Obstacles are part of life's adventures
We are almost three weeks into Part Two of our cross country RV tour of America’s national parks and all the concurrent and surprising sites along the way. By our, I mean me, my husband, Tom, and our Carolina Dog, Iggy. And by RV, I mean our 2005 motorhome, a 34-foot Newmar KountryStar. We tow a 2006 Saturn Vue behind it.
Part One of our trip went from mid-August to the end of November 2018. You can read a few of our “Dispatches” from that trip at https:// suedetar.wixsite.com/mysite. We spent December and January on Daniel Island and embarked on Part Two February 1, 2019 and will remain on the road through early June. For Part One, we took an inner-loop of the country. We plan to make an outer-loop of the country for Part Two and write weekly dispatches for the paper.
Perhaps a universal truth I learned during Part One of Sue, Tom and Iggy’s Big Adventure, but re-experienced at the start of Part Two, is that travel is an exercise in overcoming obstacles. As is life. Life always throws some obstacles in our way. And, I continue to relearn that the key to enjoying and flourishing in life is in no small part based on how we react to those obstacles.
Both parts of our trip were delayed from our home start due to last minute mechanical issues. In each instance, we were postponed after we were packed, hooked up, and doing a final check. Part One – an RV tire was flat. Part Two – the brake controller was not working properly on the tow car.
For Part Two, my 20-year old son Jackson arranged his morning to see us off but he was antsy as our 10 a.m. departure time turned to noon and then the clock ticked past 2 p.m. Finally, he had to leave for class as Tom continued to tinker and troubleshoot the problem. Tom kept a great attitude, and so did I. He evaluated the problem, called the manufacturer and got the advice he needed. I remained patient, a true success on my part. Though over five hours behind schedule, we were on our way.
It’s a good thing that we planned a short day of driving – our first stop was Tybee Island, outside of Savannah, Ga. A good thing because day one had a few more obstacles to drop in our path. Iggy had diarrhea, requiring frequent and urgent stops along I-95. At another point a passenger in a pick-up gestured wildly to Tom as she passed. We pulled over and discovered one of our basement bays was open. As we got out of the rig, I imagined the highway behind us littered with our belongings and having to chase them down in rush hour traffic. Amazingly, nothing was missing!
I’ve discovered that the key to overcoming any obstacle is not to panic or look for blame, don’t get angry, don’t ignore it either (a favorite M.O. of mine) – just address the problem. No drama, only calm evaluation and plugging forward: Face the obstacle, evaluate the situation, learn your options, ask for help if needed, make a plan, and follow through.
Perhaps with obstacles on my mind, examples in life and from our travels were revealed to me at every opportunity.
Outside of Tybee Island is Fort Pulaski National Monument. It is situated on Cockspur Island, just across the mouth of the Savannah River from Tybee Island. We toured the fort and hiked to Cockspur Island Lighthouse, part of the National Monument. We learned how the Union troops on Tybee used rifled cannon for the first time in warfare, making the fort system an obsolete defense system. The Confederate soldiers originally occupied Tybee Island but due to the Union’s presence on Hilton Head Island, they decided a better position would be the brick fort on Cockspur Island. At the time, regular cannon fire couldn’t reach the fort from Tybee. But, the Union moved onto Tybee and overcame the distance obstacle by using rifled cannon for the first time, forcing the Confederate commander to surrender after only 30 hours of fighting. (We were reminded again of war time obstacle ingenuity during our visit of the National World War II Museum in New Orleans. This is a must see! Look for more on that in next week’s column.)
From Tybee we headed to St. Augustine/Ponte Verde to visit an old friend and then to Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park on the Florida panhandle. We chose Edward Ball because it was off of I-10 and along our westward southern plan to traverse close to the interstate, and because we wanted to see manatee. It seems that manatee face the cold weather obstacle by swimming upstream to many of the warm natural springs that dot Florida. Their obstacle-busting plan was our delight! In addition to witnessing several manatee, our tour of Wakulla Springs offered great hiking, views of many baby alligators, a plethora of bird and plant life, and a boat trip through the area where they filmed The Swamp Thing and the 1940s era Tarzan movies.
During our travel days, as Tom drove, I reflected on some of the life obstacles we face in our daily lives. It might be a traffic jam, petulant toddlers or teens, failing grades, a broken air conditioner, a broken heart, or an obnoxious boss. It could be something more extreme, such as a cheating spouse or a terminally ill loved one. A wise woman once told me, “There is always something.” And I’ve learned along the way that our outcomes to that “something” are a direct result of our response to the obstacle.
Finally, I considered the three lighthouses we visited – Tybee Island and Cockspur Island lighthouse, and St. Marks Lighthouse at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge near Crawfordville. These lighthouses, and lighthouses throughout the world, were built to overcome an obstacle to sea travel – shipwrecks on jagged shores.
Obstacles are part of life’s adventure. Evaluate, seek advice when needed, innovate if necessary, make a plan, and follow through. Live life’s adventure!