Last year I went camping in Wyoming and the trip worked out poorly, primarily due to weather. This year, with only three days before my planned departure, I haven’t had the enthusiasm to get moving I had last year. And I woke up this morning with a bad feeling and the thought entered my head that I shouldn’t go. So I’ll use this post to think this through, rationally.
Why? Well, the biggest reason is that it is too early to go out there, especially given that this spring had unseasonably late snow and cold weather, making it very likely that the road to my reserved campsite will be closed or the campground itself won’t be open yet.
I realize I don’t want another bad experience. If it’s too cold or it snows some more or other mishaps occur then another bad experience could really ruin my whole desire to go there at all.
So why this uncertainty? And what can I do about it? Simple – make some phone calls, maybe even just look on the Net and find out what lies ahead. But I really hate making those kinds of calls. The Forest Service is not a tourist service and is not very helpful on such matters. So in addition to hating calling for information I also suspect I won’t get the information I need. Plus if I do get information that indicates I shouldn’t go I’ll be disappointed.
But leaving and having a bad time is worse than calling and discovering I should cancel. If circumstances are against me and the trip would go poorly that’s worse to just do it than to find out it would be smarter not to go at all.
But then I keep thinking, if I don’t go, then what? I really want to get away. But I don’t want to have a bad trip. So torn between these what should I do? And if I can’t go isn’t it possible I can find some other alternative, a different location, or leave a few weeks from now.
When I first went to the Bighorns, about 12 years ago, I had no plan. I just drove out there and once in Sheridan found information where to go and it worked out far better than I expected or possibly even hoped. My trip then was mostly spontaneous. But in today’s world, with online reservations and more information, that spontaneity is gone, but the chance of a bad trip is much higher. I’ve been back to Wyoming twice since that first wonderful trip and each time the experience was a bit more disappointing. The first repeat involving a joint trip with a friend from California. Generally that was a good thing, but juggling the desires of two people is much harder than a solo trip. So when bad weather loomed and my friend was not very excited about the Bighorns (we were a little burned out with the prior week’s activities) the trip was a bust. Last year the unexpected poor weather, coupled with the inadequacy of my equipment, and a change in the layout of my then-favorite campground produced a fairly poor experience. IOW, the trendline is not good. So now, in a year with late snow, I’m planning on going even earlier in the season. And that is much earlier than I went the first time.
So any reasonable look at the data says I should postpone. So why not just do that? Because I found that wonderful campsite (exploring last year) and have a reservation. And I could only reserve that specific spot for this coming week (it’s tied up the entire rest of the summer). But that’s a dumb reason to go and then have a bad time.
So those are my two negatives, driving me to just go: 1) the reservation, my only chance at that campsite (of the many that might be available), and, 2) having to call the Forest Service for information. Not very good reasons to take the risk for having a bad time.
So I should think through why I want to go at all. And how much would some other plan meet my desires.
- I like to get away by myself. Fine, even if I can’t get to my reserved spot, I would accomplish this goal, BUT, having to find an alternative, once there, could be: a) a mess and unpleasant, or, b) be a pleasant surprise because I might actually find something better and get out of the rut I’m in, more like that first trip, having to plan on-the-fly and hope for something to work out.
- Once there I look solitude of being able to sit in the campsite, without a big crowd (so it’s closer to going backpacking) and use that solitude to sit peacefully and just enjoy being outdoors in a beautiful place. But that isn’t going to happen if the weather is bad or I have to find some substitute place that is inferior to what I know is possible.
- I do like the good weather I had on the first trip. Pleasantly cool but sunny during the day if I get cold. Just enough to do to avoid boredom. If the roads are blocked by snow and the weather is too cold, well, I lose that. Sitting around freezing out there is no fun and going to some inferior location, to avoid high altitudes, is bad.
So torn between wanting an experience that may not be possible and fearing an experience that could be fairly poor, my solution is really clear. Find out what a trip in three days is going to be like, from whatever information (and whatever I have to do, i.e., a bunch of phonecalls). Then either go because conditions are suitable, or figure out an alternative for later in the month.
Now one advantage of going in a few more weeks (still need to beat the 4th of July weekend when the crowds really show up) is that I get to continue my weight loss program and achieve my planned goal (I’m a few pounds away now and this trip will disrupt that program for at least a month, setting me back due to over-eating which a camping trip inevitably will involve). So in many ways I’d really rather go, at least somewhere, in a few weeks from now, than go now and have a bad time.
So maybe that bad feeling I woke up to this morning is my unconscious mind warning me. I don’t have to just blindly continue on a plan that is going to produce a poor result. And I can find some other alternative that is better than what might happen if I leave Saturday, even if it’s not as good as my “ideal” trip I wanted that may just be unavailable (tough!, get over it).
So I guess I do some research and then decide what to do.