Enjoying hardship; A unique and delightful change

At points life can give us one challenge after another, e.g., vehicle failure, almost simultaneously. These can be stressful, frustrating, depressing, worrying, and tiresome to the point of exhaustion. It may even make someone feel like everything around them is falling apart and they are failing, but it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, it can be fun, enjoyable, adventurous, exhilarating, and growthful. It truly depends on your thoughts and the might they carry. This. I came to realize as I was traveling from Santa Cruz, California, to my home in small town, rural Ohio. In my previous writing I had left off in Salt Lake City, Utah, after having my second vehicle failure in two days of driving. Here is the awesome journey that followed.

 

When I broke down on the I 80 E and 215 S interchange I had no idea what was wrong. All I knew was the RV chugged a little and died. Fortunately I was able to pull it to the shoulder and get out of traffic. My first thought was, “Second day of driving and second break down. Glad I’m getting these out of the way early”. I then reached out to my insurance company, we will call them “reptile”, and explained where I was and that I needed a tow. They very promptly told me I wasn’t covered and they couldn’t do anything. This was news to me, because I have always had a tow package. Under further investigation I found that when I bought the RV and asked them to add it to the policy I had to specifically define what I wanted. As it is I only told them I bought a vehicle and wanted to add it to my existing policy which INCLUDES a tow package. As far as I knew the coverage would be the same for both vehicles. Guess who was wrong. Yup, me. They said that my car was covered for towing, but not the RV because I didn’t define all the parameters I wished included. Slightly nefarious if you ask me. They then proceeded to inform me that they must not have understood when I called, but they don’t backdate so I still won’t be covered. I asked a few questions to the agent and only received “I’m sorry for the inconvenience” as a reply. They wouldn’t even answer my questions. “Hmmmm…. Typical robot working for a machine I thought.” Nothing I can do here. I then gave up on the questions and just had them add the RV to the tow package, which they did for a fee. I would now be covered from the next day on. I then found a local tow company who said they   would come get me for a small fee of $250.

 

When the tow driver arrived I instantly received good, positive vibes. The driver, a man in his mid 30’s, was a stocky build at around 6’ 220Ibs. His vibrant smile and twinkling pale blues was about all I could see. The rest of his face was covered with a  beard that Paul Bunyan would be proud of. He introduced himself as Cody and asked what happened. I gave a brief explanation to which he replied, “do you mind if I take a look?”. I of course gave a ready consent and watched as he, with surprising speed and agility for his size, went under the RV. He popped back out a couple of minutes later and asked me if he could see the keys. I handed them over at once and watched as he started the vehicle with the first turn. He smiled and said “it’s running.” I smiled back and inquired if he had done anything. He informed me everything looked good underneath, but he saw a small puddle of antifreeze and thought it may have overheated. He also said he was no mechanic and that may not have been the problem at all. He then asked if I was going to continue driving on. I said, “No, I think I will have it looked at and diagnosed to prevent any further problems”. Cody thought that was a splendid idea and offered to let me follow him to a nearby auto mechanic. This I did with great joy. When we arrived at the mechanic (old fashioned service), I thanked Cody and spent a little time just talking to him and asking some questions. After a moment Cody said he had to go, bid me a farewell, and charged nothing for his time.  In that moment I was overcome with a deep feeling of gratitude and hope in humanity. Now it was time to talk to the mechanic shop. I explained to the guy behind the counter what had happened and he said they couldn’t get to it until Tuesday, but it sounded like it may have overheated. They would check the cooling system then. He also said I could just stay in the RV at the shop until it was ready to go so I wouldn’t have to get a hotel room. WOW, two acts of kindness in 20 minutes. I thanked him, and with a warmth provided by true humanity, asked if he could point me to a local coffee shop.

 

When I walk into Higher Ground Coffee, located at 2005 E 3300 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84109, I notice it’s rather a quaint atmosphere. The two-part counter has one side featuring various sweet treats and beverages while the other is littered with license plates. There is bar style seating with the ability to seat up to three. Two armchairs sit in a corner with one facing North and the other East. There are two small round, and one average square table that complete the seating. The menu is hand written in chalk above the counter and the barista is making a local patron her drink while they chat about the fire that is presently giving the city a campfire smell. When I place my order, an iced coffee it’s about 90 fahrenheit outside, I notice the barista has phenomenal energy. I make of note of it and take a seat on a stool looking west. I should have a nice view of the sunset from here. I spend the next few hours downloading audio books, researching self-improvement, scanning the global news (not from mainstream sources), doing some writing, and searching the local map for parks or open spaces. At closing I thank the barista and then head back to the RV for some sleep. It’s been a long day.

 

I wake up Sunday and notice many places aren’t actually operating today. I also notice the wind has shifted and there is no longer a campfire smell. The game store I thought I would check out is closed until Monday, guess I should have checked the business hours, but there is a small park just around the block. I’ve got nothing but time so I grab my ukulele, a couple songbooks, my chromebook, a solar charger, lunch, and head the way of the park. As I get closer to the park I can hear an acoustic guitar and the distinctive twang only a banjo can make. Have I just stumbled upon something?

