“Stop worrying about the potholes in the road
and celebrate the journey.”
– Fitzhugh Mullan
Potholes are a fact of life. Or so it would seem in Milwaukee. We are still in Wisconsin’s third season: Autumn, Winter, and Road Destruction.
For some folks it would seem impossible to go anywhere without either encountering barricades or potholes. For a few of us, it’s a challenge to find a route without either. We have been making a game out of it; I’m getting pretty good at it too!
I’ve been aware of a curious phenomenon since returning to Milwaukee. The more ‘different’ a place seems from what you expect the better enabled you become to appreciate it. The differences sort of ‘break’ your expectations and they sort of fall away revealing what’s really there. It’s wonderfully liberating.
“What you’ve done becomes the judge of what you’re going to do – especially in other people’s minds. When you’re traveling, you are what you are right there and then. People don’t have your past to hold against you. No yesterdays on the road.”
– William Least Heat Moon
It’s been nice that we aren’t driving the coach — I would not be happy dodging all the construction barricades and cones, and staying centered in the construction-narrowed lanes, but in the car it’s no more than a mild annoyance.
I have begun to wonder about all these cars. The U.S. is automobile oriented. With each passing year there are more and more of them. Considering all the causes asking for government funding I wonder how well we’ll be able to keep up with road maintenance in the near future. Goodness knows that many of our roads should already have been repaired/replaced/maintained — but they have not.
Recently I saw an interview on Public Television with an Oregon Highway Engineer who stated that some 60 percent of their state’s highways are structurally at risk. Other states are in similar situations. Minnesota and California have seen Interstate bridges collapse; Pennsylvania has a tremendous number of bridges in dire need of repair; around the country bridges and infrastructure are in serious need of updating and the funding to make the repairs is nowhere to be found.
One difference between the U.S. and Europe/Asia is that we are not old enough as a nation to have discovered that everything we build we must, at some point, maintain or rebuild. We are getting to that point. In the past year the City of Milwaukee was required to upgrade the speed at which they replace water pipes beneath the streets of the city. With a water system that is over 100 years old the city has been following the practice of ONLY repairing/replacing pipes that failed and not making any investment in updating the aging and deteriorating system of pipes.
My reason for raising this is that not only are there personal windows of opportunity there are also social windows of opportunity that affect our life choices, particularly the choice of whether or not to go RV’ing. I think we don’t all consider whether the ‘times’ are right to go RV’ing before we make the commitment and write that first check to purchase our new mobile residence.
I remember a few years ago when fuel prices first began to spike there was an outcry among some RV’ers that at the cost of fuel they were being forced off the road as fulltimers. That cry seems to have quieted. Perhaps the ones complaining did actually get off the road; or they became accustomed to the higher costs; or perhaps they changed their style of travel to economize.
There are numerous other situations we encounter as RV’ers that can change without our control which may affect how enthusiastic one is about the RV lifestyle. For example, consider the National Parks. Peg and I already limit the times of the year when we consider visits to our National Parks (the busy ones anyway). There’s no reason we have to do that; we simply prefer being away from the crowds that visit during peak seasons.
Certainly there are people who see the social environment either as reasons to be away from major cities, or to hole up in the boonies. There are a good number of survivalists, and …. well, let me not characterize them, I might get in trouble… for whom the forests of Montana and Idaho are particularly appealing. My point being that some will look at what is going on in U.S. society and either want to be part of it, or be apart from it, or prepare for some inevitable results. For these folks there are times to go RV’ing and times NOT to go RV’ing.
My point in all of this is that choosing to goRV’ing is about more than whether you can handle a behemoth on the highway, or whether you can tolerate the repairs and maintenance required to keep your dream RV functioning. The decision to go RV’ing is also a statement of confidence in the country in which you travel, about the stability of the economy, the nature of race relations, the number of others joining in the great RV experience. For some this is a wonderful life; for others it’s hell on earth; and still more will wonder why they got into it because they aren’t enjoying the places they are visiting.
We have been lucky — aside from coming back home to Milwaukee we have avoided construction and bottlenecks on most of our journeys. I hope our good fortune continues. But arriving in places without expectations makes it a lot easier to enjoy wherever we are. Experiencing places — and the RV lifestyle — are all the more fun when you can simply enjoy what you like, move on from what you don’t like, and not be worried about what didn’t meet your expectations.
Thanks for stopping by and I’ll talk with you tomorrow.