Nov 4, 2013

Where Does This Go?

I first started “camping” when I was about 11. A mile or two north of my father’s home was the ruins of a Catholic college that had been wiped out by a tornado. All that was left was the foundations and basements of a half-dozen buildings, but that was enough shelter for me when I was trying to escape the fundamentalist, Midwestern craziness of my “family.” I don’t think my father ever figured out where I went and I went there often. From there, I tested the outdoors waters in the Boy Scouts, but my local troop leader was more interested in “spiritual development” than teaching me how to make fire with sticks, catch, clean, and cook a fish, build a temporary shelter, or live out of a backpack.

So, I went back to teaching myself until I stumbled on Colin Fletcher’s The Thousand Mile Summer in the mid-60’s and, more importantly for me, The Complete Walker in 1968. Once I had the tools Fletcher provided for exploring the wilderness on my own, I was set to go. Over the years, I collected a fair set of camping equipment and used it to escape my work routine, to generate ideas, and to refill my emotional tank as often as possible. While I never made the kind of trips Fletcher was famous for, I explored Texas’ Palo Duro Canyon, a small part of the Grand Canyon, all of the western Nebraska state parks, Catalina Island, Yosemite National Park, and started touring on a motorcycle with my backpack as luggage. I even moved from Nebraska to southern California with that Gerry pack strapped to the back of my CX500. When I got there, I lived out of that backpack in a rented room for three months before my family followed me to our first California apartment. When my kids were young and adventurous, we hiked and biked and canoed across two states using packs for home.

IMG_5171 My wife, on the other hand, is a child of civilization. She has never done anything remotely like living out of a backpack or even the contents of a station wagon. Because of that, close organization has never been a characteristic she bothered to develop. In our house, things go places; random places. The idea that she should put the cast iron pots and pans one place, the stainless cook wear somewhere else, and the ceramic stuff somewhere else is foreign to her; repellant, even. When her world has nearly infinite room, why bother to worry about where anything goes? Of course, because of that disorder, she buys 3-4 copies of practically kitchen utensil we own because she can’t find any single item in less than a day or two. This is going to cause some conflict in a 22’ motorhome. We are in a situation, and will be for at least 4 months, where everything has a place and needs to be in that place before we start rolling.

IMG_5167 Terrible to admit, but true, I am not an incredibly patient guy. I had a reputation for “patience,” as a teacher, but reputation and reality are rarely connected. In my case, there is not connection. After a dozen years as a teacher, I am pretty much resolved to never tell anyone anything twice ever again as long as I live. This is probably not a tenable marital position, but I’m old and less inclined to hold tenable positions than I was when I was worried about holding on to employment. My pre-educational reputation was more along the “doesn’t tolerate fools well” lines. I will be happy to return to that grumpy, reclusive INTP personality. I liked him better than the pretend-extrovert. I, at least, believed him.

So, we’re going to wrestle out this “things have places” issue over the next 5 months and 10,000 miles. Stay tuned to see how it turns out.

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RichardM said...

A four to five month road trip, eh! I'll be looking forward to the posts.

RichardM said...

You're doing what I want to do!

Chunk Norris said...

What lapse of logic leads one to teach engineering at a 'music' college?

T.W. Day said...


I'd call it a complete collapse of rational thinking. It was, however, more productive, less destructive, and far less murderous than my previous career as a reliability engineer in medical devices. Good catch, though.