 

As I take a seat occupying one of the picnic style tables a friendly smile from a banjo player says hello. He is an older gentleman with grey, thinning hair, a thin build, and soft lines to his face. The guitar player, currently sitting with his back facing me, appears to be a little younger than the banjo player, but probably not by much. They are playing a fiddle/bluegrass tune that I am unfamiliar with and doing it well. When the song is completed they introduce themselves and we exchange pleasantries that are civil. Turns out this is the IAMA (Intermountain Acoustic Music Association) and today falls on the groups yearly picnic. Talk about being in the right place at the right time. They then asked if I played and wanted to sit in.  I thanked them for the offer but declined and chose to just listen with enjoyment. I am not yet comfortable enough to play in front of many people, but I am sure they would have complimented my ability to pick Yankee doodle. Within about 20 minutes a third musician arrived, Brad. Brad stood about 5’8” tall, weighed about 170Ibs, and had the aura of an angel. His salt and pepper hair was the only betrayal of age. He had a couple soft lines around his face but nothing that was a reflection of anything beyond youth. Brad pulled out his guitar and took a seat in the circle. His first song selection, Melissa by the allman brothers, wasn’t received by the others. They were polite, but it was overly obvious they weren’t into the folk scene. Within an hour there were about 25 musicians, all sitting in a circle, playing fiddle tunes. From what I observed everyone in the circle gets “solo time” in which they play the melody while the others play the harmony. This gave each musician a little solo time and placed them center stage; many of which were only eager to accept. Unfortunately the one folk player, Brad, was the odd ball out. After about an hour Brad chose to leave the circle; he wasn’t much of a fiddle player and they weren’t much into playing folk tunes. This would turn out to be my good fortune.

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I was, and had been, picking up peaceful vibrations and righteous feelings from the innermost of my being saying, “He’s righteous”. EVERY, and let me re-emphasize, EVERY time I have listened to this feeling/sense/voice it has proven itself worth continued pursuit. So I did what I have learned to do. I followed what I sensed and initiated small talk. I was curious what his second song choice had been so it proved simple enough to open. Turns out his second song was an original. Yes he is a singer/songwriter. The tune was named “waiting on words” and completely acoustic. He had gotten the name for it at an open mic from someone in the audience. He said he knew instantly it was the right name because something inside him had told him so. Errrt….. Put on the brakes! Did this guy just talk about an internal sense and following it? I think he did! We talked for the next hour and a half until he made his leave. I decided I had heard enough as well and made my way to a secluded portion of the park to practice the ukulele for about an hour before returning the coffee shop for some research, picture editing, and to give Monique a call; she’s a beautiful soul who cares deeply about me and humanity, I’m very fortunate. I spent the next two days at the coffee shop, park, and game store. I did come by a pretty awesome BillBoard as well. 

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On Tuesday morning the RV was the first to go in the shop. I went and grabbed a coffee to pass the time and returned after a few hours. The mechanic said it ran like a top and he couldn’t find anything wrong. This was far from rewarding; an unfixed problem will not correct itself. I thanked him for his efforts and asked if he minded I stay one more night. I had to wait for the insurance to come into being. He obliged my request and I left abruptly at 6 am on Wednesday morning with hope and uncertainty in my back pocket. 

Absence: Unplugging to Recharge

Recently I took a break from life; taking time for myself by unplugging. It is something I need to do periodically to remain healthy on a spiritual level. Doing this simple process has helped me find a balance I had been lacking. It has brought me back to a level of peace and comfort where I do not feel stressed or obligated to continue writing, working, or striving toward that which is higher. 

I have been busy since last we talked. I went on a three week trip and visited Glacier National Park, Yellowstone National park, and Rocky Mountain National Park. It was a really awesome road trip because I got to meet up with people I know and love along the way and send some quality time with them. Come along with me as I give a little more detail. 😉 ❤

