GoNOMAD Book Excerpt
This excerpt from Doreen Orion’s book Queen of the Road: The True Tale of 47 States, 22,000 Miles, 200 Shoes, 2 Cats, 1 Poodle, a Husband, and a Bus With a Will of Its Own provides a sample of the author’s hilarious style of living and writing.
You can find out more about this talented “princess from the Island of Long” at her website QueenoftheRoadTheBook.com. You can even watch videos of her trip by clicking on the travelogue link.
Chapter One: The Nudist RV Park
When Tim announced he wanted to “chuck it all” and travel around the country in a converted bus for a year, I gave this profound and potentially life-altering notion all the thoughtful consideration it deserved.
“Why can’t you be like a normal husband with a midlife crisis and have an affair or buy a Corvette?” I demanded, adding, “I will never, ever, EVER, not in a million years, live on a bus.”
We’re both psychiatrists, but he’s obviously the better shrink, for we soon set forth with our two querulous cats, sixty-pound dog – and no agenda – in a 340-square-foot bus.
The trip was truly life-changing in many ways: We learned how not to put off our dreams, and the importance of living now. We also learned to pare down our lifestyle, so that we could spend more time with the people we love – instead of the things we love.
Finally, I hadn’t realized how comfortable – too comfortable – my life had become. Many of us work so hard all our lives, wake up one day and ask, “Is this all there is?” I hadn’t realized the importance of continuing to challenge and stretch myself.
Although we had our share of disasters on the trip (fire, flood, armed robbery and my developing a bus phobia, to just to name a few), it were the adventures and misadventures that helped us grow, shake things up and add back a certain “spark” that we didn’t even realize was missing.
Getting Outside the Comfort Zone
Perhaps nothing taught us the importance of getting outside our comfort zones more than our visit to the nudist RV park, Olive Dell Ranch, in Colton California.
Although as a psychiatrist Tim is very much in tune with unconscious drives, hidden meanings, and deep-seated motivations, he is also a typical guy. And typical guys want to go to nudist resorts.
Not being any type of a guy myself, I had always informed him I would never, ever, EVER, not in a million… Oh, what’s the use?
By now I had clearly lost any semblance of free will. I was, after all, living in a bus for a year. I didn’t stand a chance.
Not that I was nonchalant about this, mind you; I’d started Atkins in anticipation – just in case – months before. I need not have bothered, for as I discovered, nudists are incredibly low-key. Unless that is, you’re trying to get into one of their parks. Then they can be just as big a pain in the ass as any prudes.
What About Shoes?
As we neared California, I checked around on the Internet. One place seemed particularly promising, so I called and asked if they were, indeed, clothing optional.
“No,” the lady unequivocally answered.
“Oh. I’m sorry. I must have the wrong information,” I apologized, hoping she didn’t think me some weirdo. But something in her voice made me query further.
“So… people don’t walk around naked?” I tried to confirm.
“Oh, yes, they do,” she answered. Is this place English optional, or what?
“Okay… but you’re not clothing optional.” I offered slowly, with impeccable pronunciation.
“No, we’re nudist,” she snapped. Well, excuuuuse, me.
“I’m not sure I know the difference,” I conceded. She explained that when inside the park, one is required to be naked. Now I got it. It was optional, not the clothing, that was the problem with the whole clothing optional thing. Who knew? I proceeded with what I thought was a perfectly reasonable follow-up question.
“Can I wear shoes?”
She guffawed, muzzled the phone, and called out to some other nudity-requiring linguaphile, “She wants to know if she can wear shoes!” For those as clueless as I, the answer is yes. I decided she could keep her shod-optional accommodations and found a different park.
A Dream Job
When we pulled into Olive Dell Ranch Nudist Resort near San Bernadino, I faced yet another dilemma: Usually, I headed to the office to check in while Tim stayed with the bus. Should I take my clothes off now?
What if, in a variation on the universal nightmare, this was some God-awful joke and everyone was clothed but me? I was wearing earrings. Do I take them off, too? A valid question, methinks, even after the shoe debacle.
I could have called on my cell phone and asked, but it seemed a mite like the shoe question and I didn’t feel like being laughed at again just yet, especially as I was anticipating that reaction as soon as I stepped off the bus, anyway.
I kept my clothes on. The woman in her home office had not. (Note to self: This could very well be my dream job, for not only can one work at home, but not even have to get dressed.) She told us where to park and that the owner would come by to show us around.
A Guy in Sneakers
The campground itself is at the end of a long, winding road set on 140 acres up against a tree-studded hill with views of the surrounding countryside and valley.
There are about two hundred members, half of whom are permanent residents, the rest weekenders with about another fifty to a hundred visitors like us, just passing through at various points in the summer to stay in the handful of cabins and RV spaces.
After we parked, we saw the owner approach. He was in his forties and nude, but wore an open work shirt against the sun (and sneakers, I was pleased to note). We quickly donned (or rather, un donned) similar gear and met him outside.
I soon discovered that none of my concerns mattered. In a nudist park, everything is stripped down, so to speak. As Tim observed, there’s no macho, no pretense, no posturing. Your balls (and whether or not you have any) are out there for everyone to see. (Especially, as we would later discover when partaking of naked karaoke.)
That first day, we hung out at the pool, relaxed, read, and met some of the locals. (No murmurs of “your rig or mine” to be heard.)
A friend called and I answered my cell phone. I had already blogged about being in the nudist park, so after a few moments of catching up, Alison asked in a whisper, “Are you talking to me while you’re naked?”
“Nope. I’m naked. Tim’s naked. Bill, Sue, and Cameron are naked…”
Our first night, Tim started closing all the curtains in the bus. I wondered why – we’d been nude all day, anyway. He explained that he was about to start cooking and for his own safety needed to put on clothes and didn’t want to offend anybody.
We both had to dress, of course, to leave for our day trips to Joshua Tree National Park and Palm Springs. And each time during our weeklong stay, we did so reluctantly.
This nudist resort was the friendliest RV park we’d ever stayed in. (It was also quite cheap, although we easily made that up in sunscreen.)
Established in 1952, it has been owned and operated by two generations of the same family and the atmosphere was completely laid-back. The married owners, Bobby and Becky, grew up there in nudist families and now raise their own children in the park.
Bobby, who is also the cook (working in the kitchen clad only in an apron), gave me his recipe for the best tuna salad I’ve ever tasted.
Like every place on the planet, this one also has its eccentrics, including the woman who explained why she couldn’t stop to chat saying, “I have to catch my breath. I just had brisket.”
But our favorite had to be the maintenance guy who walks around nude except for his tool belt. An interesting effect, for every time he turned around, I nearly exclaimed, “Hey! You dropped your…” Oops.
If you’d like to see my video of the nudist RV park (now, I have your attention), please visit my website, QueenOfTheRoadTheBook.com and click on the travelogue link.
Doreen Orion is a psychiatrist and award-winning author. Her book, Queen of the Road: The True Tale of 47 States, 22,000 Miles, 200 Shoes, 2 Cats, 1 Poodle, a Husband, and a Bus with a Will of Its Own