Monday, August 13, 2012

I have a secret.

I've been in this town 3 days and I'm contemplating how to make a break and stay. True to my nature it's a tug of war between watching my nephews grow up and following my heart into the wild. So maybe not this year. Maybe not next year. But maybe after the boys fifth birthdays I might make the move. Plan and scheme, scrimp and save. At the same time go back to working full time plus, working to buy a house I don't plan to live in long term.

I have tears in my eyes contemplating this.

So on to prayer. Is this really what I need to do next?

Saturday, August 11, 2012

10 Hours, One Way

When I planned this journey I looked up the distance between Copper Harbor and my hometown. Google Maps said 10 hours, via the Interstate. I did not, take the Interstate. It's taken a little over 4 days driving, with stops in Detroit, Port Austin, Paradise, Tahquamenon Falls, Crisp Point, Grand Marais, Munising, and Marquette. I did not see Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, other than one scenic overlook at sunset and every single campsite. Every single campsite
Was occupied.

So I kept driving. I was tired at 6. At 11 I stopped for dinner knowing it was just going to get worse if I kept driving. Finally at 1:30 AM I found a campsite so far from where I intended to stop I decided it wasn't worth going back. But I knew it was where I needed to be. When I pulled into the site the crescent moon was rising over the tree line, sharp, clear and perfectly reflected in the water of the lake I was camping beside. I have never in all my travels seen as many stars as I saw last night. And I *think* I saw the Little Dipper for the first time. First time.
I slept in until 10 AM. I made the decision to not be discouraged by the struggle yesterday. And had a beautiful day on the road, talked to some lovely people & swept the negativity about the gossip back home out of my mind.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Just in Case

Just in case you are following along and haven't figured it out, I'm traveling through Michigan solo. I'm checking in with my dad daily in order that my mother doesn't put herself in the hospital with worry.

After the second phone call the second day, after turning down her request that I stay in her backyard, I stopped answering my sister's phone calls. I just found out she confided in my other sister that she thinks I'm suicidal and this is my last hurrah. With the connotation that I should be given my circumstances.

For the record, I'm not suicidal.

True Story

'Want to try it?' Said a small child proffering the straw in a frozen 'coffee drink' to a woman I could only assume was their mother.

'Mmmmm, that's tasty Lou.
I can see why you like it, it's pure sugar.' Said the 5 foot 2, 350 lb mother heading to the register with a 44 oz soda in each hand.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

I Could Not Have Asked For A Better Ending

Yesterday started with a tent full of water and a desperate flee from the campsite. It ended with reading by the campfire and multiple trips to the restroom in the dark because of too many cups of coffee and glasses of beer.

In between was a massive bridge and the wonder people of Tahquamenon Brewery and neighbors at the campsite and bar. The kind of day I hoped for when I started the trip.

Today I was sucked in to a tourist trap and stuck in Paradise for a disappointing lunch when all I wanted was a loaf of bread. It was 2:30 when I finally set out for Pictured Rocks. I made a foolhardy attempt to save the purity of the day by heading down logging roads to look for a desolate (and it turns out decommissioned) lighthouse. Crisp Point is beautiful and would have been much lovelier if I hadn't arrived at 4 pm.

Then I kept going. One logging road after the other outside of cell phone range until I hit Lake Superior again. A passenger would have had whiplash from the urgency with which I turned into the first side of the road market. A soda and a banana! A patch for the hole in the floor of the tent I found the morning.

The road quickly turned back to gravel after leaving and by golly half way to Grand Marais I was having déjà vu and I thought I had turned back the direction I came when leaving the store. The whole way from Crisp Point I heard adverts for the music & arts festival in Grand Marais. Grand Marais wasn't on the paper map in the car.

But I'm here!
I have bread!
I still need a campsite.
And a beer!

I Love MI State

I was feeling all brave & wild setting up camp last night, skipping the rain fly, leaving the camp chair by the fire pit and stove & water jug on the table when I went to bed," Then God chuckled & a gentle pitter patter of rain drops started as I went to bed. So I hauled out the rain fly, not bothering to secure it thoroughly. In the process if found the biggest, ugliest spider I'd ever seen outside of a zoo. *shudder* Then I went to sleep, looking forward to a beautiful vista overlooking the Au Sable at dawn.
Instead of a beautiful vista I had four gallons of water settled in the corners of the tent, and condensation growing in the tent with heavier storms on their way.
When I tried to push the water off from the inside it ended up on the floor of the tent. When I tried to pull it off from the outside it ended up in the floor of the tent. So in my PJ's I packed up the few things in the tent into my pillow case, shoved the sleeping bag into it's sack, and grabbed the car keys & started packing. Under the hatch I rearranged the contents of the car to allow for throwing in the tent w/o it being packed properly. By the time everything was done I was soaked & ended up getting dressed for the day I under the portico at the pit toilets. On the road I was freezing and found my heating does not work as well as the air conditioning. Oops.

I'm heading north to warm up.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Day 2

I know, I should cover Day 1 first.
Day 1 I had breakfast with my longest time friend, said goodbye to the family, drove the all too familiar road to Detroit, found the DIA, Scripps Conservatory & everything else
I would consider visiting on Belle Isle closed. I gave up & went to my sister's house where she repeated my mother's chant that I was taking my life into my own hand's with this trip.

Day 2 I left with promise I would visit again next Wednesday night. It weighs on my brain because I don't want to. Yes, I love my nephew & appreciate any time I can spend with him, but I don't appreciate having to go back in order to make my sister feel better.

