Going Camping with my Inner Voice

There are days when I dream of going off-grid in a tiny house with chickens and solar panels and a wall of herbs in the kitchen. And then there are days that I see myself hiking the Appalachian Trail or living out of the back of our tiny car while traversing the countryside or backpacking through remote sections of the world. Oh, the fun adventures I can come up with!

And then there are those times that I find myself on such an adventure, snuggled inside a tent in the woods, listening to the owls, thinking about how I missed the Farmer’s Market that morning and wondering if Mr. Wade had brought any of the good lettuce.

Yeah, that happened. Last week, as a matter of fact.

We were camping in Chattanooga. We were supposed to be camping in St. Louis before heading on to Arkansas, but my mom was not feeling well so we decided to stay closer to home (just in case we needed to come back quickly). At least that’s what I told myself when I changed the plans at the last minute. (And by last minute, I mean I was still trying to decide where to go as we walked out the door.)

Why such a sad face? It was FREEZING outside!!

Perhaps it was just me being worried about my mom, but I really did not have a good time on this trip. Sure, there were fun moments – like going to a baseball game and sitting around the campfire – but the whole time, I kept thinking about being at home and that was a hard pill for me to swallow. Angie and I love to travel. We both have adventurous spirits and we get a natural high out of seeing new places and experiencing new things. To think that I’d rather be home than on a trip…it felt like something was wrong with me.

Listen to the owls, don’t worry about the lettuce. Enjoy the experience. Nothing matters more than this moment…

Believe me, I know all of these things, but this isn’t a post about mindfulness and staying present in the moment because sometimes, it’s your heart that’s in the wrong place, not your mind.

This is a post about listening to your inner voice. Each of us has one yet most of us ignore it. Sometimes we even call it selfish, especially when it seems to be telling us to do something outside of what’s expected from us. And sometimes, we dismiss it simply because we can’t understand what it is saying. I’m guilty of all of these myself. For some time, I knew that I did not want to go to St. Louis. I could feel it inside, yet I couldn’t come up with even one good reason why, so I didn’t say anything.

On the night before our trip, I was so agitated, I couldn’t stand myself. My inner voice was screaming at me and I put in ear plugs so I wouldn’t have to hear it. The result? A lot of tears, one crazy, last minute scramble to come up with somewhere to go that wasn’t St. Louis, and a miserable camping trip that resulted in a fire-sale of equipment when we returned. (Yes, we sold the brand-new tent we just bought in February!)

If I had it to do over, I would be a better listener…to myself.

As it turns out, my heart only wanted to be by the ocean. It wanted to spend the week with friends who share our same crazy passions. It wanted to eat sandwiches in the sand and talk about dumpster diving and the books we were reading. I guess it just wanted to reconnect with our tribe. Even after 3 years of living in Tennessee, being away from our friends is still the hardest challenge we face every day.

So why not just go there instead of Chattanooga, you’re probably wondering. Our original St.Louis to Arkansas route had us returning through Memphis, TN, where I had booked two non-refundable nights at a hotel and baseball tickets. I thought it best to try and salvage that part of the trip – spend a few days in Chattanooga and the rest in Memphis. But even that did not happen. We came home after 4 nights, forfeiting the money we paid toward the Memphis stay. Oye! Yet another reason to listen to oneself!

Our inner voice is there for a reason. It is the way our heart and soul communicate their needs, which sometimes can differ greatly from what our mind convinces us we are supposed to be doing. Ignoring our inner voice can have a serious impact on both our physical and mental health…and on the quality of our life in general. I can’t think of a single of example where someone has ignored their inner voice and had circumstances turn out for the better, can you?

Last week was a bust, that’s now a fact for the record books. I can’t go back and change it. I can only move forward and strive to give greater audience to my inner voice, to learn it’s language, and not be afraid to say, “I changed my mind”.

That’s Not a RV, That’s a House!

