As we were taking our nightly walk around the campground last night we heard what sounded like live bluegrass music. Sure enough it was a couple strumming away on their 12 string guitar and mandolin. We introduced ourselves to Ken and Deloris, and they invited us to pull up a chair while they played a few tunes. After we got to talking a bit, we learned Ken was severely wounded while in the Navy when a boiler that he was working on blew up. He suffered burns to his chest and face, was left temporarily blind by shrapnel that had penetrated his eye, and unable to use his hands. As part of his rehab, the physical therapist put a guitar in his hand and taught him some basic chords. He’s been playing music ever since – eventually teaching himself to play the banjo, fiddle, mandolin, harmonica, and most recently the spirit flute. Deloris had been trained in classical violin, so when they married 33 years ago, as she said, “our sounds didn’t mesh at all. It was quite a struggle for awhile.”
Deloris asked what did, and when we said we were in our first 36 hours of fulltiming in our rv, Ken gave voice to what we all knew, “you’re going to be on a steep learning curve!” Nervous laughter erupted from our side of the circle. We’d already made a visit to the Pendleton ER on our first night out to have Karen’s wounded finger patched up after a fight with the tow bar; figured out we were 7 feet short of sewage hose after parking and putting out our slides; and crushed our broom handle while retracting the kitchen slide. All we had to add to the conversation was, “yup!”
One of things that is emerging most strongly is how important it is for us to be gentle with ourselves and one another while we figure these things out. The cats are adjusting to their house moving; and even though we’ve camped for years hauling a 24 foot trailer, nearly everything in our routine feels unfamiliar and new right now. Some of the most basic things have to be done differently – like what you ask?
– First up was learning how to flush the toilet to avoid clogging the pipes with the dreaded ‘Cone of Poo”. After I encountered the first major clog, a friend said incredulously, “did you read the directions for the toilet?” Who knew using a toilet might require studying an instruction manual? Thankfully there are a number of useful Youtube videos on the matter.
– After our first shake down ride, it was clear we were going to have to find a way to get everything that isn’t nailed down, velcro-ed down. Stereo speakers velcroed; tv remote holder stuck down with museum putty; and our bunk ladder strapped to the wall with stick-on hooks and hair-tie like straps. Suffice it to say we really should by stock in Scotch 3M.
– We were already banking online, but with no stable address where we can get our bills, converting everything to paperless billing was a must. We also contracted with an online mail forwarding service that will scan every envelope we receive so that we can see what comes in and direct them to shred or forward individual pieces.
– While our place is well laid out, figuring out how to stay out of each other’s way, particularly in the kitchen, requires patience. There’s a real need for efficiency and economy in movements. In that way, it reminds me of our visits to Sravasti Abbey and the importance of being aware of one’s immediate surroundings – moving gently and mindfully so as to maintain a peaceful environment without chaos and unnecessary disruption. Observing Karen as we strolled through the campground last night made it clear just how individual our adjustments are. While I was content to wave at fellow campers from a distance, offering a quick exchange about the weather or their cute dogs, Karen was drawn to seek out- how do I say this without sounding like a hermit – actual conversations. Following her lead, our path veered into two different campsites – at both we we were offered a seat and struck up conversations with our on-the-spot hosts. That’s how we met Ken and Deloris above, and got invited by a couple from Big Sandy, Texas to look them up when we got down that way.
Aside from being reminded of how easy-going we humans are once we are together in a campground, what struck me was what a 60 to zero transition this must be for Karen. I’ve been working from home for a little over 4 years now, spending most days with only the pets for company, Karen, on the other hand, just came out of a fast paced work environment, where she spent hours in nearly constant contact with people – her days busily filled with meetings, conference calls, and texting with work friends. Our learning curve is indeed a steep one, and I’m determined to use it for all the lessons it has to offer!