I guess it was never "easy," but it seems that it used to be easIER.
Back in the 1960s Walt and I went camping with the Blackfords. They were married, we weren't so Char usually packed most of the equipment. We each had our lists of food to bring and they brought their first (and at the time only) daughter, Tavie.
There came a time when we were going camping in Death Valley but Tavie had a cold, so they decided to postpone the trip. We could not so we were going by ourselves and would take Char's kitchen box with us. We would then meet them a week later at Blackwell's Corners to give them back the box so they could continue on their own trip. These were days before cell phones and, miraculously, we managed to meet there, out in the middle of nowhere and make the exchange.
But before that, Walt and I went to make breakfast in the morning of our first night of camping and discovered we had no utensils. Well, almost no utensils. I had brought a pancake mix and we had picked up canned bacon, with which I figured I would grease the griddle I intended to make pancakes on. But there were no spoons, and no spatula with which to turn the pancakes.
As it happened, Walt had an old Boy Scout camp set in the car and in it were a Mickey Mouse spoon with a handle that was about 3" long and 1-1/2" wide. I somehow managed to use the spoon to make the batter and the handle to flip the teeny dollar cakes (spiced by the sand that whipped up in the sand dune!)
We eventually got better about packing for camping trips for a family of 7, including tent, coleman lantern and stove and all the rest of the stuff.
This new way of traveling is significantly better than the old camping days, though I always seem to put off packing till the last minute. But it used to be just a matter of deciding which clothes to bring and then packing them.
When we went on our first river cruise, it was up the Thames from London to Oxford (took us 7 days to get there and 40 minutes by train to return to London!). There were no cell phones in those days and I didn't have a laptop computer. I managed to keep journal entries by using computers in whatever village we happened to stop for the night (this was a canal boat with a total of 8 passengers, 4 of which were us!)
By the time we took our first Viking cruise, to Russia, and the second to China, the ship had wifi and I had a laptop, so now I had to pack clothes and computer and the plug that would let me use the ship's electricity. (On the trip to China, I forgot my credit card and medical I.D., but let's not talk about that.) I also had devised a system to set up shells for my journal entries to make it easier to write them each night.
Last year, when we went down the Danube and Rhine rivers, I had a laptop and also a Kindle, so in addition to packing clothes, there were also two machines and the requisite cords and plug for them. I also set up the shells for the journal.
This trip, I have a laptop, a Kindle, and an iPad. I also have an iPod Touch to listen to audio books on the plane and on the ship when I wake up in the middle of the night and can't get back to sleep. And I have a cell phone. Each of these machines has its own cord to recharge and I have to remember to bring all the cords in addition to the plug adaptor. I also have to get the journal shells set up again.
Oh yeah--and clothes. I have to think about which of my 10 pairs of black sweat pants I want to pack and how many of my t-shirts.
But this year there's another wrinkle. This year I have to make arrangements for my mother as well. When I see how she is now, I am eternally grateful that she is here in Davis, surrounded by people to help if there is a problem. I really don't know how I could have gone off on this trip if she were still in San Rafael.
To prepare for leaving her for 3 weeks (which she is giving me a very bad time about -- "Fine thing--I move all the way up here where I don't know anybody and now you're leaving me for 3 weeks." She's joking ... sort of. I can tell she's feeling nervous about it.) I wrote out a big plan for Atria, where we will be, whom to contact in an emergency, the name of my mother's new doctor, and a reminder about my plan to send e-mail to her via the Atria general manager.
Next, I ordered flowers delivered for her 94th birthday, which will happen while we are gone. I also wrote lots of people in the family to ask them to call her on her birthday, and sent a note to Peach and to Ed's sister asking them to call her a couple of times while I'm gone.
I'm taking her to get her blood work tomorrow morning and then wrote her new doctor (she will now be seeing my doctor) to let her know that if anything needs followup I won't be able to do it for 3 weeks, or she can call Ed. I then sent Ed Ned's phone number in case he can't get up here to handle whatever imaginary problem I envision. I'm doing her laundry tomorrow so she will have all clean clothes to last her 3 weeks.
I went shopping to make sure she is stocked up on vodka, tonic, toilet paper, ice cream and cookies. All the necessities of life.
I made sure she has a hair appointment for a cut and perm this week.
We're having lunch with my friend Peggy and our mutual friend Nancy, who has moved in 2 doors down from my mother and whom my mother seems somewhat frantic about meeting (though she has met her twice, but she doesn't remember and Nancy doesn't remember either). At her request, I also sent an itinerary to Peggy so she could talk to my mother about where we are on specific days.
I also let Michael know she will be gone from the brain gymnasium for 3 weeks. He asked if maybe someone in the group could come and remind her and my mother was adamant that she wouldn't come without me.
I think I have done it all for her. But I haven't started packing for me yet. And I'm trying (it will probably be unsuccessfully) to straighten things up a little for Ashley to move in. Today I actually got the suitcase downstairs and started to think about what I want to pack.
It's when I realized that I completely understand my mother's paralysis at the thought of dealing with "all this crap" before we packed up her house to move here. I pick up something to put away or think about a piece of clothing to pack and end up sitting in a chair, staring off into space not knowing what to do next.
It will be the gadgets that will get me started. By the time I get all those cords and machines packed, it will be just a hop, skip and jump to folding the Jello t-shirt and starting the whole process another time.