Is Researching a Type of Planning?

People keep telling me I need to plan, that a person can’t go blithely into the future with no idea of what she is going to do, especially if she expects to undertake an epic adventure. Seems to me that not making plans guarantees adventure, but maybe I’m being too blithe.

Does research constitute planning? If so, then I am constantly planning.

I research the Pacific Crest Trail in case I want to through-hike the most challenging of all the USA national trails. (Well, second most challenging. The Continental Divide Trail is supposed to be even more daunting.) And I research other national trails, such as the Florida National Scenic Trail, the Arizona National Scenic Trail, or even the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail in Hawaii in case I want to go where I’ve never gone before. I research types of backpacks, sleeping bags, tents, food, water purifiers to find the best and lightest for my needs. There is no way I can or would ever want to carry 30 pounds for long distances. And yet, and yet . . . despite the drawbacks and physical challenges, the idea of a through-hike still lingers.

angelI research the state coastal trails of California, Oregon, Washington in case I want to walk along the edge of the world. I even have a friend who will help me dip my toe into such an adventure by taking me a ways up the coast from her house so I can walk back. She has even offered to keep me supplied so I won’t starve or dehydrate. My own personal trail angel!

I research walking across the USA in case I want to follow the roads. (This would have the advantage of maybe not needing to carry a lot of water. It seems to me that carrying a sign AUTHOR WALKING ACROSS USA. NEEDS WATER would be a heck of a lot easier to carry than gallons of water, and maybe as effective.) People who have taken such a walk leave with nothing and trust to the journey, but I can’t see me mustering that kind of trust. Or they push/pull a cart to make sure they have the water and food they need for the long dry stretches, and I cannot see myself doing that either. Still, the lure is there. Walking across the country is not a rare occurrence, but I sure don’t know anyone who has done it.

I research rooms for rent, apartments, and extended stay motel/hotels so I can stay in this area to continue taking dance classes.

I research freighters to New Zealand. Even though they are not that expensive ($100 to $150 a night) what adds to the cost is the medical and travel insurance ($400 to $500 per trip) and a whole panoply of red tape — doctor certificate of health, passport, shots (depending on where the freighter stops). I research distances. New Zealand is 6,000 miles from the USA. Australia is 1324 miles from New Zealand. If I go to New Zealand, would it make sense to extend the journey to include Australia? If I did go to Australia, should I go walkabout? (I found a two week walkabout trip for about $3500. But is that figure Australian dollars? One Australian dollar is worth $.78 American dollars, so would the walkabout be $2954 American dollars? Still a lot of money for such a trek.)

I research cars and other vehicles for a possible extended tour of the USA, the national parks, and all my online friends. Do I want to find a small camper that fits in my budget, and so have to deal with another aged vehicle with a lot of miles? Do I want to get a small van such as a Ford Transport Connect and build my own nest inside? Do I want to get a small SUV-type, such as a Kia Soul, which has plenty of room to sleep when the back seat is folded down, or a Honda Fit, which gets about the same highway mileage as a Prius? Do I want to get a junker, and let it take me as far as it can before it breaks down?

But oh! I already have such a car. Today is my bug’s birthday. I got it new 43 years ago today. I checked with my insurance agent about insuring it if I restored it, and apparently, unless I can get it classified as an antique, which allows but 2000 miles of travel a year, then all I would get if anything happened to the car is the blue book value of nil.

See? Research.

You’d think I’d be wasting my time by researching instead of actually doing something or even planning to do something, but the odd thing is, as I research, the impossible adventure becomes . . . possible.

One of the hardest things to do to make an adventure come true is to overcome the status quo of one’s life, but luckily, my status quo is going to overcome itself without any help from me once my father’s house is sold and I am . . . wherever I will be.

So, back to researching . . .


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.


8 Responses to “Is Researching a Type of Planning?”

  1. Patty Andersen Says:

    You could do a smaller walk. There is one in Western South Dakota, Black Hills. Mickelson Trail: is 109 miles but there are lots of small towns along the way.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I’ve been looking for a walk like that, with lots of small towns. It would allow me to just walk without having to carry a whole lot of supplies! I will add that to my list.

  2. sumalama Says:

    In my opinion, research IS planning. I am getting a lot of value from your planning, thinking of things on my bucket list. Thank you. Keep on researching and writing about it, please! Hugs!

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I was just sitting here wondering if I would actually do any of these things I am researching, but I’ve been doing the research for so long, it would be anticlimactic to settle down without trying at least a few of these things to see if I have the courage.

  3. frederick anderson Says:

    Which just goes to prove, I guess, that there’s a little of the Forest Gump in all of us…

  4. ROD MARSDEN Says:

    Research is an essential part of novel writing. I agree with Sumalama that research is planning. It is also covering your bases as best you can for the enjoyment of your readers.

    Can you imagine an historic novel without time travel set in France 1917 with British helicopters machine-gunning German soldiers in the Somme trenches?

    I thought I knew all about tank tops for young women and when they came into fashion. They were certainly around in the ’70s when I went to discos. Looking into it, however, I discovered that they were in swinging London as early as the ’60s but did not become fashionable in the USA until the ’80s. Hmmm! So okay to have young women running around wearing them in Australia in the ’70s but maybe not the USA at that time. A small matter but something that might give an American female reader a double-take on.

    Of late I have been reading The Time Traveller’s Guide to Medieval England and now I’m digging into The time Traveller’s Guide to Elizabethan England. Both are by Ian Mortimer and are loaded with all sorts of fascinating detail. The books are written as if you are in these time periods and are doing the travelling with a guide book. It isn’t as such fiction.

    It is strange to imagine Elizabethan England being in the same fix in terms of population growth as present day Australia. From 1500 to 1600 you have a population hike of 30%. It gets worse. At the same time with too many lords going in for sheep raising rather than grain production you have less jobs than were previously around. You need less hands for sheep than for grain. The result? A great deal of poverty. You have gangs of youths travelling from village to village looking for whatever they can get. We have a better system of caring for people out of work nowadays but still…a wonderful take on how history can reflect the present and possibly the future. Maybe there has to be progress, sure, but there also has to be jobs or bad things can happen in society.

  5. Malcolm R. Campbell Says:

    Sounds like planning to me. The fun kind of planning.

  6. Kathy Says:

    Research is the best part of planning! From there you could start a pros and cons list for each possibility. Then you could come up with a “to do” list to see what is necessary for each adventure. Can you tell I’m getting excited about *your* planning? 🙂

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