Whew! It’s hard to imagine we’ve already been on the road for six weeks and have traversed four states after leaving our home state of Illinois. These first weeks on the road have been a period of shifting gears, both figuratively and literally! And a lot of movement as we’ve made our way west. We were certain that our cats were going to have a more difficult adjustment period, as they’d never experienced a life on the road. We knew we’d have adjustments, too, of course, but we never dreamed our cats would be the first to get the hang of this life! They act like they’ve been doing this their whole lives, and we now wonder how well they’d adjust back to a “regular” life, without the 24/7 entertainment outside windows in every direction.
We, on the other hand, are learning what it means to lose typical day-to-day routines, what it means to have “home” be a transient space, and what it means to leave our previous understanding of our lives behind. Because that is what you must do out here, and it is both terrifying and absolutely exhilarating. But this thing we are adjusting to is exactly the adventure we were seeking.
As we made the transition to the road, we knew we wanted a journey to discover the good things in both people and places, and through our travels we wanted an opportunity to spread kindness and promote a sense of goodwill. We also wanted to have an honest dialogue with ourselves and with you, our readers. And, to be honest, our first weeks on the road were not as we’d hoped or anticipated. We met with challenges, not only with the demands of learning this life, but also with people who were not kind, did not return our smiles and greetings, and were not welcoming to strangers, as well as with landscapes that were not as appealing to us as we’d hoped. We felt tested on every level. We knew we’d be tested and challenged on this journey, but we did not expect it to be in the ways we actually experienced.
And then something clicked and fell into place. We both felt such elation the moment we transitioned from the Midwest to the edge of the West. We became lighter. We began to feel a sense of joy. And as we did so, suddenly our experiences shifted from seeing challenges at every turn to seeing wonder and beauty in the places we saw and the people we met. We have been giddy at the sight of buffalo and pronghorn. Absorbed by the views of the rugged hills. Entranced by the waters of the Angostura Reservoir lapping against the sandy shores. And invigorated by the scent and feel of the cool, alpine air in Custer State Park. In our experiences with people, we have found that what was sparked by new friends, Paula and Troy, who generously invited us into a wonderful slice of their life on their pontoon boat, has now, in this place, grown into a broader experience of generosity and kindness. Here, we find people will look you in the eye and smile, they will offer up conversations, and greet you with open kindness. Here we met Brenda, who spoke to us of her life as a solo full-time RVer and offered valuable tips and information to help us out. And Vickie, who shared with us the history of Hot Springs, told us of her family’s roots in the area, and swapped stories with us of changes in weather patterns in our home states. Then there was the brief, but friendly and lively, exchange with Kelly, who runs a non-profit adventure bicycle touring association. And the shared wonderment with a woman, whose name we did not get, of the historical Battle Mountain VA hospital originally, and beautifully, constructed in 1902 as a sanitarium for volunteer soldiers.
These no small wonders have opened to us a renewed sense of excitement about what this journey holds for us. We head to Custer State Park next, and then on to Medicine Bow, WY. There is much to learn out here about us, along with the people and landscapes we encounter. It’s a true statement that joy is found in the journey. So we move onward reminding ourselves that, as in any part of life, sometimes you find your place and sometimes, when you need it most, your place finds you. And so we go. Peace.
Act One: It's a funny thing about shifting space, one minute you're taking to the open road to begin your exciting new journey, and the next minute you are muttering to a black walnut. Our first week on the road was all about acclimation for us and the rvcatsquad. Then Thursday morning arrived, and we loaded up our excitement and were ready to roll, except we made an error that cost us a few hours and a bottle of bleach. Ok. No sweat. We knew we would have a few newbie mistakes. This was a we will laugh about this experience. A few hours later, we were ready to start. Again. As Gail strolled perkily to the car, she noticed the windshield of the car had a spiderweb looking sheen. Quite lovely, were it not that the windshield had been shattered by a black walnut that took on missile-like proportions from a 40-ft free fall. What does one actually say to a rogue black walnut? Something like, "we may never leave Illinois."
Act Two: Talking to your insurance company from a picnic table next to your mobile home is far more relaxing than pacing in your kitchen. You actually laugh about the walnut. It becomes a story. A tale. The net effect is you realize that when control is not an option, you let go. We found that the work could be done on the car much sooner if we headed toward Gail's hometown of Utica, IL. Two days later, we would be on our way. We had a great time visiting, and snuck in a trip to Duffy's Tavern along with a Bianchi's World Famous Pizza (for those of you in the know, this made the delay worth it. ;)) Sunday we were off, and promised Gail's sister that we would not be back for a third goodbye. Because we had to leave Illinois, right?!? And leave we did.
There is a moment you experience when your soul grasps that its free to sail. That moment arrived as we entered Lake Geneva, WI. The beauty spoke.
And, thus, the curtain closes on our first week of RV living. Peace.