I left for Glacier National Park from Santa Cruz, CA. on June 23rd. I had anticipated leaving earlier than this, but my employer asked if I could stay a little longer and do some more work. I agreed because he’s an honest, kind, loving man who has only given me opportunity, friendship, and equitable relations. I guess you could say he is reaping what he sows. Anyway, when I left I drove in a marathon style, not my favorite form of travel, because I had to meet my brother in Glacier and pick up our backcountry permit on the 25th of June. We would be backpacking East to West across the park on a five day journey. The drive up was long, but otherwise uneventful. I was fortunate enough to catch a good shot of a rainbow in the Centennial Mountains of Idaho on my way up. When I got to Glacier I met my brother at Apgar Campground and we hung out until the next morning when We got our permit. The permit process was rather quick, but they did warn us about a couple stream fords and some snow hazards that were proving to be problematic to many hikes. In fact, so problematic that many turned around and didn’t proceed. Both Andrew and I being experienced backpackers knew the risks and felt confident in our abilities and decision making so we didn’t think to much of the warning. Now, with our permit in hand we made our way to the trailhead at the Northeast corner of the park. We would be scooting the Canadian border the duration of this trip. We hit the trailhead shortly after one pm and started our 13 Mile jaunt to our first campsite. The views, wildlife, and fauna are some of the best I have seen in all my years. The trek ended up being a little more difficult than I had anticipated and I realized I needed to shed some weight. My pack felt like a million pounds and I was obviously carrying to much food. This is something I tend to do without realizing. I’ve been hungry before and never want to feel that way again. Regardless of the weight we made it to our first camp by 7pm. It was a beautiful site set back in pines and aspens next to a sky blue lake. The scenery was beautiful, but the wind was not. It was blowing  at around 15 mph and gusting, at times, around 25. This created a bit of a problem setting up my tent, but it wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle. That night the wind settled into a nice lullaby and I was able to sleep fairly well. All in all day one was very uneventful. Day two was a little different though.

 

After getting an early rise, around 5:30 am, we made breakfast and decided to hit the trail early. We had a 14 mile day and we would be summiting Stoney Indian Pass. We wanted to get over the pass before afternoon thunderstorms had a chance to form. This would minimize the potential for swollen streams and slippery snow. It was a good choice too as the fords were already high from the snow melt. The first fiord we came to was thigh high and rushing with a force that threatens to drag you down with every footfall. It was the most aggressive crossing I have ever made. Once on the other side of the first ford the trail vanished into a valley covered in snow and glacier lilies. Beautiful yes, but difficult to navigate. We soon came to a second ford and traversed it without problem. We decided to rest here, fill our water, and grab a snack. The landscape was just too irresistible. After our brief rest we continued on the the pass, arriving around  noon. My first impression when standing in the saddle was one of amazement, joy, and fear. The west side of the pass was completely covered in snow for the first 1000ft and the angle was was pushing my abilities and gear limits. Despite the the horrific looking snow field we both felt confident we had the appropriate gear and know how to navigate the terrain. With this we put on spike on and made our way down. The spikes were a huge help as they allow you to dig into the snow and ice for traction and since the snow was starting to get suncups it was becoming slippery. All went well until we were about half way down the snow field. The intense angle and pressure I had been putting on my spikes caused the one on my right shoe to break under stress. As soon as it gave my foot when out from under me and I tumbled a few feet before self-arresting. I’m not sure if I was more scared or excited. It was the first time I have had to self-arrest and I hope the last. My brother came over and we both looked at my broken spike trying to formulate or engineer a fix, but it couldn’t be done. I would just take it slow and make my way down. For the next hour and a half I gingerly made my way down the slope of the mountain arriving at the lake marking the end of the snow field. The trail was flooded over and he only way through was a walk through the water and onto the last remaining 50 ft section of snow. This last section of snow ran 50 ft long by 100 ft tall. On the upper portion was a shale field, and below was the lake. The snow reached out passed the bank and fell into the water about 20 feet away from shore. I looked at it and thought I don’t want to go high because of the shale and I don’t want to go low because if I fell I would be in the water. I decided to go strait and take my chances. It was a calculated risk with one spike. My brother went first and I followed behind. About halfway across I felt my right foot go on an icy patch of the snow. As I fell my knee punched through the snow and I felt something enter immediately. There was no pain, but i knew it wasn’t good. Within seconds I had my pack off, pant leg off, and was pinching shut a gnarly gash that was roughly 4 inches in length and deep enough that I could see things I shouldn’t. I advised my brother I had some suture strips in my pack but that was all (he only had a couple bandaids). He got them out and we used all 8 of them to help close the wound. We then used his two bandaids and a makeshift wrap to stop the bleeding.  Surprisingly I remained calm and had my wits the whole time. When we got it all bandaged my brother looked at me with concern and said, “you can’t bend your leg, it’ll open instantly, we are ten miles from the nearest ranger station, and even further from civilization. What are our options?”. I replied, “Singular, I will walk straight legged to the ranger station, get this would cleaned out, and then, depending on what we find, either continue or take a ride out via the bird”. My brother, being a former paramedic and current animal nurse pondered on it for a moment and then agreed. He took some of my gear and put it in his pack to make my walk a little more easy and then we got on our way. We had already hiked 7 miles and I wasn’t looking forward to another 10, but it had to be done. The walk was slow going, but we made to the ranger station by 8pm. Once there the ranger summoned the backcountry medic who turned out to be a laughable representation of a medic.

