Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
I think we are normal but lately I have second thoughts. Since we started traveling all winter in our fifth wheel our social life has changed significantly. We like to camp in remote, quiet areas. The sun disappears early during the winter. I tend to go to bed with the sun and rise with the sun - that sometimes means 10 hours! The problem is my husband wakes up before the sun, gets up, turns the local farm report on, and makes toast under the smoke alarm. When the smoke alarm goes off so do I. After I give him the hot tongue and cold shoulder for a sufficient amount of time, we have our coffee and try to figure out what we are going to do all day. At home we are always busy, but on the road I think we have too much time on our hands. Do others have this problem too?
--Cabin fever on wheels
Some people find the transition from a sedentary life to one on the road more difficult than others. Like many other situations people write to me about, your answers are probably parked right next to you. Talk to your fellow campers. There are as many lifestyles on the road as off. Some people are more social than others. Some are couch potatoes whether the couch is stationary or rolling. I’m in a beautiful National Forest campground right now. The neighbors I have met so far have varied interests that keep them constantly busy. I even met a couple the other day hauling a two-seater paraglider. That’s a room fan attached to a parachute. They fly all over the place and often boondock at small airstrips. Another guy is a wildlife photographer with a lens that looks like a real cannon. Then there is a lady who walks around with a pick axe all day. She is a rockhound. I asked her if she'd found anything exciting and she started feeling around in her bra looking for a nice agate she had just found. I didn’t ask any more questions. The woman one loop over is a thrift store scouter. She finds bargains and sends them home to her daughter who runs a resale shop.
The point I am trying to make is you need a hobby, part-time job or some interest that will keep you occupied whether you are at home or on the road. I have seen professional people retire, then sit at home watching soap operas all day until they keeled over in their la-Z-boy.
As far as going to bed too early, you might consider playing a card game, reading, campfires, watching downloaded movies on your computer, working on genealogy, or anything else you enjoy doing at home. If you can keep your husband awake until 10 pm, maybe the smoke alarm won’t go off until 7 am.
If your home life is more social because you have more friends get out and meet some. The world is full of wonderful, friendly, interesting people. You have some parked near you right now. Take a walk and meet them. Go on a ranger led walk and meet them. Grab your binoculars and pretend you are looking at birds, you will be surprised at how many people will wonder what you’re looking at and start a conversation. We were in Cottonwood campground in Big Bend National Park this winter. Every evening a crowd would gather at dusk to watch a Great Horned owl pair mate. They were like clockwork. As odd as that may sound, we made a lot of great friends watching horny owls. That’s how easy it is to change your lifestyle.
--Keep Smilin', Dr. R.V. Shrink