The Adventure Continues…
“Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comforts of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things. -air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky. -all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.” –Cesare Pavese
I was going to delete a whiny blog post; instead I shortened it and took out a lot of swear words
I came milla-seconds from posting “Am I a Jinx?” on Wednesday, October 17th. The Universe (or someone on the other side) prevented my premature rant from crossing your line of sight. If I had to make a guess, it was probably my Grandma H. She was stickler for proper English; I swore too much and followed no one’s rules of writing in the original draft. It was a rant of all rants.
You see, that was the day before I left “home”. I woke up with cold feet and in a panic. What the hell did I do? What was I doing? I asked myself in the stillness of five-something in the morning. Seriously, what was I thinking?
I felt this whole adventure was jinxed and a really bad idea. Too many delays, too many concerned friends and a bank account that I drained too quickly.
Patience is one of the lessons I’ve had the pleasure (more like displeasure) of enduring. I now understand how unrealistic it was to hope that I’d be on the road two weeks after the closing on the sale of my house. The first set of delays was the fact that I didn’t know how I was going to be traversing, nor which type of adventures to leap towards. I was faced with some large decisions. Being granted with this ultimate kind of freedom is foreign to me. I’ve always had an amble amount of responsibilities to tend to; such as raising two sons, playing with three grandsons whenever I wanted, caring for my parents when they needed my assistance, mowing the lawn, snow blowing the driveway, cut/haul/split/stack seventeen cord of firewood each year, this job, that job and toss in all the domestic chores for additional sympathy.
Once my decision was made to “camp” for a minimum of three months, it felt like it took forever for me to purchase a vehicle and camper.
The first time I sat down with my father’s map book and plotted my travels to North Carolina, the east end became waterlogged by Hurricane Florence. Weeks later, and believing the weather was fine and dandy, I set my sights on the west end of North Carolina only to hear on the news Hurricane Michael was going to pound the panhandle of Florida. The weather forecast showed high winds for the area I chose in North Carolina. Geez.
It seemed like every decision I made extended my departure date by two additional weeks. In the meantime, friends were sharing their concerns of my plan with “watch your drinks so no one can spike it with drugs”, “be leery of strangers, keep your guard up and defenses higher”, “hide your credit cards”, “don’t walk alone in the dark”, and the list of stranger-danger warnings continued. One friend told me I would be penniless within a month, that I needed to know where I was going and get a job once I arrived. Their voices had enough time to blossom into an abundance of fears.
I can hear Evelyn O’Connell, played by Rachel Weisz, in the movie The Mummy (1999), say, “Patience is a virtue”, while deciphering the meanings of ancient Egyptian symbols. With the mummies scurrying up the walls in their direction, Rick O’Connell, played by Brendan Fraser, exclaims, “Not right now, it isn’t!”
I was desperately trying not to panic or doubt that I’ve made some huge mistake, but every time I thought I was going heading to the south east, they got hit with a hurricane! What is up with that? I even changed my destination point of interest from the east side of North Carolina (direct hit by Hurricane Florence) to the west end that was winded by Hurricane Michael. Truly, y’all I’ve given up on going to North Carolina this fall and maybe (if there’s no hurricanes then) visit the state on my way home.
Then. Ah, yes. Then, I talked to a friend that truly lives a nomadic lifestyle. She smiled, chuckled and said, “Stop listening to those who are over-sharing their fears. They’re not yours… those fears belong to them. You’ll be fine. It’s time…”
“D” Day & the good-byes
Thursday, October 18th
I spent much needed time with my mother Thursday morning. I could feel how difficult it was for her to see me leave without a return date. (Even today, she continued her mantra, “It’s time. Go. Enjoy the adventure.”)
At 3:13 pm I departed from my mother’s driveway for the open highway. I was about thirty minutes into the ride when Pink Floyd’s song, “Wish You Were Here”, came on the radio. The tears flowed. Nothing has been the same since Jeremiah died. It seems like life has taken on a new course on many dimensions. Learning to live life in motion, again, has been one hell of a roller coaster ride.
I will miss being within a fifteen minute drive from my son, Mason, and his beautiful family. This is the third attempt to write a sentence on how much I miss my three grandsons. There are no appropriate words to express the heart-wrenching emotions. What the hell am I doing here and not with them? How can I babysit when I’m this far away from those boys?
