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Days 18 & 19. Wabi-sabi and cowboys.

I indeed had some "fun" trying to get out of my wild spot yesterday morning. I cursed the fact that I didn't practice reversing before I left so forward was what I did. I didn't anticipate the sharp turn and tree branches so I left the spot with "beauty marks" on the camper. There's a Japanese world view called wabi-sabi about the acceptance of transience and imperfection based on Buddhist teachings - nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect. I try to remember this theory when I consider throwing well-used things away. I appreciate the stories their imperfections tell me. There's a Japanese art, called kintsugi, in which they mend broken pottery with gold lacquer in order to "highlight the cracks and repairs as simply an event in the life of an object rather than allowing its service to end at the time of its damage or breakage." It celebrates the imperfection. So, in that moment when I realized that I scratched the camper, I remembered it was as it should be; it was inevitable.

The day seemed to last forever yesterday and yet I don't feel like I DID much. It took me forever to get moving, not that I was dawdling. I'm finding time loses it's boundaries when I'm not working. The activities of living take work and time. Hitching and unhitching. Learning the differences between dry camping and hookups. (Wait - do I always need the water pump on? How long can I leave water in the clean water tank before it goes bad?) Packing up camp. Setting up camp. D a i l y (ground hog's day) setting up and taking down by computer, monitor, etc. The internet isn't working....try my hotspot, try my beacon, try my phone hotspot, wifi??? Move everything. Try my hotspot, try my beacon, try my phone hotspot, wifi AGAIN. Reconnect everything to internet.

So, time slips by. Letting go of my plans and giving into being patient and stopping along the way has been a constant conversation I'm having with myself. Journey, not the destination.

As I traveled west towards Utah, the terrain slowly changed. More burnt umber and more brush. I kept thinking, "Cowboy. This feel like cowboy land." Wide vistas. The landscape dotted with lonely and lush looking places - some of them the kind of places that you think you were meant to live in or are still meant to live in.

I left in the morning without eating. I was out of groceries and thought I'd get groceries somewhere along the way. I was starving and I saw Bubba's. How couldn't you stop? Had to. This was the kind of place you walk into and you feel like everyone knows you aren't from there. The white people stares. I wondered about the nuances. What made me different? The YES tshirt? The ripped up jeans? The hiking shoes? Coffee. Chicken, cheese, bacon because I'm eating Carnivore. The list of pies on the whiteboard. As I sat there, people walked in with cowboy hats. I smiled. "Cowboy land."

The staff was wearing Bubba tshirts and I glanced at the back and I felt like the Universe was playing a trick on me. There was a big ole flag on the back of those shirts with the caption "We Stand For Freedom". Now, I just wrote about the flag and the fact that it doesn't naturally cause me to think about freedom the night before - and here the Universe was laughing at me. So, I had to get one of those shirts. I like the thought of wearing it, the dissonance in that visual and my thoughts.

I stopped for gas and there was a nearby cache so I tracked it down. Easy find.

Groceries never appeared. I didn't realize how empty the road would be on the way to Monticello. It was beautiful, full of small, quasi, scruffy towns.

I arrived in Monticello petrified.....and so much later than I expected......they told me when I made the reservation that they only had a back in spot but they also told me that they would help me back in. I was hoping that meant they would get in my vehicle and do it for me. Nope! But guess what? I did it. It wasn't the quickest endeavor but it wasn't horrible. The woman that checked me in had the most adorable 6 month old baby named JJ and I got to hold him. She told me about a lake at the top of the nearby mountain that I'm going to find at sunset.

I had plans to go to Arches National Park (my 2nd day with this plan) after I set up camp but then I started talking to my new neighbor, Tom, who is traveling with his wife, Robin - who only made an appearance to close the door. It was wicked windy - out of my window you can see the windmill farm. I don't know about you but I've always found them mesmerizing.

So - a solid 90 minutes later - discussions about campers, driving, repairs, fears, YES Theory, distrust of people, cost/benefit analysis, how change is hard, being a teacher during COVID, and the value of social media - I had to stop talking to SET UP CAMP!! (For real.) Still no groceries.

As I was finally getting down to business, my other neighbor came out and asked if it was okay it he spritzed his windows. He was leaving in the morning and wanted clean windows. Now, I made up all sorts of stories about this guy. First off, he was driving a gargantuan new RV - I'm sure it was amazing inside. I later could smell the Bounce fabric softener eking from a vent and I actually longingly thought of a seemingly distant day of washers and dryers at home. So back to the nameless neighbor...I thought this guy was probably super annoyed that my vehicle and camper were covered in dirt. His camper was spotless. And somehow he slipped into our conversation that he takes his wife's car to the car wash in town....gave me directions to it. I felt peer pressure and I remembered that I had bought a scrubber brush anticipating that the camper would get covered in bugs ( bugs) so I grabbed it and started cleaning the camper. Felt good. Well, then nameless neighbor came out again and said, "I hope I didn't give you the wrong impression." In my brain, I inserted, "That you're uptight." He said, "I see you're cleaning your camper and normally campgrounds don't like you to use the water and some even charge you." So, duh. He was looking after me. He reminded me that water is scarce in some areas. Yeah, correct those assumptions!!

Then he told me where the nearest grocery store was BUT it was Sunday evening and it didn't even open on Sundays. So, I ended up at Family Dollar which I've come to believe has everything, especially if you have an imagination. They even had real meat - I got sausage, eggs, polska kielbasa. And.........then I said, "Screw carnivore," and got yellow curry from the only restaurant I could find open in town. It was good. I got back to camp and found the bag to my leveler blocks hanging on the water connection. These neighbors sure do look out for you.

Today, there was internet stress. Not a good signal here.

But there was also a wide open field with horses and the sound of goats. There was the bright blue sky. There was a picnic table that became my desk.

And tonight, that familiar feeling that I should be doing something. When will this go away?

So, I did the dishes, put in baby proofing bumpers where my table is stored, dumped my tanks, figured out that I needed to turn the propane on instead of replacing the tank (shrug). All while my companions told stories: Jason Isbell, Tyler Childers, Brett Young, Colter Wall, Cody Jinks.

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