Someone recently pointed out that we share a lot of our fun adventures but not much of our daily lives. I wouldn’t want anyone to get the idea that it’s “all fun – all the time,” so here’s my best attempt at sharing the not so glamorous side of being an intrepid explorer.
Grocery shopping: You know how it takes forever to find what you want at a grocery store you’ve never been to before? Imagine doing that EVERY time you go shopping. Now imagine that you don’t recognize any of the brands. Now imagine that you have a refrigerator the size of a footstool and you need to go grocery shopping every 2-3 days. We spend a *ridiculous* amount of time grocery shopping. It usually takes us two complete trips through the store, not including backtracking, before we can get to the registers.
Laundry: Sometimes we get lucky and find decent laundry facilities, but usually we’re at a Laundromat or using the ancient machines at the campground. The nice thing about Laundromats is that they tend to have functioning machines that are available. The bad thing about Laundromats is that they usually broadcast Judge Judy at deafening levels. The good thing about campground machines is that you don’t have to listen to Judge Judy. The bad thing about campground machines is that they’re usually in use by someone else, and you never know if they’ll fully dry your clothes. This is especially problematic in humid climates where nothing air-dries. Of course we have days where we have no access to machines, and we wash everything by hand. When we went swamp walking, I spend over an hour hand-washing our muddy clothes. This was two days after hand-washing the salty clothes from our dip-netting adventure. Fun!
The road less travelled: In general, we try to avoid interstates freeways. Small roads tend to be prettier, and we often stumble on interesting adventures. Sometimes, however, the small roads look like this:
We spent 3 hours driving from stop light to stop light and strip-mall to strip-mall when we could have covered the same distance in an hour on the interstate. Sigh.
Bugs: Have I mentioned this before? Oh, yes, more than once. But I’m not sure I can fully express the amount of effort we expend bug-hunting. We never know what kind of flying critters will invade our tent at each new campsite, and often we’re caught off-guard. When this happens, we’ll spend the entire evening with magazines in hand trying to destroy the invaders. Sometimes duck tape is the weapon of choice, but never is the battle pleasant. The worst part is when an evil skeety sneaks in after you’re in bed and it spend the rest of the night buzzing your ear so that you can’t sleep. And don’t forget the time spent washing the squashed bugs off the ceiling.
Maintenance: Like any good house, our truck and trailer need regular maintenance. We have a few tools, but when things break, we generally have to make a trip to the hardware store to kludge a repair. Last week we spent almost 2 hours at Lowe’s trying to fix one of the bike racks. In that time, we made 4 separate purchases and 3 separate returns. We finally used a file and zip ties to fashion a fix. The week before, we repaired one of the windows with duck tape and thread.
Paperwork: I don’t know what we would do if we didn’t have online bill pay. But even with it, paying bills is a pain. Especially since we don’t have the regularity of direct-deposit paychecks. I do all of our banking from the discomfort of the local McDonald’s. This is fine for regular expenses. But when something unexpected comes up, it’s a total pain. We have no easy way of getting mail. We’re often out of cell range for days at a time. E-mail is sporadic at best. Even our modern, digital world isn’t geared toward nomadic lifestyles.
So that’s the not-so-glamorous side of being an intrepid explorer, but wouldn’t trade the experience for anything!