Ingenuity is defined by Dictionary.com as "the quality of being cleverly inventive or resourceful." My own take is that proof of ingenuity can be seen in a solution to a problem or inconvenience that is not obvious to very many people. Think MacGyver, but scaled back.
As many an RV'er will convey, problem solving without ready-to-use off-the-shelf solutions is an integral part of the lifestyle. Those that can't do it had better have lots of time and cash.
Here is an example: When we decided to upgrade our portable generator, the new unit wouldn't fit in the old storage spot. There was no room in the back of the pickup, since I had two large toolboxes installed in its bed, nor would it fit in any basement compartment in the fifth wheel. It was going to take a unique solution, one not readily apparent at first look.
I realized that there would be room on the rear bumper if I could find a way to attach a cabinet or shelf back there. Also, I had had the fifth wheel's original flimsy rear bumper replaced with a sturdy steel square pipe welded to the frame after experiencing problems with it, so weight on the bumper should not be an issue. We had previously had a dual bicycle rack clamped to the bumper when we had heavy electric bikes, and when we sold the bikes I kept the racks. When clamped tightly on the bumper, several people could stand on it without sagging, so I guessed a wooden shelf would be stable.
I bought and cut 2"x8" lumber and a number of lag bolts, washers and nuts, and, after applying several coats of waterproofing, attached the boards on the bike racks. I countersunk the tops of the bolts so they would not impede anything I placed on it. Once satisfied of weight-bearing success, I removed the back of a painted steel office cabinet and screwed it down on the shelf so as to not block the license plate. I had purchased a generator that would fit side-to-side through the locking cabinet doors, and secured it onto the cabinet floor and some boards I placed inside it just for that purpose. The doors close and lock, and though it would totally prevent someone from stealing it, it makes it difficult enough. With the rear of the cabinet completely removed, there is plenty of circulation for the generator as well. The starting cord is easily available on the side and behind the cabinet, and the gas tank can be reached with a funnel just behind the top of the cabinet.
For good measure, I secured my 50 amp cord spooler down on the shelf, and now I have my pet fence sections strapped back there as well for easy access (instead of in my basement compartment.
I feel pretty good about my solution, which is just one example of a setup that took ingenuity and a bit of carpentry skill. Like I said, difficulties and clever answers are just a part of life on the road.
Nadyne has been equally ingenious on the inside of the rig. One problem we were having was with setup and tear down between stays, in other words, for before and after travel days. As frequent travelers know, anything on a counter top in the rig tends to shift, vibrate and move while on the highway. It is very time consuming to secure all of these items for travel, strapping some down on the floor, placing some on the sofa or bed, and just all-around stuffing wherever they would fit snugly. It is even more time-consuming to set everything back up for use.
Museum gel works fine on smaller items like wine bottles and knick-knacks, but not so much on small appliances like our ice maker and coffee maker, an air fryer, or other kitchen necessities such as silverware and plate caddies. She searched high and low for a solution with the common marketplaces apparently no help.
She remembered how sticky some rubber mats are and wondered if they would hold larger items. She bought a roll of rubber matting and cut some pieces just big enough for the aforementioned appliances and caddies to sit on. We left them in place on the counters on our next travel day, stopping occasionally to check for movement (or damage), and were pleasantly surprised how well things had stayed put on the mats. She found some rubberized cooking sheets that were less expensive but had the same gripping power. We stocked up, then started snipping and using them for other pieces of equipment around the rig, such as our laptops, adding machine, printer, alarm clock and even some electronics for the TV in the bedroom. Since doing that two years ago, we have not lost a single item off of any cabinet , desk or counter due to the road vibration and sway, even on the Pennsylvania Turnpike that was rough enough to break our rig's springs.
I would imagine if you ask any full-time RV'er, they can regale you with wonderful stories of their own ingenuity. Aw, shucks...
I'll leave you with this thought from American author Shelby Steele, who said, "We are a nation with a powerful investment in the idea of our own fundamental innocence. Our can-do optimism and ingenuity are based on the faith that we are a decent, open, and generous people. This is our identity."
Some of my earliest memories are picnic lunches at the neighborhood park with my mom and dad, along with my younger brothers and sisters. Dad always brought a kite and we would spend hours keeping it flying. Mom's lunches were always great.
