3 Ways To Get Outside In Solitude

 

For those living in their RV right now, whether by nature of being a full-timer or simply to inhabit a safe space and get away from the COVID-19 hysteria, being trapped in your RV is probably not exactly what you had planned.

We tend to associate RVing with the great outdoors and all of the wonderful things you can do outside while RVing. Being cooped up for an extended time inside the RV was not expected. Hopefully, you’ve found a safe place to stay where you can quarantine yourself and ride out the coronavirus.

Some outdoor activities are safe, as long as you practice good social distancing. My hope is that the three activities here provide inspiration to get outside, and perhaps a much-needed chuckle.

Fishing

This one seems fairly obvious and not a particularly lofty goal, but I must ask, does anyone ever catch anything when fishing? I feel like I’ve used multiple equipment setups and a variety of bait types only to arrive home with no fish and half the hooks, weights, and bobbers I started the day with.

At least I returned to the RV smelling like I went fishing, mostly due to the stink bait that somehow spilled onto the bacon I was using for bait…the week before. Turns out bacon that has been in your tackle box for a week smells a lot like stink bait.

Once, in a small boat on a Louisiana lake, I did land the big one, 160lbs worth. I pulled a fishing lure firmly through my own index finger. Having a medical professional remove it was only mildly embarrassing. Explaining the insurance claim to my then boss in the days before PHI was far worse. Looking back, I don’t know what I miss more, the simplicity of youth or only weighing 160lbs.

Gone fishin’. Photo by U.S. Air Force via Airman 1st Class Nicolas Z. Erwin

Regardless of your fishing acumen, this can be a fairly solitary activity. Whether you are on the shoreline, at the end of a dock or pier, or on some type of watercraft, few would argue that fishing is a great activity for RVers. Many local campgrounds have private lakes that supersede the need for a fishing license, but you should always check for license requirements no matter where you fish.

Paddleboarding 

I have always wanted to paddleboard. As a skateboarder and snow skier in my younger days, I feel like I could master paddleboarding immediately. Not only does paddleboarding look fun, it must be a great workout. Every paddleboarding photo seems to exude fitness and health as an attractive man or woman effortlessly navigates a tranquil body of water. A waterborne activity such as this would also be great for social distancing as watercraft tend to avoid getting too close to each other anyway. 

Green Lake paddleboard. Photo by dbsteers via Flickr Creative Commons

Somehow, I imagine my experience will be different than those dreamy photos portray. I see myself opening up the storage bay door of our diesel pusher and gently taking out my new paddleboard. I quickly notice that one end has been chewed by one of our little dogs. Resolving to repair this later, I try not to let it dampen the mood.

As I grab my new paddle, it feels shorter than I expect. Locating the sticker that says “For ages 8-10” I quickly figure out that I was given the wrong paddle, and understand I may have to bend over farther than anticipated to actually reach the water. Realizing that this might now simply be a test run until I resolve the equipment issue, I head to the water to give it a quick try. 

Getting on the paddleboard and standing comfortably proves to be reasonably easy. After a silent thanks to Tony Hawk, I begin the process of paddling, albeit with my junior paddle. Bending over to reach the water with the short paddle proves to be a detriment to both my balance and my back.

Having to stop frequently and stand erect, I think I may have done better to tape two spoons together rather than use a paddle more suited for Dora the Explorer. My day ends in shame as I finally acquiesce to the discomfort and lay flat on my stomach and paddle back to the RV.  Though looking like a surfer ready to ride the tube, I shower and change and simply end up watching one.

Hiking

Hiking is universally synonymous with camping and is not limited to any one specific genre. It is for all ages and is an ideal social distancing activity.

The health benefits of walking are well established. Hiking kicks that up a notch by adding varied terrain, elevation, and surface footing. Hiking in nature is an activity that can be enjoyed nearly anywhere, from our greatest national recreation sites to the smallest local community park. In parks that have not temporarily closed, the day-use areas including hiking trails are still open for use.

get outside

Snake River hiking path. Photo by Good Free Photos

RVers love hiking. It gets you out of the RV, it’s great exercise, and allows you to experience the local environment firsthand. Most state and national parks have trail systems that are well defined and mapped. Many private campgrounds are often adjacent to a trail system or have something equitable on their own property.

