Sunday, November 13, 2016

Murphy's Great Adventures


“If anything can go wrong, it will.”
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.


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