Sash and I reunited after 6 weeks of being apart.
It was the longest period of time we had ever been apart, even going back to when we were just dating.
There we were, under 103 degree F sunshine, along the banks of the Columbia River, at a remote campground and boat launch called, “Vernita Bridge” about 40 miles northwest of Tri-Cities, Washington, we stepped out of our respective vehicles and embraced.
“I’m sorry I did this!” she said. “I won’t ever do this again, I promise!”
The muscle memory all came back as my arms and hands found the familiar places on her back and shoulders. After so many weeks of not having her by my side, she felt so good to hug and hold.
“It’s OK”, I said.
Spending Time Apart Can be Good and Bad
It’s not healthy for a married couple to spend every day together. That becomes much more difficult when two people live on the road, in an RV, in a tiny living space, constantly moving about the country.
That’s why we bought Sash the Chevy Suburban and converted it into a camper. She can now spend time on her own while I head off in a different direction with our pickup truck and trailer.
But being apart for more than a month is rough. The reason why we married is because we do so well giving and taking from each other. We exchange emotional support, we understand each other well, we both love the kind of work we do. It’s easy to develop a dependency for that close-level of connection.
The Long Back Story
It was on June 23, 2019 when she embarked on what was originally going to be a 7 week journey of driving to Alaska to visit clients and to explore more of the frontier she had fallen in love with over the last couple of years.
Throughout the planned 7 weeks, I was to spend my time in the Lower 48, in our pickup truck and trailer, doing website development work for our clientele, and enjoying some sorely needed time on my creative writing projects.
Except, things never seem to go as planned.
A freak heatwave poured through Canada and Alaska the same time Sash began her trek. She had originally planned for weeks of cooler temperatures and the usual summer rainstorms. Her Chevy Suburban has factory air conditioning, but of course, requires keeping the engine running. That doesn’t seem to so bad, except when you get up into Yukon and Alaska, during the summer, the sun stays out up to midnight. Even after the sun sets, it’s still warm outside, and hence she’s having to run the engine nearly 24 hours a day.
And did I mention how expensive gasoline is in Yukon and Alaska?
Moreover, the drive through Canada is boring. Hundreds of miles of farmland through Saskatchewan and Alberta, all straight roads, kept her struggling to keep her mind focused. Instead, her thoughts turned to her aches and pains, and if not that, she kept wanting to fall asleep.
Meanwhile, I was getting frustrated with stuff falling apart.
Seemingly without warning, the AC electrical in our trailer went out. It turned out to be a blown ground wire connecting the generator to the AC panel. It seemed I had too many 120 volt appliances drawing at the same time. I had two air conditioning units running, along with both the water heater and refrigerator running off 120 volt, and a couple of electronics charging off the 120 volts wall outlets. All in all, I figured I was consuming about 5,300 watts of power. Our generator, produces 5,500 watts, so theoretically it was running at it’s upper limits, but still not quite enough to trip its own circuit breakers. However, that ground wire was not heavy enough for that load and just blew out.
I called ATC Toy Haulers, the company that makes our trailer, and they were willing to send new wiring to any RV shop I wanted, but I could not find a shop that was willing to work on AC electrical or could schedule me in soon. Pretty much every shop I called was 4 to 8 weeks out in appointments.
So, I ended up towing the trailer to ATC’s factory in Indiana to get it repaired. At least, they were willing to schedule me in as soon as I could get there. That trip was 1,500 miles (from Great Falls, MT to Nappanee, IN).
A couple weeks later, the gas tank in our trailer started leaking. Again, I had to tow it out to Indiana to get it replaced at the factory. That was another 1,200 miles (from Salida, CO to Nappanee, IN).
And then I ended up getting two teeth extracted. The first one came in Helena, MT, and the second one came a month later in Iowa City, IA. Both were cracked teeth that resulted from chewing something too hard. Both times, dentists recommended getting root canals and crowns to save the teeth, but both times I refused and requested they just extract them. (It was going to cost me $2,000 to $3,000 to get root canals and crowns.) As it turned out, when they extracted the teeth, both were too far cracked and split, they were not salvageable anyway.
And then there were other issues. One of the tires on my pickup truck had a defect, causing a bulge which ultimately resulted in the steel belt wearing through. I had to get that replaced. And then one day, someone stole the weight distribution hitch right off my truck. I had to go buy a new one of those too.
Meanwhile, things were not getting any better for Sash.
One of the clients she visited was not renewing their contract with us, meaning a loss of revenue. Another client was giving her a difficult time, arguing over marketing strategy and marketing budgets.
On top of that, the 2019 summer heatwave in Alaska was wearing her out.
Once Sash was able to complete her client visits and personal adventures, she decided to cut her Alaska Road Trip short by one week and start for the Lower 48.
It Could Have Been Better
Had things happen more as expected, with cooler weather, a more enjoyable drive, no cracked teeth, no component failure, and so forth, perhaps being separated for 7 weeks would have been fine.
But, trying times is when married couples need each other.
Yes, we are always just a phone call away, or a text message away. But when two people develop a dependence for each other’s support and understanding, it’s tough to plow through the hard times alone.
Pros & Cons of Married Couples of Taking Separate Vacations
Pro: Creating a Break in the Routine – helps to jog the brain into reassessing priorities, establishing new routines, and increase creativity.
Pro: Helps each partner to explore areas of entertainment and enrichment they could not otherwise get in partnership.
Pro: Helps each partner to become more self-reliant, rather than dependent on their spouse.
Pro: Each partner is free to set their own schedule and itinerary, and completely do (or not do) as their heart desires.
Pro: Allows each partner to visit friends and family that the other partner does not want to visit.
Con: No relationship growth. Taking separate vacations is great for personal growth, but each person loses the opportunity to grow together as a couple.
Con: It’s costs more. Each person books separate hotels, buys gasoline for two vehicles, they don’t share groceries…
Con: Worrying about each other ruins each other’s vacation. Calling and texting each other frequently, Losing sleep over separation anxiety. Being critical over how much each other spends, or what they purchased.
Con: There’s also a judgmental elemental that comes from friends and family who may not fully understand the idea of taking separate vacations. When a spouse posts on their Facebook about taking a solo vacation, it often leads to judgments and misunderstandings about their marriage.
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