift mode on the BFT.
Nothing like learning while doing, and/or by necessity, according to that man I married and who coached me through it. I may or may not have shouted something about STUPID, STUPID MECHANICAL THINGS during the process.
Really, it’s a wonder we’re still married. And not at the bottom of a cliff.

Dec. 15: We spend 16 hours on the road. Dec. 16: Lola gives me this look when I strap her into the truck, again, for the umpteenth time. Not. Fucking. Again.

Dec. 15: We spent 16 hours on the road.
Dec. 16: I got this look when I put her back in the truck.
Not. Fucking. Again.

Today, we finally arrived at our Christmastime destination, Bay View State Park. Family surrounds us in Mount Vernon, Port Townsend, and Bellingham, and Dane will fly up from San Antonio to join us next week. We get both sons with us for Christmas this year, and that is a gift!

Today, we finally arrived at our Christmastime destination, Bay View State Park. Family surrounds us in Mount Vernon, Port Townsend, and Bellingham (too far north to fit on this map), and Dane will fly up from San Antonio to join us next week.
We get both sons with us for Christmas this year, and that is a gift!

Our view of the bay, from our spot at Bay View

Our bay view, at Bay View

And someone is very happy to be not-in-the-truck.

And someone is very happy to be not-in-the-truck.

Happy all-the-holidays, y’all!