I'm on the maiden trip of the season....only 24 minutes from my house but a different world. This trip is like a test. How much did I forget from last year? Will I still like it? Why am I doing this?
Why am I doing this?
The "Why am I doing this?" question is a real thing for me, an indicator of how in my head I am. It's a real disease. Thought. Even here, away from my "normal" life, I need something to forcibly invade my brain and interrupt my thoughts to remind me to BE. I've found there are two things that do that. Natural beauty and people.
I went on a bike ride the other night and that woke me up. It answered the question of why I am doing this. It was one of those moments where I felt like I stepped into a new dimension. I feel old when I think this but I think, "Isn't this grand?" This beauty hushes my thoughts instantly, overtakes me and I just feel like crying. My kids know this about me. I feel ridiculous for this extreme reaction but I know it's not just about what I'm seeing. It's about what I'm feeling. I feel like I've just arrived home. There's an instantaneous rightness. It reminds me of what I should be doing. What's important and what's not. It's not all good though. This feeling of rightness makes me hyper-aware of the fact that I live most of my life somewhere else, which I immediately equate to wrongness. I feel like a traitor to myself, like I haven't invested the time and effort to figure out how to live in the rightness.... I'm not brave enough. I have all sorts of justification for my choices. It doesn't change the feeling of wrongness....so I put those thoughts on the shelf.
But I guess I keep doing this to remind myself of what I should be doing....hahahhahahaha. :-)
The other real treasure I find in these escapades is people, their stories - their stories becoming my stories. If you asked me about my few short days here, I'd tell you they were in relative solitude. I'm working so there's a lot of sitting in front of my laptop just like I would be at home. The difference here is that I get people stopping by to chat or calling to me from their site as I walk or ride by. Everyone says the RV community is great and they're right. I've never met a more helpful group of people - always offering advice or a hand.
Mike & Dawn
Right away, when I arrived, the man next to me reminded me of the order I need to successfully set up the camper. I was having trouble popping the camper off the hitch and I had made a dumb mistake and he gently explained what I was doing wrong. I later learned his name is Mike. His wife is Dawn. They live in Eagan, have two daughters - if you search for ceramic dishes on Amazon, their daughter runs the company that you'll see listed first. Dawn and Mike visited Taipai to see where their son-in-law grew up and meet his parents. His father designs Coleman chairs and umbrellas in Taiwan - designing one of the first collapsible chairs long ago and making millions from it. He still designs today. His father grew up in poverty and was beat by his parents and was determined to provide a very different future for his own kids. He gave them wealth he never knew but he didn't give them himself. The very stories he shared with Dawn and Mike had never been shared with anyone else in his life, even his own family.
As serendipity does, Mike happens to have a career spent doing floor coverings and I just happen to need someone to finish my floor transitions....so now I have to call Mike whose number I now have. And I'm secretly hoping that I get to meet these two again - maybe be part of their lives in some way even though I don't think I'll benefit from Dawn's advice on how to choose a person to marry!! She also didn't convince me that grandkids are the best thing. NOT ready for that yet.
I finally convinced myself to read when I heard, "Hey, do you want some bundles of wood?" I was the lucky recipient of 4 bundles of wood that he didn't want to take home. But somehow this exchange led me to learn about ultra-endurance cycling. I didn't know there was such a thing but this guy professed to be one of the best, part of an elite group. He had stories. Torn achilles. Riding across states in 16 hours. Peeing on the side of the road while someone was attending to his feet and someone else was pouring water in his mouth. He's been doing it for 15 years. Started as a weight loss technique. Here's the conundrum: he's 54 and 30 lbs overweight which he readily admitted while talking about preparing for the 1,100 mile trip around Lake Michigan is July. His wife was admiring my camper, wanting something small to take on trips where she acts as emergency crew in case he breaks down and needs to opt out of the race. They had just attended their granddaughter's first birthday and thought people would come back to the site for a bonfire but it didn't happen.
Stephen became my friend. I first talked to him when he called out from his site when I was riding by, "Hi bikerider!" I said hi back and said he'd see me again because I knew I was turning around soon. He told he to stop and say hi. On my way back, he challenged me because I didn't stop, so I screeched to a halt and we chatted. He and his wife had fancy electric scooters....and they were living with a secret. His wife ordered her scooter and a couple weeks later, another one showed up........and they didn't say a thing...and didn't hear a thing... :-) So they spend their days scooting all over. He visited me every day, sometimes wearing a funny hat. Wanted to see in my camper. Told me the story of why he's so happy. He had three brain aneurysms. One popped. He shouldn't be alive. Many long surgeries later. Recovered from blindness, paralysis. And he's old. Used to be a drinker. Now, he can't drink because his brain can't handle it. So, when they scoot into town, his wife gets a beer and he gets a Diet Coke. Their daughter sometimes brings her five kids to camp with them. They have 10 more trips planned this summer - staying close to home because of as prices.
Mac & Julie
They took over Spivey's spot. I was immediately entranced because they had some interesting things about their setup. I was doing the thing where you're looking but trying not to appear that you're looking. That eventually led to a "Hi." Mac is 70 and a survivor of lung cancer but he's one lung down. He's a mechanic and works Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights from 4pm to midnight which makes getting up for church on Sunday's tough. He plays the bass guitar in the church choir and has been with Julie for 35 years. Mac is black. Julie is white. They live in Faribault. They talked about what it was like when they first got together, the reaction they got from people. Mac had converted a Harbor Freight tool cart to his kitchen. He had his grill on top and stored all his utensils, etc in the drawers. It was pretty awesome looking. It was what drew my attention initially. He also had built a tripod adjustable grill for over the fire cooking. This man was handy. They had two new recumbent bikes - Mike needs exercise but his missing lung limits what he can do. I learned all about these bikes. Mike spent the winter customizing them. Mirrors, guidance systems, assist motors that recognize torque. His cost $3300 and Julie's cost $1500 so these weren't the go buy it on Amazon bikes. They have all sorts of toys. A Harley. A boat. When Mac dies, he says that Julie will just sell it all so she has more money to live on. I got to try Julie's bike out and it was unexpectedly fun. Kind of like riding a go-kart.
As I was sitting here tonight, I realized that I really wish there was a way to capture and keep these treasures and that's what let me to write. There are so many stories.