Just for fun, we went to a RV show on Saturday. It was a gloomy day anyway and the event was being held indoors, so we thought it might be a nice way to pass the morning. In 2015, we casually strolled through a similar show in Florida and had a great time looking at all of the unique camping vehicles on display, from tiny Teardrops to respectable size motorhomes, and everything in between. The Middle Tennessee RV Show was not at all like that. Instead, I thought we landed in the RV version of Nashville’s Parade of Homes (and paid $10 apiece to get there!).

It took a minute for us to switch gears upon entering the show. We had halfway expected the Universe to answer our recurring question of “should we give full-time RVing a try again” by presenting us with the perfect vehicle – solar powered, decent storage, queen-sized bed, modest bathroom, and plenty of space for the cat; all compacted into something the size of a cargo van. Instead, the Universe smacked us in the face with reality. These weren’t your average recreational vehicles or even wannabe tiny houses. These were penthouse apartments on wheels!

I can honestly say, I’ve never seen such luxury in a recreational vehicle in all my life. There were travel trailers with media rooms to seat 8 people comfortable in leather recliners. There were 5th wheels with slide-out kitchens the size of our bedroom. One even had a 6’ x 8’ granite kitchen island and an oversize side-by-side refrigerator freezer (stainless steel, in case you were wondering). More than one trailer had 4 televisions. Several had fireplaces. And one even had a garage. Yes, a garage beneath the master bedroom that would hold a golf cart or quite possibly our Chevy Spark.

After adjusting our expectations, we had a great time pretending we were rich. We sat in the media rooms. We sprawled across the beds. We opened the refrigerators and imagined them filled with food. We flicked on fireplaces. We walked into the walk-in closets. We turned on the TV in the outdoor kitchen and grabbed a pretend soda from the mini-fridge.

How cute is this??

On the way out, just on the outskirts of the show, we saw something that really didn’t fit with the rest of the offerings. It was so small, we thought it might actually be a pet camper. Nope, it was a travel trailer called the E-Pro 12RK. It was so cute! Totally impractical for full-time living but absolutely adorable nonetheless. It’s basically a bed and a kitchen. We wanted to get a better look at it without attracting a salesman but that’s didn’t happen. Mr. Salesman gave us his standard pitch – how it only weighs 1,200 pounds and can be towed by anything and is the perfect entry-level camper for folks who are new to camping.

We both spontaneous burst into laughter. We’ve slept in a 2-man tent with a dog and a cat while crossing the country from Denver to Tampa. We’ve held down a dome tent, from the inside, in a Florida windstorm. We’ve gone to sleep with it 70 degrees outside, only to wake up with icicles inside our tent the next morning. We’ve shared accommodations with lizards, ants, flies, and mosquitoes in a vintage travel trailer named Scotty. We’ve gotten locked in a KOA Kamping Kabin. And once we even spent the night curled up in our Spark. And those are just the fun times. I think we could teach Intro to Camping.

When we left the RV show, we went to the nearest park for a picnic lunch. We sat alone in our little tiny car contemplating the future and again pondering the question of road-tripping in a RV. Maybe someday, we concluded, just not right now and that’s okay. There are plenty of other adventures we have yet to try before returning to something we have. As we sat there dreaming aloud and passing a bowl of grapes back and forth, I couldn’t help but think about the simpler things in life – the grapes, the picnic, the fun we had playing make-believe at the RV show, and I realized, how very little it takes to be truly happy.

Food Waste Update

This was a huge week for food rescue. We happened by the store when they were tossing out spiral sliced hams and oranges by the bag full. We took home 3 hams to distribute to families in need and 69 oranges. 

  • Wasted Food this week: 0 ounces
  • Total Wasted Food in 2018: 38 ounces
  • Rescued Food this week:  85.22 US pounds
  • Total Food Rescued this year:  184.39 US pounds

Keep up with our food finds in real time by viewing our Food Find Gallery.