Taking notice

Deb and I took a “down day” — and we realize that might sound puzzling if you think that every day is a “down day” for us. It’s not. We’re always fussing or puttering, repairing or maintaining, settling in or going somewhere or getting ready to move.

We did check a few boxes today. We were told that new house batteries are on their way and may be installed as soon as tomorrow. We confirmed that the parts we need to turn Mercy into a toad will arrive over the next couple of days. We dumped both waste-water tanks and thoroughly flushed the black.

But mostly we basked in yesterday’s drive to the Buffalo River at Ponca (pictured in today’s header image).

I do have some projects to look forward to. Once the towing gear is installed on the Jeep I’ll need to set up the bus for its role, probably with help (and tools) from Deb’s cousin. I’ll attach a pigtail to the solar controller after the house batteries are replaced. And I want to get our tire-pressure monitoring system installed before Ernie rolls again, ideally with four additional sensors fitted to Mercy’s wheels.

There’s always something to do. Just not much today.

The campground has cleared out considerably the last couple of days. With the holiday weekend behind us, many of our neighbors have packed up and moved on. One benefit of such an exodus is an opportunity to observe others’ routines.

It’s something all of us do — notice, I mean. We don’t interfere, but we watch and we learn.

See, almost everyone’s looking for a better way. The best source of tricks and tips, gadgets and shortcuts, is the people camped around us. That’s especially true of setup and teardown. So, from a discrete distance, we take notice.

I broke the cardinal rule, though respectfully, yesterday morning when the neighbor across the street prepared to hook up a Jeep Wrangler behind his motorhome. I approached and asked him if he minded me looking over his shoulder. He was more than gracious, explaining (patiently and in detail) everything he was doing and why.

I found myself admiring how deliberately and how logically he did things. And seeing up-close the simplicity of readying a stick-shift Wrangler to be towed, I’ll admit to breathing a sigh of self-congratulatory relief.

Something else I notice in campgrounds is trends. Blackstone griddles, for example, appear to be all the rage. Fifth-wheel trailers are much more popular than I thought they were.

When it comes to pickup trucks — tow vehicles, that is — I’ve seen more Fords and Dodges than I’d expected and fewer Chevrolets and GMCs. A big surprise, actually.

I’ve been noticing when something’s not quite right. My attention is drawn to what’s-wrong-with-this-picture stuff that I might not have picked up on a year ago, but which seems obvious now.

Oh, back then I probably would’ve figured out that a travel trailer driving away with one of its slides partly deployed, or with a door wide open, was a problem. But when the wind kicks up these days, invariably I look around to see if someone has left their awning out.

I see tow vehicles mismatched to what they’re towing, or at least poorly set up to tow. Like the Chevy Suburban I spotted in town the other day, towing a large trailer by a ball mounted to its bumper, sagging so low that the safety chains puddled on the ground.

Across from our site last week was a Toyota Sequoia parked in front of what must’ve been a 30-foot travel trailer. I hoped that the SUV belonged to a visitor, but no — a few days later I watched the owner hitch it to the 30-footer and pull away. This clearly wasn’t the right tool for the job.

That Suburban should’ve been fitted with a frame-mounted receiver and a weight-distributing hitch. The Sequoia had both of those but was trying to punch well above its tow rating.

Finally, I notice people.

I see lots of people doing everything the hard way. These, I guess, are folks who don’t notice how others take care of business, who hew to routines that don’t work all that well, who aren’t interested in learning a better way.

I’ve seen people who stand back and watch someone else do all the work — a spouse, a friend, a companion, whatever. Something tells me they behave the same way in the rest of their lives.

And then there are those who have no interest in and no enthusiasm for The Camping Life. They dress as if it’s Casual Friday at The Cubicle Farm. Their hair’s never mussed. They don’t sweat. They don’t work and they simply don’t play.

I look at Deb and I give thanks. We’re both Camping People. We’ve chosen the life we love and we love the life we’ve chosen. We’re quite the team, too, each pulling our weight to make this work.

Or so I’ve noticed.

Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.

#WiseUp #LibertyOrDeath

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