With all the planning and
preparations, it should have been obvious that I was serious about this trip to
the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, but as Robert Burns said “To A Mouse,” the
best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry, or “Gang aft a-gley,” as he said
it.And so they did, a-gley, and a-gley,
and a-gley, again, and again, and again.By the time we got back home, we had accumulated so much “adventure,” we
were exhausted, and all for naught.Also, it was not like our misadventures centered around one or two
events.No, noooo!We were gone 36 days.Our first awry was on day one, and they
continued unabated until our last cropped up on day 36.Murphy must be proud!
Part of our problems were centered
around what I’ve preached, and am often bitten by.The best time to go paddling (or anything
else) is now, today. Procrastinating
while waiting for greener grass to grow on the other side of retirement, the
kids being grown, better financial standing, or any other pseudo benchmark will
only lead to catastrophe, disappointment, depression, and unhappiness. The only thing postponing will accomplish is finding
you older, more conflicted, and more infirm. Retirement will NEVER meet your
dreams if you’ve put off living and finding fulfillment and enrichment until
you near the end and are in so many ways less capable of enjoying it.When the kids are grown, your field of responsibility
just expands.You will be devoting your
time to caring for grandkids and ailing parents simultaneously.Cost of living and promotion increases will
never keep up with inflation and greater responsibilities and issues that
increase with age.Meeting your dreams
is not about better planning, it is totally about better and ruthless prioritizing.
The pond at Ballard's Campground in evening light.
Buddy on the rack atop the 2013 Ram and the River Forest
Puma RV trailer.
Some campers like fancy campgrounds
with glitz and polish.We prefer more
natural settings, and we’ll trade nature and friendliness for bells and
whistles any day.We started east from
Oklahoma and turned off I-44 at X-18A for Ballard’s Campground, near Carthage,
MO.We had been in rain most of the day,
and only logged 311.7 miles.When we
stopped for gas, we discovered that someone had stolen the registration
validation sticker from our RV plate.We
had the paper registration to prove that we were registered, so there wasn’t
much we could do about it at this point.
It stopped raining just before we
pulled into Ballard’s to meet Wanda minutes before she was due to close.The campground had experienced torrential rains
for two weeks, and several of her gravel drives had suffered washouts and ruts,
so she hopped into the golf cart and led us to a high, level site.
Jean had been nervous about the
mileage on our old Ram, so had been at me for some time to replace it.We got a used 2013 Ram with lower mileage, a
big price tag, and just enough time remaining before the departure date to get
the cap installed.The dealer said the
pickup had undergone a lengthy checklist and had been freshly serviced.I’m normally particular about checking oil
levels, but for some reason had taken his word for the oil change, and hadn’t
checked behind the service department.After little more than 300 miles put on the truck, I found it a full
quart low.I got almost no sleep all
night.My imagination raced all
night.Had I been conned by a slick
salesman who had dumped a truck on me with a bad engine, was I facing years of
civil litigation, or had the service department just screwed up?There was no way of telling before tomorrow.