 

The medic looked at my wound and her eyes flashed with uncertainty. At this moment I was thankful I had my brother with me. Her movements were choppy and clumsy and her questions and understanding seemed to only correlate with incompetence. My own experience as an EMT let me know my observations were accurate. After she tried to wash my wound out with eye wash, she failed to check my dexterity and range of motion. This didn’t go unnoticed by me or my brother, but we both held our tongues. Next she attempted to take my blood pressure which she read inaccurately. To add insult to injury she couldn’t figure out how the blood pressure cuff went on. Good thing she only calls for the bird to take people out and doesn’t have to give any form of medical care. At this point Andrew and I both questioned her reading as it was indicative of a stroke victim. She said Andrew could check it and he gave a much more accurate reading and then showed her how to use it. He also showed her a few test to check my range of motion and dexterity, how to check for a pedial pulse, and what to look for in the wound. She seemed eager enough to learn, but that didn’t fill me with the most confidence. After Andrew and her bandaged my knee he and I were at an agreement. My hike was over. After a brief discussion the ranger said we could catch a ride across the lake, into Canada, with a ranger and then hitch back to the states where I could get medical treatment. This sounded great, but I had no form of identification on me. Oh well, guess we will see what comes of it. That night Andrew and I made camp on the ranger station lawn and waited for the boat to come the next morning.

 

It was around 11am when the boat arrived to pick up my brother and I. He had decided he didn’t want to continue on without me and opted to leave. The ranger that would be giving us a ride to Canada was in his mid 40’s and rather friendly. As he took us across he received a call to check on a hurt hiker near the border where Andrew and I would be crossing. He notified dispatch that he would check it out and he would be taking a medical to the border as well. This was a reward as we didn’t have to hitch back to the States. After the 30 minute boat ride into Canada the ranger unloaded the boat and we got into his truck. I must confess it was a little unnerving to sit by someone who had a semiautomatic weapon so close and easy to access. As we drove toward the states he called the canadian border patrol to find out who was working. He wanted to know if this was going to be an easy transfer or if there was going to be problems. When he finished his conversation with border patrol he looked at me and said, “our nemesis is on duty today. She’s probably going to make things difficult, but don’t worry”. Then he smiled and we returned to our casual conversation. It took about 20 more minutes to reach customs where he and my brother both showed their passports and were welcomed. I on the other hand had no identification which seemed to upset the Canadian officer. She was rather upset that I was in Canada and that a ranger brought me in without paperwork. He explained over and over that I was a medical and the guy with me was claiming to be my twin. We are rather Identical and I know she could see the resemblance, but she protested and shouted. After roughly 20 minutes she relented and gave a piece of paper to the ranger and mumbled “they’re just going to send him back here because he has no paperwork and he’ll be my problem again”. I smiled at her and said thank you and hobbled back to the truck as quick as my leg would allow. We then went to the American side, 100 feet away, and the ranger said the same thing to the American patrol as he did the Canadian. The officer in the booth looked at me, then my brother, then me again, and said, “have a nice day and get that knee taken care of”. 🙂 And this is how I was an illegal alien for around an hour and a half. 🙂

 

Once back in the states my brother and I caught a hitch from the border back to West Glacier. A couple 19yr old college students were on a road trip and decided to pick us up. When they heard my story they offered to drive three hours in the opposite direction they needed to go to make sure I returned safe and got medical attention. The three hour van ride with them was enjoyable and time went rather quick. Once back in West Glacier I set up camp in the hike/bike campground and waited until the morning to go to the Clinic. I walked the 2 miles to the clinic where a wonderful Dr. treated me with the most equitable medical treatment I have ever received. He flushed me wound and removed the debris of rock, cut the dead skin, gave me a tetanus  shot, a shot to numb the area, and then stitched me up. I took 4 internal stitches to sew the inside back together and 5 stitches on the external portion to close the wound for a total of 9 stitches. Then the nurse gave me a ride back to the campground so I wouldn’t have to walk. I also had a follow up the next day to make sure things were going well. It ended up costing under $400. This was very affordable considering I don’t have insurance. I spent the next week just hanging out with my brother and doing some fishing. We both made the best of the situation and enjoyed ourselves. When it was time for him to go I took him back to the airport and headed to Yellowstone. I would be meeting a friend from Ohio there and spending a couple days with him and his kids.

 

It took a day and a half to drive to Yellowstone and I found myself missing Montana the further away I drove. Something in my heart yearns to go back. I entered Yellowstone from the west side of the park and did the car tour for the first half of the day. I checked out some of the sights and took in the scenery. It was nice, but it looked like it was all dying; probably because it’s the crater of a giant active volcano. The colors were mostly browns, reds, and a dull green that was close to burnt. I also saw my first “up close” buffalo. I’ve seen them in the wild of North Dakota from about 100 yards, but this one was about 10 yards. WOW, take away that 90 yards and that animal just went from large to a monstrosity. They aren’t the cutest animal for sure. I watched a couple geysers erupt and thought, “ah, I’ve seen better”. Once I reached the South East corner of the park I met my friend Clayton and his two children, Eli and Addison. I stayed at their campside the next two days and enjoyed their company. I also checked out morning glory. It was the one pool I wanted to see while I was at the park. That night Clayton and I took our cameras out behind the lodge and practiced our astrophotography. He has a really nice DSLR that made my little cybershot look unimpressive; nonetheless, I captured some good shots and enjoyed the lesson of learning by doing. Clayton gave some advice and we both worked together to figure out a couple settings that seemed to work. After hanging out for a couple days he and the children were moving to the West part of the park and I was heading East. I have some friends in Denver that I was going to see, but before that I wanted to visit the Uinta Mountains. I’ve been once before and enjoyed it so much I had to go back.

