We travel using what I call the “hub and spoke” approach. We go to a central point in an area and stay there and explore from that location. This is different from how many people travel, moving every few days or every week, and there are pros and cons. Since we are in a fifth wheel and like to deploy our outside stuff (chairs, rug, etc) staying put in one place makes that extra effort worth it. We feel more “at home” and we minimize travel days, which are still not my favorite. There are many advantages to this method of traveling, which I have talked about quite a bit, but there are also some downsides which I should probably explore. When we come to a new area there is a feeling of excitement and adventure. So many places to see and the newness of it all is a lot of fun. When we stay in a place for awhile though, no matter how great, eventually the bloom starts to come off the rose. The little things start bugging us. Traffic, lack of services, bugs, the general unfriendliness of people, and of course the weather. Weather is so much more a factor for us now than it was in a sticks and bricks. I barely registered the weather when living in New England because I largely went from my house, to car, to work, to car, to home. Sure I would smile on particularly nice days, or be concerned with huge snowstorms, but I hardly spent any time in the outside at all so it didn’t matter so much. Now we are outside all the time and most of the things we want to see are somewhat weather dependent. My favorite part of seeing the sites is taking pictures and this is no fun to do in rainy conditions. If it’s too cold we can bundle up, but I have personal limits on that sort of thing, especially when it’s really windy.
When we come to an area I make a list of things I want to do. I try to combine bad weather activities with outside ones, but frankly the bad weather activities are far less interesting and they generally cost money. The very best things to do are almost always outside and free and consequently the bad weather items on my list are usually much shorter. Again, this is very different than living in a sticks and bricks. We had all the creature comforts in our house, and if we wanted to wander out in bad weather we had our favorites restaurants, movie theaters, shops, etc. That’s not the case now, and that’s fine, because this life isn’t about all that, but you can’t do the cool outdoor things every day. Well, to be fair, you can, but I am simply not that hardy. When we come to an area the bad weather days happen, but the need to get “settled”, catch up on errands, or other chores make it OK. I actually appreciate some of those days. But once all those things are done and we’ve been in a place for awhile, the bad weather days are not so great. We start to get on each other’s nerves. We get a little snippy and the inside space, which normally is just the right size, starts to feel a little small. We have been doing this long enough now to recognize we need to give each other some space under these conditions, but where? Outside is somewhat off limits and inside feels confining. Either one of us could jump in the truck and run some errands, but that almost always involves spending money. So it’s a big challenge, and one we are still trying to work through, and I wanted to mention it, because it rarely happens when we are new to an area. Probably because just getting acclimated is an activity in and of itself and that can be done regardless of the weather.
So I recognize the pattern, but let me talk specifically about this “hub” of the Redwoods. We have been here a couple of weeks and had great weather (comparatively) most of the time we have been here. The average rainfall in November here is 11 inches and we have gotten nowhere near that, but even when it’s not raining dark falls very, very early. As I have mentioned the high canopy almost completely blocks the sun and it is dusk by 3pm and pitch black by 5pm in the trees, even on a full moon night. We’ve been battling the gloom with an almost constant campfire (wood is free for us here, and a great advertisement for selling more so why not?) and that helps, but by 9pm I feel ready to go to bed every night. In the mornings it doesn’t get light inside until well after 8am and really it’s not truly daylight until close to 10am. So that’s a short day in the groves. When we travel farther afield it’s different of course, but we are living here and work, meals, and the desire to experience the groves themselves keep us inside the forest. We have started to think of it in those terms. There is inside the groves and outside and it does feel like two totally different worlds. Throw in some rain and it can lead to a wet, miserable day. The first week we were here we thought the rain was neat and charming, now not so much. (See? The bloom is off the rose.) If our pattern was moving frequently, we would simply move on, actually we probably would have moved on before it even became an issue, but we are committed here and it’s very important we don’t start to feel like we are stuck here.
