So many times I wanted to write to you—to me—in my sweet-like-a-child attempt to capture the moment, the day, the weeks. But, alas, the day-to-day responsibilities of couch-surfing, of determiming where I am needed, where I need to go for a night or several, stole my desire to sit down and write.
In case you need an update, here’s a numerical (it’s tres neat) summary of my life off the road:
See, not all that exciting? However, learning to be a vagabond, living out of a suitcase, realizing I really need very little to be happy, that I still worry even though I don’t need to worry, are helping me step forward into a completely different life. As a lifelong planner/preparer/anticipater/Plan B-er this new, let’s see how it works out lifestyle is taking a minute or to to adjust to.
Nothing is magic, yet everything is magical and soft and vibrant and possible. I say this as I sit along a creek outside Twin Lakes near Bridgeport, CA, the campsite I thought I had reserved, but turns out, there are A LOT of Twin Lakes in the U.S. and even California. My five nights were reserved for the Twin Lakes near Mammoth not near Bodie. I decided to stay here the night because it is perfect. I have cool, quiet neighbors, Jim and Kathy, the stream, asphalt for Luna, and 72 degree temps and the Fall colors and a much-welcome brief rainstorm. In fact, the place is so picture-perfect that I’ve reserved another night just in case I don’t like the Twin Lakes campground down south. This sweet spot is going to be hard to beat. There’s nothing like the baptismal, healing qualities of a babbling mountain creek and a cup of, now cold, coffee. My soul already feels quieter.
On the weekend, my son and my two grandsons were in Barstow camping in 90+ degree temperatures at a ghost town founded by the guy who established Knotts Berry Farm–Callico. We love it there! Lots of old mining stories and trinkets to lure tourists. And icy cold beer and bottles of sassperilla. The boys love taking their pick axes and shovels, mining headlamps and hammers and chipping away at the hillside looking for silver and other treasures.
Their great Uncle Randy introduced Callico to my kids when they were in elementary school. It’s a kid-friendly day trip, but in our case, we spent the night so the cousins could have fun the next day. As Bronson said, “Grandma, I never want to leave here.” While the heat was repressive, an EasyUp provided the shade we needed to survive. Turns out in Southern California, October really isn’t Fall, it’s the peak of summer. Next time, we’ll probably camp toward the beginning of November when it’s cooler and less crowded.
From Barstow, I took off for my Monet-and-her-Mama camping trip along the Eastern Sierras. I have been fantasizing about this trip for a year. While I’m always a bit nervous camping by myself, after the first night all the familiar feelings re-surface and I realize that when I’m in Nature I’m home. It feels safe and secure and meant-to-be.
In the city, back home in the South Bay, I was overwhelmingly nostalgic. I felt sad and melancholy. I doubted my decision to sell my home. I second-guessed everything, was on the Internet far too much, watched TV “news”, caught up on “Handmaid’s Tale”, and felt worried and lost. “Where would I spend the night?” “How could I help Bruce?” “What could I do with Monet since she couldn’t stay with me?” and on and on and on.
As I told my sister, I think I need more separation from my old life in order to feel the contentment of my new one.
And so, for the next bunch of weeks I will be gone. Limited cell reception. High gas prices. My cozy and cramped VW. Vegetables, fruit and a mostly healthy menu, some great wines, strong coffee, my paints, my writing, my ukulele, new hiking boots, my writing and, of course, my senior citizen traveling companion, Monet.
California forest service campgrounds are all about to shut down for the season. Soon, I will be boondocking on BLM land. This, too, is a new experience. I have a couple of nights booked at a cool little hotel my son likes, but other than that, it’s $14 a night camping, until it’s free. I’m excited about having the time to work on my book and being totally embraced with a sense of peace only Nature can provide. This fresh, fresh air. The quietude. The positivity of clouds and trees and birds and trout and bright orange leaves and a passing rain that pushes you to adapt, jacket-up, and say thank you for realizing there is more to life than the nonsense of politics and anger and the need to always be “right”, unless it’s right now, this moment, enjoying the pause button called Real Life.