Life on the road is no cake walk. Compromise, silence and space, solitude and good old Mother Nature. A tough re-entry into the world of civilization and then back to our happy place.
Leaving the back roads and beaches of Mexico was… in itself…hard. It was in essence the hot and humid weather and the need for COVID-19 shots, that drove us back to Utah. We have been officially off the “road/van life” for a month now. We have been doing service projects for friends and family and van fixes …including one very inconvenient tow, all month. May 2021, has been Service Month… literally.
We have helped with a remodeling project.
We helped recondition and sell a speed/ski boat.
Assisted a great, close friend to buy a new car. Helped our sister and brother-in-law get a good deal on two great eBikes and of course, we both got our vaccinations for COVID-19.
The spread of COVID-19 has slowed in the US. People are being vaccinated. We spent more money than our normal monthly budget for unexpected van repairs, spent a few nights in long stay hotels, and had to give up the van twice for two different repairs, one, after a minor mishap with the trailer.
My body has decomposed in this month, it’s shed thick calluses off my feet, lost at least half of its once healthy glow, my sinuses blazing with rivers of snot from seasonal allergies, lungs full of said rivers. My mind has shut down as things around me change, and I’ve all but shaved my head.
The routine has changed from outdoor living in peace and solitude, a primordial existence with Mother Nature, to City life. Now, four hard walls with a shingled roof, flush toilets and showers on demand with plenty of hot water, shelter us.
We ran to Kara’s house, loaded up the Hyside raft we sold, the IK we sold, the oar frame on the new roof rails, everything else suspended from the ceiling of the trailer. All the toys in one heavy ass trailer. It sucked the gas mileage from North Salt Lake, UT to Twin Falls, ID to under 9mpg… keeping it at an avg. of 68 mph. SUCK…
I drove the whole way with gusty tail winds, strong head winds and strong sideways burst…nuts! The Memorial Day holiday traffic is evident, from seeing 3 crashes south bound in Utah, to plenty of slow traffic driving north. We listened to an ebook talking about how US drivers fall asleep or just plain old don’t pay attention because our straight roads are hypnotic.
Nothing in the outdoor recreation world has changed since COVID-19. The prices of the recreational equipment, led by the demand and short supply, is up by thousands over retail value. That’s what has lead us to the west side of Idaho, a place we’ve yet to experience. Once we offload the extra weight we will head back to the Northern mountains of Idaho to decompress… as has become our norm… 3 days of mostly silence between talks of destinations and a sorta plan… at least a direction. Time is of no urgency unless a set destination is planned.
We spent the first night at a Harvest Host golf course right on the Snake River and a beautiful river gorge.
The silence is welcome. All 3 of us, Gandaulf included, need to hear nothing but the wind, river, birds, crickets, our own breath and heart beat. Until the controlling and aggressive “city personalities”…calm down and a synchronicity of calmness and kindness resumes… this is how the re-entry, repositioning, has been. Sometimes you just need a little space. Doesn’t mean we don’t love each other. I can fight it or move through it, it’s always a choice, and 15-30 minutes of uncomfortability in a day… doesn’t ruin the whole day.
One day while walking along a desert ridge, a small child met up with a lone burro walking in the opposite direction. The burro was dark brown with white circles around his eyes, his shaggy head low and solemn. The child thought to herself, what an interesting animal to be alone out here in the desert.
“What brings you to the desert?” quizzed the child.
The burro slowly raised his shaggy head and gazed deep into the child’s eyes.
He told her the story of his life without words. The child saw his sorrow and his joy. She saw him romping around on grassy plains where he ran and played with his family.
The burro told her of how he got separated from his family and ended up walking the desert alone.
The child grabbed the burro around his neck and gave him a big hug and kiss on his nose. I will be your friend she promised him.
The burro smiled and lifted his head and thanked the child. “What brings a small child to the desert alone?” asked the burro.
“I am looking for dinosaur eggs,” answered the child.
The burro was confused since he’d not seen any dinosaurs. “Are you sure you are in the right place my child? I have never seen a dinosaur here in the desert, and I have lived here all my life.”
“Oh yes,” assured the child. “My friends, the prairie dogs, told me of piles of them all over the ground.
It is a far distance and I have packed enough food and water for my journey,” said the child.
“Perhaps I can help you get there little one,” volunteered the burro.