 

It took a couple days and a flat tire on a lonesome, backcountry dirt road to get there, but I made it. I have a trail map of the mountain range which I used to pick a nice, secluded backcountry spot that I could drive to. I’m glad I chose to come here as the weather was beautiful and the temperatures were mild and pleasant. I camped in a valley surrounded by mountain peaks covered in snow. There was a stream winding its way gently through the alpine valley with patches of grassy field and wooded retreats. I did some fishing and enjoyed the peaceful serenity that is nature. I ended up spending three days here. I would have stayed longer, but I needed to get back on the road if I was going to make it to Denver to see my friends Thomas and Jonathan.  

 

Leaving the Uintas was bittersweet as I found a peace I seldom find; nonetheless, I bid the majestic range a farewell and started my drive to Denver. It took me one night and two days to get there. I spent single night around Kenosha Pass. This is a pass I really enjoy, especially around fall when the mountain sides are brushed in hues of yellow and orange. I entered Denver from the Southwest as it was the most direct route to Jonathan and his family and instantly remembered why I left Denver. TRAFFIC! Wow, this is as bad a California. Fortunately I was able to navigate the streets well as my mind flooded with memories of a past not yet forgotten. When I pulled into the apartment complex Jonathan, his wife, and son reside I felt excited and eager. I have few friends across this land, but the ones I do have and get to see, even if only seldom, revive my soul like the the spring sun on a blooming flower. I ran up the stairs two at a time arriving at 403A breathing a little heavy. I lifted my hand to knock and the door opened. In a flash I was embraced by a man weighing around 270 pounds and standing 6’2” tall. I smiled, laughed, and cried simultaneously as I felt a warmth of love that is the gift of honest, transparent friendship. For the next 6 hours we talked, laughed, and caught up on life events from the past year. In no time at all the hour was late and I was bidding my farewell. I left that night and headed to North Denver where I would meet Thomas at his new home in NorthGlenn. That night I spent the night in a king soopers parking lot. Places to stay in the city are less than pleasant on the eye.

 

I arrived in NorthGlenn around 10 am thanks to traffic, and easily found the house of Thomas. Once again I felt the same emotions that I felt the previous day when visiting Jonathan. This time I was afforded the opportunity to knock. When the door opened I was greeted with a smile that could light the darkest of nights and embraced in a hug that would warm a polar bear. I spent the next few hours catching up, going to lunch at Chipotle, and having some ice cream at the ColdStone. At around 2-3pm I wished Thomas a farewell and set off back towards California feeling a little guilty. Thomas works nights, 7pm-7am, as an RN and was in the middle of his four day work week.

 

The drive back to Santa Cruz was less than eventful and I found myself staying in the national forest along the way. The last place I stopped was in Tahoe National Forest. I followed a road that went from pavement, to gravel, to streams and boulders. I passed nothing but ATV’s and OHV’s the entire time, but made it to the campground on the other side. This was a 36 mile drive I took to cut of 50 miles of driving on the interstate. The navigation said it would be faster, but because of the conditions it was twice as long. I am still awestruck that I made it through. It was on of the most tension filled drives I have made. It was a good things I started the drive early in the morning because I didn’t make it to the camp until around 2pm. After fixing some lunch I decided to take the 2 mile walk to the top of a ridge and check out the fire tower. In California every fire tower is manned during the fire season. It was a quick walk up to a spectacular view. I met the FS employee in charge, John, and we talked until the sun was fading. It turns out we both enjoy photography so we exchanged a lot of knowledge on astrophotography and took many pictures. When I left he wished me well and said if I was ever in the area again to just drive up and camp next to the tower. It’s always a treat to meet people and have the enjoyment shared. That night I slept well

 

Early the next morning I arose and started my drive to Santa Cruz. I wanted to beat the traffic. The drive was slow and eventless. Once in Santa Cruz I started back to work for until about a week ago. I did this so I could purchase an RV. I spent more than I wanted on it, but it was one of the few in my price range. I packed the RV with all my valuables, sold my car, and started to make my way East as I am going to visit my grandparents. There time is dwindling and I want to make sure I take advantage of my opportunities to enjoy them. Wth that I set out towards ohio.

