Are YOU climbing the walls yet? Between COVID 19 quarantine and winter a lot of people are. If so, you may be suffering from Cabin Fever.
Cabin fever is defined by Wikipedia, as "a claustrophobic
reaction that takes place when a person or group is isolated and/or
shut in a small space, with nothing to do for an extended period." People affected by cabin fever become restless and irritable. Sometimes, in spite of being restless, they tend to sleep excessively. The term is loosely and humorously used to describe simple boredom from being home alone with nothing to do. The idea of cabin fever apparently began with trappers and hunters who were often literally trapped in their cabins for extended periods of time by inclement weather. Sometimes they became so agitated they would go outside even if it was dark or there was a blizzard or other hazards, often never to return. If you find yourself feeling like "climbing the walls" you're probably suffering from cabin fever. Today the causes and consequences of cabin fever are much diminished, but it certainly hasn't been completely eradicated. Certainly the quarantine associated with COVID-19 is giving some of us cabin fever! Sometimes we even get cabin fever while out camping when the weather keeps us in our RVs or tents too long.
With that in mind, those of us who enjoy outdoor recreation are usually experiencing some of the symptoms of cabin fever after several months of winter. For campers, RVers and off road enthusiasts, it usually takes the form of a gnawing desire to get out and go camping and/or riding. Unless the weather is unusually mild, it will probably be several weeks before we can act on our desires. We tend to get restless, pace the floor, and keep looking out the window, as if doing so would somehow hurry Spring.
What can we do about that? I've found the best remedy is to start working on getting things ready for the upcoming season. Some of that involves researching routes and destinations. Some involves performing maintenance or upgrade tasks to my RV, OHV, and riding and camping gear. Doing some shopping for camping gear and accessories for your camping related activities can also help. Some of it involves inspecting my riding gear and making sure it is all clean and in good repair and properly stored and organized for that long awaited first trip of the season. I keep my riding gear hanging in my enclosed motorcycle trailer so its ready to go and to use when we are, as long as we remember to put it back after its been laundered from the last trip but it is always a good idea to inventory and inspect all your gear before each trip. Doing it while waiting for the weather to become conducive to outdoor activities is one very productive and satisfying way to combat cabin fever. Now is a good time to repair tears or broken fasteners and to clean, shine, and waterproof boots.
Now is actually a very good time to begin preparations for the upcoming season. Doing so gives us time to take care of any problems we encounter and to make any changes we may have planned or think up as we go. Going through your gear may remind you of things you wanted to do but perhaps forgot to write down or you may discover new ideas, based on things you have learned from other sources since your last trip. In any case, it will also bring back memories of previous adventures and allow you to relive or at least recall them and that by itself can be a fun thing to do. It is quite rewarding to find things to fix or update and even more so when you complete the repairs or replacements. Starting now also lets you spread out the cost and effort of any needed items or tasks over several weeks before your first trip of the season rather than creating a long list the weekend right before your outing and having to shell out a ton of money all at once. Having some time lets you do a little shopping and price comparisons to you don't over pay for necessary items. And its nice not to have to rush through any necessary tasks.
February is probably a little too early to de-winterize RVs, at least in the colder climates. You need to wait until the chance of freezing overnight temperatures has passed. But you can begin checking for damaged caulk or other signs of leaks and planning and making the repairs. Things like caulking require some drying time so it is especially good to get a head start on those kinds of projects. Cleaning carpets and upholstery are also good candidates for early completion, as they too need some drying time. It won't hurt to check engine fluid levels and batteries either. Now is also a good time to check all the lights and replace damaged lenses and burned out bulbs. RV lighting systems tend to develop bad ground connections, especially when sitting all winter so if you have lighting problem that isn't a bad bulb, check the ground. Because a lot of RVs have fiberglass skin, a ground wire has to be fastened to the vehicle frame somewhere and those connections can work loose or become corroded and then you get some really strange symptoms -- like all the clearance lights blinking with the turn signals or no lights working at all, even though testing the hot wire with a test light shows they're getting power. Connections often involve multiple types of metal -- steel frame, copper wire, brass connectors -- and that is an instant recipe for corrosion, especially when you add moisture. Even a little condensation of moisture in the air can be enough to gum up the works.
Interestingly enough, it is possible to get cabin fever when you are out camping! Anyone who may be a bit claustrophobic to begin with sometimes finds being confined to a tent or an RV uncomfortable, especially if it is for an extended period of time (e.g., during bad weather). Even people who aren't normally claustrophobic may get a little antsy cooped up in a tent or RV for several hours in bad weather. Both tent and RV spaces are usually much smaller and with less to do than our homes. Keeping your tent or RV as open, clean, well organized, roomy, and user friendly as possible is one way to help combat this syndrome, but often the only solution is to get outside and DO something, which isn't all bad since that's largely why we go camping in the first place. But sometimes weather may restrict our outdoor activities and we have to find ways to stay active and entertained inside. Today's plethora of portable electronic devices gives us many more options that folks had a few years ago, but the time-honored traditions like reading, playing board games or card games are still viable option and requires NO power source beyond our own. Having plenty of tasty and somewhat nutritious snacks along will help fuel our bodies and distract us from our boredom. Sometimes preparation of snacks can be a fun diversion in itself. Pop some popcorn; bake some cookies; cook some pies in the campfire. I also find inside "down time" a good time to catch up on routine chores. It can be quite productive and satisfying to go through and organize cabinets, closets, and drawers or even do a little more thorough cleaning than normally gets done in camp. I find checking my tools to be particularly satisfying and productive, making sure they are clean, undamaged, and stored where they should be. Getting everything shiny and "shipshape" can be very satisfying and will continue to pay dividends throughout the rest of your outing.
Don't freak out!