A friend is making an enviable journey – to Alaska from Minneapolis and back at the wheel of an RV. His 7 week sabbatical is meant to be a time of discovery, renewal, disconnection and, ultimately, connection. I eagerly asked to be on his email updates and received the first one this morning. His son joined him for the first leg of the trip, and it appears the company was most enjoyable. In John’s inimitable style and rueful tone, here is what he has learned between Minneapolis and Montana:
It is Monday, May 25, 2009, and 9 days into my trip I’ve learned a few lessons and will share the following 9 with you.
1. I spent months getting ready for this trip by gathering information about where I was going and learning everything I could about the RV. The day we left we had 7 “problems” with the RV that required my “RV For Dummies Manual”, some troubleshooting, and us spending the night parked in front of the Dawson, ND City Hall waiting for the gas station to open in the morning. Lesson – Don’t get too comfortable, the “check engine” light just came on.
2. If you look overwhelmed and act nice, people will generally be helpful. Already we met Larry who provided some suggestions on long RV trips and Stacey who offered to help us fish the Beaverhead River. Lesson – Do your best, be nice to those you meet, and enjoy the trip.
3. I bought the XM radio package figuring it would be better than regular radio and bringing along many CDs for the long drives. Plus I would be able to pick-up the MN Twins games. With all the channels, and thousands of songs across many genres, I didn’t expect to hear the same song twice. Yet, on day 1 I heard “Back In The Black” by AC/DC on 2 different stations. Lesson – You would be surprised at how many firsts are really just repeats.
4. On 5/18 we drove 8 hours to make Bozeman and on 5/24 we fished for 8 hours to try and catch dinner. Whether it is important (driving) or fun (fishing), don’t get too excited with the possibilities. Lesson – Everything can only go so far.
5. On 5/19 it was really hot in Bozeman so we had the AC units on to cool down the RV. Two hours later we needed the RV furnace to stay warm. Lesson – Hot and cold are an example of how our experiences are just a change in the status quo.
6. The more stuff I’ve acquired over the years the less I’ve wanted to use it because of the effort and cost to clean, repair, or replace it. Whereas Ross had no hesitation to use every function available in the RV which helped me to see that it worked and was easy to maintain. Lesson – It is better to use your stuff and break it than to keep it ready for another day.
7. I had never parked an RV in a campground or hooked-up to the utilities (electric, water, and sewer). So, when I pulled into the Sunshine Campground I explained to Marty that I was a rookie that might need some help. He was only too happy to help and followed me to the parking stall to walk me through the steps. He also provided some great local information on where to golf, directions to the local Ford RV Dealer, and where to go for flyfishing information. Lesson – Don’t hesitate to ask.
8. A mantra I’ve heard all my life is to “stick with the plan”. However, today’s dynamic world is a lot like a long RV trip in that you have to adjust quickly. Lesson – The best plans change.
9. On 5/23 I was fishing for a couple of hours on my own and caught a nice 2-3lb brown trout that we could eat for dinner. I kept it in my net held at the bottom of the river bank until Ross joined me so that he could take a posed picture of me and the fish. When he got there we did a high five and I knelt in the water with the fish in front of me for the picture. The fish slipped out of my grasp into the river and was gone. No picture, and worse yet, no dinner as we did not catch another fish.
Lesson – Posing can cost you the prize.
We’ll post more from John as received.