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~

 

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~

Power Arises Within

I found inspiration during a recent hardship. It was so overwhelming and powerful I’m not sure how to transcribe how it happens or the sensations associated with it. I do know internally, from the innermost of the inner, there is a power that needed to be released. This poem was the release.

An Unseen Melody

I say yes,

You say no.

I say happy,

You say sad.

I say easy,

You say hard.

 

You say yes,

I say no.

You say happy,

I say sad.

You say easy,

I say hard.

 

This is beauty,

A circles reunion.

Created with difference

Ever infinite

 

I say I love you,

You say not today.

I say I want you,

You say stay away.

 

You say I love you,

I say as I do you.

You say I want you,

I say I want you too.

 

This is the surest way,

Keeping the flowers out.

This is the roughest way,

Harboring the dark of night.

 

Look at your perspective,

Which way do you go?

Look at your direction,

What do you see?

 

I say I love you,

You say as I do you.

I say I want you,

You say I want you too.

 

You say I love you,

I say as I do you.

You say I want you,

I say I want you too.

 

This is loves gift,

A circles completion.

If each sees,

The outstretched arm.

The flower will bloom,

Under a rainbows glow.

 

I say yes,

You say no.

I say happy,

You say sad.

I say easy,

You say hard.

 

You say yes,

I say no.

You say happy,

I say sad.

You say easy,

I say hard.

 

“The future is no place to place your better days” ~Dave Matthews~

Grossly Incompetent: Self-Righteous Idiocy

A few weeks ago, Friday March 16, I removed a tick from my inner  thigh. I am unsure how long it was attached, but I can confidently confirm he/she was sucking away. I immediately attempted to remove the tick and found it to be a little more difficult than I had envisioned. When I would tug on him/her the skin on my leg would completely lift up and I could feel the pull. I decided to give a nice big yank and see what happend. I was in luck. I pulled the parasitic abomination out in entirety. I immediately ran to the kitchen and grabbed a paper towel to place the infectious varmen in. I took one quick look and become so overwhelmed that I went directly to the fireplace and tossed it in.

I know ticks carry Lyme so I decided to take pictures of the bite; I would be able to monitor and have a record of what transpired this way. At first it didn’t look bad, but by early Saturday Morning I was a little concerned. The area was still red and had a rashy look. It still was nothing like the horrific google pictures, but it was looking a little conspicuous. I decided to take morning and evening pictures to help my documentation and by Saturday night I was a little concerned.

I sent the pictures to my brother, a medical employee who has years of service as an EMT and a veterinarian technician. His reply was simple, “go to the Dr. and get some Doxy. Time is critical”. Well heck, that’s not what I was hoping to hear. I also sent the pictures to Monique who was out of town for the week volunteering at an event for at risk children. She is also a Lyme recovery and has been symptom free for 6 years. She promptly called and expressed her concern. She also expressed her concern that many doctors do not listen and for me to be cautious to arrogance. Hmmm. I know that battle as I suffered its appearance during my Celiac Diagnosis. I wasn’t going to go to the ER, cost reasons, but I would go, on Monday, to a doctor.

By the time Monday morning rolled around there was no mistaking it. There was a tiny, about the size of my pinky nail, bullseye on my inner thigh. I promptly looked up an infectious disease specialist and gave them a call. I was informed that without a referral I wasn’t going to be seen and they are unwilling to give any advice over the phone. There only advice: go to Urgent Care. Wow, these people could care less whether I was ok or not. I took the advice and went in to our local Urgent Care in Santa, Cruz. It was operated by a large health care chain.

It took about an hour for the Dr. to come in and see me. I explained what had happened and he looked me in the eye and said, “Yes, it looks like a bullseye rash, but it isn’t one. It isn’t big enough. Also if the tick wasn’t on you for over 24hrs you can not contract Lyme. I’ve been doing this for 20 yrs and that isn’t Lyme. However; since you don’t know how long the tick was on you I’m going to give you a dose, two 100mg pills of Doxy, to take care of it. If any Lyme did get in this will prevent it from developing and you will be fine.” What the BLEEP! Monique was livid. I brought her with me as she has dealt first hand with the disease and cares about me more than the Dr. To him I am #6219544. The doctor assures us it’s not Lyme by saying it doesn’t look big enough. No test is ran, no discussion of possible symptoms, and no concern is shown. With this we make are leave.

