Over the last week, I’ve had to change my travel plans twice because life intervened. As a vagabond without a “sticks and bricks” home base, sometimes changes can really throw a spanner into the works, as my British friends would say. Read on to see how I improvised a new schedule to meet the challenges of changes.
The first change was because a family member became ill and needed to have surgery. I was scheduled to camp at a beautiful but remote place for three nights where there would be zero cell signal on any of the three carriers I have at my disposal (ATT, Verizon, and T-Mobile). I decided to cancel that reservation and stay at two different KOAs–one in Luray and one at Harper’s Ferry–so that I could use their free wifi with my phone in wifi-calling mode. And when moving from one KOA to the next, I also fit in a tour at Skyline Caverns FTW!
I was able to stay in touch with my family and follow progress towards the surgery. (All went well, and the post-surgical recovery is underway.) I was super-glad to be in phone range instead of being off-grid and having to drive 45 minutes to get a cell signal. Yes, KOAs are pricey and they often are very tightly packed, but (1) it was midweek and not quite tourist season so there was some room around me and (2) sometimes I’ll put up with the “packing ’em in” KOA design just to get signal. This was definitely one of those times.
As part of changing plans, I got to spend a day exploring Harper’s Ferry National Historic Monument, both the town and the Murphy Farm, where the Civil War battle took place. And the next day, on my way north, I visited Antietam National Battlefield, where I learned still more about the Civil War.
The second change was more complicated. I got a safety recall notice for the fuel pump for my 2019 Honda Ridgeline, which is kind of a big, urgent deal. Luna was already scheduled to have a regular oil change/tire rotation next Monday at a place in Pennsylvania, so I called to see about getting the recall work done. Of course it wasn’t that simple…
It takes five days to order the new fuel pump, so it won’t show up there until Friday. If it doesn’t make Friday, Monday next is Memorial Day, which means nothing moves. Safest bet would be to assume the parts will arrive Tuesday or maybe Wednesday after Memorial Day. I could get the work done on Thursday. All that would be fine except for just one tiny detail: I’d be in western New York State by then.
My planned route didn’t have me going near any cities big enough to have a Honda dealer. As I talked with the service manager, I decided to take a leap of faith that things will work out and made the appointment for Thursday, June 3nd. She was bending over backwards to make things happen for me, so I decided I’d make it work from my end.
Oh, You Lovely Internet
I spent the next hour and a half opening tabs on my browser, piecing together a new schedule. At one point, I had two KOA tabs, six state park tabs, and two Google Maps tabs open, along with two Campendium tabs to check cell signal at campgrounds. Midweek nights were relatively easy to find, but Friday and Saturday nights were a bit harder. Finding electric campsites on a weekend was even more challenging. With the first two weekends of June covered, I went back and paid for all the new reservations, carefully checking in and out dates so that I didn’t miss a night or book a night twice. Finally, with all that done, I went back and canceled the New York dates I had so looked forward to for months.
Vagabonding Isn’t Always Easy…
When I had an apartment and lived in one place, getting vehicle work done was so easy. I took it so for granted. When you don’t have a stationary spot in the world, it’s a lot harder to deal with surprises, whether it’s a family emergency or a vehicle recall. It’s all worked out now and I’ll get to see parts of PA and OH I never have, so that’s a win. And my Ridgeline will be back to 100% sooner rather than later, which is great considering it’s responsible for carting around me and all my worldly goods.
…But It Has Its Rewards
Instead of bemoaning my ravaged plans, I flipped my thinking to “What can I see now?” This week, I’ve walked along the Shenandoah River, hiked a bit of the Appalachian Trail, and learned more Civil War history. I saw a National Battlefield and a National Cemetery and some natural caverns. Next month, my new routing takes me right by Fallingwater, so I’ve booked a tour there. After five years, I’m still amazed by all the places out there, just waiting for me to swing by and explore them.
Sometimes, the vagabond life feels like the kind fairy of Serendipity is banging heads with the dark master of Fate, as I wait to see who wins. This week, Serendipity clearly claimed the victory and Fate was forced to treat me kindly. Onward, to the next set of adventures. And the next set of surprises.
Life is full of surprises and and serendipity. Being open to unexpected turns in the road is an important part of success. If you try to plan every step, you may miss those wonderful twists and turns. Just find your next adventure-do it well, enjoy it-and then, not now, think about what comes next.