Today got off to a dismal start, and in more ways than one. Scout and Dipstick rousted me at 4:30am and dragged me out into the cold morning air. A steady rain began falling shortly before 7am. And I still feel pretty cruddy.
The sun came out around 10am, but the wet stuff returned before noon. It’s gonna be that kind of day here in the Black Hills.
Yesterday’s storms brought the area a few inches of rain in a very short time. The ground around our site, a level pad terraced into a grade, drained pretty well. Last night, however, I noticed that Ernie’s entry steps were brushing the grass underneath — they’d been pretty low to begin with but now they were making contact. The last thing I wanted was to jam the mechanism or bend the frame and make the steps impossible to retract.
Either the grassy ground under the steps had swollen or the hard-packed dirt under the bus had softened. (Our level hadn’t changed, so I knew it wasn’t a mechanical issue.) The solution was simple as well as obvious — this morning I bumped up the front jack a bit, giving the bottom step a couple inches’ margin.
Later, while standing outside just enjoying the crisp air, I got into a conversation with a fellow RVer doing the same. This retired firefighter and his wife, originally from western Ohio, have been full-timers for seven years, so he had a wealth of experience that he was more than willing to share.
We talked a long time, swapping stories and sharing lessons we’ve learned.
A half-hour after I’d gone back inside there was a knock at our door. It was that guy, bringing me a five-page printout he gives to people he meets and actually likes, usually fellow full-timers — a comprehensive list, product of seven years on the road, of organizations, memberships, programs, websites, gadgets and supplies, campgrounds and more. He and his wife continually update it based on their travels.
Moments like that put a big ol’ stamp of validation on the life we’ve chosen.
Lots of folks, from friends to virtual acquaintances, have flooded us with recommendations for what to see and do while we’re on the road. I’d have to say that most of those were made with the best of intentions, people sharing their experiences and wanting us to have the same experience they did.
Roads to take. Sights to see. Restaurants and bars. Trails to hike. Campgrounds. Gizmos to buy and recipes to try.
The first thing I want to say is “thank you.” We truly appreciate the suggestions.
Thing is, “must see” and “must do” are only figures of speech. We’ve noticed, too, that a few of the recommendations we’ve received come with the clear implication that if we don’t fall in line, we’re somehow missing out — as if our visit to such-and-such place is incomplete, or even worthless, if we don’t do this or see that.
That’s total bullshit, of course.
It’s like boondocking, the practice of off-the-grid guerilla camping in parking lots, on public lands and in secret out-of-the-way places. We’ve done it. It’s a useful skill, a viable option and yeah, it can be fun. But if you read boondocking forums and social-media pages, you may left with the impression that boondockers are somehow morally superior to the rest of us.
Again, that’s a load of crap.
Deb and I can’t go everywhere and do everything. In fact, over the last several months we’ve learned that our pace and our preferences will keep us from doing some of the stuff we thought we would. Any disappointment accompanying that reality is overwhelmed by the joy we derive from what we actually do.
We enjoy campground life. We really dig the people who inhabit the RVing community. We often like to “set a spell” where we land. Freedom and mobility are good, and solitude is refreshing, but we’re not wired for isolation or constant movement — both of us are social creatures who benefit from interaction with others of like mind and similar interests. It’s truly the only way we can learn and grow.
Of course, we love going places few people go, the unheard-of and the less-traveled, the sights and sounds and scenes no one recommends. And we like being spontaneous.
Deb said something this morning that rings true: “After 15 years together, taking not a single vacation in all that time, everything is an adventure.”
Personally, I prefer a cold beer to a long drive. I’ll take a quiet morning with a cup of coffee and a comfy chair over the chore of packing up and moving on. I can wring as much enjoyment out of a sidewalk bench in small Heartland town as I can get from sitting alone beside a high-country stream.
Most important, this is our show. We decide. We’ll go where we go and we’ll do what we do, staying as long as we like and moving on when it suits us.
Charting our own course has made this a wonderful journey so far, in life and on the road. Now go and do likewise.
(But hey, if you ever make it to Mitchell, South Dakota, seriously, you really do need to see The World’s Only Corn Palace at night. Just sayin’.)
Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.