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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Going Mobile

When it comes to RV living, teamwork is essential

We’ve been together for decades, which is pretty astonishingly wonderful and a little vexing... because it means we “done got old,” to quote Delta bluesman Junior Kimbrough. Still we get along pretty well most of the time, making us a good team.

That let’s-work-together credo was made perfectly clear on a recent getaway out of the rig to the posh Alderbrook Resort on Hood Canal. We spent a couple of days and nights enjoying the destination property’s considerable charms, pursuing our individual pleasures. John spent time in the gym while Leslie blissed out at the spa.

We ate dinner at the popular restaurant and the next night, cooked salmon on the resort’s outdoor grill, eating by one of the campfires that are lit by the resort’s crew each evening. So cool.

It was on our final morning that our true teamwork came into play as we hopped into a two-person kayak for a paddle. Gliding out onto the calm surface of this impressive body of water, John tried to direct Leslie on the fine art of dragging the two-sided paddle through the water most efficiently. “You’ve got to push with one hand as you pull with the other,” he instructed.

Now, it’s not as if Leslie’s never been in a kayak. She’s paddled a bit, but not in a two-seater. John, on the other hand, is a seasoned pro on the water. He bought a kayak when we lived in Memphis, Tenn., and paddled on the Mississippi River. Oh, the stories he tells about those slightly harrowing journeys.

“It’s a miracle you’re still alive,” Leslie half-teases.

Later, when we returned to the Northwest, the adventures continued until we decided to dramatically shift gears and hit the road in an RV more than four years ago. He actually sold the kayak well before that, tired of paying stiff storage fees.

So, getting back into the kayak was a special treat. Once we synced up our strokes, we covered a lot of distance in no time. Seals popped out of the water to check us out and a fat salmon jumped nearby. The Olympic Mountains stood out against a blue sky in the distance, looking ripe for a postcard photo session.

As we headed back to the dock, Leslie ran out of steam: “I’m using muscles I never use.”

Don’t worry, John said, I’ve got this.

And so it goes for the 41 years we’ve been partners. When one of us can’t quite cross the finish line, the other picks up the slack. That’s never been more clear than when we’re living in our 23-foot motorhome.

Sure, John does the lion’s share of the outdoor chores, hooking us up, expertly leveling the rig on blocks, managing the storage bins, building the occasional campfire. But Leslie makes sure he’s well fed and that the cupboard’s always stocked with coffee, chocolate and other essentials.

We’ve got each other’s backs. Except when it comes to that nightly cribbage battle, now tied up for the fall season. 

The volunteer gigs we’ve been tackling for the Washington State Parks definitely plays to our strength as a team. While John’s busy swatting flies at the Commanding Officers Quarters at Fort Worden Historical State Park, Leslie gets a buzz visiting with the eclectic assortment of folks who wander into the museum.

We’ve both learned a lot about the history of the region. Port Townsend was expected to be the Northwest’s version of San Francisco before the steam-powered boats came along and made the trip to Seattle easier. When the first commanding officer settled into this stately 5,000-square-foot house in 1905, women washed their hair once a month, using borax and egg yolks. We’ve come a long way, baby!

And, hopefully, we’ve got a bit farther to go on this sometimes challenging, always rewarding journey. Next stop, the Olympic coast for some storm watching.

Leslie Kelly
Leslie Kelly is a freelance writer.