Monday, July 24, 2017

O Canada - Part VI

Went to the ATM and back to the pawn shop and got my i-pad from Kristi.  She called her friend, Danny, a local cab driver, who came and picked me up.  He helped me get a can of gas and then jump started my car. He sent me off with instructions not to turn off the car. “Just get to the Esso,” he said. “John will know what to do.” And John did.
As john was filling my tank, he asked me about my week in Sackville. I said that I couldn’t believe my luck, ending up here, amid so many friendly people. 

John laughed and said that if I was really lucky, I would have ended up in Nova Scotia, where someone would have taken me in on my first night. “That’s how friendly they are there,” he laughed.

I felt so ashamed in Canada, and berated myself. But it was compartmentalized. I would wig out for a half an hour or so, and then go about my day. I had to or else I would have ended up really going off the rails. I had to keep going.

Now I see why everything happened the way it did. It wasn’t the trip I thought it would be at the beginning. But it was an amazing trip.  Every day, I experienced at least one moment of intense joy, looking at terrain I had never seen before.

O Canada - Part V

Monday, August 3, 2015

Shit, no check. I cannot believe this. It is a test, right?
I’m still keeping myself entertained and reasonably sane. Wish I had done a time lapse video of just how I did it.  Reading “Blue Highways” has helped.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Apparently, my philosophy of life in a sentence is "Why make it easy when it can be hard?"  My family crest includes a crown of thorns, a hair shirt, and a picture of Job. 

The check finally came and was deposited but won’t be available until tomorrow. So I pawned my i-pad. Kristy, the pawn broker, asked me questions and I sobbed out answers and sloppy tears.  “Wow,” she remarked, “you are really living on the edge.”

So here I sit in a cafĂ© called Joey’s, sipping hot tea at real table, sitting in a real chair. The friendly server brought me onion soup, Caesar salad, and spinach dip with naan chips.

The server told me that the college nearby has a pool, so I checked it out.  Didn’t swim, but I did take a shower, my first since I arrived in Sackville.  I am so ready to get out of here in the morning. 

Harrowing is the word that keeps rolling around my mind, one way of describing this trip.  And it has also been extremely beneficial. My mind is slowing down.  I remembered how resourceful I am. I have confronted some very unpleasant truths about myself, and others. It is not fun putting the puzzle pieces back together. I am hoping I can leave all this mental garbage in the dumpster and lighten my load.

This is freedom. With the exception of a few bills, I don’t owe anyone anything. My life is my own, to do what I want, even if it is living in my car for six days in a beautiful place. 

Sunday, July 23, 2017

O Canada - Part IV

Sunday, August 2, 2015

No check again. After another melt down that wasn’t too dramatic and didn’t last that long, I focused, once again, on the rehabilitative aspects of my situation. 

This is a happy town. I am safe where I am parked. Music is everywhere. People are really nice. Yesterday morning there was a festive farmers market, although that was tortuous to walk through without money.  I haven’t eaten anything of substance since Wednesday night. 
Today, the park is swarming with children running around in their bathing suits, although Floridians would consider this a winter day. Birthday parties are going on as the breeze blows gently. This is my own drive-in movie. 

Last night, I finished reading “Carsick,” John Waters’ account of his hitchhiking trip from Baltimore to San Francisco.  Love it, but he did it in two weeks, and he had two assistants backing him up at home base, who insisted that he carry a GPS. He never used it, but it was there.

There a many people I know who would be appalled by the way I have spent the past week, but they are not me. This has been better than any meditation center or monastery retreat. 

Charlie Carter was right when he said to remember that the US is actually a lot bigger than it looks on a map.  Now I get what that means.  The only thing that will ruin this adventure is if I listen to the not so well meaning voices in my head.

A couple of my friends have offered me cash, but it won’t hit until tomorrow anyway, and by then the check should be in the bank.
To keep myself on an even keel, I have been playing a game with myself called “It’s not as bad as…”

This situation is not as bad as …

Having to watch my dad’s descent into dementia;

Having to ask my dad’s doctor to admit him to hospice;

Having to carry my mom to the toilet when she was a few days away from dying from pancreatic cancer;

Breaking my leg;

Getting kidney cancer;

Going to jail;

Being married to my ex-husband;

Food poisoning;

Being depressed;

Neck surgery;

Gall bladder surgery;

A stroke;

Interacting with my ex brother;

Burying my parents and my dog;
Being hit by a car;

Getting into a car accident;

Teaching under disrespectful administrators who seem to live to make teachers’ and students’ lives miserable. 

So I can be patient until tomorrow...

O Canada - Part III

Friday, July 31, 2015

Still no check. I have had my daily melt down, but I have gotten it together. Even though I am broke, sick (another staph infection), and out of gas, this rest is what I was looking for. A full moon is shining down on me, so I am going to stretch out under it and think about this new part of my life.

Not a bad place to do it, here in the far northeast, a place where I have never, ever been before. Who knows what awaits me? I am hoping for comfy beds, hot baths, nice people, and more adventures.

For now, though, rest and writing. I must pace myself. This is a marathon, not a sprint. 

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.