With the “Forgotten States Road Trip” I’ve got planned in March, I will be returning to Ottawa for the third time in 30 months. The first time was in September 2016 as part of the Salem trip. The second time was a stand-alone trip in May 2017.
One of the things I remember from last spring’s trip was freezing my butt off overnight in Ottawa. It certainly wasn’t the only cold night I’ve spent in my truck. The February Winona trip was cold, as were some of my more recent camping stays up north in Nicolet. But Ottawa last year surely ranks as one of my top 3 coldest nights.
I was aware of all this as I planned this upcoming road trip. What I had forgotten was that last year’s trip to Ottawa was in May. I froze my butt off in May. What fresh hell am I in for this time if I’m going to be up in that region in March?
Ottawa isn’t the only cold place I’ll be, obviously. I can expect weather conditions to be cold throughout most of the trip, in fact. I’m only expecting warm nights between Arkansas and maybe temperatures will hold decent through West Virginia. Once I reach Delaware (and for the remainder of the trip) I can pretty much count on uncomfortably cold nights. It won’t be possible to get all the way back home without spending at least one night – most likely two or more nights – in cold overnight weather.
Did I Learn Anything?
Postponing the trip to warmer months isn’t practical, given St. Louis’ role in making this trip economical in the first place. I’m also taking “seek refuge in a motel room” off the table. Not even up for consideration.
The question is – did I learn enough in survival skills last summer to make this trip bearable?
Tough to know. After all, last year’s road trip was done in the dead of summer. Heat and sunlight were my enemies. I didn’t have any uncomfortably cold nights until after I returned to Wisconsin.
I did, however, meet Zombie, who taught me the value of a good wool blanket and dressing in layers. I’ve also got a pretty good sleeping bag that I’ve been using as a mattress, and that I’ll surely be bringing with me on this trip.
Is It Really a Survival Skill, Though?
Yes. Survival skills. I don’t care that I’m camping out in my truck while you’ve camped out on top of a mountain summit in a blizzard in a tent. The Gothic Nomad is – above all – a complete pussy when it comes to cold weather. YES, staying warm on this trip is a survival skill.
Success on this trip will also indicate whether it’s feasible for me to live out of my truck – either out of necessity or by choice – if I relocate to a place with milder winters than we have in Wisconsin. Overnight in Ottawa in March should come close to approximate the coldest temperatures I can expect in Portland or Seattle.