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Day 20. Sometimes, it takes a crowbar.

I hate relearning things I already know. I was done with work yesterday and I was trying to convince myself to go out into the world. I have the same problem at home. This isn't just a camper thing. I KNOW with absolute certainty that doing something is better than sitting on the couch being indecisive about all the things I could be doing but it sometimes takes extraordinary will to give myself over to just doing it. I call it the crowbar...behaving myself into being. My friend Angie talks about how moving is the cure to any ill and I know, for me, it eliminates a lot of thinking.


The sky was a magnificent blue and the wind had let up. It was a perfect 70 degrees.


I've watched the constant stream of vehicles pass by the campground all day on 190: bikers, semis on their slow prod up the hill, pick up trucks, every type of SUV, and today I saw two Porsches pass - they seemed out of place. Like them, I headed towards the stoplight. Every direction I've been given here has started with, "Go towards the stop light." There's only one.


I went to the auto parts store for some hitch grease (white lithium) in the hopes that I can minimize the number of times I need to jump up and down on my hitch to get it to release. Tiny store. The WOMAN said my name as I left, "Have a great night, Michele."


I went to the hardware store next door. Before I left for this adventure, I felt like I lived at the hardware store. The staff was starting to recognize me. I was kind of missing it. There's nothing like a small town hardware store. They had everything, even crafts. I wondered who made the decision to stock the butter spreader though. Questionable.


I sat outside the hardware store and tried to talk myself out of doing a U-turn to go back to the ice cream shop. I wasn't successful. I've been craving ice cream for two months. When I passed it on Sunday, I was relieved it wasn't open. I think I'm on the verge of not being able to say I'm eating Carnivore. When I got there, the decision was simple. A BANANA MALT. They handed it to me and I laughed because it was so big. I mumbled to myself, "This is giant." I normally don't eat a lot of ice cream but I finished that damn thing. No problem. It was my dinner.....in addition to three slides of bologna - the kind with the red wrapping around it...but that wasn't until much later.


Next stop was the grocery store. I love going to grocery stores in new places. I like to see the different foods, brands, prices. I feel like it tells me something about where I am. There was a little boy there stealing grapes and eating them and his mom was sighing and saying, "Well I guess we should buy these, huh?" I wandered. It didn't take long. It was small. The parking log was full of New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah plates. There was an RV there and and a big, red dog was sitting in the passenger seat, sitting higher than any person - diligently keeping a lookout - but with a smile.


It was still early so I decided to go to the lake I've been told about. No water. No sunscreen. But always press on. It was very close. Immediately I knew it was the right choice. There was a fully tatted guy getting out of his car, country music blasting. I walked towards the path and couldn't help from audibly gasping with some "woahs" thrown in there. So beautiful and I couldn't even see the lake yet. As I approached the lake, it was stunning. Every kind of blue, blue green, even purple blue. Just gorgeous. The tatted guy approached. He knew where he was going, plowed right down the steep slope to the water..heading somewhere with a fishing pole in his hand...and a black flat top cap, and black shorts, and black tennis shoes which I thought was an odd fishing uniform. I called out, "What do you catch here?" He looked up, "Rainbow trout, bass, catfish. The water is so clear, I can see where they are and I can just drop it in and catch them. Isn't the lake beautiful?" "Yes," I said, "So many blues. It's unbelievable." "Well, you have a great day," he said as he.....pressed on.




After spending some time watching the lake do what it does, I found myself looking at rocks. I've loved rocks my entire life. I can remember picking out rocks in the gravel with my cousins. I remember learning about rocks in 5th or 6th grade and I thought obsidian rocks were the best...although I was fascinated by the layers of shale. The rocks on the beach weren't anything special but you know how when you start to look really closely at something, it unveils itself in a whole new way? The rocks just under the water in the sunlight when you study them sing. Different colors, patterns, layers. So, I found myself collecting rocks, trying to find the right balance of colors. I know this guy...well, know is stretching it....he's one of those "swipe on Tinder acquaintances" that I've never met but we've been in contact for years now. He's a glassblower and makes a lot of pipes in addition to other beautiful things. A few weeks ago, he Snapped me a picture of a clear, glass pendant that had tiny agates in it that he had collected. I thought it would be really cool to have these tiny rocks I collected in a necklace because they would always remind me of that lake. There was nothing special about those rocks other than the fact that I spent a lot of time picking them out. They dried out and look like dirty brown rocks...

