I previously talked about 18 hour days and there was no hyperbole at all.
I would routinely wake at 4.30 in the morning and get to bed between 9 and 10.30. My day usually consisted of preparing three meals (usually done over a wood fire, for which you had to collect the wood during the course of the day), taking passengers on interpretative walks, cleaning any accommodation/facilities we had used and driving very long distances.
It rapidly became apparent that non-stop 18 hours days left very little time for anything outside of the tour. I almost always chose sleep over everything else: that includes blog posts, other forms of social media, laundry and showers. It was the hardest job I have ever done.
There were days that I went to bed in the previous night’s clothes so I could have an extra five minutes sleep in the morning. There were days that I didn’t have enough time to even go to the toilet for ten hours at a stretch. There were days where I was simply too tired to eat at all. There were days when I got back from one tour and was told that I was leaving the next day on another and laundry didn’t even register as a feasible option. Yes, I probably did smell. No, I didn’t care at all.
There were days that I went on tour in spite of illness or injury, just because there was nobody else. I tore my brachialis arm muscle lifting all the heavy things in and out of the trailer one day and had to carry on, regardless. The doctor told me it should have been splinted but then I wouldn’t be able to drive so I just let it go.
I drove with a high fever, courtesy of a very nasty cold/flue one trip and I felt so shivery and unwell that I wrapped two blankets around me while I drove: I felt very embarrassed that trip because it was obvious how unwell I was and I was coughing so much that I couldn’t do commentary.
I tried to be safe with my driving hours and I always made sure that I would have nutritious snacks on hand to make up for the lack of eating. Often I would be going off to do other things after I had served the meal and I would come back to find nothing left or there wasn’t time to sit down and consume.
When I returned from a trip it was always after dark and I then had to unload the vehicle and trailer and do a bit of a clean. After such an exhausting trip, I found this very hard to deal with. It was almost as if I had invested every ounce of my energy to passengers and the tour and once they had gone, there was nothing left to help me through another hour or so of doing cleaning procedures.
Honestly, that end of tour expected activity just tipped me over the edge. Lifting heavy things out of the trailer by myself was really hard and sorting out sleeping bags, swags and re-usable food items was just too much.
The first time I came back to a locked up yard and darkness, I cried. I had so hoped somebody would be there to help me out, if only for the heavy lifting. I continued crying throughout the entire unloading period , just because I was so exhausted.
It never got much better and there was usually never anybody on hand to help out but I did get better at dealing with it. I no longer cried as much and I tapped into an anger stream within me: I literally threw or kicked everything off the vehicle, unsorted. It felt a healthier attitude somehow, maybe because crying was so defeatist and rage kicking felt a lot more proactive.