I love packing. Love it for trips short or long but especially love packing for journeys and adventures that are filled with the unknown.
It took days and days to hone it down and while doing so I realized I hadn’t prepped for a trip like this in, well, over 40 years. The previous long camping road trip had been on my 550 Honda motorcycle, solo, with destination Alaska from the Bay Area. Lots of not-so-smart packing choices that time and I hoped I would be better at it this time.
The me of then would not have understood the me of now. He was escaping, looking for a purpose in a self-created rite of passage, lonely and wanting more solitude, seeking an answer in a Walden Pond sort of mythology. His idea of a perfect day was no people. He would have loved the dog – no place for that on a bike – but wouldn’t have understood a commitment to a woman with Alzheimer’s who needed constant care. He would have left her, something else to run from. Looking through those eyes he has become like a character to me, something created in my own imagination rather than “who I was.” But I digress, which is fun.
The game played in this version of long-journey packing is to see the possibilities of a future and be ready for basic necessities and variables. Yes, I’m a nerd in this regard. I like the unexpected, but I prefer to take it with a slice of cheese and a glass of wine. (Imagine the Donald Southerland character in Kelly’s Heroes – a movie released in 1970 the year the Bus was assembled, oh, that takes place in Germany, see, all connected – sitting on the hilltop in the sunshine with his tank broken down. “Havin’ a little wine, catching some rays, eating some cheese.”)
So, packing is a process of utility and imagination. It is an exercise in independence, not to avoid trouble but to enjoy it. All this philosophical mumbo jumbo is to say that I tend to overpack.
But it was done, and it had been days in the making. I wondered as I crammed things into every nook and cranny, if I had exceeded the load limits of the Bus but decided that the light-weight blankets I got from REI were sure to have compensated for the two giant toolboxes, so all was well.
I was ready, the Bus was ready, Michelle was ready, and Mo was watching it all with that strange mix of “I’m going, right?” and “Can’t we bring the yard with us?”
And around 10:30 AM on a perfect day, we embarked on Excursion Number 7. Day One of a roughly a month on the road to create a Family Reunion in pieces. Destination for this first day, Death Valley. I mean, let’s kick the tires and see what happens.