Saturday, July 22, 2017

O Canada - Part II

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Although I am out of gas, out of money, and almost out of energy, today was a good day, unlike any I have ever experience. I cried a few times, and struggled to not let worry ruin this glorious day.

Instead, I found Sackville, a small town about 45 miles from the Prince Edward Island Bridge.  I have settled in behind the municipal tennis courts and splash fountains. Musicians are warming up on the bandstand as children giddily chase each other through the sprinklers.
Earlier, I walked into town and found a nature preserve with lots of ponds. I rested in the sun, surrounded by birds chirping.

I hoped I would find the humanity I lost, living so long in DC, and then amid the 1% in Vero Beach.  If I stayed in Sackville, I think it would be easy to locate.  Even the traffic is mellow. People are polite and don’t weave in and out of traffic because they are so important and in a hurry. 

I wanted to write an interesting story, and so it begins, a few hundred miles east of anywhere I have been before. People laughed when I said I was going to camp out along the way, but I am doing it.

How surreal it is that this spectacle is laid out before me like this – happy children, good music, and warm breezes. Once I put aside the facts that I have no gas, no money, no place to sleep, and a bag of nut to eat, I laugh at what a show off God is.

As novel as this all is, I do not want the rest of the trip, or my life, for that matter, to be this harrowing. I am forgoing PEI and heading back to the states as soon as money hits my bank. I have seen enough of Anne of Green Gables land. I will come back more prepared. 

I am brave. I keep forgetting that. Look at me, sitting here calmly, knowing this is temporary. This is a pretty big fuck up, but at least, I am out here trying. In the process, I have had a day worth writing about.  

O Canada

When I drove over the bridge from the beach to the mainland for the last time, it felt like I was escaping a place where I was so weighed down by sadness. All the way up the coast, I drove frantically so I could get as much distance as possible between me and the past.

At times, I felt like someone might even put out an Amber Alert on me, but it never happened. Instead, most of my friends encouraged me. Some well-meaning friends did not. Some of my motivation to keep going was about trying to prove these people wrong.  Not very high minded, but there were times on the road when it took what it took to keep moving ahead.

Traveling north on the east coast was a familiar drive, since my family had been driving to Florida since 1966. This is how my dad instilled in me a passion for road trips. 

Along the way, I experienced things, good and bad, that I never imagined. I visited friends and family along the way and never felt lonely. Instead, I felt like I needed to check into rehab for a while. 

Each time I stopped at someone’s house, we would toast to my adventure.  I stopped at a lot of houses. What I did not realize at the time was that I was saying good bye to my life on the east coast.

By the time I reached Canada, where I was determined to visit the Anne of Green Gables house on Prince Edward Island, I was ready for a little solitude. 

This is where I realized that one must be careful as to what one wishes for. I asked for a place to rest and recoup and I got one.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015
Fort Gaspeaux, Port Elgin, Canada

I have been on the road nearly a month and this is the first time I haven’t had to be somewhere. Late yesterday afternoon, I crossed the border into Canada from Calais, ME.  

I drove toward the northeast coast until 7pm, when thick fog rolled in. I pulled into the Clipper Ship Motel, an older place on a bluff. I could not see anything, but the owner told me that I had a beautiful view of the Bay of Fundy, and that I had to take his word for it, due to the fog and all.

When I woke this morning, I felt like I was at the top of the globe as the sun glistened across the flat water of the bay.  The shimmer was blinding; the clouds puffy and foggy. Wow. The sun sure does rise early this far east.

The past month, with all the things I had to do to get out of Florida, has been crazy. I am looking forward to the next week will be quiet, contemplative, and creative.

My body is screaming for rest, water, and nourishing food. My aches and pains feel diminished because I am finally doing something I have wanted to do for most of my life. 

Made it to the bridge Prince Edward Island, and realized that the money I was expecting to hit my bank account had not.  The bridge toll was $45.00 and I was low on gas, and fully expecting the money to hit tomorrow.

I have planted myself here for the night, and I am car camping, which actually means that I am sleeping in my car, but car-camping sounds more Pinterest-worthy.

I probably should be scared, but I am not.  I wanted to chill and write, so this is the place. I have no internet due to enormous roving charges I ran up yesterday.  This is an idyllic and remote green spot overlooking the Bay. 

I may not have any money, but I do have a bottle of water and the New York Times.  In a bit, I will take a walk out to the point. I am surrounded by tall pine trees, and purple and white lacey wildflowers. There is a cool breeze wafting through the car.

I am way far out on another edge, except this one is cooler and I chose to be here. Some people would pay tons of money for this writer’s retreat, with only gorgeous scenery as a distraction. There is no internet, booze, food, phone, or coffee. I have done a crossword puzzle and read a few long, intense magazine articles. I walked around the abandoned fort and soaked in the beauty. 

