A decision tree is a computer programming technique to assess the consequences of one particular course of action over another. It’s basically a pictorial way to compare one choice to another as you follow your options for each. It’s kind of like a T-chart. But it has a little less structure and more room to flow. We use a modified decision tree that helps us map out our options and see the full scope of what we need to consider when making a decision.
When you are called to “wander,” you can imagine that by now we have pretty much planted a forest of decision trees! Every day presents new decisions that force us to evaluate the merits of one path over another. Even in the planning phase we faced one decision after another that required proper assessment.
Questions Requiring a Decision Tree
- Can Lindsay get treated for Crohn’s Disease on the road, or must she return home?
- Is it better that we head north or west first, based on weather and other factors?
- Should we budget to have more room for fuel or for fun?
- Would we rather see a slew of National Parks or spend more time meeting people?
Each question had a variety of answers. As a whole, this was a very tedious task and Lindsay was gracious enough to let me deal with it mostly.
The Decision To Travel
One question that did not require much thought was “should we travel?” That was pretty evident early on in our relationship.
But once we planned the Grateful American Road Trip, when all of the routing and budgeting decisions were complete, we didn’t pay much thought to what could possibly change on our trip. That is, we didn’t pay much consideration until now as we were faced with circumstances that would require yet another set of decision trees.
Today was a day of tremendous stress. In fact, we found it laughable that we would worry ourselves over crossing streams and making three-point turns on mountain passes. It suddenly didn’t matter how much we looked into the rear view mirror at the line of traffic following us or how far down I pressed the gas pedal. What mattered now came down to a very simple premise: do we stick to the plan and, if so, to what extent?
When you come to a fork in the road, take it!
~ Yogi Berra
Our New Decision Tree
We planned to spend four days in Woodstock, Georgia visiting Lindsay’s family and celebrating Easter. From Woodstock we would head west to Alabama for a few days before turning north to Kentucky, Illinois and Missouri. However we came under fire with changing circumstances today:
- We found that our 3-way refrigerator works on both the 12-volt and 110-volt settings but not on the propane setting. We plan to use the propane far more, and it is far more efficient. So having a mechanical issue with that is not good.
- There is a winter storm making its way through Kentucky and Illinois during the time that we are supposed to be there. This is bringing cold and SNOW and we specifically planned a route to avoid snow from a safety standpoint. We’re not comfortable driving in snow and we aren’t really interested in having to learn!
So our day started with a “family meeting” outside the truck discussing the challenges and the possibilities.
Refrigerator Decision Tree
Our biggest concern with the refrigerator comes down to time and money. At this point we knew that something would break and one of our travel saving and budgeting tips was to plan for repairs and maintenance. So we’re OK with paying someone to fix it – especially if they can do it quickly.
- But finding someone who can fix it quickly is another issue. We found several mobile RV repair people but all of them are too busy to take us on. We’ve looked into Camping World but their service department is backed up for weeks. It looks like it is going to come down to “Chris the RV Handyman” yet again finding and fixing the issue.
- We have found so far that nine times out of ten we can fix the issue ourselves. The list of things we found and fixed ourselves already is pretty extensive. However, most of the repairs we made ourselves have taken some time both to diagnose and to repair. In some cases we were held hostage to waiting on parts to arrive. So if we’re cornered into this decision, we’re likely going to have to sacrifice time… which means changing the route in some way.
Winter Weather Decision Tree
- Our biggest concern with the winter weather is that we do not feel comfortable driving up or down roads where snow and/or ice have accumulated. We’re from Florida and we don’t even like watching movies that involve snow. Throw in a truck and camper and we can foresee any number of safety issues.
- However Lindsay is scheduled to receive her Remicade infusion in St. Louis in less than two weeks. With all the effort it has taken to schedule her for an out-of-state infusion, we don’t even know whether it would be possible to change locations. Additionally we’ve made plans to meet up with friends in Illinois and Lindsay has scheduled to meet American Pharaoh, the last Triple Crown Winner, in Lexington.
- We could go south and west for the next few weeks OR months and double back to Kentucky, Illinois and Missouri later. If we can change her infusion to a different location then we could head down to New Orleans and across Texas to New Mexico and Arizona and begin our exploration of the West to avoid the snow.
- Or we could try to deal with a brief cold streak and then turn back south and west after the infusion rather than continue westward through the Colorado Rockies and into Utah. If winter is thus far reluctant to leave, there is a good chance that if we braved this round of cold weather there might also be another streak on the way. That is what the Weather Channel is predicting now too.
How the Decision Tree Helps Us Decide
As we look at both of these issues and the decision trees that we build around both it starts to become clear. The two decisions become one around a central solution:
Spend more time in Georgia, repair the refrigerator while waiting out some of the cold and then head north.
From there the decisions will likely need to be made again. Should we stick out the cold and head west through the Rockies? Or would it be better to instead head southwest to warmer, drier climates?
Only time will tell when the next round of decisions is required. But were equipped with a sharpie and a notepad for whatever decisions we will face!