By Eric Manchester
Mona died somewhere between hoping and planning. For all our 29 years together, road-tripping was a shared delight. First, in our old Triumph TR6 sportscar, then in our succession of minivans to accommodate Mona’s many, complex and worsening health conditions. When it became too painful for Mona to even ride to the grocery store, it seemed that our days being someplace “out there” might be over.
New possibilities emerged in 2016 with our acquiring Geezermobile, a 1998 Triple E Commander motorhome. At 34’ in length, and built for Canadian weather conditions, our Class A rig comprised amenities and comfort enough for us to resume thumbing through our collection of road atlases. We seldom had a destination in mind, but even when we did, our travels resembled itinerant wanderings in search of Mom & Pop diners, good bread, and pie – as far off the main highways as the Geezermobile could handle.
After experimenting with journeys ranging from one week to more than a month, nearby and across the country, it looked like 2019 (finally free of deadlines and schedules) would herald the start of much longer trips around Canada, if not much of North America. But, barely into that year, new and much worse health issues piled onto Mona’s already substantial collection of life-threatening conditions. Emergency repairs were done in April, then again in June; ultimately catastrophic events overtook all hope. Mona died in November 2019 (age 67), having never gotten beyond mapping out our new-found freedom. Mona and I will have one final road trip together when I take her home to Ontario where she’ll be laid to rest beside her late parents.
Now, at age 70 and alone (except for the support of my sparse family and aging Army paratrooper buddies) I’m intending to roll out aboard Geezermobile and put rubber on the map tracings to the places we wanted to explore. Our keen interest was to experience rustic, small places that punctuate vast expanses of scenic wonder (and maybe to document their triumphs and struggles to survive in the midst of what is often alarming rural decline) – not to mention finding those Mom & Pop diners, good bread and pie. Yet to be determined is what combination of full-timing or long-timing my odyssey will be.
Eric Manchester is a freelance writer and photographer based in Victoria, B.C., Canada. He is a retired Canadian Army paratrooper. He has been driving since the age of ten and is obsessed with seeing what’s over the next hill and around the bend after that, exploring off-the-beaten-tracks. If you’d like to virtually keep Eric company while on the road, you can reach him at rv(at)fergchesters.com