Monique and my brother are both furious and urge me to start a treatment of Doxy, twice a day, until symptoms are not present. Both are sure I have Lyme; now, I am sure I do as well.

It’s been roughly three weeks since I was bitten and I can honestly say it has not been the easiest. Herxheimer reactions can be down right debilitating. The fatigue I experience is difficult to transcribe, the ache in my joints is beyond bearable, and nothing helps take any of the symptoms away. It’s just part of the die off. The last one I had lasted for two and a half days. I managed not to let it keep me out of life though. I went to a Shen Yun performance and helped collaborate on the development of a childrens pirate ship; however, my external expression was no less than ailing. I can say that I am feeling better now than I have since I was bitten.

I’m not sure how long I will be afflicted with this dreadful disease, I have read some reports of it being chronic, but I’m determined not to let it put me down. Yes, it did knock me down, but it hasn’t put me down. Oh, and I have continued planning and prepping for our long distance hike. I’ll have more to come on that in the near future.

 

“There is nothing so stable as change” ~Bob Dylan~

Soap Box Truth: A Hasty Retreat, Avoidance, Dismissal, and Shunning

Current world events are staging to redirect the entire populace of this beautiful planet towards the vulgar, grotesque, repugnant, cringeworthy, abominable, nauseating, and insufferable disgust that is war. Don’t plan on being informed of this by your local news outlet, e.g., newspaper, journalist, news station, or any other form of controlled, artificial news. These types and forms of news are designed to distract and persuade to the point of control. It is their “job” to drive how the populace thinks. Check for yourself. All one needs to do is tune into a news station and try to find a story that is beyond, or far removed from, sensationalism. Find a story promoting a coming together of nations, a unifying of people, or a conflict solution through synergy created by collaboration. All very tough finds.

Truth is a kleptocratic governing body will steal more than just your wealth. They will also rob you of your free will and oppress you to the utmost while increasing privation all the more frequent. This governing body is made up of more than politicians. It includes news anchors, journalist, police officers, military personnel, teachers, supervisors, managers, sales representatives, and any other position that places morality on the back burner for purposes of economics and blind obedience. These perfidious parasites spew their mendacious venom in all directions and play biase to their income generator. In doing so they divide humanity, incite riots of race, spark violence as a solution, and educate for conformity. So how do we help change this course of self destruction?

Simple, we change ourself. When we do this and operate within a construct of moral, righteous behaviour we inspire our self; however, that inspiration isn’t limited to our self. It touches others as well. This wouldn’t be a bad thing to perpetuate. Yet how many will take up the call for the betterment of humanity? How many will be courageous enough to follow their true, inner self?

As unpleasant as the truth is it is still no less than truth. I would encourage all, myself included, to stop and consider the moral implications of what we each do in our day to day lives. Consider as well: One does not have to follow an order because it is demanded of them. Fear oppresses freedom, obedience oppresses free will, and oppressed liberty is slavery’s welcome.

“If the press is awaiting a declaration of war before it imposes the self-discipline of combat conditions, then I can only say that no war ever posed a greater threat to our security. If you are awaiting a finding of “clear and present danger,” then I can only say that the danger has never been more clear and its presence has never been more imminent.” ~John F Kennedy~

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Life Nectar

It’s easy to walk into a kitchen, grab a glass from a cabinet, and fill it from the tap. Presto, thirst quenched in under a minute. What happens though when that option isn’t a viable avenue? What if on top of not having a kitchen you can’t purchase water either? How does one procure the life sustaining drink when the two most culturally accepted methods to obtain them are not pursuable?

I have found, through experience of trial and error, a couple things that helped resolve the above questions. The first being a water filter. I cannot begin to emphasize the value of this little contraption enough. It has the power to turn a brown, cloudy liquid into a clear, crisp revitalizing refreshment. It also removes giardia and a host of other contaminants. We opted for a four liter gravity system for our travels.

