Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Hitting The Road

A writer gets to think much of the time. It doesn’t seem to matter what’s thought about, so long as the process is beneficial and resolves something. It could be about a story being revised, a new idea for a book that takes place in the future, or about an article for which research is still pending. Like I said… anything.

For the past several weeks I’ve been thinking about a good many things. Most of them have to do with writing in one form or another. Most of it has to do with the future (not unlike the average writer.) And I honestly have been thinking about the research that I still have to do for a large number of articles that I have planned for the next few months.

Nevertheless, within all of that mental activity, a small portion of gray matter has been exclusively thinking about finances and what a person really needs to live in the world and, especially, in this country.

And before you ask, no, I’m not thinking of leaving the country to live elsewhere. What I was thinking about is the status people place on where one lives, how one lives, and how much one spends in order to live.

Right now, like a huge portion of the populace, I live on a fixed income. I haven’t sold a book lately for a huge advance and haven’t received a huge royalty check, either.

Sister and I are readying for a camping trip. We had all sorts of camping gear before we moved and got more afterwards. We went to the garage to pull out some of that gear this afternoon, only to discover that it wasn’t there. It obviously never was there. Oh, we found the hatchets and folding saw, and a few other items, but our camping cookware (used once and returned to its box) was missing.

We had to groan. Another item that disappeared during the move. (I won’t go into that here.) So there we were, no cookware and we weren’t about to take the good stainless from the apartment.

There weren’t any plans for going shopping today, but now we had little choice. Four stores later we settled for two cheap sauce pans that we could cook and boil water in. With our griddle we could at least feed ourselves during this camping experience. We found the cookware we wanted, but we refused to spend from $25-35 a piece for it. We aren't even discussing the price of hot-dog forks.

Is it just me or did the price of camping just sky-rocket lately? When Jo was doing research on the cost of a camp site at a state park (out of state) the other day, fees ran up to $42 per night, plus tax, for out-of-staters. I can remember not that long ago when an average site fee ran $10 and that included water at the site and a BBQ pit with grill. Not anymore.

Camping used to be the least expensive way for a family to have a vacation and see part of the country that they didn’t live close to. Again, not anymore. Between site fees in parks and campgrounds, cost of food and gasoline, even a stay at an in-state park (not a national one) can set a family back several hundred dollars for a week, especially if they have to use more than one tent.

As a result of this research, we’ve taken to many planning sessions to consider our future plans. But we don’t have time to concern ourselves with that right now. We’ll get this one under our belts first and consider longer plans later.

This is a working trip as much as anything. At least we’ll be able to write off a good portion of it. That’s the good thing about being a writer and a photographer. Play becomes work, work become a tax write-off. Go figger.

So, there you have it. Writers and thinking. Thinking and planning. Planning and considering. That (some call it vicious) circle just keeps on rolling through a person’s life.

Experts say that the circle is the most perfect form in the Universe. I can’t dispute that and don’t intend to try. I just find it ironic that it shows up in such abundance within a person’s life.

We’re off tomorrow for a week or so of camping, researching, clicking camera shots, and calculating number of articles available from material gathered. Wish us luck. Hopefully, the site fees won’t raise while we’re on the road and water will still be free.

I’ll be glad to give a report about our doin’s when I return. Until then, think about how long it’s been since you’ve camped at a state park. Are you up for it? Have you grown too sedate in the past few years? That’s what we thought, too. We decided we were wrong.

Hope to see you around a campfire in the next few days. Until then, adios amigos and amigas.


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