I need to be kind to myself. Not in some grandiose sort of way. Not in a deeply personal or psychological way. I mean in relation to my pilgrimage.
I am currently in Cody, WY. I spent a week in Yellowstone. It was awesome and I did and saw and experienced a lot. It was also expensive. I left for my next destination but got waylaid by a road closure. As I was heading to my chosen camp spot, I saw a big storm coming. I high-tailed it to the closest campground. Unfortunately, it was on a main road just outside of downtown Cody. I rushed to get set up before the rain hit and I was successful. Score on that front.
Back up for a moment and let’s get some context. I am part of a couple travel groups on Facebook. I read stories of folks who go on all the tourist excursions and those who tout their skills at free camping. I see photos of people in campers worth more than my last house and those who scrimp along sleeping in their car by the side of the road. I see the gamut, the continuum and the variety that is out there for folks who live full or part-time, or who just travel, on the road.
I had a vision about what this would look like for me. I mean, it is not like I have not camped or traveled in a minimalist fashion before. This is not new to me, not at all. I have experience on two wheels and on four. I have experience with remote campgrounds, developed places, camping cabins and even sleeping in the car when a previously shitty tent failed in the rain. I mean, this is not new.
What is new is camping like this full-time. Well, I really do not even think it is camping. It is living at this point. Before I left for my journey, I promised myself that I would focus on the experiences and not stress the money part. I mean, that is one of the huge changes. What goes out does not come back in. Not to any great extent, anyway. I promised myself that I would be comfortable, but still open to the challenge of life on the road. I am open to be uncomfortable, but not miserable. I am open to pushing my limits and finding my boundaries, but not at the expense of my physical or mental health. I promised myself to be kind and to take care of me.
I pay for camping. I pay anywhere from $10 to $25 per night on average. I pay because I want the safety and security of a known place, of at least a pit toilet, picnic table and fire pit. Most times I have drinking water on site. I want a location that gives me the chance to bike or hike on established trails and have towns or tourist sites to visit. I seek out full experiences. I do not like sitting around camp all day in some pretty, yet remote spot. I will not take off into the wilderness on a hike on a random unmarked trail alone. I like maps and some people. Sometimes I even get free showers and running water and plumbing. I will pay for a good location that gives me the experience I am looking for.
In Yellowstone I paid nearly $30 per night to camp in the park. I had to get gas twice, as I never went below 1/4 tank. I ate out once and bought a couple stickers and postcards. It will cost me when the charges hit. Here I sit in Cody, WY. It has been raining for nearly 24 hours. The streets are running with water and the rivers are flooded. I started out in my tent, and then the rain came. The nice folks here felt sorry for me and offered me a cabin for a tent price. I am now in the camping cabin and it feels like such a luxury! I had a shower and did laundry. My gear is strewn about the front porch so it can dry. I walked to a great museum today and did some shopping for supplies. I have electricity and television. Well, TV is severely over rated, but at least it is something.
I am stressing the money I have just spent. The groceries, the museum, the tenting fees. But, I have to forgive myself and think of quality. Yes, I have faith that my tent would hold up even under this rain. But, I would be bored, in the cold, and stressing the continued deluge. I would have a harder time with food. I am glad I do not have this worry. I am glad for the museum and for the shopping. I am paying for the experiences and for some comfort and quality. It is important that I am OK with this part of my journey. It is important that I do not beat myself up. It is important that I be kind to myself
I arranged my entire life to make this happen. I already gave myself permission to spend a certain amount of money and I am within that target. Sure, there are times that I spend money and then later I am not OK with it. Like a meal out that was not that great. I rarely buy anything from a gas station or convenience store. I generally make my own food, or eat from my stash that I got cheaper at a grocery store. I am pretty disciplined about collecting keepsakes or tourist junk that I neither need or have the room for. I try to walk or bike instead of driving everywhere. I try to balance the amenities of the campground with the price.
I know there are cheaper options out there. I know there are free spots. I know there are as many ways to live on the road as there are people doing it. I am about five months into this and I believe I have found what works for me. I try to watch my money, but I also try to take care of myself. I strive for quality. I strive for balance. I work to forgive myself for spending money. I try to spend money on things that make me happy. I have to remember why I am here, why I am doing this and what my goals are.
I love a challenge and the grit of life makes me smile. I am enjoying these days of unconventional living. I also deserve to be comfortable. I deserve the little things that bring me joy and quality. I strive for balance and I work hard not to deprive myself into misery.
Today, I forgive myself for the expense of this campground. I forgive myself for the money I left at Yellowstone. Tomorrow I head to one of my bonus-sister’s houses. I will stay for free, but I am sure we will go out. I do not expect them to pay. I forgive myself in advance for my visit. I will relish in our time together, which can have no price. I will embrace the experiences that cannot be quantified. In the meantime, I will delight in the silence of the cabin and the electricity that is charging my electronics. The sounds of the rain as it falls around, and not on, me, for my gear that is drying.
Thank you Universe for always taking care of me, for showing me the way and for helping me along. Today I appreciate your kindness.