The system itself allows us to be hands free while it filters. No squeezing or pumping involved. I simply fill the “dirty” bag with water, hang it from a limb or lay it on a slope, and gravity does the rest. It’s a simple process, but does take time and a water source. Usually around ten to fifteen minutes per gallon. I pass the time by attempting to meditate or sitting quietly just being in my surroundings. E.g., today I filtered five gallons from a mountain stream in a national forest. the water is clear, no cloudiness like when you get it from a city source, and has a crispness that I cannot transcribe. As I listened to the stream I found my thoughts roaming ever more inward until my focus was blurred and time was no place to be found. It is most rewarding. It was in one of these states that I understood a second, helpful tool for the acquisition of clean drinking water. Perseverance!

Yes, I said perseverance. I didn’t associate this with the collection of water until I actually tried gathering it from alternative sources such as mountain streams or springs on numerous occasions. This new understanding arose from much personal experience. A couple contributing factors are unreliable water sources and people. Let me elaborate more on the first factor.

Water can be indicated on a map or atlas by a blue line. This blue line can be either broken or solid, both indicating water. The broken line usually refers to intermittent or seasonal water while the solid line, supposedly, represents a reliable, year round source. Unfortunately with the ever changing climate these solid lines are becoming less reliable. I know, from personal experience through years of travel, that some of these water sources have dried up and some are intermittent. I see this currently in California. Imagine having half a liter of water and driving through a particularly long dry stretch. In the middle of this dry stretch is a solid blue line on your map. However, when you arrive at said blue line you find a riverbed occupied by only loose gravel and dirt. The only option at this point is to drive, even if it’s out of the way, to the next reliable water source. Don’t be discouraged though; not all water sources are like this. I actually believe the second factor to be more irksome.

People, sometimes they’re the worst. They can pose problematic when you aren’t living the way they believe is appropriate or their rules and regulations tell them they are not permitted to accept what you are doing. We were in a National Forest recently when we ran into a rather annoying situation. We came in the back way to avoid the hordes of people and traffic. This has always been a solid way to circumnavigate the delays and avoid being in the way of others. On this trip it was considered the winter season in the forest so I knew not many people would be here. It’s late February and the temperature is swinging from a low in the forties to a high in the sixties. As we entered the park we could see the river about five hundred feet below us, but there was no possible way to descend the drop. Luckily there was a day use area to our right that had a trail leading down to the water. The only problem was a locked rail preventing anyone from entering the area by car. The sign read closed for winter. No worries. I can park off to the side, there are no “no parking signs”, walk around the gate, and down to the water source. We decided to do this and Monique would walk Lyla while I filtered. It took a whole five minutes before I was approached by a forest official saying I wasn’t allowed to be parked where I was, I wasn’t allowed to get water from the stream, and we must leave; safety reasons of course. He didn’t care we had no water and he didn’t seemed concerned if we got any. Our safety and health wasn’t his problem, but the safety of the closed area was his problem and he was to protect that safety at all cost. Perhaps he was concerned the toilet would spontaneously combust and needed to be sure the fire apparatus could make it through in a timely manner. I couldn’t say either way, but I did manage to fill up our four liter water bag. I returned to the van knowing I had at least managed to retrieve a gallon of water. I don’t think he noticed the bag I was holding had water in it. We then drove to the overflow parking near the campground to filter the water. Surely we would be out of the way and not bothersome to any. The campground was open and held around five campers on the forty plus lot. As I set up our water filter a second forest official came over and informed us we couldn’t be in the overflow parking area. Perhaps they were expecting a mass exodus of city dwellers to converge on the campground that evening and we were in great parrel by being parked there. I can’t say for sure though. I politely explained we were filtering some water and then would be on our way. He mumbled something about fifteen minutes and then left. We drove another fifty six miles after this and filled the rest of our water via a stream on the opposite side of the park; there were no officials in this area whatsoever.

I still have not figured out what I did in either situation that was problematic. Both officials seemed burdened by our presence and only wanted our removal as timely as possible. This I deduced through a correlation of words and actions. I must note that not all forest officials are like this. There are service members who commend us for reusing plastic instead of always purchasing new ones, thank us for practicing leave no trace, and express inspiration in what we are doing. These are the stars in the night that give me strength. Don’t be discouraged by naysayers, the opposites, the friendly, encouraging service members, are worth the brief discomfort.

“The greatest crimes in the world are not committed by people breaking the rules, but by people following the rules. It’s people who follow orders that drop bombs and massacre villages” ~Banksy

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