Gang Aft Agley
In 1785, Robert Burns penned To A Mouse, which includes the lines, “The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men, Gang aft agley, An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain, For promis’d joy!”
I’m apparently just about to hit the “gang aft agley” part, since a prolonged heat wave expected to last at least through the third week of July will make camping a distinctly unpleasant experience, and it gets markedly worse the farther west I go. Please, no cheese with my whine, thanks. We’re talking triple digits here, folks.
Currently at a rest stop near the western edge of Wisconsin near Sparta, I just found all this out while researching temperatures for the next few stops on my meticulously-planned itinerary. Not caring for the 90-degree heat so far, I was kind of hoping to find that things would get a bit better as I continued on. I’ve got a route that will take me through Wyoming and Montana before heading south toward Arizona, and showing up in Yuma after November 1st is the normal goal to avoid the effects of heat on my dilapidated frame.
Looking at temperature maps, just about the only cooler spots are in the Yellowstone National Park, and northwest of it in the southwest corner of Montana. Yellowstone is problematic for free boondocking, since it is so heavily used. It’s a PITA that most RVers will happily jump through hoops for. Meanwhile, I’ve got a handy-dandy list of camping areas in Montana courtesy of sometimes-reader Carla that she has camped at, but they aren’t high enough to counter the heat wave.
I’ve considered just making a beeline for the mountainous elevations of Colorado, but November 1 is a long time coming, and once I’m in Colorado, it makes no sense to go anywhere else from there but Arizona. No tour. This has already been a mileage-intense voyage, and the Mighty Furd is about to kick over the 100K odometer mark. I lack the gene that says, “well, I’ll just get another pickup when this one starts wearing things out”. My bank account is not up to the potential issues involved, of course. There’s a karmic match there, one which I find harmonious if not soothing.
I’ve also considered diverting northeast to Wisconsin’s Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest and using an MVUM map to hunt for a boondocking spot, the goal being to hang here for a bit before continuing westward. It’ll be cooler here, though humid. That brings out the skeeters, deer flies and ticks this time of year, and dousing myself daily with chemical repellants does not appeal. Why? DEET enters the bloodstream through the skin, and either heavy doses or long-term exposure have well-documented effects, including killing brain cells, among other things. Anyone who knows me can vouch that I can scarce afford to lose any more of those – though I would appreciate those individuals not affirming that in the comment section below with an unusual enthusiasm. I don’t have provision for effectively cleaning it all off, so myself and everything I wear and lie on would have that weird feel and stink, and my skin has already got enough issues without needing a three-week soak in Deep Woods Off. It’s tolerable when you’re going to head home before long to shower, launder/dry clean and make sure it’s completely cleaned off hardware and everything else that’s been handled. (It’ll haze styrene in a blink, and I’m not eager to see what it does on leather, or the synthetics and adhesives in my pricey Merrill walking shoes, etc.) Not gonna happen here.
So, as with many things, it all comes down to priorities – choosing whether to be uncomfortable for a limited time by tanking the entire tour right off the bat, or to save the tour by getting eaten alive by blood-sucking bugs and generally being pretty uncomfortable, or to just tough out the itinerary, stinking in a primal and very manly way while trying to avoid heat stroke. To me, none of these options are clear winners. Which one is least awful comes down to personal preferences. Acclimated to the weather in the Upper Midwest, triple-digit temperatures are going to create some issues, but I’ll head into it to see if I can adapt and arrive in Yuma feeling that it was all worth it. In the meantime, wherever you are, enjoy your air conditioner, if you have one!