Old Diary, Travel

The way you were told


“Once in a while it really hits people that they don’t have to experience the world in the way they have been told to.”
– Alan Keightley

I’m in a specially mellow mood this morning2014101108141401.  There are more campers here at the moment, and more leaves on the ground to make it feel really like autumn this morning.

I love the cloudy days because colors seem more saturated.  Back in the day when I shot photos for $$$$ I used to love shooting on damp, drizzly days for just that reason — the color saturation was always superior.  But now I’m lazy and I’d rather take those drizzly shots out the RV window!

I was reading a blog this morning about the tiffs and arguments that RV’ing couples get into when one party wants one kind of RV-lifestyle and the other party wants something quite different.  And the quotation above flashed back into my memory.

You know, sometimes it really IS hard to realize that you don’t have to live the kind of life you were told you were supposed to live.  So many people struggle to live like their neighbors.  They have to have the same kind of car, similar clothes,  appropriate house, the right school.  But when they’re all done are they any the better for their striving or any the richer for their scheming.    Peg and I were lucky;  when people heard that we were going to go a-RV’ing most of the comments were supportive.  Perhaps that had to do with the fact that most of our friends were hard working citizens who would have loved to be away from Wisconsin for at least a couple months out of the year.

IL-Shelbyville

This is the chart I usually use to make plans

IL-Shelbyville2

But this chart takes into consideration the hottest and coldest on record and shows a very different picture.

For Peggy and I,  our expectations are more along the lines of what will the weather be like where we intend on being. We know the place is some place we want to go; the only question is whether we’ll be visiting at a time that will be comfortable and enjoyable for both of us.   And I want to expand a little bit on our thinking on this point.

I talk about our climate / temperature-moisture graphs from time to time but what I usually don’t do is to show you the complete graph.  For my uses I don’t normally include the record highs or the record lows.  They happen but the likelihood of a record high or low in any given year when we intend on being there is quite low.  Instead I just save the normal highs and normal lows.

The Weatherman may have told us
what to expect, but sometimes
the weatherman lies 🙂

Last week our trip to the Virden IL homecoming parade was rained, and windy’d out.  The stats were right but the weather wasn’t.  We based our plans on climate not on weather.  We went, and we had a terrific time with our friends,  but we didn’t have a terrific time watching the parade.  We had temps in the lower 50’s and lots of wind, the parade lasted barely an hour.  Last year, per our dear friends whose memories I trust implicitly, they tell us that the watchers were sweltering in the sun and sun-umbrellas were more in demand than rain umbrellas;  it was a scorcher and the parade lasted for hours.

The reality of planning is you can’t plan for every contingency.  I’m not sure RV’ers always think about that.  In our experience, RV’ing is often more about chance than design:

  • The Summer of ’13 was really hot in Northern Wisconsin and we felt it.
  • The Winter of ’13/’14 was dry in Oregon — and we wondered when all the rains were coming.

We were prepared for the averages but we experienced closer to the extremes.  That will happen. Those who think that they can out-plan Mother Nature are surely doomed to disappointment.  And that is part of the reason we call our Blog, Life Unscripted — you simply never know exactly what you’re going to get.  Plan if you want — but be prepared to have your plans changed 1000 times — and be prepared for happenstance to be better than intent.

The last two autumns we weren’t on the road like we are this year.  By this time last year we were already at the Oregon Dunes.  We made that trip during September.  The previous year we had reservations along the Mississippi and we were debating whether we would be forced to return to Milwaukee to house-sit during the winter because we hadn’t gotten a real estate sales contract.  So, when it came time to organize our route South from Milwaukee this year we didn’t know how many open campsites might be available for a 40′ coach on a first-come basis.  We made reservations for 2 one week stays in Illinois and we thought seriously about making reservations further down on the trip but delayed because our Daughter’s plans were up in the air. This year were were joining the ranks of the Snowbirds without knowing when the Snowbirds started their migration.  🙂

This morning I was thinking — in light of the cool temps we’ve had — that next year if we’re in Milwaukee in September we’ll head south more quickly;  and then I remembered…. this is turning out to be a cooler than normal October.  And so… maybe I better not be thinking about what to do next YEAR!!!!!!  Just go with the flow today, and wait to see what happens next year.  The weatherman isn’t always right;  or wrong.

There are a lot of ways in which RV’ers face these kind of mental logical bubbles.  We meet a couple with a longer coach (or a shorter one) and it’s easy to wonder what it would be like to live in that coach.  We meet a couple who swear by their schedule of 6 months in Florida and six months in Illinois and we wonder whether they’re crazy or perhaps they have found Utopia?  [Utopia doesn’t exist] Before we retired, like a lot of people who struggle with their weight, we played with different diets (Pritikin, and hi-protein/low carb, Paleo and Vegetarian)  and there were people telling us that each of those was the right way to eat — and we decided that we liked our own way of eating better than theirs.   We don’t have to do things the way we were told.

I guess what scares me about RV’ing — not so much for Peg & I, but for others — is that we know lots of couples who are not nearly as like-minded as Peg and I.  To make this lifestyle work you have to have similar views on spending money, on what makes you happy, on what you enjoy.  The couple who spend all day long doing different things and only get together at night for dinner and …. well, you fill in the blank there … It’s hard to understand how after a lifetime of living like that they can ever be happy sharing the same tin can of a house in a series of continually changing locations !!!!!!  You have to have something in common other than not wanting a bricks & sticks house.  You have to be going TO someplace and not just fleeing FROM someplace.   And you have to be willing to live a life you decide upon and not one that someone else has told you about, or told you to live, or promised you will be better, or different, or cheaper, or anything….  When I hear a lot of RV’ers talk what they are talking about is what they left behind — not where they are going.  It’s good to be happy you have finally gotten to live your dream and left all that stuff behind; but its more important to know where you’re going, know why you want to leave that stuff behind because you have something else with which you want to fill your life.  RV’ing isn’t about a lack, it’s about an abundance.

Let me return for just a moment to those climate charts.  If you’re living in bricks & sticks and the weather turns ugly you have someplace to go — probably 1200 sq ft worth, or maybe 2700 sq ft worth,  or even 4500 sq ft worth of house.  You can get out of each other’s hair.  You can get away from the whine-y party or get alone to work out a compromise.  In an RV you have 100 sq ft, or 200 sq ft, or maybe 300 sq ft in which to hide from each other and that’s not much space — believe me.

We’re pretty lucky.  We seem to agree on most things and disagreements are all that common.  Besides we are both willing to let the other party have something they want for a season if that will make them happy — knowing that our time also comes and we get to do something that we really want to do.  I see couples who don’t know how to do that.  Heck — you don’t have to be close to a couple to see that:  sometimes just watching two people in the RV next to you over a weekend makes it pretty clear that one party is getting what they want and the other party is pretty unhappy about it.

“Once in a while it really hits people that they don’t have to experience the world in the way they have been told to.”

I sometimes wish that more people could get “hit”  — that they would wake up to the fact that they may have been sold a bill of goods that has nothing to do with their own personal happiness, contentment, or desires.

If you’re already an RV’er then I’m sure you know what I mean.  But if you are considering becoming an RV’er I hope you sort out what you really want; and how to get it; and find a way to insure that your partner [if you’re lucky enough to have one] can get the same pleasure as you do.  Life’s short — Eat Dessert First!

Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll talk with you tomorrow.

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2 thoughts on “The way you were told

  1. Mrs. P says:

    Great post for anyone considering the RV lifestyle…and even those who plan on the bricks and sticks, too. Eat dessert first…my kind of thinking!

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