Friday, July 21, 2017

Long, Strange Trip

Since I moved into my own place last June, here in Vallejo, California, I haven't entered anything in this blog . But I have been writing.  And finally, I have the fortitude and distance to read what i wrote when i first began this adventure. 

In the beginning, I envisioned myself writing and posting blog entries every day, and adding photos of interesting places. Since I didn't, I thought I could catch up entering once I moved to my own place. But I didn't because I was so busy building a new life out here, and it often felt that I was just surviving. 

I had no idea how mentally strenuous driving around the US would be. Usually, my brain was on overload at the end of a day of driving that all i wanted to do was have dinner and sleep. So my posts were sporadic, but I did keep writing mostly every day, with pen in my compositions books. 

For fifteen years, I lived in an idyllic town in Florida, on the Atlantic Coast.  People pay lots of money to travel to and live in this haven.  My parents had a place here since the early 70s, and it was a great place to vacation.  For me, living there was a different story. 

I moved there when my mom was a month away from dying from pancreatic cancer.  Then I watched my dad’s slow descent into dementia, and his death, followed a few years later by the beloved poodle my mom begged for before she died. She got it for my dad, and this black fluff ball kept my dad going for eleven more years.After taking care of my parents and my dog, and after losing them, I had to leave this tropical paradise, which was full of sad memories, to find out if there was life after grief. 

It's been said that man plans, and the gods laugh. When I was planning what ended up being a 7,800 mile road trip around the USA, I knew it was going to change my life. I wanted it to change my life.  I was looking for a place where I would thrive. I had no idea what a big change it would turn out to be.

In my imagination, before I departed, I was going to be like Cheryl Strayed, who documented her trek on the Pacific Crest Trail, except I am thirty years older than she was when she did her hike. And I would be driving a car, staying in hotels along the way when I wasn’t car camping. On this journey, I had a vision heavily influenced by Pinterest. I was going to put a mattress in the back of my Honda CR-V, and string tiny white lights inside. I dreamed of camping by lakes and glaciers, as I photographed wild life. 

It turned out that, no matter how efficiently organized the journey is, there were so many unknowns along the way. I experienced things, good and bad, that had never occurred to me.  In doing so, I lost much of the fear and anxiety that had been a hallmark of my life.

Even though it sounds like it was cushier than hiking a thousand miles, there were many obstacles along the way. It was a much more grueling experience than I ever imagined. That is because, until this adventure, I led a very sheltered life.  

Before this trip, I had never been west of Youngstown, Ohio, except for fly-in and -out business trips to Chicago, Colorado, Texas, and California. Although I am independent and perfectly at home being alone, after a few days on the road with no human contact, except for restaurant servers and baristas, I often wondered about my sanity.

And then there were my physical and mental issues. I had surgery for kidney cancer the year after my mom died and of course, lots of depression due to so many circumstances. among other things, followed by a stroke in 2013, almost a year to the day of my dad’s death. 

Despite these issues, two years after my stroke, and a month after I had to put my sweet dog down, I knew I had to get away. If I stayed in Vero Beach, I would go under from grief, sinking into my bed where paramedics would find my decaying body. 

Monday, June 20, 2016

The sun is shining in the backyard, and my landlord, John, is picking and slicing lemons, and then spreading them out on a wood board to dry them in the sun.  He then sends the dried lemon to his wife in China, so she can make lemon tea.  

Yesterday was Fathers' Day. I do miss my dear dad, but he always shows up around this time, in weird ways.  

My first Fathers' Day without him was the year that my dear friend, Karen, found a picture that my mom painted many years ago, in an antique store in St. Augustine.  

This year, he showed up on Cape Cod.  My cousin, MJ, went to see a psychic.  The psychic asked her who Brud was. Brud is the nickname given to my dad by his younger siblings, who couldn't pronounce brother.  He just wanted to say hi.

My dad had a soft touch and a great sense of humor.  He also had a way of  manifesting his dreams and desires. Everything was possible.    

I feel him here, all around me.  My landlord keeps telling me he just wants me to be happy. That is exactly what my dad used to say to me.  

My dad instilled in me my love of road trips. His dream was to drive across the US with me, but we didn't get around to it.

However, he has been with me on this whole adventure, guiding me, pointing out gorgeous views, and making me laugh.  He had regal taste and was a snappy dresser, and also gave me my love of music.  

My dad was the second oldest of nine children, and the first born son. Like anyone, he had faults. He was extravagant, among other thing. But he was a great father.  All he wanted was for his children to be happy.  

