Rambling through the Northern Plains the last few weeks I’ve noticed that the Fall harvest is well underway, if not complete. Corn, beans, grains and sunflowers are in, for the most part, the green and golden fields we saw on our westbound run now stubble. The last cuts of hay have been rolled into bales. As we’ve pushed farther east and south, however, it’s a different story.
Cornfields surrounding our last overnight stop near Mitchell, for example, were still standing. Yesterday’s drive revealed more of the same, and I expect that’ll hold up as we move through Iowa toward the lower Missouri Valley.
Not everyone cruising I-90 and I-29 yesterday was making observations about field crops, I’m sure of that. For whatever reason, I did.
It’s quite impossible for me not to think of Robert M. Pirsig’s Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance these days. In one of the travelogue passages of his classic work, Pirsig wrote this:
“In a car you’re always in a compartment, and because you’re used to it you don’t realize that through that car window everything you see is just more TV. You’re a passive observer and it is all moving by you boringly in a frame.
“On a cycle the frame is gone. You’re completely in contact with it all. You’re in the scene, not just watching it anymore, and the sense of presence is overwhelming.”
Speaking from experience — a half-million miles’ worth — I can tell you that he’s absolutely right about that. Nothing compares to traveling by motorcycle. Every word he says is true.
But whatever our conveyance, ultimately we choose what we see. Noticing is a choice. Being present is a choice. Putting ourselves into a scene is a choice. If getting to Point B is all that matters, being oblivious to what we’ve passed along the way is a self-inflicted injury.
Ambition is the enemy of experience.
The first step on the path to noticing is making the journey more important than the destination. Slow down. Stop. Stay a while. See. Savor.
Focus on what’s around instead of obsessing about what’s ahead.
So that’s what Deb and I do. If we don’t cover as many miles or check all the expected boxes, fine. By slowing our pace, making unplanned stops and, frankly, getting our asses out of the bus (or the Jeep) often, we’re embracing the journey. And that’s a conscious decision.
Noticing is, after all, intentional. Seeing is an active pursuit.
For hours on end, of course, we roll through the American landscape inside an enclosed vehicle, behind glass, looking through that “frame” Pirsig spoke of. Our intent keeps it from being “just more TV.” We see because we choose to see.
While our motorhome lacks the full-contact sensory assault of riding a motorcycle, I have to say that Ernie’s enormous windshield, which provides us with an incredible panoramic view, makes a big difference.
Or so I’ve noticed.
This campground is the right tool for the job. If we were looking for a garden spot or jaw-dropping vistas, engaging day trips or other entertainment options, we’d definitely look somewhere else. But this is a layover, and a brief one, so it fills the bill.
The Interstate is a stone’s throw away, which brings road noise. That’s quickly and easily ignored, though. (It helps that our site is in the back of the park.) The pads are level and the yards are of adequate size, each with a table and a fire ring. The grounds, plantings and trees clearly need more attention than they get.
The camp store is well-stocked and includes food service (pizza and wings). As for amenities, there’s a pool (closed for the season), mini-golf, a horseshoes pit, a playground and other rumpus equipment for kids, and a fenced dog park.
Access to the campground, by the way, is controlled by two key-card security gates. We’ve never stayed at a park with security gates.
It’s a cool and hazy-gray day here. This also marks one week post-op for Dipstick, who’s doing fine. It’s a great day to simply breathe, and that’s exactly what we’re doing.
Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.