The child thought carefully and agreed it would be faster and nice to have some company. She drew a map in the sand and showed the burro where the eggs were said to be. The burro shook his shaggy head and bended a knee for the child to get onto his back. She grabbed hold of his mane and they trotted off.
It took most of the day to get to the special place. The two looked around and saw no dinosaurs. The child was very saddened that she and the burro came all this way and there were no dinosaurs.
Just then a small lizard darted across the ground. He was turquoise colored with a bright yellow band around his neck. He scampered up onto a rock above the two. He looked with his googley eyes at the two with a puzzled look.
“Hello Mr Lizard,” the child said politely, “ we are on a quest to find dinosaurs so we can get some eggs.”
The lizard flicked his tongue a few times and told the child he knew where the dinosaurs were, and agreed to take them.
The lizard darted from rock to rock, shade to shade until they came upon a tall butte. There is where you will find the dinosaurs gesturing to the butte. She and the burro trotted off after thanking the lizard for his information.
They got to the butte by late afternoon and the shadows were growing long. “I will share what food I have,” offered the child. The burro raised his head and thanked the child for her kindness. After a fine dinner, the two curled up together and fell fast asleep.
The birds welcomed the sun as it rose from its slumber. The pale light revealed a cave at the base of the butte that was covered in vines and sage brush and seemed a good place to start the search. The burro trampled down all the brush and the two went in.
It was damp and great rock features came down from the ceiling and rose from the floor. The light filtered in and the two looked up and all around the cave. There were ancient bones that had turned to rock all surrounded in beautiful crystals. Whole skeletons of huge prehistoric creatures that were half buried in rock and mud. The girl was feeling defeated when she saw and odd rock sitting on the floor of the cave, the more she looked, the more she saw.
She bent over and picked up one of these odd rocks. It was perfectly round and felt quite heavy. The child gathered as many as she could hold and went outside into the sun. “These must be what the prairie dog saw!” exclaimed the child.
The burro looked at the rock and saw nothing special, just a round rock. He kicked at one of the rocks and it broke open.
The child ran over to see what the burro had done. Both stood wide eyed as what they saw was the most beautiful thing ever! Inside the dinosaur egg was the best magic they ever saw. The child remembered the cave in which she found the eggs. She remembered that all around the bones were crystals of every color. “Dinosaurs must’ve been magic,” the child suggested. “These crystals inside the eggs must have happened when the young dinosaurs died in their egg.” The burro shook his shaggy mane and agreed.
The child gathered as many eggs in her pack could hold and climbed back on the burro’s back. The two rode off into the vast desert in search of more adventures
We have been back for almost a month and it feels like a year. The amount of stimuli experienced in one day is a month or twos worth on the road. It’s hard to find any solitude when we get back to the city and live out of the van. The last time we slept in the van was April 27th. We’ve been camping out in my sister-in-law Kara’s house for the last two and a half weeks.
We got our first COVID shot and are now waiting for the second and then back on the road. This was our first service work. This month has been dedicated for the benefit of others. We helped out Kara any way we could with tearing out and replacing walls and old carpet for hard flooring. I mowed the lawn and keep up the outside and helped when I could inside. I have a real aversion to being inside lately. The van is cool since it’s a small comfortable space filled with few frills and only the basics to live, eat and sleep.
We had so much planned for this month but best made plans fell to the wayside when we got new tires on our trailer, let the service shop hook up trailer to the van, then said trailer proceeded to come unhooked and ran into the back of the van. Another small detour in life on the road. The body shop has had her since Wednesday and we pick her up on Monday morning. It’ll be nice to have her back.
Being back in the city really changes you after a while. The roaming soul falls asleep and the restless one takes its place. We are both ready to get back into our home and take off towards our next goal, Bend, OR. We’ve read about it and drool every night. With COVID restrictions loosening up, the Canadian border could open by July maybe still enough time to venture to Alaska. We have nothing left here except family and friends, what more do you need? So we’ve decided this would be service month, giving, just because. It’s part of the whole be kind thing. It’s been fun to use our talents to help out where ever we can.
There are things we don’t have in the van, like TV. This is the number one robber of time. It’s an old pattern I thought might be broken while on the road, but for at least one of us it remains the same. You become used to having a flush toilet and shower right there, no effort needed. Hungry? Want something to eat but don’t feel like cooking, go get something. These are just a few of the “city habits” we pick up and become softened by. I like living like a wanderer, seeker, explorer, and pioneer. When in the city, there is too much to rest on…to depend on. You loose that sense of one with nature, with your own self.