One of the great things about picnics is that there is no particular location necessary for them. You can enjoy a meal at the park, on a hike, on a drive or even on a rooftop. We almost always brought lunch from home when we went fishing and I'm certain hunters do the same, as do many cyclists and outdoors enthusiasts. Popular locations include the park, the mountains, the beach, in canyons, a forest, a lake, a fun place in your city, in a nearby city or town, your backyard, at summer concerts, at festivals or fairs, at sporting events, and even the library. One of my favorite concert venues is in Washington State, The Gorge at George, in which half of the seating is in tiered grassy areas perfect for picnic lunches.
The right setting and ambiance can facilitate romance, with many a first date made accordingly. Lots of games and sports are available to kids and adults alike during a day at the park, and an entire industry was built from what started out as weekend barbecues. Lifelong memories can be made and lifetime events, such as birthdays, engagements and anniversaries, can happen at picnics.
There are tools of picnicking that nearly everyone uses, like picnic baskets, tablecloths, plasticware, drink jugs and paper towels, making this activity one of the few widely shared activities around the world. A picnic lunch in the English countryside looks very similar to one in Central Park or near a French vineyard. A Rocky Mountain lunch is comparable to one in the Italian Alps or Bavarian Black Forest or in the Andes, though I might suggest you avoid picnicking on the Serengeti or the Brazilian rainforest.
Last, a picnic will cost much less than a restaurant, and far more secluded, so they continue to be as popular as ever. I had quite a few neat comments about picnics and am showing several of them here, some with editing or paraphrasing:
Andy and Maureen T.- Our memories range from being romantic, when it's just the two of us, to fond family get-togethers. Picnics are always beautiful. We didn't do couples picnics in a lot of years, but once we retired we have made it a point to plan one or do an impromptu when we can.
BLSMSS- Picnic lunches makes me happy as I remember when my husband was courting me, he used to surprise me with a picnic at a local park -- starting our lives with a nice lunch at a beautiful park. The last picnic we had was with his oldest son, whom he hadn’t seen in awhile, in Texas a few years ago. It made me so happy watching him enjoy his time with his son. Always love picnics!
Canadian Hellie- My idea of a real picnic starts with a cloth on the grass. Most picnics in this area are at a picnic table, whether it's at an RV park, at home, along a roadside pull-out, at a chip truck or just in the car. I've only ever had one picnic on the grass and I still remember it. It was an impromptu idea as the day was perfect and we didn't have a cloth; just our late lunch from a take-out and a bottle of wine in a park. I was a few years younger then and didn't have any problems getting up from sitting on the grass. I can still do it, but it might take a couple of tries (chuckle).
Brenda and Bob- Taking a Fork in the Road- We often take our lunch with us when we go on a bike ride -- you just don’t know what beautiful park you may find on your route. We are often surprised by secluded parks with great scenery.
Joan S.- I remember as a child when my family, eight of us, would pile into the station wagon after the crops had been planted and head for the North Carolina mountains. We tailgated long before it was popular -- along-side roadways and at roadside parks with picnic tables, trashcans and frequently grills, maintained by the states of Georgia and North Carolina. So much fun! Mama even traded our homegrown tomatoes with restaurants for special meals or treats for us all.
Bob and Maria- When we had been dating we had done a few picnic lunches. So when it came time to propose, I packed a picnic basket and surprised my honey at work for lunch. There was a small park nearby and long story short, I used the ring as "dessert" to propose -- the rest is history. Although she did have to go back to work, but had a great story as to how the picnic went for her co-workers (lol).
Rkymtn97- In college I would do an indoor picnic when the weather was crappie. Just spread the blanket out on the floor and add the food!
See Spot Run RV- We love picnics! When we were homeowners we would picnic at outdoor concerts. We had a backpack that was insulated with tubes on each side for wine or beers. Since we have been full-time RV'ers we picnic several days a week. We take our lunch with us each time we head out to explore the area. Along the way we look for a park of any kind, sometimes it is a city or county park, or even an outdoor lunch place in downtowns. We usually do this three to five days a week.
Nadyne H.- When we were young, we'd have a couple of picnics a year near Tucson. Most of our extended family would also be there so we'd end up with 50+ people. It was always a fantastic day! Great food and wonderful aunts, uncles and cousins!
Ann Z.- Best picnic I ever had was just about five years ago on a sunny Sunday in North Bergen, New Jersey. We brought bagels, coffee, and books and read to each other. I fell asleep in the sun.
I'll end with an appropriate quote from English actress Kate Winslet, who said: "The things that make me happiest in the whole world are going on the occasional picnic, either with my children or with my partner; big family gatherings; and being able to go to the grocery store - if I can get those things in, I'm doing good."
Jack Huber is a writer, blogger, poet and photographer. Like many, he is concerned about the psyche of our planet's inhabitants and wants to try to improve his little corner of it.