Reflections from the Slow Lane

We’re tooling down the highway on the trek back to Ohio, in the slow lane. We prefer seondary roads so when we’re on two-lane highways we pull over when we can to let others with busy-ness on their minds roar by. I used to hate the idea of following some big camper rigged with bicycles and towing a car, especially when I was trying to get somewhere for my too-short two week vacation. I am ashamed to admit I had an attitude about who I thought was behind the wheel and their motives. It’s human nature to believe that our particular experience should be everyone’s experience, whether it’s riding your commuter bike versus slamming the pedals in spandex, or spending the night in a bivvy sack nailed to the side of a mountain versus a pop-up camper making s’mores around a campfire.

In my backpacking days I was an isolationist. I went into the wilderness for the sake of the solitude. There might be a chance encounter on the trail now and then, and a shared meal or a snack, but it was possible to walk for weeks without seeing anyone but your immediate hiking companions. I became resentful if anyone intruded in on my wilderness experience. That’s all well and good when you’re in your 30’s, but when you enter the decades where people start to die in their sleep, being around others is a good thing. I also freely admit that It’s just not much fun any longer to schlep 50 lbs of gear on my arthritic spine for miles and then sleep on the ground. I remember many years ago spending a night in a KOA on the way to the Adirondacks. I pitched my little tent among huge RVs and spent a few hours judging them and their commitment to “the wilderness experience.” I’ve since made the decision to lighten up.

It has been fun to meet people on the road, much more than I expected it would be. I always thought I was pretty gregarious until I married Ben, who is a professional people collector. In every place we stayed, we met someone memorable, and collected invitations to all kinds of places ‘next time we come through.’ We have started email exchanges with these folks, and I sense our lives becoming richer because of it.
After nearly two months on the road I realize that making the change from human-doing to human-being will take some time. Others we met were much more adept at the lifestyle. I couldn’t quite let go of having a schedule, and spent too much time worrying about the itinerary and getting to the next stop. I’ve yet to take it to heart that reservations can be changed and to trust that as long as we have the RV and a place to park, we have a place to stay. For the next trip I’ve vowed to study the route more than the destination, pack less stuff and let the time flow rather than watch the clock.

Presently we’re at our “sticks and bricks” residence. As is typical with motor homes, it is in the shop having some post-trip maintenance done. Our awning jammed. We managed to get it rolled up by hand–no mean feat by the way. We have a few short trips planned before we hit the road again for the winter. Ohio winters are bleak and dark; we are going to join the great migration south. Perhaps I shall learn to play pickleball.

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