 

Everything went well until around Elko Nevada when my abs light came on. Glad it was here, because the closed town to it is over a hundred miles in any direction. The mechanics got me in the next day and replaced the rear wheel cylinders on the brakes. It appears they went out and had I driven further I would have lost the brakes. Good thing I stopped. Unfortunately after they fixed the brakes it refused to start. They spent until 7pm fixing that problem. I was grateful they stayed over passed close to help get me back on the road, but the 800 dollar bill hurts. Turns out a wire that provides a constant 12v current to the inertia switch, I have no idea what that means, was bad so they had to bypass it. I spent the night in the local Walmart and figured I would get an early jump on the drive the next morning.

 

When I left elko the sun was just coming up the sky was shades of pink and lavender swirl. I drove all morning and made it to the east side of Salt Lake City before my beautiful RV decided to quit. It died at the 80E 215S interchange. I called a tow and waited the 2 hours it took for him to arrive. Cody, the tow driver, was super friendly and asked if he could look some things over before he towed me. I gave him the go ahead and was under the hood and the car in minutes. Shortly after peeking out of the hood he asked if he could see the keys. I handed them over he he started it up on the first turn. According to him it looks like it overheated. He offered to let me follow him to a local shop and didn’t charge me a dime. I was tickled. After talking to the shop owner he noticed my temperature gauge was bad, and offered to check the rest of it over on Tuesday. They were about to close and he wasn’t wanting to work his weekend. Here in Salt Lake they take Sundays and Mondays off and since I showed up on a Saturday I have to wait. No worries as he said I could leave my RV at the shop and just stay in it, so that’s what I’ve been doing. Tomorrow I will find out what’s wrong with it and go from there.

 

 

“Try to fall in love every time you say hi” ~Patrick: Humanity Matters Reborn: Episode 9~

Reward: The Life He Lives

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Life’s uncertain dance seems no more luck than chance. So a gambler rolls the dice in his hand, hoping to find the promised land. Each loss is a lessons pain and each win shows a lessons gain. This is the cost he must pay for the life he lives.

The sunny days warming light touches his eye and he realizes it was worth every day he had to cry. The rains will always return a new just to remind him of what it’s like to feel blue. This is the cost he must pay for the life he lives.

As he understands this cycle that helps to lift, he watches the stars dance around appreciations gift. All settles into ease as he sits with the breeze and considers all he sees. A calm knowledge of torments worry allows him to remove it from his story. This is the reward for the life he lives.

 

“The glow of one warm thought, is to me, worth more than money” ~Thomas Jefferson~

 

A Calm Storm

I found a seed in an unlikely place. I knew at first glance it was more than ordinary. Nurturing it we began to bond with each inch it did grow. Fast and pure it rose reaching out to take my hand. The warmth of a seasons shine allowed it to flower and in our eyes we found the sublime. Soon though, the clouds cast out the sun and a storm did rage with a violent howl. When it passed the flower was gone, wilted into a memories vision. The seeds it dropped fell to a tainted soil and only grew a thorny weed. Through this winters struggle the soil was tended with loves light and eventually it began to thrive. The weeds of thorn slowly, carefully being removed revealed in it’s absence the flower that once bloomed. Now the tender nurture begins anew as the flower starts to slowly grow.

 

“I don’t want to protect the environment. I want to create a world were the environment doesn’t need protecting” ~Bahar Dutt~

Story Book Pages: Loves Reunion

Here is a little about my personal life and a recent trip I made back to my home state of Ohio.

My trip to Ohio was smooth, fluid, and enjoyable. I was fortunate enough to find a direct flight both ways (San Jose to Cincinnati). On the flight to Ohio I sat beside a young college student who was returning home for the summer. She resides Northeast of Cincinnati and was excited to be returning. She also had a three and a half  hour conversation with me on a four hour flight. How lucky am I? Once I landed in Cincinnati my friend, Clayton, and my brother picked me up. We made the two hour drive north to reach the small, midwest town I called home the majority of my life. It’s strange to say, but I realized this town, Urbana, is like Mayberry from the Andy Griffith show. It’s a small farming community in the center of the county. It also boasts as the county seed, i.e., largest city in the county. In 1990 the population was 11,444 and in 2016 the population was 11,425. It’s the type of small town that not many people leave. It hasn’t grown much since my youth and it looks like it’s going to stay that way. It’s an honest, friendly, know your neighbor type of place where the park isn’t locked, the schools aren’t fenced, and there isn’t a single residence or shop with barred windows or bullet proof glass. Definitely a step back to a much slower time and atmosphere.

