Well, I am making assumptions that none of my little mishaps thus far are the greatest lesson. Then again, maybe one of these just is. Ask me in about a year. I should know more then.
Anyway….back from a little practice jaunt and having many thoughts, feelings, reflections. The good, the bad, and the ugly. The not so bad and not so ugly as well. Lots in the head.
First, it is really hard to live in both of these worlds. I am not on the road yet, and I am not fully participating in society as we know it. I am neither the wanderer nor the citizen. I am in this odd limbo and it is messing with my head and my pocketbook. Which is why, I think, I made a shit-ton of mistakes this trip. I mean, even the basics somehow eluded me.
First thing I did was forget my 5-gallon water jug. Filled it, set it out, and then left it on the basement floor. I never, and I mean NEVER, go without this water!! I guess I knew water would be at this developed campground I was heading to. I did have my camelback and my travel bottles all filled. I also packed four one-gallon store bought jugs that I have been carrying around. They seem to like to travel, as I take them and then bring them back unopened. They did come in handy when I used them over the tent stakes as reinforcement weight. It was that windy.
Next, I left behind my cooking attachment. Which means I had a can of fuel and the vessel to heat water. I had utensils, pots and pans. I did not have the mechanism to actually put heat to the vessel. That thing that attaches to the fuel can and makes fire. No cooking for me. Again, that NEVER happens. Oh, but I did remember to bring the food I wanted to cook. Ha! The irony of that.
Next, I did not prime the cooler. I have never taken a cooler with me, so this part was new territory. I did not realize that you need to let ice sit in it overnight to establish the internal temperature, THEN pack it full of your food. Get it plenty cold and it will stay colder longer. It still held my food at a fairly decent temp, nothing spoiled, but it actually got colder outside than in the cooler.
Oh, what else. I let a tote lid blow away as it was not affixed properly. Good news is that I later found it. It took about a day of looking around camp. I forgot the front door mat for the tent vestibule. I even bought it new and specifically for that purpose. It was laying on the basement floor under the jug of water, ironically enough. I did use a mat from the Jeep, as I had before. It comes in the back of the rig and it mostly decorative. Problem solved, but not in the preferred manner.
To top it all off, on the ferry ride home, I dropped my phone in the toilet. Oh, not before I used it. Picture this – finished with your business and you hear the sound of a PLOP that you know was not yours. After a moment, a dramatic pause of sorts, you realize your phone was in your back pocket (not your usual spot). Stand up and look down to see your home screen there below the floating paper and slightly off color water. Shit. Thankfully, not literally, but damn. As the screen floats in the “water”, you swear a lot, pause, buck up, then bravely reach in and retrieve the expensive and important device. Damn it. Well, it was the partially water resistant one. Rush back to the car, wipe it off, take off the case and wipe it off some more. Sanitize hands. Yuck. Yuck. Yuck. Place the phone, speaker side down, over the defrost fan and get any remaining moisture to dry. Siri sounds a little garbled. Follow up – dried off and out just fine. Siri back in tune and a phone working famously. Whew, that was close.
A larger lesson of all this is how poorly I planned for inclement weather. I mean, windy rain storms and my inability to be outside. That solved the cooking problem, as no flame shall enter the tent therefore no cooking would have happened during that time anyway. But, none of that solved the problem of nowhere warm to spend my time. It was cold and while I had layers of clothes, they worked better if I was moving around, and not so great for just sitting. The clothes I had were also really bulky and not conducive for relaxing in the cold tent. Mind you, I am no winter weather weenie. I actually pride myself by choosing winter as my second favorite season (fall is first) and I am looking forward to spending a winter in Yellowstone National Park at some point. But, my ability to tolerate the cold in and on my body seems to be waning. This is a new thing for me. I found it really hard to deal with a cold nose while sleeping, or cold hands while standing outside. The cold seemed to permeate my skin in a new and annoying way. It seemed as if one part of me got cold, the rest registered as cold when I knew darned well it was not cold. As a result, I am also going to add more warm clothing to the mix. Not those techno-fabrics and man-made blends, but some good, old-fashioned wool and/or silk items. Army surplus store here I come!!
