So we’re driving through Nevada on the I-80 (which followed the California Trail of the early settlers headed west) and we’re talking about how incredibly hard that journey must have been. We were debating whether different wagon-trains helped each other along the way, or whether it just became a survival of the fittest mentality, when we see a sign for an “interpretive” center of the California Trail. So of course we stopped!
We had breakfast, took showers, and took some time to explore the very nice center and museum. There was information about the Donner party getting stuck in the salt flats, which we could relate to having just been there the day before.
Outside they had little vignettes of things left behind on the trail as conditions worsened. Like pieces of furniture or a pot bellied stove. It made me think of how materialistic we (and by we I mean Americans) have always been. Just like our personal downsizing efforts recently reminded me; we really don’t need that many possessions.
It must have been just as hard for those early pioneers to let go of the things that brought them comfort, not realizing that those same things would later hinder their progress.
Just like we weren’t sure just what we would need on this new adventure of ours, so we brought as much as we could fit. We’re already understanding that we won’t need as much as we have and plan to do some culling when time and place allows.
Another parallel that I found in reading about then verses now, was the lack of information gathering some parties did before heading out. They headed west without really knowing what that involved. Currently we hear of people going full time that have no clue how they’ll manage financially in six or twelve months. The lure of the adventure is so great that we have faith solutions will come in time. I imagine it was the same back then.
Of course, the early travelers had to wing it. There was no information to be had. Then I suppose stories of how they succeeded were passed back to those who were eager to obtain the information.
Just like then, there are the early pioneers of full-time RV travel like Kay Peterson of Escapees. There are those that have gone before us to give us information on boosting our internet connectivity (thank you Technomadia) or on RV maintenance (thank you RV Geeks) or on Solar Power (thank you Gone With The Wynns) and so, so many more. We appreciate them all. We personally rely a lot on the pioneering and altruistic efforts of those who post to freecampsites.net
In fact, there are so many information channels available now, it’s easy to research. But now, just as then, you have to trust your sources. There were pioneers who got into trouble by reading and believing inaccurate booklets on the overland trails available. No doubt written by people wanting to capitalize on the westward ho craze. I imagine that still goes on. However, it’s been my experience that anyone who offers advice on going full time is sincere in wanting to make it easier for others to follow in their footsteps. But as this full-time “craze” continues to increase, I’m sure there will be people wanting to ump on board purely for profit.
Also, now as then, I imagine sometimes the benefits are glorified and the down-sides trivialized. Just as there were people that believed the claims that you could take a walk in California and pick up gold nuggets beneath your feet, there are probably people going full time that believe boon-docking is free. . .
I have to laugh here, because the last four “free” “campsites” (i.e. parking lots) we’ve stayed at cost us as much as a paid site might have, what with buying dinner and drinks at the casino, groceries at Walmart, fishing supplies at Cabela’s and some clothing at Sierra Trading Post.
But seriously, not everyone that starts out full-timing ends up continuing, just as there were those on the California or Oregon Trails that turned back. Or stopped along the way. And that’s okay.
Personally, we have no end game in site. We are not looking for gold or religious freedom. We are just enjoying the traveling for now. And we are so very thankful for all of the pioneers, old and new, that have traveled before us to make our journey possible.
Peace & Love, Joy