After the two hour drive I arrived at my grandmothers. This is also where I grew up. As I suspected, even though she goes to bed at 7:30pm on a regularly scheduled program, she was sitting up in the living room waiting for me. To be honest: this woman is my rock. She is the foundation, backbone of love. Through her I have discovered how to love myself as well as others. She as well as my grandfather also inspired me to be honest, hardworking, considerate, compassionate, kind hearted, and just an all around good person. These are my parent figures and the ones I am closest to above all others. I know they aren’t my paternal parents: they are far beyond. I greeted her with a hug, kiss on her forehead, and a loves smile that was reflected as emerald eyes danced with earth tones of ages wisdom. We talked briefly then she retired and I unpacked. Before I could get all the clothing out of my carry on my grandmother was beckoning for help. I knew that call, that tone, that voice like I know my name. My grandfather was having a seizure and she isn’t able to help him like she once did. *NOTE: My brother is living with them as an in home health care type. He’s a former EMT and is now a nurse for animals* It broke my heart to see my grandfather so helpless and incoherent. No matter how many times I witness this it never gets more easy. I would actually say it becomes more difficult. I should also mention my grandfather is epileptic so this is a normal, natural occurrence. Once he was back to “normal” we all decided to settle in for the night.

I spent the next day with my grandmother, grandfather, great uncle, great ucles husband, and a couple friends of theirs, Brenda and Dave. This was an unexpected welcome for me. Everyone met at my grandmothers the day before. It’s my understanding they had planned this get together months in advance and it just happened to coincide with me visit. As everyone arrived I found myself being a chatterbox. I have always gotten along with an older generation and found conversation comes rather naturally. We all talked and laughed for about an hour before someone, I can’t recall who, mentioned lunch was calling. They had all decided to spend it at “The Farmers Daughter” a local, hometown eatery. As they got up to leave I bid farewell and thanked them for the much enjoyed sparkling conversation. Before I could get my last thank you in Roger and my Great Uncle were inviting me along. At Rogers invitation I saw my grandmothers eyes light. How could I turn down such a gift? I accepted and we were off. Once at the restaurant I explained I wouldn’t be eating, but I would be enjoying beautiful people, wonderful laughter, light hearted conversation, and a delightful water. I know the only one who truly understood, besides myself, why I wasn’t eating was my grandmother. Nonetheless we moved on and enjoyed a beautiful lunch where I heard a rather funny joke from an 82 yr old woman. I’m going to paraphrase it, but imagine this coming from a modest, grandmother in her 80’s.

“Two cowboys were out camping when a snake bit one on the DingDong in his sleep. The cowboy that got bit awoke his buddy and said, “I got bit on the dingdong by a snake, what should I do? His buddy looked at him in shock and said, “I don’t know but I will ride into town, it’s only a few miles, wake the Dr. and ask him”. It was a short ride by horseback into town where he found the Dr and awoke him. The Dr. invited him in and asked to the urgency of his call. He quickly explained his buddy had been bitten by a snake and he needed to know what to do. The Dr. replied, “you have to suck out the poison where the snake bit him. If you do this he should be alright”. Unsure if he heard correctly he asked the Dr to repeat the treatment one more time. After the Dr finished repeating the treatment the cowboy said thank you and made his leave. He rode back to his buddy who was obviously still in pain and stared at him for a moment.  “Well what did the Dr. Say?” the cowboy asked in eagerness. His buddy looked at him with serious eyes and said, “He says you’re gonna die.”

When she completed the joke the entire table, and a couple around us broke into laughter. I am pretty sure I laughed the hardest out of all of them and I’m certain no one had a clue as to why. After the joke the food arrived and it got rather quiet around the table except for the ensuing argument about who was fitting the bill. It took me a whole half second to figure out how to end the argument. I silently, and swift as a snow leopard, walked up to our waitress and asked to pay they bill. I gave a brief explanation of what I was doing and why which she told me was sweet and led me to the cash register. I paid and returned to my seat. Shortly after the plates laid empty and the conversation was pleasant. This ensued for about thirty more minutes before my great uncle Bob asked for the check. She said it had already been taken care of. Within a span of a fraction of a second every eye at our table was staring at me with a penetrating gaze. You know the one that makes you turn red and want to run and hide? Although there was a brief moment of protest eventually acceptance arrived. We all headed back over to my grandmothers and sat for another couple hours until everyone ventured back to their own homes. It was a rewarding dance I shared with beautiful people. I wouldn’t exchange it for anything. The rest of the day I spent hanging out with my grandmother and playing a round of disc golf with my brother.family

The rest of the week was occupied with seeing friends. I helped my buddy Mike work on his derby car. I’m not very mechanical, but that didn’t matter when you just have to take things apart. It was nice to see mike and get to catch up. He’s a life long friend and one I have had since elementary school.  IMG_20180512_115336.jpg

