Plans Gone Awry (Or The Essence Of Jello-Ness)
Over the past 3 days we’ve driven 845 miles East on a route that was completely unplanned. This is not only utterly insane (at least for us), but has exhausted us to the point that we’re barely able to drag ourselves off the couch this AM to make coffee (pathetic I know…I could never be a trucker). It’s a pace of travel that we never, ever do and has taken us to the very edge of our RV travel sanity.
The reason for all this madness is what I call the “essence of Jello Planning ” (jello-ness for short) = a technique critical to your survival and enjoyment of the fulltime RV lifestyle.
The idea is thus. You plan your route weeks (or even months) in advance in painstaking detail and then, for whatever reason, throw those plans out at the very last minute and do something entirely different. For you non-planners out there this will be bleeding obvious and your day-to-day norm, but for folks like me (i.e. planning/picky types with somewhat OCD tendencies) this is a bona fide skill that takes a zen-like mastery to acquire.
Trust me, this is life-critical stuff….
It all started 3 days ago (surprise, surprise) while we studying the fire & smoke maps for the 1,000th time. We had hoped that the storm which pounded us in Cape D would produce enough water to dampen some of the stuff happening further East. It did clear the smoke, but most of the fires were unaffected and our original planned route was looking pretty dire. The air quality forecast in Lewiston, ID (our planned stop for Labor Day weekend) said “hazardous” with an equally unappealing forecast of “hazardous”, and our planned route East from there looked like an impenetrable wall of fires no matter which zoom level we looked at.
There was an obvious alternative route, one which looked perfectly clear, but that we had been avoiding (ignoring?) for the reason that we’ve done it far too many times before, it was going to add more miles to our already-time-limited route and…well…we already had the other route completely planned, darn it.
That very morning, the morning of our departure we both realized we just had to do it. Throw the original plan in the trash pile and do a mad dash East to get beyond the fire wall. All I needed to do was graciously let go of my picture-perfect plan and release myself to the gooey serendipity of the RV travel Gods.
Like I said it’s a skill and I can’t tell you how many times we’ve done this in our 6 years of RV travels, but it’s been worth it every single time. The important thing (at least for my OCD sanity) is that my plans never get completely trashed. They just get put into the “maybe one day” section of our travels until the right time comes along.
So, off we went. It was a crystal clear day too, sunshine flooding the ground, fluffy clouds and temps hovering in a most comfortable 70 degrees. We traveled due East to the dry section of the Columbia River Gorge, a raging river bordered with mountains layered like textured gold. From there we veered SE on I-84 and traversed arid plains and desert, finishing the day’s route with a scenic pull up the mountains to a green and fragrant forest.
That evening we ended up in a campground (Hilgard Junction State Park, OR) with literally no-one else around, drinking a glass of wine to the setting sun with the RV silhouetted against the babbling creek in front. And just to make sure we knew we were on the right track, Nature gifted us with a rainbow and a frikkin’ unicorn (well ok, that last apparition may have been a deer but you never can tell…).
Oh and skies were blue & clear the whole way. I couldn’t have written it any better if it was a fictional novel.
Our second day we continued East, our goal a State Park that had been recommended a multitude of times to me by my Idaho blog readers, but had just never panned out. Once again (I know, this is almost getting boring) the day was crystal clear and once again we ended up as the only campers in the loop. This time Nature gifted us with sand, oceans of sand. We’d arrived at the tallest (470 feet) single-structure sand dunes in North America (Bruneau Dunes) and they were beyond gorgeous!! Majestic mounds of seductive curves with colors that change from brilliant white at noon to deep orange at sunset…and not a single soul there.
It was sizzling hot on arrival, but we cranked the air and waited out the desert sun, walking to the dunes as the earth cooled and her last rays left the earth. Magical! Next morning we got up at sunrise (and for those of you who know me, you’ll understand what an astonishing thing this is) to hike over & photograph them again. This time we were the first (and only) paw prints on the sand and it was beyond amazing to walk the knife edge up to the rim. The experience was so utterly cool (and I took so many pictures) that normally this would warrant an entire blog-post of it’s own, but we’re on a mad dash here…
The third day we veered off the I-84 to take Hwy 20/26 through Idaho, part of the Peaks to Craters scenic byway and yet another completely new experience for us. Under once again (I know, I know…booooring) perfectly clear skies we embarked on a crazy, desolate stretch of road which would take us through a surreal black Volcanic landscape (Craters of the Moon), past the very first nuclear power plant in the WORLD (I guess they really wanted this thing to be remote errrrm just in case, ya know) and by a mountain plastered with 20-foot high numbers (Numbers Hill, a local curiosity in Arco, ID where every graduating class since 1902 has painted its class year on the rugged cliffs above town). The landscape is achingly dry and the roads rarely traveled making it our kinda perfect RV travel material.
That evening after our exhausting, but highly satisfying drive we finished our day in yet another quiet campground surrounded by juniper trees and…yes…clear skies.
So there you go, 845 miles of mad dash on a route we never planned to do, but we are (hopefully, maybe?) far enough East to avoid the worst of the fires/smoke and we’ve got at least a day of rest before we embark again. Plus we got to see stuff that we’ve always wanted to see, but have just never gotten around to before.
Our only potential hitch? We had to cancel our Labor Day reservations so now we’re without home on the last busiest week-end of the summer (ugh!). Hopefully the RV travel Gods will shine in our favor and we’ll get lucky, yet again. Should be interesting to see where our jello-ness takes us from here….SPONSORED LINK:
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