4, 2003 - Glacier National Park, Montana
Yesterday we made it across the border into Montana. A neighbor we met in Banff had told us about an alternate route to Yellowstone, our next destination. He said he had just driven it and the scenery was much more spectacular than can be found on the expressway and didn't add that many miles to the trip. The first 80 miles were quite beautiful with mountains able to be clearly seen. The next 180 miles on several secondary roads was hard driving with many steep grades, but one payoff was that we caught sight of a huge grizzly just sitting on the side of the road. I couldn't stop in time, but managed to turn around and he was still there when we hit the same spot. He looked right at us full face as we pulled off the road across from him, but scampered off before I could get a frontal picture, so I just got a side shot, but it was pretty exciting.
The other payoff was that the route took us right by Glacier, Yellowstone, and the Grand Tetons National Parks.
September 10, 2003 - Is It Really Over?
Well, it sure felt that way today, that's for sure. After a perfectly gorgeous day touring the Grand Tetons, it's like the universe was telling me that the ride is really just about over. It rained all day long and in the middle of some pretty desolate territory, I noticed that my right windshield wiper was starting to fall apart. The rubber and metal guides were slipping down from the arm and looked in danger of falling off. I was able to pull off and push them back up, but I knew it was a temporary fix and I was not happy, just turning them on whenever it got really too heavy with raindrops to see, as I drove on to find a service station.
Of course, car service is the last thing you can find at any "service" station anymore. The little old lady behind the counter simply replied "no" when I asked her if anyone there could fix or replace a windshield wiper. A couple of guy customers were standing in line and I asked if they thought they could fix it, and got the same reply. No one even offered to look at it or offer any other suggestions, which I really thought was strange after the exceptionally nice and helpful people I've been blessed with meeting lately. Anyway, the rain had lessened, so I continued on to Rawlins, WY where I wound up replacing both blade mechanisms and got a scheduled oil change at the same time.
September 12, 2003 - Loveland, Colorado and Colby, Kansas
Now that my windshield wipers are in great shape, there has not been a cloud in the sky since I left Rawlins. Driving through eastern Colorado and Kansas has just been a blur of boring monotonous scenery, but at least I've made good time getting here, only 3 or 4 days away now from Austin. We were on our way to Wal Mart in Loveland, but missed the turn and wound up spending the night at the Albertson's Parking Lot there. I learned it's a mistake to park next to an all night car wash and there was no love lost in Loveland for us - we were definitely ready to hit the road the next morning.
After another 300 mile day, we ended up in Colby, Kansas at the Wal Mart there. I figured since certainly neither towns were destinations and mere sleeping spots on the way back to Austin, I'd save a little money and take advantage of the free hospitality. This was another lesson in learning to pick your spots, even in a Wal Mart parking lot. We were right next to a side street that didn't look like it would be so busy, but unlikely as it seemed for such a little town on a Friday night, in Colby, Kansas there are people out driving around and they all seemed to be congregated in or passing by the WalMart parking lot. Needless to say, we didn't get much sleep this night.
September 13, 2003 - Wichita, Kansas
I was so happy to hear that I could get right back into my old spot #18 at the Pecan Grove RV Park in Austin. It really is the best location for me, being close to downtown, yet in a quiet, shady grove of pecan trees inhabited freely by squirrels and unique birds. It still seems a bit hard to believe I'll be back in Austin after more than a year away during this last leg of my journey.
October 3, 2003 - Back in Austin
When I found myself getting a bit anxious about all the things I have to do while I am there - like get the house leased out again, get back to work and replenish the funds drained by being unemployed in Alaska, etc. - I decided to try to look at it as a resting spot for a while with constant internet connections to let me research where my next destination will be. I haven't made any further plans at this point other than taking my granddaughter to the beach during her Christmas vacation. I'm not sure whether I will stay in Austin after January, although it probably makes more financial sense if I latch onto a job that will last a few months. However, I know I want to be warm again and an entire winter in Austin does not appeal to me, so I am definitely open to other possibilities after that time.
I've been back in Austin less than 3 weeks, but already it has surpassed the "welcome home" I received last year. Coming back here last March, the first time after I started full-time RVing, was a difficult experience that resulted in me alternating between anxiety, fear and depression. The "reasons" for that were that I had more trouble and expense finding another tenant for my house, as the job and real estate market in Austin had tumbled following 911. The reduced rent I received was no longer fully paying my mortgage and RV payments, which was what helped make it possible for me to travel fulltime. This stress, along with the death of my father, sent me into worry land and that's never a pretty place to be. Even though I found a job relatively quickly, the pay wasn't as good as I expected, and financial worry land is the ugliest place to be.
There were times when I felt afraid I wouldn't be able to take off from Austin again - that somehow I would get "trapped" here. What a relief when the house was rented again to a great tenant and Don and I escaped again in July of last year. I thought that had taught me the lesson that truly all things do happen as they should, and that such ridiculous worry is useless to say the least, but I'm definitely revisiting that lesson now, that's for sure. Like in some of the "panic" dreams I've had throughout my life, I feel like a schoolgirl not ready for the big test, and feeling naked going through the hall, and even if no one else notices, I feel so self-conscious and vulnerable.
Last summer in the Pacific Northwest was stellar and this past summer in Alaska should have proven to me that I can pull this stuff off, and have a little more faith in myself and in the ultimate goodness of the universe, but I still haven't quite found that key, because here I am worried again, in a general state of anxiety. My house now sits vacant again after my great tenant got married and I'm told I'll have to reduce the rent even further because lower interest rates have people who used to pay high rent moving into homes of their own. I was able to get a great paying job pretty quickly, though, so I'm trying hard not to freak out too much about the house sitting vacant for at least a month as it looks now.
We've all been told when making decisions, choices and judgments to go with your feelings - to trust your gut. But I've come to believe that sometimes feelings are just not right. Sometimes you have to dig deeper for those things that you know, despite how things appear in the moment. I know this because I've been dealing with my own version of the AAA club, the only membership requirement being feeling Abandoned, Alone and Adrift.
So in an effort to understand such powerful negative emotions, I ask myself: Am I really? Is that Who I Really Am? I know that those feelings come from a perspective of lack, certainly not the best vantage point from which to view life.
Am I really Abandoned? I may feel like it sometimes and it always makes me feel sad. But what I know is that there are people in my life who support me, love me and are always there for me. In truth, I am only abandoned if I ignore those blessings that I do have and do not call on them to assist me in times of need.
Am I really Alone? I may feel like that when I get caught up in a web of sorrow. But what I know is that my support group of people, angels and God himself who loves me will never leave me alone when I choose not to be.
Am I really Adrift? I may feel that I am now without purpose, but what I know is that my journey in life goes on, day by day, step by step in a meaningful way even when I'm not aware of it, even when I take it for granted and can't find the reasons, much less understand and acknowledge them.
So I can only hope to move through the feeling of sorrow on to a natural knowing that my happiness does not come from another or from any other source than from within - from within the surety of the knowledge that in reality I have everything I need to be whole and happy. Surely the more I surrender to feelings of insecurity and base my beliefs about myself on falsehoods, the unhappier I will be.
Life is all about change and progress - not staying the same or going backwards. To understand that that process is good and necessary for our growth is just part of the lessons we learn in life: going forward even when we want to go back.
"Wherever I am is where I want to be" is an important lesson I learned from Don. I recently read a similar lesson expressed by a yogi with: "Contentment is being happy with what is." I may have a ways to go before I accept that sacred truth, but I'm working on it.
And, when given the choice, I choose to be happy. So help me God.
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