Preparing: The Mind

“A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find that after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.”
— John Steinbeck

I can’t remember the last time in my adult life that I took a full two-week vacation and this trip is going to take more than triple that. I’m worried that I’ll have so much time on my hands with such a narrow focus that I’ll get bored. I’m anxious about being good company for Ed for 50 days. And I’m scared that I might contemplate quitting at some point.

I naturally and comfortably take on the challenge of planning and there are many parallel planning activities in progress that I’ll explore in other stories. But for this trip, I recognize the significance and importance of preparing my mind for the journey. Indeed this is challenging to even write about and decidedly more right-brained than my conventional scope of trip planning.

Know the goal.

This trip is going to be long enough that I might lose sight of the key objectives, so understanding the mission clearly is important. Air travel regulations require that passengers be reminded of emergency exit locations on flights that exceed 4 hours in duration. With sufficient passage of time, the mind gets distracted from important details and one starts to forget.

All the way around in 50 days. No dawdling about but also not a speed circumnavigation (another time perhaps). There is a comfortable amount time for taking photos but not for photo journaling. We can fish every day but it’s not a fishing expedition.

Visualize the journey.

I’ve been over every inch of Nova Scotia in Google Maps. I’ve imagined every single leg of the journey — every open water crossing — and considered what it would feel like. Tying every anticipated scenario back to my relevant experience from prior trips and from training helps me understand the nature of the trip. What I anticipate it will feel like to me and what I imagine it will feel like to Ed.

I am already looking forward to hooking up with our support team at various places throughout the province. The fresh meals we’ll enjoy together. The wine. The company and the fun. I imagine meeting friends along the way who will join us for a day and a night, returning home with sore arms while we forge ahead, unrelenting.

Plan on the move.

I don’t know exactly when we’ll be entering the Bay of Fundy, barrelling around Brier Island, or transiting the Tusket Islands. So rather than sweat it (I’ve tossed and turned at night pondering the prospect of dragging boats through Fundy mud), I need to be prepared to do all of the tidal planning on the move.

I will print and pack the reference information and the tools that I need. Tidal atlas. Tide tables. Tidal coefficients. All of these things I’ve used in the classroom so many times will be part of my standard navigation kit. I will practice doing the tidal vectors for open water crossings in advance, based on some projected dates.

You can’t control everything.

By recommendation of Ed, I’m reading “Travels with Charley” by John Steinbeck. I think Ed recognized my compulsion for planning early on and wanted to influence a dose of reality into our expedition. I’m enjoying the book thoroughly and feel some sort of kinship with Steinbeck who, also in his greater-than-middle-age, embarked on a journey around something that he loved — the US (the contiguous continental bits by camper van).

I am still attentive to all the details that I can be. I can’t help myself. But I have an emerging appreciation that there will be surprises along the journey that shape the trip. And the trip will become something that Ed and I are part of, rather than something we control.


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