I laid back on the beach and soaked in the sun for a while. As I laid there, secret corridors of sound opened and I could hear the conversation of a distant group of 20 somethings who were coordinating their jumps into the lake like a bunch of 12yos....and holding their towels into the air and letting the wind blow them straight out. They looked like a bunch of flag poles. And....guess what......one of them had a pair of FLAG swim trunks on..... Universe, WHAT IS YOUR POINT HERE? WHY ARE YOU STALKING ME WITH THE FLAG? The Universe whispers. You ignore. It talks calmly. You ignore. And then it screams. Maybe it's time to listen? Not sure what the message is though.


Done with the beach, not satisfied with the outcome of the crowbar, I decided to press on. When I checked into the park, Mariah told me that if I was seeking the sunset, I should go to the top of the mountain. A quick Google search (with my half bar of spotty reception) told me that the peak was 12 miles away. No dinner except the damn malt. No water. Spotty signal. Half tank of gas. Press on.


The drive was magical almost the whole way....except for the deer who I swear looked like they just threw their cigarettes on the ground and raised their fists at me for a fight, "C'mon." They were everywhere. I was taking my time because I'd be seriously pissed to have them run into my vehicle or vice versa.


I never saw anyone on the road. A one or one and a half lane road sometimes straight up, on the edge of the mountain. Spectacular wild camping spots. Wandering in and out of forest, brush, wide open sky, rock walls, rock river - I felt like I was passing through different neighborhoods, each with their own personality. I came upon giant birches. I was awestruck. I got out to see them up close. It was otherworldly. As I made my way to the other side of the mountain, I could see the valley laid out before me, towns and lakes in the distance, the sprinkle of every kind of green and brown. I stopped periodically to do a 360 - taking in the distinct beauty on all sides of me.


I had been super vigilant about how far I had to go to the peak. It was taking me forever because I was on deer alert and falling of the side of the mountain alert and am I going to run into someone going around this blind curve alert and there's a deep rut in the road alert. The steep inclines were affecting my gas mileage and I kept wondering if I was going to do the return drive in the dark. I was also deciding with each mile whether I should continue but I got to the 9.7 mile mark and I thought, "Let's do this. I'm so damn close now." Guess what? When you are going to the peak of a mountain that's at 11k feet, there's snow. I reached a place in the road with a big snow pile across the road. Impassable. It was karma laughing at me because I had reached a point a couple of miles earlier that was a wide open area that felt spacious after being on the one lane and it occurred to me that it would suck to have to turn around or reverse..... I sat there staring at that snow. "I'm in a situation here."

I attempted twice to do a 47 point turn but I couldn't bare looking out my window and seeing just air. I kept thinking of my tires slipping over those edges with the little piles of rocks. C'mon! Those rocks are going to do anything to stop my two-ton vehicle. So, I steeled myself. Press on....or backwards. For two miles....down steep inclines...blind curves.....focus. Turn the music up and sing loudly. Don't look to the left. Mirrors. Camera, Look behind. Look in front. Go slow. You have all night. I got to the wide open space again and I had to shake that off. It felt so good to be going forward again!!!


On the way back home, the full moon popped out. The valley was painted with muted hues. The deer stayed away.


I saw a DNR truck and stood in the road until they caught up with me. Asked them about camping. Nice guys. I got back to the camper in the dark under the light of the moon....and ate bologna for dinner (not counting the damn malt).






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