Well, another month’s gone by. I didn’t intend it to be one without a blog post, though. It just turned out that way, starting with illness at my last campsite.
I wasn’t feeling well starting the Wednesday afternoon following my last post. By Thursday night, I was experiencing enough stomach pain where I decided I had to go to an ER. As an aside, Garmin sucks! I picked the first hospital on the list, which is supposed to be closest. Garmin chose to calculate the distance as the crow flies – directly over Toledo Bend Reservoir … as if I was going to get there on my James Bond one-man rocket pack. It said 19 miles.
I hit 15 miles, telling myself, “You can make it … only four more miles.” We made the first turn and heard Garmin say, “proceed 27 miles …” GEEZUS! I nearly passed out 3 times because of the pain. Was hoping a cop would see me, but that never happened and I wound up making it to the ER around 1am. They diagnosed diverticulitis (something I had a minor bout with about 10 years ago), gave me a prescription for antibiotics and sent me on my way. One other thing – the nurses took good care of Frank while I was inside, they had to tie him up to a tree outside due to regulations, but they kept taking turns going out there to give him water … and one of them kept taking photos of him on her cell phone to assure me he was okay.
Two acts of kindness to note. First, the man at gas pump across from me on Friday morning after being released, who put $20 in my car when my debit card wouldn’t work in the pump (I since found out that I needed special dispensation from my credit union to use it as a credit card in Texas. Long story, but whatever). I asked for a business card so I could send him the $20, but he refused … and suggested I do the same for someone else down the road. (“Down the road” turned out to be at a gas station on the outskirts of Amarillo. I struck up a conversation with a young guy who as it turned out, had just gotten off his night shift and was heading to a day job. He did that so his wife could work afternoons and evenings and he’d be home with the kids. He got the $20 “pay it forward” benefit. Took some doing, but he accepted.)
Second act of kindness was the camp host at Toledo Bend. He came by on Sunday morning, having found out from one of the rangers about my midnight drive to the ER and chewed me out for not coming to him. “That’s what I’m here for – I’d have gotten you to a hospital in 20 minutes, and my kids would have looked after Frank! You’re not alone, my friend. There are lots of us in this camping community. All around the country … and we take care of each other. Please promise me that you won’t do anything like that at any of your future campsites!!!” I thanked him and made the promise.
I was pretty worn out the remaining 5 days I was at Toledo Bend, just getting over the stomach problems. Tearing the campsite down was a bitch and we wound up getting into Livingston, TX about 3 hours later than anticipated. Over the next 1 1/2 days, I met with the attorney, got my car insured, inspected and registered in Texas and got my Texas drivers license. Funny thing was that I was the only person in both the auto registration office and the Dept of Public Safety office (for the driver’s license – the first time I’ve not gotten both done at the same place). I was done by 2pm on Wednesday and went to pick up Frank at the grooming salon. At least ONE of us looks presentable! :o)
Act of kindness #3 – Shawn, the attorney who’s associated with Escapees is doing a bit more legal work for me than domicile. He’s prepping a new will AND offered to step in and work on my escheatment issue in California, where he’s also licensed to practice law. His fee is a fraction of what he would have charged someone “walking in off the street,” to use his phrase. The payments won’t kill me, either. He also took great care to tell me about the Escapees home base they offer, where you can go to live after you’re no longer able to be on the road. He poohed-poohed the fact that I’m tenting, saying that there have been many instances where people no longer use some of the RV’s that are there and either sell them on the cheap or, as a couple of people have done, just given them away to someone based on need. He also encouraged me to get active in their Forums. “Jeff, there are people all over the country who have helped fellow SKPs on the road. You’re not alone out there!”
Two reminders in less that a week – “Jeff, you’re not alone.”
We headed up to Dallas on Thursday, arriving around 3pm. It took me over 90 minutes to find my hotel, despite the fact that I lived there for 10+ years, had come back for visits (albeit, the last one was in 1997), and the hotel was nearby my old stomping grounds. Garmin was no help once we got to a point where a major interstate intersection was closed for work … it kept sending me around to the same place and finally punted. I had to go “old school” and look at a map at a gas station!