I also went on a canoe trip with my Brother, friends Clayton, Sean, Pamala, Tim, and Sean’s two children Adeline and Samuel. This was a super fun trip and I found myself acting like a parent for a brief moment. Sean, Tim, and Clayton had taken the vehicles to the end of our route so we would have a way to get back to pick up the drop off car. While they were gone I got to spend some one on one time with the children. They’re our future and I will seize every opportunity to perhaps inspire them. I was sitting and talking with Adeline when Samuel came over, picked her life jacket up with his oar, and used it like a trebuchet to launch her jacket 40 feet. She went over and picked it and he laughed. She had a slight chuckle as well. This is where I just wanted to plant a seed so I asked him why he did what he did. He said he was only having fun and his sister just looked at me curiously. I took this time to explain to him that it’s ok to have fun and if that’s fun to him that’s fine, but consider that actions create certain outcomes and the reason behind the action needs to be understood if one wishes to understand the outcome. He wasn’t quite sure what I was trying to say so I elaborated more. “Consider this: Had you gone over and picked up your sisters life jacket after you threw it and returned it what would that have created? How would that have made your sister feel and how would that have made you feel? Or, if I threw your life jacket and had you go pick it up how would you feel versus if I threw your life jacket then I went, picked it up, and returned it? With this I saw his eyes widen and understanding express itself. I smiled at him and he grinned in a way young boys do. Shortly after everyone returned and we went down the river. It was a fun, relaxing trip which everyone enjoyed. It was nice too. We all had much fun made many wonderful memories.coneo.jpg

This brought me less than 12 hours away from mothers day. The following day I would be having lunch with my mother, sister, two brothers, and grandparents. It was a pleasant lunch and it was the first time all of my mother’s siblings were in the same room in roughly five years. I must confess it took some convincing for me to persuade my brother to attend. I couldn’t think of a better mothers day gift. I’m pretty sure my mother knew I had a hand in everyone getting together because she pulled me to the side and said, “thank you!”. I was just grateful for the chance to give back. The next day I packed, said farewell to my family and friends, and flew back to California.

 

“Every story is us” ~Rumi~

Acceptance, A Gratitude gift

 

In a memories dream is where I find you

Floating on a hearts song across the sky

You are one of but a select few

Who can show the flower in your eye.

 

A gift of the finest creation

Wasted and lost to irrational behavior

A fools unwitty machination

Will I ever regain your favour

 

The lessons of life, a constant dance

Showing me i can do the drunks stumble

Or learn the Bolero, not by chance

All the while teaching to be humble.

 

Now I toss the regrets far away

I give the forgiveness of love

Finding myself in a new day

Look at me now, flying far above.

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Dehydrating: A Backpacker Paradise

My life, like creations natural world, is a constant change, giving and taking both being able bodied contenders. I can measure and see this natural occurrence in each phase associated with backpacking. The first phase, and most challenging for me, is where I see the most giving from myself. The second phase, where I take, take, and take, is the moments reward. And the final, third phase, is successes bittersweet candy.

Phase one consists of all prehike activities, e.g., purchasing gear, logistics, preparing food, packaging mail drops, etc. etc. This is the most time consuming portion. I must devote my “free time” to completing a resupply route, i.e., what post offices I am going to mail packages containing my food to, dehydrating meals, preparing meals, vacuum sealing meals, and creating a budget so as to not come off trail without any financial stability. The resupply planning, purchasing of gear, and creating a budget are relatively easy tasks. Not to bothersome and easily achievable; however, the food prep is a monster of the grandest.

Preparing the majority of your food, when hiking with Celiac, can be daunting. Every dinner is a dehydrated creation that originates from my own culinary abilities. Mind you, I plan on hiking from June through October. That’s over 150 meals one must make, dehydrate, vacuum seal, and package. Good thing for me I have a Monique to help. She’s going too so that’s actually 300 meals we require. Not only does the preparation take time, but we both must work as much as we can to have enough money for the purchasing of all the supplies. I give all my free time, that means when I’m not working, to this part of the planning until every last meal is made and accounted for. It is time consuming, extensive, and tedious, but the reward presents itself in phase two.

Welcome to the most rewarding and enjoyable phase, two. This is where I take, take, and take. I place myself in a timeless moment that runs parallel with harmony and I take my free time back, I take back my freedom, and I accept creations gift that is nature. This is where I can see most clearly the balance of give and take.

I have given months of my life to arrive at this point and by doing so I am going to be given the same. It is a gift for my efforts that I can accept/take or pass up. For my efforts I am going to be able to have time to meditate more, practice creative efforts at my leisure, and relax in a stress free environment. Yup, you heard me correctly. A STRESS FREE environment. As nice as this is it will not last forever. One can only take so much before they have to give back and this giving back will take us to the next phase.

Phase three is the bittersweet candy of life that I find irresistable. It is so intoxicating that I find myself continuously going back for more. It comes at the end of every hike, adventure, or vacation, and leaves a longing for the sweetness. It lets us know we can achieve that which we desire but refuses to just hand it over. We have to earn it through the toil of a lesson. It is true that in life we must have the bitter so we enjoy the sweet, but with enough practice, reflection, and learning one will find that the bitter isn’t so bitter. More of a mild blah.  

 

“Love truly never leaves your side. it’s just hanging out on the inside, waiting for you to find it” ~Team Juice Box~