Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Traveloging Is a Natural Extension of a Writer's Experience

Lake Sugema, SE Iowa, Rustic Trails Teardrop Camper
Two weeks ago I listened to an owl declaring itself in the rainy darkness, its quavering call drifting into my awareness, waking me as I slept for the first time in my new teardrop trailer. What better subject to write about but the rain striking the roof of the trailer with sharp raps, then fading to a soft whisper? Now I sit at a different campsite, a lake brilliant with morning sunshine, the sky a cloudless blue and--a Midwest item of significance--the humidity low.
I have written before about traveloging and tried my hand at it when I've toured by bicycle or ridden the rails with Amtrak. I've researched the topic, re-read my Thoreau, and dabbled in Teddy Roosevelt's meanderings. It seems that writing about traveling encompasses three areas: describing the place, describing the journey, and describing the process. The gravy on the biscuits, though, is the personal experience: destination, route, journey, and traveler.
Recently I've been reading some vlogs, and especially for those who have published their YouTube vlogs for quite a while, the destination, route, journey, and traveler categories fit quite well. I ran across the Long, Long Honeymoon, a travel trailer vlog produced by a married couple, Sean and Kristy. They have an Airstream travel trailer, and I watched their videos on the art of towing and backing a trailer. Informative! They have produced many videos with how-to tips (and how not to), places to stop if you're in the area (bars, restaurants, national parks), equipment reviews (appliances, generators, gps), and personal posts (Q & A, chats, and posts on health and various dramas and adventures). They have managed to combine the objective, individual opinion, and personal experience into an enjoyable cocktail for viewer consumption. On a personal note, their videos on backing a trailer accelerated my learning curve quite a bit. My thanks to them!
My wife is working in her mobile office, and I sit outside, enjoying the cooling breeze, the blues of the lake and sky, and the process of writing. This trip is our first real camping experience with our new trailer, although we did park it for a week at the campground just outside our town, field testing the trailer and some of the equipment we've bought. That was two weeks ago when the owls certified our rig. Now we're thirty miles from home. We've packed our food and sleeping gear, our clothes and campchairs, axe and portable toilet (no connection between the two). The trailer pulled well for the thirty miles even though I listened to every little clunk and clank, analyzing and worry-wondering. We're enjoying ourselves and checking out our set-up, making a list of what should be changed. We have verified once again that macaroni salad is a must-have for a happy camp trip, with watermelon coming in a close second.

As always, there are two journeys and destinations, the inner and outer. Oddly enough I have moved forward as a human being by learning how to back up. Or is that so odd? I can tell you one thing, I'm in a very beautiful spot right now, and I had to back up to get there. It took me a few tries, but that's OK. I'm right where I want to be. For the moment, anyway.


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