Make a memory – Document a memory – Revisit a memory
By Nina Soltwedel
Owning an RV means, for many of us, taking extended trips. Many reading right now may recall having taken a many-thousand-mile trip in their RV, camper, trailer, etc. – a trip that took them to far-off places to see vistas they’d not seen before, to meet new people along the way, to discover hidden treasures such as a magnificent vista just around that corner up ahead, or a place to camp on the edge of a peaceful lake with just the hoot of an owl to keep one company. You get the idea.
However, did you document that trip so that, years from now, you can open a notebook and relive the trip all over again?
I imagine some of you are thinking, “Yeah, but we took pictures. That’s documenting the memories.” I agree, but what I suggest is taking it one step further: Document the trip with something in addition to photos.
Recently, I decided to sort through the decades of photos, letters, cards, etc., that my hubby and I have accumulated, which were stored in assorted large plastic bins in our basement. I had three huge bins filled with items going back as far as when we both were babies (our respective parents saved everything), along with three smaller boxes overflowing with family photographs. I began sorting, and while doing that, I began to travel down Memory Lane … a very long lane!
Sorting through the photo albums, letters and keepsake items, I came across a camping journal I had purchased before we left on a trip to Alaska the summer of 2002. While we took many photos during our journey, the journal added so much more.
It provided boxes to check off campground amenities such as electricity, showers, shaded sites, laundry, etc. There was a place to rate each campground, space to record fuel purchases, plus food, entertainment and that good old standby, miscellaneous costs. By recording the date, time, place, beginning and ending miles, plus a one-word weather report, it was easy to remember each stopping point. I had added pages to the journal to record extra places we visited each day, knowing we would be traveling more than the 32 days’ pages the journal contained.
Seventeen years later, as I turned the pages, reading the names of the campgrounds we visited and the added attractions of nature and wildlife viewing, I enjoyed the trip all over again. I rediscovered that the round-trip mileage was 9,150 miles; that we saw moose, caribou, sea lions, antelopes, eagles, puffins, spawning salmon, harrier hawks, humpback whales, bears (black and grizzly); that we saw panoramic views, crystal clear streams, rivers, and icebergs; that we walked on glaciers, took a bus partway up Denali, went to the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, visited several Native peoples’ museums, visited the extensive museum at the University of Alaska, took the ferry to Vancouver Island and spent time in Victoria, and so much more.
While we were in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, for the second time (on our homeward-bound segment), I met a woman from my birthplace in Wisconsin, whom I had known when she was a little girl and I was in high school with her big sister (that was a long time ago!). We were attending the Frantic Follies that evening, and she sat in the row in front of us. She now lives in Iron River, Michigan, and we live in Boulder, Colorado. Small world!
I ran out of journal pages in late July, but had brought along enough extra pages to continue making a record of the trip. By reading the journal, I was reminded that we left home on June 16, and pulled back into our driveway on August 8. It was a magnificent trip … and now I can relive it all again whenever I choose.
Happy memory-making wherever you roam … and don’t forget to make notes!
Nina and her hubby, Bob, have been RVing since 1998. They have visited the United States in their RVs except Delaware and Hawaii (still waiting for that bridge to Hawaii to be built), and much of Canada. They have been members of Discovery Owners Association since 1999. Nina served 12 years as Editor/Publisher of the club’s quarterly newsletter, Discovery Express. Owning an RV has enabled them to meet many wonderful folks from around the world and form lasting friendships.