Overall, the first month on the road has been a time of transition – a gradual process of becoming comfortable with what i am doing and how i go about doing it.
Though maneuvering within the small confines of the van can be challenging, the daily routines and tasks that make things work seem to be falling into place. Changing locations, however, makes me anxious. The trip from one place to the next involves planning for a place to settle in for a while, finding groceries and other supplies, doing laundry and other chores, and so on – all done within the hours of daylight (i don’t like to set up camp without a few hours of daylight so i am comfortable with the area). I suppose that, in time, this too will become easier.
Since my last post, we have camped around Borrego Springs (CA), Joshua Tree National Park, and near Earp, California (across the Colorado River from Parker, Arizona).
It’s been two weeks since i loaded up the van with the last of my stuff and headed out on the road. Circumstances dictated that i stay close to the area around Fresno, California so my overnight stays were in Panoche Hills, the San Joaquin River Gorge, Redinger Lake, and Pine Flat Lake.
The weather had been very wet with an unusually high amount of rainfall for California at this seasonally wet time of year. And the nights were uncomfortably chilly with little day time relief owing to the constant cloud cover that rarely let the sun peak through.
in spite of almost two years of preparation for living a spartan existence (nowadays called “being a minimalist”) i wound up making three trips to the Salvation Army to donate items for which i just couldn’t find space. I still have a few things that i may never, or so infrequently, use that i will probably get rid of them as well. But all this will happen in it’s own time – something i am quickly learning i have a substantial, seemingly never ending, amount of, that is, until i have something i must do.
It seems that i underestimated both the amount of food i would need (and want) and the amount of ice i would need for the few refrigeration-necessary items i carry which required an earlier than expected trip to the grocery store. And a failing battery on my iPhone required a time consuming two trips to the Apple store. These events, however, provided a welcome opportunity for a hamburger, chocolate milkshake, and some pizza.
Well, she’s having a blast doing what a dog is supposed to do. She’s running, and jumping, chasing squirrels and rabbits, and sniffing and digging at the ground when she encounters the entrance to their underground home.
And when she jumps up into my bed when i settle in for the night she pulls in close and looks up at me as if i had done for her something special, something that would make her rest that night an easy one.
Passing time is like a great distance traveled. The memories are fading like footsteps in the distance. I can no longer imagine the words i wrote. I can no longer feel the comfort of knowing you.
I had a dream.
We would meet again as children. Before we were broken. Before we died. The damage not undone but would never happen. The rags that wiped our tears became the garments we wore. Worn and frayed, they were our only comfort in the cold.
And when i woke, all that remained were your soft and easy words…
“Tu eres el mago de mis sueños.”
The man in the hat starts each day by stretching his arms and legs with an effort that makes his whole body tremble, contorts his face, and causes him to utter a rejoicing that is most befitting that effort.
Today the man in the hat takes a walk.
He walks east and after three days he comes upon a bench and sits down.
As he sits, a stirring wells up within him to know himself. He is at once alone but everything to himself, potential filled with both calm and ecstasy.
He was at rest. And in moments he was asleep.
In three days he woke. And seated next to him on the bench was another man.
When the man in the hat turned to look at this other man, the other man turned to look at him and said, “I am here to observe you.”
“Alone, you can not know yourself. So i will observe you and by looking at me you will know yourself. I am the womb and the spirit through which we will experience all our possibilities.”
The man in the hat does not respond, nor does he react, to the other man. He simply smiles.
Now the two rise and walk together toward the east and after three days come upon a bench and sit down. They embrace and fall asleep.
There was a man.
Sometimes the man’s head would feel cold.
And the man would put on his hat.
The hat warmed his head.
One day the man lost his hat.
He started walking in search of his hat.
In the search for his hat, the man met many other men.
And he would ask each of them if they had found his hat.
But without answering they would only look at him with a puzzled expression.
Dismayed by his inability to find his hat, he sat beneath a tree and thought.
And his thoughts soon turned to dreams.
In his dreams, the man saw himself walking in search of his hat.
When he woke from his sleep, the man stood, stretched, removed his hat, scratched his scalp, looked to the sky, smiled, put his hat back on his head, and started walking home.
I searched the sky for a sign of you and i came across a cloud of smoke.
You died before i could tell you.
Do you remember how we sat on the cold stone below the skyscrapers and ate our lunch together. And you listened sweetly with a smile as i dreamed of living on that homestead in Nebraska.
Well i’m almost there, Frances. Almost there.
After a detour into Colorado, i was back on 80 headed west. My first ride took me from Cheyenne to Rawlins where i was dropped off in town – right in front of a bar.
It was bright and sunny that afternoon. And as quiet as things were in town, that bar seemed like a good place to sit for a bit, have a beer, and relax before getting back on the road.
I opened the door to the bar and stood there for a moment while my eyes adjusted to the darkness inside.
And then, at the precise moment the place came into focus, the group of cowboys standing at the bar all turned toward the open door, straining to adjust to the blinding light pouring in from the street.
Oh shit, i thought to myself, this no longer seems like a good idea.
With two steps back and a turn to my left, i was gone. I was a few doors down the street before i was able to turn and see that no one had left the bar after me.
When i came upon a barbershop i decided to go inside and get a haircut.
Though there were four or five people already in the shop, i was first up and invited to sit down as the barber got up from his chair.
Unlike every other barber shop i had ever been in, this one was quiet. No jokes or talk about the weather. Everyone there was glued to the television set that sat on a shelf high on the wall near the corner of the room.
It was the slowest haircut i’ve ever had. It seemed like an eternity between snips of the barber’s shears. Everyone watched in silence and disbelief as Senator Dirksen coaxed a disturbing truth from the witnesses that day in May of 1973.