A Note of Thanks

I came across a greeting card this morning that made me laugh. The front shows a Mom driving a car with a couple wild kids in the back and says, “Mom, you took us everywhere…” The inside says, “And even brought us back home! Astonishing!” It made me think back to the road trip my family took to Illinois. Five kids, two adults, one car. And this was 1992 — long before there were televisions to watch from the backseat. From Illinois, we headed north into Canada and, after a stop in Niagara Falls, headed back to New York. At the border my parents were asked for our birth certificates. “We didn’t really plan to come back this way,” they explained, “So we don’t have them.”

The officer said, “We work very closely with ChildFind. How do we know you didn’t kidnap these children?”

Click here to read more. 

Why Wait?

“Do you always come down here with someone else?” I asked Lois last night at dinner.

“Oh, no.  No need to wait that long,” she said.  My sentiments exactly.  If we wait for the ideal travel partner (or any travel partner, for that matter), we may never go.  So when people say, “You’re doing all this alone?”  I give a matter-of-face “Yes” with a look that says, “of course.”   Because life’s too short to wait:)

And here’s another thing about traveling alone: you meet a whole bunch more people that way.  Well, if you’re the type that strikes up conversations easily you sure do.  The other day, while trading stories with someone about the best places we’ve been, a gentleman said this to me about Montana: I didn’t believe in God til I went out there.  Only God could create something that beautiful.  Now doesn’t that make you want to drive out there and see what he’s talking about?  What’s stopping you?

Speaking of beautiful places, on Wednesday I drove what might be one of the most scenic roads in the country.  I haven’t driven every road in the country, so I can’t say for sure.  But the Blue Ridge Parkway ranks right up there with the drive through Glenwood Canyon on I-70 in Colorado. Yes, Italy holds a special place in my heart.  But the US of A has some absolutely stunning countryside.  Pictures won’t do it justice, but I’ll try.

Blue Ridge Mountains

Adelaide - my (usually) trusty travel companion - overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains

Not to say I couldn’t have seen all this with a human travel companion.  But why wait?

And She’s Off!

“How long does it take to get down there?” he asked as I piled boxes and bags into my car.

“Well, I think it’s 12 hours or so, but I’m taking two and a half weeks,” I told him.

“Two and a half weeks?” he asked, his eyes wide with amazement.

“Yeah – I’m stopping to visit friends along the way,” I explained.

And so here it is that I write this post from my first stop: Galloway Township, New Jersey.  I’m at the home of a dear friend from college whom I haven’t seen in two years.  (For the full run-down of my year of living without a permanent home, click here.)  Everything I’ll need for the next four months is in my car (or so I hope).  But you wouldn’t know it by looking at it.  I don’t have an SUV stuffed to the ceiling.  I’ve got it all in a Beetle convertible – and most of it on the backseat and floor, under the windscreen.

It's all in here...

Though from this view you wouldn't know it....

Of course, I don’t need any furniture.  Or cooking supplies.  During my tenure at the John C. Campbell Folk School, I’m given a furnished room and full board as compensation for my work.  So my car is mostly filled with clothes, books, and crafting supplies (yarn and beads).

Figuring out what to take was one thing.  Figuring out what to do with everything else?  A little more daunting.  But that’s a story for another day.

“You don’t own a house, a house owns you.”

Yesterday, on my morning walk, a woman stood waving to her daughter as her daughter’s school bus pulled away.  She said hello to me as I approached her driveway and I stopped to tell her how adorable I thought her house was every time I passed it.  “Ugh,” she sighed.  “Every time I look at it, I think of all the work we need to do.”  “Well, you can’t tell that from here,” I said.  And as I walked on I thanked God that I decided not to buy a house a few years ago.  I want a house to bring me comfort and peace – this woman’s house didn’t seem to provide that for her.

I’m not saying all homeowners feel this way, but in my informal poll I find it’s a dominant thought.  There always seems to be something that needs fixing or updating.  My friend Lois says, “You don’t own a house.  A house owns you.” I wonder if I’d have the same feeling if my house was only 130 square feet? I’m going to start figuring out the answer to that question:  On June 17, me and mom are taking a trip out to Ohio to go see a Tumbleweed Tiny House!

“Can I invite your father or is this a girls trip?” my mother asked.  “We can invite dad.  But only if he promises to not shoot down my idea of living in one of these things,” I replied.  I wasn’t sure at that point if this was one of those ideas she was going to ease him into for me, or if I had to do it myself.  “He is good at asking questions,” my mom offered.  “Yeah, that’s true,” I said.  “I’ll just have to bring a bottle of wine.”  I handle dad’s driving much better with a glass of wine in my belly.

I was chatting with mom in the office of her house yesterday when we heard dad’s pounding footsteps upstairs.  We were looking at the web site for the Tiny Houses and as I heard dad come down to see what we were up to I said to Mom, “Did you tell him yet?”  “No,” my mother said.  I was in a fabulous mood, so figured I’d throw my idea out to my dad and could handle whatever reaction he had for me.  “What are you two doing?” he called to us as he walked down the stairs.  My family is one in which you don’t have to be in the same room as a person to have a conversation with them.  Or even on the same floor for that matter.  “Looking at Tiny Houses,” I said as he peeked into the office.  “Oh yeah?” he said as he turned around and went back up the stairs, off to accomplish his next task.  The man never sits still.  Or stands still for that matter.

“Mom and I are gonna go see one on June 17.  Wanna come?” I asked, following him.  He looked at me and wrinkled his face into a look of amusement and thought.  I could see his brain saying “This sounds just crazy enough to be fun.”  “Oh really?   You’re gonna go see one.  Hm.  What day is that?”  “A Thursday,” I said.  “We drive out on Thursday – but we have to get there  by 7 cause that’s when they close, and they don’t open again til 11 on Friday.  So we just see it on Thursday and then drive home on Friday.”  “So we have to leave early in the morning on Thursday,” he said.  My father loves leaving early in the morning.  He meets friends for coffee every weekday before most people’s alarm clocks have gone off.  “Not too early,” I said.  “It’s a seven hour drive.  We could leave at 9 and still have plenty of time.”  If he was disappointed we’d leave two hours later than he liked, he didn’t show it.  “A quick road trip to Ohio,” he pondered.  “Yeah, that sounds good.”

So on June 17, I’ll pretend I’m an only child and hop in the car with mom and dad for a quick little trip.  Will keep you posted:)