What I have Learned. So far, anyway.

I know it has not been that long, but man, the lessons are pouring onto me! Like the lessons, the writing is pouring OUT of me. This feels like a vacation, but then again, it is missing the quintessential element of a timeline. Sure, I have to move camp or pay again or whatever, but I am NOT on a timeline to return to anything. Not for about three more weeks. Even then, I have decided how I am spending my time. I made that schedule by choice. So there. 

I am sure as this adventure unfolds, what I learn will grow and develop. Perhaps it will slow down and I will start to learn and grow more as a human being. At present, I feel like my growth is in the understanding of this journey, the nuances I must master, and those I must let go. Changes I can already recognize and things that I cannot even begin to comprehend. 

For now, I will share those things that are front most on my mind, in my experience, or that have given me pause. I will be curious to look back, six or nine months from now, and see what lessons are presented to me then. Here we go:

  •   It is important that I stay at places that allow me to do what I like to do. What is different now is that I am not vacationing away from the things I do not like into a world made up mostly of what I do like. I am IN the world I prefer all the time. Therefore, I am experiencing camping a bit differently. I do like it up in the woods, but with no internet and limited daylight, I am a little challenged on how to occupy my time. I am working to make sure that wherever I stay has access to trails for hiking, for biking, or places to explore like museums or towns or historic sites. Breweries alway help. I have to do something besides just sit around and since I do not have to go back to anywhere, keeping myself entertained is paramount. The idea of “getting away” has a different meaning now as the only thing I have to “get away” from are city campers and their stupid little fucking dogs.
  • Man, the grocery store sure looks different! I am overwhelmed with the choices and all the things to buy. However, I cannot buy them. I must stick to my list or I will run out of room in the Jeep or the cooler. I just do not have the space. I am learning that I must buy smaller sizes and buy them a bit more often. Not like daily, but once a week or every ten days is fine. Besides, I probably only need one of that thing anyway, so quantities are wasted on me. Do I really want to eat tuna for the next month and cart around cans that take up space??
  •   Stay the HELL out of Costco!!! Sure, go for gas, maybe even for a cheap lunch or some other snack, but DO NOT SHOP INSIDE! I know the prices are better and you get more, but we have already established that space is a premium and dragging that bag of whatever around for days on end is just not worth it. 
  •   Staying organized is key. I cannot tell you how many things I cannot find, even though I have this finite amount of space. Like my face wipes. I cannot for the life of me figure out where I put them. I took the protective cover off my computer keyboard and have no idea where I put that, either. I have to stay in the habit of putting that one thing in the same place every time. One, so it does not get lost, and two, so it does not get left behind. That is my nightmare… leaving something I really need or that cost a lot of money behind. 
  •   Planning will make you crazy. That, and the plan will only go so far anyway. Plans are nice, but always be prepared to change on the fly, go someplace or do something different if needed. Heck, if desired! It is important to shift focus if the situation warrants it. This level of flexibility can be stressful, but I have to retain that faith in my journey. I WILL BE OK!
  •   Obey all speed limits at all times. That one cost me the equivalent of about a week of camping. It was my own fault for belting out a tune on the radio while rubber necking out the window. I am too chicken to try and fight it, as I would not be able to lie in court about my address or my travel or any of that. So, best to just pay up and move on. Shit. I just made a nice little donation to that cute little small town I was admiring. Double shit. 
  •   If it feels good, do it! That means if I like where I am, and what I am doing, I can stay. I can stay for as long as the reservations let me, or as long as the limit allows. Who says I have to cover a lot of ground, anyway? Conversely, if it sucks, stop doing it! There is no need to do what I do not want to do or be where I do not want to be. I am on this adventure for a reason and it is to find joy in my life. If where I am or what I am doing does not cut it, out I go. There is a chance I am tied to a reservation, but even those can be cancelled. 
  •   Wow, the city sure stresses me out. Heck, even the grocery store stressed me out. The options, the noise, the commotion, the stuff to buy. Stores and stores filled with things we do not need, that I must not add to the collection. In fact, I made a clothing donation today to help lighten the load. I just have too many clothes. I had to make an adjustment to my cooking and that seems to be working out well. Town is necessary, but how stressful!
  •   The tent has limitations. I am finding that I am more susceptible to the weather than I thought I would be. I mean, I knew it would get cold, but I guess I thought I would have some warmth in there and I do not. There is no keeping this floor warm, not at all. Rain protection is just fine. Wind, well, that depends. The wind does lower the overall temperature, even if I do not get the breeze directly. I am also dreading the day I have to set up for just one night. I am not sure why it is such a thing with me. I am getting better and better about setting up the tent and can have it done in less than 30 minutes, 15 minutes if I am having a good run of it. I just like the idea of plopping down, settling in, and exploring my new neighborhood. But, I am sure the situation will warrant that I will have some one-night stands. I can either get a motel room or just suck it up. There are worse problems to have. 

At this time, these are the highlights of what strikes me, what I am challenged with, or what has given me pause. Overall, things are well and I am making adjustments as needed. I am finding my way and learning more every day. I knew these first few weeks would be about getting my “sea legs” and that is what has happened. Hey, at least I am out here doing it! I need to give myself credit for having done that which I set out to do. I made the bold move. GO ME. Foibles and fumbles and fireballs be damned. 

To the journey, each and every part, CHEERS!

3 Comments on “What I have Learned. So far, anyway.

  1. Hi. Yes, interesting perceptions. I’ve been full time for over a year and am still stunned when I can’t find something! How does that happen in such a small space???

    And yes, buying smaller quantities is what my husband and I do, too. It is annoying, because bulk buying costs less – but I tell myself that what I would spend in fuel dragging stuff around probably equals out the bulk-buy cost savings. (Probably not true, but I tell it to myself anyway!)

    It always amazes me at how much stuff we still accumulate even though we live in a van – I have been given a guitar, complete with 3 music books to go with it, a cardigan, some transparent bags, Homemade food in glass jars, Christmas decorations, books, etc, etc. Even after 17 months on the road, Andy and I are still donating stuff to the charity shops. Unbelievable.

    Interesting comments on how to fill your time. I understand exactly. I thought my days would be filled with exercise, Pilates, yoga, stretching, music, drawing and long walks. Actually, it often consists of eating (my favourite hobby but when combined with a lack of exercise – my least favourite hobby – I can’t do too much of it); walking the dog – who, being elderly, doesn’t actually want to go very far, she prefers to stop and sniff; and washing up and cleaning. I hate cleaning, but it has to be done from time to time – and seems to take a long time. Much of my time is spent gazing out of the window at the scenery and at what other people are doing (ok, i’m nosey). I don’t beat myself up for just sitting and watching, I relax and enjoy it. It is a privilege. When I get bored, I remind myself that I used to get very, very bored when I worked full-time and lived in a house. Being in a van hasn’t suddenly made me a Wonder Woman – I have discovered that I am still me, still lazy, still hopeful, still the same person – but in a van. I have accepted that and am happy. I await your next thoughts. Enjoy.

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    • Watching the other people has become a new sort of television! I just know they do the same and I try not to let it bother me when I’m struggling with the tent LOL Thanks for your insights. So much to learn.

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  2. Yes if it feels good – DO IT! That was my Dad’s favorite saying. I love me some Costco too – but bulk just does not work. Wish someone would open a “mini” sized Costco, for those times you need 1/10th of what is in their packaging. I also love to go to Costco for “free” lunch from the demo workers. Ha!

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