We subscribe to a number of RVing groups on social media, two of which are brand-specific — Beaver and Monaco. (Beaver is the badge, Monaco the manufacturer.) Over the last year both have proved to be great sources of maintenance and repair tips.
Some members share accounts of their travels, routes and photos and stories and such. After all, hitting the road is why we own these beasts. It’s been almost three weeks since we returned from our push to Glacier and back, and yesterday I finally got ’round to making a look-what-we-did post in both forums.
I figured I’d share on those pages just a few of the photos published here on Ubi Libertas Blog — and “just a few” became a whopping 86 images. I closed my post with,
“I hope a few of these photos bring a smile, maybe a gasp, and perhaps the inspiration to slow down and get out to some less-traveled spots.”
The response was nothing short of overwhelming — hundreds of reactions and comments. There were questions about places we went and routes we traveled. There was recognition (“I’ve been there!”) and anticipation (“We’re goin’ there next year!”).
And yes, inspiration might have happened as well. One woman said that she’d bookmarked my post so that she could refer back to it as she and her family planned their own odyssey. That’s pretty cool.
Most everyone seemed to “get” what we’d been up to over those 73 days. I don’t recall anyone wondering aloud why we didn’t do this or that. But there’s always that guy — the one who blurted, “Not enough miles!”
Oh, kiss my ass. I told him that if all we wanted to do was rack up miles and strafe the countryside, “we may as well buy two cases of masks and a bunch of plane tickets.”
Now, as you might imagine, yesterday’s social-media gallery included shots of places that few people (if anyone) would recognize. That was intentional, essential to presenting our journey accurately.
Maybe I was supposed to show only scenes that people could latch onto visually and seek out in concrete, linear ways. I’d rather make people wonder.
Where is that? Who told you about it? How did you get there? What possessed you to do that?
See, when folks set out on an adventure with a checklist and a schedule, it immediately becomes a lot less adventurous. The trick — in addition to slowing down and lingering, as I’ve said many times — is to be wide-open to the unexpected.
Wanna see The Badlands? Glacier Park? Deadwood? The World’s Only Corn Palace? By all means, chart a course and go do that. But remember that along the way to those destinations — and even within those destinations — lies the unexpected.
For example, on our return leg I routed us through Adel, Iowa — I saw a KOA right off I-80 and it put us close to I-35, which we’d follow the next travel day. It was Deb who uncovered that Adel is just 15 miles north of Winterset, birthplace of John Wayne. Then our campground hosts told us that the town was having its annual covered-bridge festival that weekend.
And so a one-day layover in the middle of corn country, chosen for its convenience, brought joy we never expected.
In our travels we tend to set up “base camps,” multi-day stays within driving distance of places we might want to go (in our toad vehicle). After we get up on a given morning, that’s when we decide where we’ll go that day and how we’ll get there. Often we’ll change plans in the middle of a day trip.
Does it sound like we create our own surprises? Bingo — that’s how it works.
In closing today, here’s one more suggestion. If every moment is a gift — and it is — then every moment is a memory. And if memories are worth preserving — and they are — then take a damned picture.
I’m serious about that. The fact that you’re reading this probably means that you bring a camera (phone) with you everywhere you go. There’s no excuse for not always being ready to snap a photo.
It costs you nothing but time and attention. And if you ever reach a point at which you start seeing everything as a potential photograph, a moment and a memory worth preserving — whether you’re rolling a motorhome through the Rockies or pushing a shopping cart through the grocery store — then you’re doing it exactly right.
That mindset has allowed us to share moment after moment of this wonderful journey.
Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.
(Today’s header image: The snow-capped Crazy Woman Mountains, their highest peaks rising more than 7,000 feet above the Musselshell River to the north and the Yellowstone River to the south, coming into view as we rolled south on US Route 191, September 19th.)