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. 

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~

Recovery, A Lengthy Measure and Thank You

It has been 7 weeks since I developed a small bullseye rash on my inner thigh. I have been taking Doxycycline, 100mg twice a day, for six weeks now. I feel every day is an improvement from the previous. My strength has elevated, my joints have loosened, the nausea is near becoming extinct, and all the pains associated with Lyme are further and further apart. It’s a very joyous feeling and one I am very thankful for, but I couldn’t have had this success on my own.

I have a family of support that cares for me beyond words or imagination. There love, understanding, and acceptance has helped my recovery and created a bond that will remain always. I can’t thank them enough. On days when my strength was frail, my appetite had vanished, and my mood was dismal they would pick me up, entice me with sweet treats, and lighten my load with a friendships laughter. My gratitude is beyond measure. So to my support, whos arms held me when I could not stand, I thank you.