Hiking with pets, primarily dogs of course, is a great way for both of you to get some much needed fresh air and exercise while sheltering in place at your current campground. At least, that’s what I keep telling myself. I often have great aspirations of taking one or more of my little dogs hiking.

What starts as a veritable dog-sled of enthusiasm wanes quickly as their little Dachshund legs generally give out before we reach the trailhead. More often than not, hauling them somewhere in the Jeep to a more doxie-friendly locale is a better choice, but one not without its own pitfalls, as a recent trip to Elephant Butte Lake State Park in New Mexico proved. 

I start by loading up the Jeep with six of the seven miniature Dachshunds. The oldest of the pack simply ignored me as I called their names, seasoned with enticing verbs like ride, walk, treat, and outside. A veteran of many RV trips and not his first rodeo, the eldest buried his nose in a blanket and pretended not to hear me.

The rest of the gullible crew piled into the Jeep like kids going for ice cream. As a first-time Jeep owner, I was intrigued by the possibility of being able to drive right down to the shoreline in the park and do some very mild four-wheeling. The hard-packed beach is also an ideal surface for those with short legs that are four in number.

get outside

Once in the park, the first stop is the drive-through check-in station. Like most state parks, we’ll pay a small fee, get a sticker for the windshield, and enjoy nature’s bounty. Unlike most state parks, the attendant has little to do during this off-season time and proves to be very friendly, and a dog lover.

No doubt after we got through with her, she regrets being both. Below is a transcript of what took place. Bear in mind that the dog portion has also been translated into English. The actual sound that emanated from the back seat of the Jeep was about what you’d expect from six little dogs that have just met a complete stranger right outside the window I had just rolled down.

Attendant: Hi, Welcome to Elephant Butte Lake State Park, have you ever been here before?

Me: No, we’re just visiting. We’re staying at a nice RV park just down the road.

Dogs: Who the heck is this lady? Why is she stopping us? Is she mean? Is she dangerous? Let’s bark at her! In fact, let’s bark and howl as if our very lives are at stake. Let’s bark uncontrollably like we are being injured. 

Attendant: Are you staying all day?

Me: (Thinking…seriously, do you hear this behind me? I’ll be lucky if we make it an hour). No ma’am, just a couple of hours.

Dogs: She’s not taking the hint. What’s wrong with this lady? Ok, new strategy; Nutmeg, you need to howl like you do when you accidentally get locked out. Meg, whine like you do when you see a squirrel. The rest of you continue barking. Bandit should have come with us, he can’t see well and barks like mad at anything, that could be useful right now.

Attendant:  Do…get…car…pass…drive….?

Me: I’m sorry, I can’t really hear you.

Dogs: Don’t stop, I think it’s working.

Attendant: Nevermind. I see you have some dogs.

Me: (ya think! What was your first clue?) Yes, ma’am. They could use some exercise.

Dogs: Almost there…final push now. Bark like an idiot. If someone could growl like they have untreated rabies that would really add a nice touch. Cappy is too quiet, someone bite his tail.

Attendant: That will be three dollars.

Me: What?

Attendant: Three dollars!

Me: Ok, great thanks…here you go.

Attendant: (This guy is an idiot) Thank you, and here’s some dog treats too. Good luck.

Dogs: Hey, did she say treat? I think I see treats? Don’t you guys smell treats? I’m sure she gave him treats. Treats, treats, treats, treats, treats. This might not be so bad after all. What do you say after this, we all get back to the RV and chew on the paddleboard some more?

Just get out there

Regardless of what outdoor activity you pursue while living in your RV during the COVID-19 crisis, just get out there. Try and do something physical outdoors for at least an hour, even if it’s nothing more than walking around the campground waving to your neighbors instead of stopping and greeting them up close. Your presence will encourage others and remind them that they are not alone during this time. 

Whether you define yourself by RVer, Texan, American, or all three, we need to stick together and lend a helping hand where possible. Get outside and let folks know you are there, you’re just six-feet away or more.

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