WINNEBARGE DRIVER TRUSTS
'THE FORCE" ON ‘THE OTHER SIDE

By Don Jordan

My friends tell me I have "gone over to the other side."

No, I am not dead, yet. This is probably because I have begun studying a new technique for driving an RV while talking on a cell phone. I know, I know. How long have I complained about getting stuck in traffic behind a wandering Winnebarge, a lumbering Lumbago? How about my facist stand on talking on a cell phone while driving at 70 m.p.h. on the interstate?

Here are my excuses:

*Driving between Florida, Indiana, Wisconsin and Montana to fish, hunt, and hang out has made me allergic to motels and hotels. Did you ever see that television program where they put the black light on the bed cover? Eeechk. Ever look in the corners or under the bed? Just thinking about this stuff is enough to make my head itch. In the RV, at least I am sleeping in my own dirt, eh?

*The RV makes a much better traveling office than a motel room. I don’t have to constantly move stuff around, and I am at home all the time, even in a Wal-Mart parking lot.

*Spending a lot of time on the road meant that I had to stop at public phones or at friends’ homes to use a phone. With the cell phone, I can call from my rolling house any time, any place, and need not touch or breathe into a public phone.

No, I am not following the footsteps of Howard Hughes. People say I am just as untidy as I ever was.

This is actually my second Motor Home. The first was an 18-foot Toyota-based machine that achieved 15 miles per gallon and could be parked just about anywhere a car can park. The "new" one is a Ford van-based behemoth of 28-feet. It achieves 7.5 miles per gallon and cannot be parked anywhere except the Wal-Mart parking lot.

The new machine (dubbed "Jambo" after Jamboree), has amenities, but it requires true understanding of the forces of nature and at least awareness of the Jambo-Zen driving technique.

Let me give you an example. If one tries to micro-manage Jambo at 55 m.p.h., the machine can rebel and send you careening over into the next lane or onto the shoulder rumble strips. If one’s knuckles get white every time a huge Kenworthy towing a gas tanker approaches from the rear doing 85, Jambo senses driver stress and literally shakes as the giant roars past.

It is not healthy to drive 500 miles a day using a death grip. Oh, you can make it a couple of times, but, eventually, everyone who has ever driven a Winnebarge or Lumbago must seek a higher truth, a path to follow that is either beyond the physical senses, or more perfectly attuned to those senses and the world of the interstate highway.

My epiphany came while driving though downtown Atlanta on I-75. There are eight lanes there, and where it goes through the beast’s heart, all six lanes are bumper-to-bumper cars trying to go 70 m.p.h. Did I mention that the lanes are very narrow in this stretch? What they did was make six lanes into eight by narrowing the original six. Jambo MUST stay in the center lane at this point.

I was talking to someone at the time, an elderly cabin builder out in Montana, just for moral support. He sympathized with my little whimpers of terror and remarks like "uh, oh…"

Then came the curve. I remembered it when I realized we were into it, but Jambo’s memory, not so good. It looked impossible. I was either going to turn over from centrifugal force or be tossed into the five Hondas and Toyotas dogging my right side.

"Arrrggghh…."

"What did you say?" answered the elderly cabin builder in Montana.

At that precise point, I abandoned all control to The Force, just like Luke Skywalker. I became one with Jambo and the highway, just like the ShaoLin priest in Kung Fu would have done. I closed my eyes and let Jambo find her own way. It was probably just a second or two, but it felt like a minute or more, and when I awoke, I was around the curve and on the other side of the underpass.

After that, I let Jambo find her own way home. I had learned the way of Jambo, not fighting the forces of nature, but existing with them and using them. I cannot yet claim to be a Jambo-Zen Master at driving my Winnebarge, but I have had the vision, have seen the road in my mind’s eyes only.

Oh, I forgot to mention that Jambo with my Gheenoe behind it is 56 feet. Can’t see boat back there, ever.

Not to worry. I have a hands-off kit for my cell phone.

© 2002. Copyright Jordan Communications