I'm as vulnerable to the boogeymen at home, or at work, as I am here traveling on my own. Every time they try to tell me what a bad idea this trip is I start to understand what Rosie the Riveter felt like when she was told to don her apron and go back to the kitchen when the war was over. After the second phone call asking where I was from my sister I called my dad to ask him to intervene. His solution was simple: don't answer her calls. Can't wait to see how that goes tomorrow. (Can you hear me cackling with glee?)

The road trip itself is magnificent. The skies are blue, the temperatures mild. The Thumb was lovely. I was surprised by the combination of high population and low development. I went hours with seeing a fast food joint. After stopping for a meal in a shopping center yesterday left me filled with self loathing and disgust towards the human race spending the day away from all that was familiar was wonderful.

I'm trying hard not to compare this journey to traveling the shores of Lake Champlain 8 summers ago, or driving the Rogue-Umpqua Highway 3 summers ago. The goal is to explore and appreciate my home state. I'm trying to overcome the wanderlust that has been building for three years and accept this is where I'm supposed to be right now. At this point the next step is buying a house and that commitment and permanency is scary and contrary to my character. I'm afraid I'll get home Thursday night and the dream will be over. I'll settle down, spend my time learning knitting, marry someone I loathe then life will be over.

Blue Highway:
Hey, word of advice. If your friend has dated John Doe, and you added John to your Facebook, don't tell your friend about John's amazing status updates after they break up. Your friend broke up with John and deleted them off Facebook for a reason. Telling them about John Doe's posts is the passive aggressive equivalent of second guessing their life choices, intentional or not.

Back to the journey. It took me 11 hours to drive what according to Google Maps should have taken 5. Yeah, I made a couple stops, but still can't understand where the time went!
I have to thank my other sister for her help planning what to pack. Setting up camp was a puttering joy, and relaxing as all get out. She'd be proud of the frozen wine pouch that accompanied my dinner.

This, right now, sitting by the fire, reflecting, is what I had hoped for with the trip. With the miles other people's expectations are fading. I'm looking forward to turning off the phone tomorrow and making my way along the shore at my own pace. Eventually I'll have to return to the 12 hour work days and the deadlines but I hope to return with the energy and willpower to tackle life in a way I won't regret.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

How to Pack for a Road Trip Part 3

The Dry Tote

There are some supplies one might need for car camping that are conveniences afforded by not having to haul everything on your back. My sister, a pop-up camper, lent me her camp stove. That is packed on the floor of the front seat where it can't be jostled. To be able to cook with that I needed some supplies that were easier to gather in town.

First of I need fuel, 2 small propane tanks. And a way to light the stove. Camping matches are tucked in a dry box with fire starter. Because I'm not planning on trying to impress anyone with my fire building skills. (Log
cabin style with lots of kindling and room for air.)

This box is also a good place for:
Insect repellant
Trash bags
A small pot
Laundry soap
Dish soap
A bowl
Wet wipes
Small pot
Trash bags

Food Tote
I'm packing light for a 10 day trip. One of the goals of this trip is to experience my home state, and my home state has some amazing food, and summer fruits and veggies are being harvested.
Michigan is also the great beer state, so if I'm near a brewery I'll probably stop. And I love mom & pop diners, so I'm going to treat myself to a couple meals out.

So right now my food tote contains:
1 lb of pasta
2 jars of homemade pasta sauce
8 oz of coffee grounds
1 package instant oatmeal
1 box of cereal
1 can of cream of chicken soup
1 loaf of bread
8 oz of wasabi beans
Small French press

To complement this assortment of food in the cooler will be:
1 jar of homemade apple butter
Dozen eggs
Parmesan Cheese
Orange juice
3 jars of cold brew coffee in process

I'm leaving room in the cooler for 22 oz bottles I hope to collect at the breweries.

How to Pack for a Road Trip Part 2 of Part 2

All not so funny joking aside, this is serious business, this whole vacationing bit. I want to bring everything I need, nothing I don't.

I made a list, then had my sister check it over. She nixed some items and added others.

I'm traveling in my Cherokee Sport, so I laid the seat down, then tried fitting back there in case I *have to* sleep in the car. Think mountain lion or bear.

Next I checked my tool case and first aid kit. I added some items, then placed them where they would be out of the way but accessible in case I have to use them. Originally I thought under front seats, but I'm placing the cooler up front & I don't want even that much bother. Now they're neatly tucked away by the spare tire.

Next came the camp chair, beach umbrella, and tent. Big items that I wanted/needed for a relaxing peaceful trip. Follow that by a quilt, sleeping bag and pillow. Hey, I'm car camping, and plan to check out as many beaches as I do hiking trails.
Check, Check, Check, Check, Check and Check.

Now I'm hungry & sweaty, and the next section of packing happens in of doors, so break time.

How to Pack for a Road Trip Part 2

The details of this next part are pretty specific to car camping solo for 10 days. Even more specific to a woman who's mother is flipping out with worry.

Repellant for bugs, animals and men. There you go Mom.

How to Pack for a Road Trip

I'm about to leave for 10 days on the road next Tuesday. I'm taking the opportunity to pack the car tonight so I can sleep in that morning and I'm working 20 hours between now and then. (See why I need the vacation) the first step is to clean the car. The sturdy, reliable car you've selected for this trip. Why start by cleaning the car before you'll probably take it 2-tracking in the mountains? A clean car allows room for a clean spirit. And this trip is all about cleansing the spirit.

I took everything out, minus lip balm, hand sanitizer and the phone charger, then proceeded to vacuum, wipe all the hard surfaces, and clean the glass.

Now to strategically fill it back up.