Step One: Pick up The Beast from the RV dealer where Marcus left it in August, in hopes of selling it. The thing was just sitting there, unsold, unused. Someone needed to drive it. Why not me! Step Two: After losing three nights' sleep from the anticipation/anxiety of getting behind the wheel of the RV, my friend Alison drove me down the dealer. "Oh, it's a lot bigger than I remember," Alison commented. Gulp. She rode along for my practice drive around the neighborhood -- so far so good -- then she followed me in her car home on the freeway, rolling along at 50 mph, sitting as high as the semis and school buses.
Step Three: I packed up The Beast with some food, clothes, two dogs and a new set of tire chains, praying that I will never have to use them. I drove 400 miles the first day, from Portland to Lake Shasta, and parked at my first RV park. "We have electrical outlets. You can plug in," the campground manager said. "That's nice but I don't have a power cord," I replied. He raised his eyebrow as if to say, I can see you are ignorant about RVing, and then said, "Let me show you where to find it." Sure enough, there was a built-in cord. I plugged in to the power and therefore enjoyed the luxury of having both lights and heat. I could get used to this kind of camping. I discovered hiking trails the next morning and walked for hours in the California sunshine with the dogs. I was so relieved about making it this far -- and appreciated the chance to relax -- so I stayed an extra night.