“Being Stuck” is an emotion I felt often in my previous life and not one I ever expected to have to deal with on the road. My house is on wheels, for heaven’s sake, and we can always move on, that’s sort of the whole point. When dreaming about the lifestyle that’s exactly what many people envision, but it’s not always that simple. Budgets, family, work, weather, and availability of campgrounds can conspire to keep you in a place longer than you want to be. Every single person I have become close to has experienced that feeling at least once. The good news is you do have more choice than you had previously, but at least for myself and all the people I know it is not a 100% footloose and fancy free lifestyle. So that leaves us with figuring out how to combat those feelings. I imagine this is going to vary completely based on individual personalities and the unique situation and to be honest we are still figuring it out. After a year, we now recognize when we feel that way, which is a good thing, but we don’t always know what to do to fix it, short of moving, which isn’t always possible. But we have learned a few things to help lighten the pressure a bit so I thought I would pass them along.
- Be extra nice to each other. No, seriously, extra nice.
- Feeling stuck is a state of mind, not being. Recognize that and try to mentally adjust your attitude a bit.
- Breathe through it, it does pass.
- Get out and do something. Even if it’s not optimal or a thing you normally would do, just getting out is enough. Be careful though with this, because if you spend a lot of money frivolously, that could actually make it worse.
- Work on a project. We all have things we have been wanting to get to in our home. Deep clean, build something, reorganize. Just be careful here to not bite off too big of a project or you could feel more resentful.
- Spend time with people. Arrange to see friends on the area or put yourself out there and meet new people. Social interactions aren’t really weather dependent and can add a level of newness to a place that is becoming stale.
- Take the first decent weather day you can and take an all day trip to a new place. Just the drive can reignite your excitement in the area and it can evoke the feeling of newness you had in the beginning.
- Try new things you wouldn’t normally do. Volunteer somewhere, take a free class in the area, try a new craft. There are endless possibilities and you might just land on something special.
- Remember it’s temporary. The feeling will be gone when you move to the next place.
Our most recent day to try to combat the “stuck” feelings was spent visiting all the kitschzy little shops up and down the Avenue of the Giants. Many of these attractions have been here since the 50’s and most have seen better days, but they usually cost just a few bucks each and they were a good rainy day activity. It didn’t totally cure the feelings, but a couple of them were a lot of fun and we successfully avoided the trap of buying stuff we didn’t need in the gift shops. I wouldn’t go out of my way to see any of them, but they were fine for “filler” activities, because unfortunately every day can’t be exploring the Lost Coast.
Lee had an idea to try to take a piece and attach it to our table in our living room. Loved the idea and at $20 for the above piece not too pricey. Update: Unfortunately the piece was too small and when we went back the next day no piece was quite right. They were kind enough to give us a refund. We went back to the Burl n Drift wood shop and even walked through their storage barn but still couldn’t find the perfect piece. The owner talked about cutting a piece down for us, but then we were looking at around $150 and after their process you lost a lot of the natural look. A cool $20 idea was quickly turning into a much more expensive proposition, plus the owner was pretty condescending. I get excited about wood, but obviously to him he is less artist and more businessman and treating me as the “little woman with the goofy idea” is not going to separate precious dollars from my wallet. If he would have seemed at all enthused by the idea, I would have been happy to spend a little more.
When dealing with “feeling stuck” try some of these things. Nothing is a silver bullet solution but they can help
- Be extra nice to each other. No seriously extra nice
- Feeling stuck is a state of mind not being. Recognize that and try to mentally adjust your attitude a bit
- Breathe through it, it does pass
- Get out and do something. Even if it’s not optimal or a thing you normally would do, just getting out is enough. Be careful though with this, because if you spend a lot of money frivolously, that could actually make it work.
- Work on a project. We all have things we have been wanting to get to in our home. Deep clean, build something, reorganize. Just be careful here to not bite off to big of a project or you could feel more resentful.
- Remember it’s temporary. The feeling will be gone when you move to the next place.
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