Things always happen beyond our control, we still just roll over it, but the stress meter climbs everyday.
In not so recent past… maybe when the moon passed into the darkness two times in one cycle of time, the animals of the lands and streams had a feeling of dread. The Mother Earth and Father Sky had lost a child and they wept and wept. The sky lamented and huge clouds formed storing the mournful tears and heavy hearts The animals could no longer see during the day and gathered in fear in the highest peaks as the tears began to rain down on the land The child that lived on the beach, at the edge of the forest, saw the rage of the sea as the furry of the clouds made huge waves that thrashed the delicate sand.
The child knew her friends were in danger and ran over the ancient trails to the secret meeting place of the night seers. The night seers could see when the others could not. They had special powers and summoned the animals and fishes of the sea. The child was instructed to go to the lagoon and seek the Sleepy Turtle. It was said the Turtle was the most ancient of all creatures… so ancient that the earth itself had been fooled by its slumber and grown trees and mountains on its very back. The child knew this journey would take too long and went to find the falcon that lived in the side of the the canyon that held the great river of red.
The raven knew the exact place and agreed to help the child. She climbed onto his silky black back, held tight to the scruff of neck feathers and they took off. The journey took the whole day and most of the night. In the darkness of night, huge burst of light flashed in the sky and you could hear the the very breaking of The Mother’s heart. The sky filled with streaks of light that flashed sometimes more bright than the sun. The heavens broke open and the rains once’s again flooded the land. On the second day, the child arrived in the great canyon of the river. There was a huge cave in the wall of the ancient exposed rock and the falcon sat waiting.
He had heard from the swallows of her arrival. “How can I help little one,” asked the falcon? The child told the story of the Sleepy Turtle and that only it could save the lives of the animals of the forest, deserts and streams. The falcon looked at the sky and knew that there was little time left. “I will fly faster than time,” said the falcon. The child was grateful for the eagerness of the falcon to help her friends. She jumped onto the falcons back and he jumped off the cliff and soared so fast the world became a blur. In less than the blink of an eye, they arrived, but where was the Turtle? In a dream, the child was given a small pan flute by a native she met. He told her it would help her when she needed a miracle.
The child reached into her sleeve and there it was. She pulled out the flute and an enchanting melody shook the land. The earth shook, the sky rumbled and the clouds flashed. Huge landslides tumbled down and when all was quiet… an eye opened like a giant mirror and the child saw herself but not as she knew herself. She was a beautiful woman with long hair as black and silky as the otters tail. The eye blinked and more earth fell from the huge figure they were standing on. The clouds flashed and the rain began again. The last of the trees and rocks fell away as the earth beneath their feet shook violently again. A sleepy old turtle rose from the land and on its tremendous back was a whole world of lush green trees and high top mountains, deserts and valleys, rivers, lakes and streams tumbled down the craggy peaks on its back. It opened its eye again and spoke softly in the child’s mind so only she could hear. “Your friends are fine.” The child let a single tear fall. The turtle told the child that a deal had been struck with the elements created by the sorrow of Mother Earth and Father Sky. The clouds flashed once more and the ground trembled but not a drop of rain fell.
Many, many long years ago, Mother Earth was a small child herself and was cast out by an old witch and her father was never seen again. She was thrown into the primordial seas and left for dead. The huge ancient beings with wings tried to save her, the fish of the ancient sea couldn’t hold her above the waves and angry wind blown seas. Finally a giant otter appeared and knew the only creature that could save her and dove deep into the inky Black Sea. All the fish and flying animals took turns helping the young child to stay afloat. She finally could no longer stay awake and drifted off into a deep dreamless sleep and slid beneath the water. As the otter rose out of the darkness she brought with her a huge sea turtle that had been asleep on the sea floor for years untold. It rose to the surface with enough fertile soil to sustain life and the small child. She grew and created a world of beauty. It was grief that has brought this suffering to your friends.
The turtle lumbered off to where the lagoon and forest met. The earth had risen up above the angry waters and her friends had gotten on with their lives as if nothing ever happened. The child turned to the giant old turtle and put her hand up, the turtle laid his head gentle on her hand and he fell back into his deep, deep slumber.