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RV Companion Magazine
March/April 2000

Is it just me, or does 'hitch-itch' reach an especially high pitch in the springtime?

Is it just me, or does 'hitch-itch' reach an especially high pitch in the springtime? You know hitch-itch... the nagging, gnawing urge to tie down all the loose stuff, start the engine and head off down the road to wherever.

I've felt this compulsion since I was a youngster, but back then I didn't fulltime in a house on wheels. Trips were dependent on my parents... or my bicycle... and thus much shorter.

When the 'itch' got bad I'd jump on my bike and go for a ride. After stopping awhile at the end of the street around the corner from our house, the urge to go somewhere else would only get stronger. That street ended at the riverbank about a hundred feet above the Ohio River as it flowed northwest beside my hometown in Pennsylvania before heading on into Ohio.

The Monongahela and Allegheny rivers join at Pittsburgh to form the Ohio which made a bee-line (actually that's not too straight) for the great Mississippi. Oh how I wanted to go along.

Barge boats that had been laden with coal and ore for the steel mills up river would be headed back down for another load, pushing their empty barges ahead of them, they were able to move swiftly downstream with the strong current. I'd chase along the street nearest the river, dodging out side streets to the riverbank to check the progress of the barges until I came to the end of the road (and the town) where the river went around the bend and the barge boat would fade from my view. Peddling my bike back home was always anti-climatic.

The good ol' spring & summertime

In the mid forties on the weekend nearest Memorial Day my family and I would leave Monaca early in the morning and travel northward to our cabin on a small lake in southwestern New York state for the summer. It was 128 miles and, in those days, took the better part of eight hours to drive in our 1939 Plymouth. It's the first car I remember our family having and this annual trek was a great adventure.

My inclination for car-sickness did not dampen my urge to travel in the least, although at times it dampened my clothing and the seat (occupied by my Dad) directly in front of me!

Exploring was always fun along the dirt roads and trails in the hills around Findley Lake. I never liked turning back, or returning the way I came. I always wanted to see what was around the next bend... even if it meant being lost for a while.

Although it was traveling, returning to the 'city' for school in the fall was never as delightful as hitting the road in the springtime or early summer.

After all these years I still have the itch to travel. It's not that I'm ever unhappy where I am... or think that everything will be much better somewhere else... it's just an urge. An urge that seems to be stronger in the springtime.

Now, when we travel... Steve and I... dragging our house behind us, we usually only have a basic area as a destination in mind. When we get there we find a place to 'stay' and get the house parked (Home Is Where We Park Our House) and settled. Then we leave 'home' to explore the territory around us. We make day trips in all directions, on all kinds of roads, up and down the streets of nearby towns until we feel we know the area fairly well.

Unplanned events along the way

It was a really windy day last March when it was time to leave the Quartzsite area and head for Lancaster on the way to our 'pivot point' in northern California. We chose I-10 for our route and headed west through Blythe, up the gradual grade to Chiriaco Summit. We planned to stop, refuel and visit the General Patton Museum at the summit, and we got a bonus!

Goodyear Blimp fran crawford franecdotesA Good Year blimp, after a bit of a struggle to top the summit in the high winds, landed at the small airport there, to refuel. We chatted with chase crew members while the zeppelin was being serviced and then we got to see it take off into the sunset! By then it was pretty late so we went into the restaurant to inquire about an overnight space. The manager said we could dry camp up the hill behind the museum free of charge. Cool.

Next morning we toured the museum... a great experience for anyone; a must for history buffs. Then we headed for Joshua Tree National Forest, a quintessential place to combat springtime hitch-itch!

--Fran C. Crawford

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