We thank with brief thanksgiving
Whatever gods may be
…That even the weariest river
Winds somewhere safe to sea.
[Algernon Charles Swinburne]
I’m having some trouble wrapping my mind around the fact that we’ll be back in BC this week. And I’m full of mixed emotion. On the one hand, I see the end of this long journey looming on the horizon and I don’t want it to end. Have we really been on the road almost a year already? Don’t we still have a few months left? Last week I got teary-eyed on seeing a row of RVs lined up at Camping World. I once belonged to the nomadic world, I sighed, even though I never before saw myself as belonging to the group RVers who drive the big rigs on display in the lot, or who frequent Camping World regularly.
But the routine of searching out new places to discover and the subsequent exploration of those places has become an ingrained natural rhythm of life over the last eleven months. And, so often, a joy. It feels like we could just flow like this forever. On the other hand, as much as we still want to see northern BC and then Alaska, we’ve both come to realize that, incredible as the trip has been, we’d prefer not to spend next winter untethered and homeless. We’ve travelled a long distance from our old way of life, both literally and figuratively, only to see we want a new place to sink some new roots into.
So once we reach BC again, and for who knows how long, our travels will take on a different structure and be driven by the need to check out communities where we might want to establish that new home base. Now if we could just decide on where or even what kind of home that home will be – another small house, a condo, a piece of land we build a small house on – but we can’t seem to make up our minds. It would make things much easier if we could. The universe can only provide if you know what it is you’re asking for. That said, much of this trip has been spontaneous and we’ve allowed ourselves to be led. Maybe this will work for us even now, as we begin hunting through real estate listings.
We spent last weekend in Santa Cruz, visiting our friends Andy and April. They have a lovely cozy home – much like our own Bluehaven was – where they grow veggies and keep chickens and raise rabbits. Spending time with them was a little like spending time with our old selves, if that makes any sense, and it was so very good. And I envied April her full-sized kitchen where she makes kefir and sauerkraut and slow-cooked meals from scratch, and envied her the lemons and limes growing on the trees in the back yard. But maybe most of all, I realize that I envied the sense of “home”.
And yet, I still get a thrill each morning as we set out, not knowing what the day will bring or exactly where it will bring us. The sense of adventure and infinite possibility an unknown highway seems to present hasn’t lost its appeal. Yes, it’s complicated.
But, we are northward bound. Our last couple of nights in California, after leaving Santa Cruz and before the wind-torn Shastina Lake area, were in two almost empty campgrounds which reminded us of the closing down of the camping season when we travelled through Virginia and Pennsylvania. Except that here the season hasn’t yet begun. Now, moving even further north, the weather and landscapes of the pacific northwest remind us of that everyday. Spring hasn’t sprung here yet and I, spoiled by the warmth and sun of Arizona and southern California, feel a sense of loss.
On Thursday, having survived the horrific windstorm I wrote about in my last post, we camped at the Williamson River USFS campground near Weed – yes, they sell T-shirts with marihuana leaves on them in the gift shop in town. The campground was open “with limited services” which essentially meant there was no camp host on duty yet. It was a nice enough place, near the somewhat turgid river, but there was still snow on the ground here and there and it was completely empty until, late in the day, someone came in and set up a tent somewhere in the far section of the campground.
On Friday, seeing how close Crater Lake was to our route, we detoured a little and drove up there. Roland has always wanted to see it and, even after driving there now, wants to see it still. After thirty miles along a twisting mountain highway climbing ever higher, we didn’t even catch a glimpse of the lake. There was so much snow blocking the view of it. Huge banks of snow, taller than Snowflake, rose on either side of the highway. It was a winter wonderland up there and it was snowing and at the thermometer read -2°C.
We reluctantly gave it up for a “maybe next time” thing, turned back, and continued on our way to Junction City, just north of Eugene, to visit a longtime family friend. As we drive Roland keeps asking me how I feel about being back in a landscape that feels so much like home. Don’t you think the air is sharper and cleaner here? There’s so much more oxygen in it! Wouldn’t you like to live in a town just like this one? If I was American, he continues, I’d want to live in Oregon. I usually keep silent. Do I? Would I? I wasn’t sure st first. But, slowly, I’m seeing the rugged beauty of this landscape, so similar to the one we know, and I’m warming to it again.
And somehow I don’t mind the cold as much as I thought I would. Plus, we get to see spring’s second coming and that’s not a bad thing at all. Finally, we’ve seen so many beautiful places I felt I could be happy in, if we lived there, that I know home really is where your heart is. So I suspect what I’m going through now is merely a sense of nervousness, now that the time for having to make decisions draws near. In the same way I stressed about what this journey would bring before we set out, I now question the future again. But maybe I just need to remind myself that we’ve been steered well up until now on this heron’s quest, as Roland calls it. And also, that there will be, God willing, many other journeys yet to come and that we have merely arrived at a brief intermission between acts.