It’s now or never
This has been a dream of mine since my sons were young. Sitting here thinking about it, I would guess I’ve been planning to do this since I was a young girl making mud pies inside the curtain of willow branches with my sister for our stuffies. Like I’ve mentioned a time or two in this blog series, the common theme is it’s time. It is time for me to focus on me, my dreams and write about adventures.
No wonder so many people start taking action on their dreams, and then back out at the last minute. This is not for the faintest of hearts. But, in order to live life in motion and explore the elements for a healthier life, I have to have faith that I am making the best decisions for me. This adventure will be worth every minute of it.
Yesterday, after extending my stay at a campground another two days, I took a bike ride to Lake Bailey (behind the Visitor’s Center). I snapped a few photographs and watched two turkey buzzards soar high above on the wind currents. I rode towards the park’s boathouse to explore their layout (I spent many days on various dock types growing up when my father was a marine mechanic). A blue heron flew from the shoreline to a rock a safe distance from me, the trespasser of his space. Naturally, I photographed him. We both stood motionless watching each other for almost five minutes. I walked my bike to the waterfall and was pleasantly surprised to see a second blue heron standing on a large rock near the river below. Lost in the flow of the river, I glanced to the right and on the other side of the river stood the first blue heron. Again, we watched each other. The message I received before he flew off to his perching rock was, “Be strong in your solidarity. Stand tall; be patient.” When I looked down to see the other blue heron, her wings were spread out. As she walked off the rock and into the water, I could feel her tell me, “Show yourself. Dance.”
Along the way…
It Is Mammoth
A quick snippet of my first adventure
I reached a campground with only seven campsites that looked rather abandoned, unmanned and untidy. I drove through it twice to make sure that that was all there was to it. Nope. Not where I wanted to be. I continued on my way to the visitor’s center. Again, more loopy-lou roads within the hilly terrain. I laughed the first time I saw the sign: Road Ends At Water. I was recording the drive and snickered when I saw the second and third road ends at water sign. I stopped laughing and exclaimed, “Oh fuck!” when I rounded the corner and saw exactly what they meant! At the bottom of the steep hill was a ferry to take cars across the river. Feeling less than courageous to attempt a barge ride, I did the worst maneuvering at the game of Back Up to date. Thank goodness there was a small parking area halfway down the hill and I had the good sense to stop right there. Oh my, it took me probably six years (slight exaggeration, more like fifteen minutes) of backing up, pulling forward until I sashayed my way so I was pointed in the direction I just came from.
Furious at the navigation app, I closed it. Yep. You guessed it. No cell service, no map visible on my cell phone screen, a feverish spewing of swearing exploded from my mouth. [Read this blog]
Pearl of Wisdom
“Never quit believing that you can develop in life. Never give up. Don’t deny the inward spirit that provides the drive to accomplish great things in life.” -Jon Huntsman, Sr.
If you had the money, time and freedom, what would you do? Where would you go? What aspects of your life would you change?
I truthfully thought following through on my lifelong dream was going to be easy peazy, fun and without internal conflict. I’ve fantasized about going on various adventures all over the world, writing about the experiences and maybe, along the way, take a photograph or two. Simply pack your bags, grab the car keys on the way out the door and go. Never in a million years did I expect to have such resistance to packing a camper and getting on the highway.
Even after the wonderful experience I had at Mammoth National Park in Kentucky, Monday night I broke down on a phone call to a dear friend and exclaimed, “What the hell did I do?” Saying that my emotions are volatile is an understatement. I have left the safety and predictability of… oh… there it is.
I have left the safety and predictability of the life I created.
For many of us, we dream of the freedom to do whatever where ever we damn well please. “Go ahead; stop me. I dare you!” roars from our internal calling to be set free. And then, the moment we are unbound from all that (we thought) held us from experiencing freedom, overwhelming fear sets in. We question each decision, interrogate our intuition and have a strong desire to go back to was is familiar.
As I woke up this morning, the first thought I had was: up until 2017, I was living the life of a caterpillar; I went into hiding when my son died; now I am cracking through the tough exterior armour I built around myself to keep myself safe and secure. I am evolving. I am growing my beautiful wings and preparing to fly. It’s ease to say you’re going to do something; harder to actually follow through and DO IT! As they say, “Onward & Upward!”
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To Write. To Travel. To Explore.
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