Frank had his final two injections for heartworm on Friday and Saturday. I had to drop him off by 7am and wasn’t able to pick him up until after 5pm. He had a rough go – both nights he was in tremendous pain, actually wincing and crying out when I accidentally grazed his lower back. I wound up carrying him to the car both nights after his treatment. I also put him on the bed and took him off when it was time to go outside for his constitutionals. (The good news is that by Tuesday of the following week, he was feeling better. As of this week, he’s back to his old self. He’s even been prancing a little in the morning when we leave the tent in the morning and isn’t happy that I have to reign him in for the foreseeable future.)
After dropping Frank off, Friday also saw me at lunch with four old high school friends. We sat and talked for 3 hours. I hadn’t seen most of them in almost 25 years. Same thing on Saturday morning, when I had breakfast with another old friend from high school, Michael Risser, followed up by a luncheon our class had arranged, where more than 25 people showed up.
I have to say that I didn’t expect it all to be so stressful, but my anxiety level had been incredibly high since arriving in Livingston. I have to acknowledge how tough it was to see everyone. I know at a head level I was the only one who was aware of my own “uncomfortableness”. The guys all let loose on Friday afternoon (Rusty even called a girl we went to high school with because it was her birthday – Nancy now has a voicemail of the five of us singing a three-and-a-half part harmony of “Happy Birthday” that drew raucous applause from all the others in the restaurant). We joked, told stories, remembered shit we did back almost 45 years ago. But the whole time, I was very self-conscious of the fact that I was the only “dropout” among them. Saturday brought more of the same. It’s very hard to explain. Shame is a horrible thing. That’s about all I can say.
Sunday the 19th saw us hitting the road again. But not until I had to backtrack about 15 miles at the outset because I realized I had set my walking stick up on the cargo carrier while I was putting stuff into the back seat and hadn’t put it back in the car. Sure enough, it was lying in the parking lot when I got back to the hotel. Somewhere though, a maid or somebody has come across my sunglasses … and the usb cable that connects up the camera to the laptop so I can download photos! I wasn’t as fortunate with those items. The sunglasses have been replaced. I’ll figure out what I’m doing to replace the usb cable shortly.
We stayed in Memphis, TX and Colorado City, CO on Sunday and Monday nights. Frank took it hard when I told him this was his last time on a bed for a while … that it’d be back to the tent the next day. BUT …
When we arrived last Tuesday at our first campsite (the one we were originally slated to stay at), we discovered they did not put in the eletric hookups in the tent area like they said they were going to do. So I had to find new accommodations. While scrambling around for about 90 minutes, calling different places and not coming up with anything affordable, the thought came to call my next stop in Pagosa Springs. Sure enough, TJ said my site was free and to come on down. I told him we’d arrive the next day. Frank and I drove down to Pagosa Springs that evening and booked a night in an old 50’s-style motel, with the motor court and the little rooms. We did set-up the following afternoon.
The camp itself is magnificent. It’s small, incredibly-well maintained and beyond my wildest expectations. We have a lot of room in our own campsite, right next to a “river” (in name only – right now, it’s nothing more than a speedy, babbling brook) that provides us with the most beautiful music you can imagine. The nights have been down in the low 50’s … I’ve even had to put on sweats and socks to keep warm. What a delight after being subjected to all the heat of the south before arriving here.
So that’s where we’re at. Frank and I have been here at The Last Resort, just south of town for a week, as of today. We have done absolutely nothing … well, unless you count making objects out of the clouds as “nothing”. We did manage to take a long drive yesterday to see a bit of the countryside, but today, we’re right back in camp. Relaxing. It’s taken this long but I finally feel at ease a bit … certainly more than I have since the first week in Georgia. I’ve been able to push off the anxiety and depression that had been following me since that last week in Toledo Bend. Another old high school friend, Warren (who recently relocated to Colorado Springs) said it best when I spoke with him on the phone last week, “Jeff, you’re finally at the place where you’ll get what you started out looking for – no heat, no other setup work to finish, just peace and nature.” Warren, I couldn’t have said it better.
I’ll do better with my blog posts now that we’re situated. I have zero phone service here (a big red “X” on my power bars) and spotty wifi service. I don’t know whether I’ll be able to post a lot of photos, once I figure out how to transfer the photos from the camera to the laptop, that is. But I’ll do another post this weekend at the latest.