The DeLORME (I can’t figure out why they spell it that way) Atlas and Gazetteer is mandatory for every state I travel. You can order from them directly or from Amazon. Big Box Bookstores carry them, but they never have the state you want.
I found out about them from my girlie birder friends, who are fellow Missouri Master Naturalists and introduced me to the joys of birding. (And when I say “joys” I mean it.) We’re talking bad weather. We’re talking ticks, schlepping heavy scopes, binoculars, mud, a lot of books and arguing about whether the dang thing that was right in the sun had a wing bars or not.) To bird, you have to know what time of year, time of day, type of habitat, where and how to get there.
The Atlas can get you where you think you need to be. It is a large format, thin booklet that shows every farm road, back road and toll road – plus every rail line, stream, park and town. When you aren’t hooked up to NASA satellites, or are a technical black hole like yours truly, a good old-fashioned map is just the thing to get you on those wonderful, scenic back roads. I happen to love maps anyway. Call me a Luddite. This does not mean you are going to see a particular bird, however. I wish the DeLorme people would get on that. But you will see that waterfall!
When I first brought my Roadtrek Adventurous home in Oct. of 2011, I was going on a 10 day canoe trip the very next day. My gear, clothing, food and canoe was all in the garage, ready to stow. I am also a sailor used to small quarters and knew what to bring. The cabins are very similar in van and boat, except for a few things like airbags instead of life vests. My 12 foot canoe is sort of an open, flat kayak and fits right down the aisle of the van, tilted up to rest on the bed. I put blankets around it to protect the cabinets.
I did have a passenger on that trip to the Buffalo River in Arkansas, and I learned a valuable lesson. Not to travel with someone who is disorganized. She must have had 12 bags with everything from a mandolin to a huge bag of tree branches from her yard for firewood! I would get her stuff organized and stowed, then WHAM! – turn around and it looked like an explosion happened! This wasn’t a serenity promoter for me. I have a hard enough time remembering where I put things. She was hilarious and is a great friend, but next time, she and her stuff are going to be bungeed on the bike rack and she gets the tent.
I need checklists for everything from clothing, food to pre-ignition! Things like making sure all cabinets are latched so my favorite strawberry rhubarb jam doesn’t end up Jackson Pollack-ing the wardrobe cabinet. Propane off so I don’t celebrate the 4th of July at random. Windows closed (I really, really adore detail cleaning after going down a dirt and gravel road with the windows open… NOT).
There are items that are dedicated to the van, like excellent music for every type of weather, road or mood. Also cleaning supplies, dishes, wet wipes, bedding, hats, games and flashlights and such. I mustn’t forget binoculars so I can spy on my neighbors, or cameras to document two-headed calves and the like.
I get the van checked regularly for fluids, tires and that kind of important stuff since I am also a mechanical black hole. Especially since the guy in the service department is really handsome. His name is Kevin. Winterize and de-winterize and winterize and de-winterize ad nauseum (am getting pretty good at that if I say so myself).
I also run the generator every month with the A/C on medium, sit inside and pretend I am at the beach. Sometimes I even paste beach scenes on the windows so it seems more realistic (use glue that wipes off easily!) A wave sound machine is good, too.
The other important thing I do to prepare for a trip is to call all my friends and make several FaceBook posts to brag about my great adventure and make them all jealous. This is key.
Oh, the other thing I do is, sort of, generally. in a way, maybe, have a vague idea of where I’m headed. Kind of.
There are other things I do, but they are double secret. Plus, I can’t find that list right now and I am too busy scraping jelly off the floor.