As the pope pointed out the other day, regarding marriage, most of them should be invalidated because people that young cannot fathom the what "until death do us part" really means. Same with parenthood. No parent has a clue of what they're getting into.  

Painting by Doug Slaydon

Thursday, June 16, 2016

It took me a while, but this morning, i finally had all the things i needed to make coffee for myself in my new place.  It is so gratifying to boil water in my kettle, grind the beans, froth the milk, and wait for the coffee to steep in the french press.  I even have a brand new mug.  A cup of coffee has never tasted this good, primarily because it is Moschetti French Roast.

Stopped there this morning, since it is only three blocks from my apartment.  That coffee is so darn good.  I picked up some Gold Rush Bay Area All Natural Raw Honey, another product of Vallejo. 

It is overcast and chilly today, the kind of weather I remember from Cape Cod in late spring or early fall. I love it.  It's blanket weather, sleeping weather, time for a hot cup of tea weather.

Monday, June 13, 2016

It is a sad, sad day. Another mass shooting in America, in Orlando, at a gay nightclub.  More than fifty injured, fifty dead.  I almost burst into tears in the grocery store, when a small philipino woman showed me the front page of USA Today.  The cashier made an almost disparaging remark about letting muslims into the country, but caught herself.  Even the dj on Sirius FM was sad, and talking about the tragedy.

Even though it is a sad day, I am happy, because I am not homeless.  This whole year has been so enlightening about so many things, but especially regarding how hard it is to be homeless.  I am someone who did this voluntarily.  It was a lark, a way to get my shit together, and see the country.  Gracious and supportive family and friends put me up in their homes.

 What i found out is that, even in this positive frame, not having a home is extremely challenging on so many levels.  Fairly quickly, I learned that I really missed the structure of having a home.  But i did need to be shaken up. I was way too comfortable, sinking into the plush sofa or California king sized bed. I was slowly on my way out.

Driving through the Tetons was probably the moment when it all came undone.  But I got through them, and I was different. I crossed the Continental Divide all by myself.  I am a bad ass. And that is where I dropped the shit I no longer need. The shame, the guilt, the grief, the frustration at not being able to change the past. All of it, out of my car, out of my life.

And here I sit, cool breeze blowing, surrounded by abundance - fruit trees, flowers, family, friends.

Yesterday, I had a nice conversation with my brother, Pete, on the phone.  He's been traveling and I have been tutoring, so it has been difficult to connect.  But we finally did, and the normalcy of the conversation warmed my heart. We chatted about work, kids, his garden, my new apartment, and so many other things.

Today, I talked to my cousin, Bill, who is another chosen brother.  He really does understand, like very few other people, what my life was like, growing up with a brother like the one i grew up with.

just read the above article.  very inspiring on this sad day.

Took a ride to fairfield, so i could use the gift card from Macy's, a gift from my aunt jean.  Got myself a new shiny tea pot for the stove. When that was taken care of, I went over to visit with Jean and Vince.  It is so wonderful to have people I can visit.  The whippets insisted on burrowing all around us on the couch, which i don't mind at all, but it annoys Jean to no end.

I underestimated many things when I was planning this trip. I had no idea how lonely I could get.  Or how isolated I would feel. My stamina was not what it should have been to take on a journey like this.  Neither were my finances.  I was astonished at how huge this country is, and at the diversity.  In Portland, Maine, I saw my first man bun, and i was stunned. Same with colored hair. Now I live in Vallejo, and those two things are as ubiquitous as Lilly Pulitzer in Vero Beach.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Lovely day! Had breakast at 1801 First, the inn in Napa where Richard works five days a week, and Gregory works the other two. Richard served us a delectable meal, with watermelon, cantaloupe, and berries in a light lime syrup, croque monsieur on rustic whole grain bread that had been dipped in an egg wash, accompanied by tomatoes cooked in wine and vinegar. the coffee, from Moschetti, was strong and steaming.  He also served us the most delicious hand made truffles for dessert.  

After breakfast, Audrey, the concierge, took us on a tour of the place. We saw the carriage house, which is the exquisite honeymoon suite, with a deep tub, walk in shower, sitting area, patio, two way fireplace, and airy ceilings.  It is bigger than my apartment.  

After Richard finished cleaning up, we drove out to the Hess Collection and Winery, to see the incredible art collection, three floors of modern art open to the public, and FREE!

After we wandered through, we sat in the garden, under a wisteria arbor, and had a glass of chardonnay, while we contemplated joining their wine club.  

Spent a gratifying afternoon, puttering and putting things away.  Stretched out on my new yoga mat. Reveled in preparing dinner, for the first time in my new place.