In addition, I researched small heaters for the tent. That sounds like a consolation by me, like a giving up of sorts. Like I am not tough enough or strong enough to do this. I say tough shit to that! It is really about the long-term, the long-run, and my overall ability to deal with a variety of weather situations, both expected and unexpected. Is that giving in? Is that a weakness on my part? Well, if this is to be my life, my tent to be my home and my gear all I have, I think I am OK being prepared for these situations. Being comfortable, I believe, will lead to my longevity. Besides that, what am I trying to prove and to whom? Just me and to me and for me and about me. That is all. No grandeur needed.
Last, but I am sure not least, I think I left the front door to my house unlocked. Oh yeah, both the door handle and the deadbolt. Not locked, not at all, not one little bit. Fortunately, I live in a small town and am not surprised that nothing happened. There is enough snow on the ground that I would know right away of anyone had been here. Also, there really is not much else to steal! Oh sure, there are a couple TV’s and some kitchen items, but the place is pretty empty. It would suck to get robbed at this point, but my most precious items for the most part are in storage. I mean, the marble-top hall table that was my Grandmother’s is worth more to me than I am sure to anyone else, but outside of that, not much remains. These things are really failures on my part that cannot happen. Rookie mistakes that I pride myself on being beyond, better than, not susceptible to. Sheesh.
One final lesson that is a bit more macro-level. Part of my struggle in trying to plan my trip, where I want to be and for how long, is that I have a tendency to get excited about some thing in the future, and then when I am doing that thing, I am not getting out of it what I thought. I think part of the problem is my own expectations in and around whatever I think that thing or experience will be. The lesson? Stay in the present. Whatever my reality is at that moment, be in that moment, in that now, in that experience. Stop “future tripping”. That might be one of the reasons I made so many mistakes this little trip. This will also be my challenge moving forward. Be, and stay, in and of the present. After all, it is a gift. You know, a present. HaHa
When I got home, I literally questioned this whole walkabout. I doubted myself, my abilities, my agenda. I questioned if this was really right for me. I second guessed myself in all areas – quitting my job, selling my house, the money I have made, the items I have sold. Now, I know darned well that I can stop this whole thing anytime I want. I can put on the brakes and work to recover, back track, undo most all I have done. I know that in my head. I do NOT know it in my heart. Sure, it was colder than I would have liked at camp and the rain and wind kept me awake. I did not like my nose getting cold. Are those reasons enough to squash this whole thing? Is that reaction commensurate with the problems? I have spent more time outside in colder temps I was and much more miserable. Hell, I was not even miserable this time. Just a little inconvenienced. But, that is easy to say in my warm house by a warm fire sitting in my recliner snuggled in my jammies.
When I am in one place I think about the other. Sure, that was not so bad from where I sit now. The wind, the rain, the incessant flapping of the tent. But, man did I sleep good on that second night! I saw the stars bright in the sky and had a campfire, too. I wore a kerchief over my face to help with the cold nose. I pulled out better clothes from the little selection I had. I ate just fine, though I missed my tea. It was too cold to hang out and write, but then again, I did not leave camp to find a warm place from which to write. Each and every problem I ran into was, and really is, totally solvable. I did not want for much. I think a perspective is in order. A reality check. A reminder.
Sure, you can plan ahead, know where you are going, line up some activities, seek out stuff to explore, people to visit, and so on. But, and this is big, one CANNOT plan for every little thing or anticipate every little part of the trip. You can, and will, live with minor inconveniences and hiccoughs and bumps in the road. I am sure I will mess up – again – miscalculate the weather or the campground or some other thing. Bringing my head, my heart, and my soul into the moment will help with all of that. There will be no house pulling at my psyche, no sense of place I left behind, no belongings forgotten, because they will all be with me. I will bumble along with my organization and the flow of my days. I am sure I will misplace this or not be able to locate that. This I fully expect. In time, I think I will figure it out. As much as I can. As much as anyone can. As much as can be expected when one is venturing into the unknown. When there is more not known than known.
The final lesson here? Be forgiving. Be in the present. Be flexible. Be true to yourself; myself. Hell, BE myself! Be comfortable and when that is not possible, fix it. Fix it right then and there, or fix it for next time. There is no permanence here. It is fluid. Anything can be changed. Bottom line is move forward. Live and learn and move on. But take good photos so that you can remember the cool stuff that happened in between any minor inconveniences. Yeah, photos are good. Cool stuff also good. Photos of cool stuff even better. Capture the memory. Remember the good.