Two years ago today, Frank and I left everything behind and drove away from our apartment in Charleston, SC. I was despondent, wracked with anxiety, and totally unsure as to how long it would be before I would give up and chuck this life into the ocean off Big Sur.
Never in my wildest dreams did I expect what what was going to happen next! What has happened.
Since putting Charleston in our rear-view mirror, here’s what’s happened to my Chief Navigator and me – we have:
- Stayed at 43 campgrounds in 18 states
- Visited a total of 24 states
- Put a total of about 34,000 miles on the car
- Lost two tents to storms
- Acquired the Nutshell, the teardrop trailer that’s our current home on the road
- Visited three emergency rooms for diverticulitis, a leg infection, and a crushed finger
- Returned to Texas for what was feared to be a heart problem and got a clean bill of health
- Dealt with extreme weather conditions from oppressive heat to freezing cold to floods, thunder, lightning, hail, tornadoes, and hurricane-force winds
- Had memorable encounters with deer, squirrel, rabbits, ducks, a bobcat, owls, hair-stealing birds, lizards, snakes, armadillo, and an East Texas toad
- Been mistaken for Santa Claus and a biker named Danny Hoffler
- Witnessed an untold number of people helping out their fellow man
(Our second tent in the process of being damaged, December 2015)
Frank had his little escapade as well. While I was in a hospital having a test, he decided he was going to go looking for me and did his best MacGyver impersonation to escape his kennel. He somehow unlocked his crate, climbed a chair and a couple of boxes, pushed out a piece of plywood next to a window air conditioning unit, and escaped through a hole in a fence that none of the other dogs would normally be able to get to. Nearly two days later, he and I were reunited when he miraculously stepped out of some scrub brush and sat down on the side of the road like he was waiting for a bus … just as I happened to be driving down that road, heading back to camp after giving up searching for him that day. Oh yeah, over 12 miles away from the kennel … in the opposite direction from our camp site. That was just one of the more memorable experiences over the past two years. But that’s not the only miracle we were blessed with.
Along the way, I was also able to shed a lifetime of depression and anxiety. It took a whole lot of writing therapy, prayer, meditation, encouragement and support from friends … and a little sign that stayed on my dashboard for about six months that read simply, “It’s all worked out before. Trust it to work out again.” I’ve written about a good portion of the process involved in my healing.
Through the blog, we’ve shared each of these experiences with you all, pretty much in real time as they were happening.
We’ve also included a bit of travelog; campground reviews; and stories about some of the people we’ve encountered, ranging from funny to poignant to downright spiritual! And I’ve appreciated your forbearance as I’ve reflected on a few current events while trying to put them into the perspective of our travels.
Frank’s been a big part of this, too. If you’ve been here from the beginning, then you’re familiar with our daily fights over sleeping accommodations. You know about his penchant for picnic tables, his love for Blood Sweat and Tears and his hatred of emergency sirens (funny how he expresses both love and hate the same way: howling). And you’ve seen the degree of sneakiness he can muster when it comes to grabbing $7 chicken breasts off the camp table when I’m not looking. You even know his picks in the last three NCAA basketball tourneys.
This Vagabond Journey would not be even remotely enjoyable if Frank hadn’t come along for the ride. It wouldn’t have been possible without the loving support of dear friends all along the way, too. And it wouldn’t be anywhere near as fulfilling if it wasn’t for the folks that have been reading along on the blog and sharing their comments with us. I’m so very grateful that we have touched some of your lives in a meaningful way.
It’s nowhere near done, by the way. The road trip, I mean. Any thought of driving off a cliff at Big Sur has long since gone. We haven’t even seen half the country yet! Hell, even after we finish up our planned travels along the west coast next year, there’s still the northern Rockies, the Plains states, and the Great Lakes region that we haven’t come anywhere near. So I hope you continue to follow along on the continuing Adventures of Frank and Jeff.
As mentioned in our last post, Frank and I are staying at Timothy Lake North Campground, right next to the Delaware Water Gap, on the Pennsylvania side. We’ve been here about a week and a half now, and have another week to go before we continue to head north.
It was a little bit crazy over Memorial Day weekend, with a lot of rowdy neighbors. To be honest, I’m proud of myself that I was able to refrain from approaching a couple of them about some of their late night partying. But I was able to let it go.
Frank had a good time. There was a family from New York that camped next to us, with two boys age 9 and 14. Chris and Greg spent almost all their time over here playing with Frank. And he loved every minute of it! They left early Sunday afternoon and Frank spent the next three hours lying under the Nutshell, staring wistfully at the place where their tent had been.
We had a chance to visit with old friends in the area, too. We spent last Thursday morning and afternoon in Pompton Lakes, having lunch with some dear classmates from long ago. We have more visits on tap between now and when we leave next Wednesday.
About the only downside has been the weather. It just isn’t cooperating! Today is the first day since shortly after we arrived that we haven’t had to deal with rain and cold temps. I sort of thought by now that we’d at least be out of the cold. I know from our experiences over the last 2 years that we’re not going to escape rain. But the cold? Give me a freakin’ break! I’m close to becoming a climate change denier. Where’s this global warming everyone keeps talking about? : o)
That’s it for now. Frank and I will touch back in before we head out to Lake George, NY, our next stop. I cannot pbelieve how fast this year has gone by.
And I’ve come to roam the forest past the village
With a dozen lazy horses and my cart
I’ve come here to get high
To do more than just get by
I’ve come to test the timbre of my heart
Oh, I’ve come to test the timber of my heart
And I’ve come to be untroubled in my seeking
And I’ve come to see that nothin is for naught
I’ve come to reach out blind
To reach forward and behind
For the more I seek, the more I’m sought
Yeah, the more I seek, the more I’m sought
Joe Pugg, Hymn 101