Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Home Again, Home Again…

Since we left home on June 14, 2013, we have traveled 10,125 miles, passed through four states, stayed in 20 states at 47 different campgrounds and two 'other' places—my aunt and uncle's in the Sierras and the home of my high school friend, Linda, and her husband Alex, in North Carolina.

Our first year out included two specific goals for us to meet: We had to be in Virginia Beach by about mid-September for daughter Mandy's and son-in-law Steve's renewal of vows celebration; and, we needed to be back home in California for our youngest grandson's first birthday. The rest of the trip's schedule and route was based on meeting those goals. I'd make reservations for one or two week stays in the locations where there were friends to visit, where Rob could paraglide or places of interest to explore. In the areas along the route that had little or no interest, we'd stay two or three nights to make sure Rob, the primary driver of 60 feet of rolling house and car, had plenty of rest between long hauls. Over time, Rob has grown more and more accustomed to driving The Beast so we no longer need as much down time in between. This will now allow us to get where we want to be more quickly and spend more time at interesting places.

When we arrived at home early in May, I wondered how I might feel once we got here. Aside from disliking heavily populated areas and traffic, would I find that I missed the familiarity of home? Would I discover that I missed our family more than I'd thought and want to stay, not travel anymore? Would I feel restless and want to move on to the next new place and new people to meet as I had many times throughout the trip? I felt as though I'd come out of my shell a bit over the last year what with feeling more at ease meeting new people and initiating introductions and conversations, so I wondered would I be more outgoing once I got home?

The truth is I still don't like heavily populated areas and traffic, so the only good thing to being in a familiar area is I don't have to use my GPS to find my way around. I found that it was wonderful seeing my family and I'm gratified that our kids have built solid lives for themselves and our grandchildren are happy and healthy, but I still feel no need to be present week in and week out in order to watch them grow. That's for their parents to do. I am glad Rob and I got to witness three firsts with our grandson, Oliver, though. As mentioned before, we came home for his first birthday, we saw him eat sugary icing for the first time and we witnessed his first time in a swimming pool, which he loves, loves, loves. And, although I don't actually feel restless, I am ready to move on because I found that I am reverting to my old ways here. I'm spending way too much time indoors, fast becoming the hermit I was before. I think I like the interaction with strangers on the road. It's good for me.

The two most prominent observations I had about being home again are these: First, I miss seeing my mom regularly and even though we have her blessing to be traveling 'while you still can,' as she put it, she isn't getting any younger and I feel a bit heavy-hearted about not being near her. Despite the fact that I haven't spent inordinate amounts of time with her while here, I think it has more to do with proximity. If the need were to arise, I'm there. In a heartbeat. Second, is something that we've all done. You know how you might put up a note where you'll always see it as a reminder of something? Maybe its an affirmation or an instruction to do something—like we have a note in our bathroom to 'turn off gas.' We turn on the propane to the water heater because it's quicker to recoup hot water for our showers than electricity alone. Ever notice how you quickly begin to see past the note, how it becomes invisible? The note is right there, but I can't count how many times we've heard the flame go on later in the day and say oops! forgot to turn off the gas! (What a waste of propane). Well, coming home to the Bay Area was like that for me. When you see it everyday, it becomes routine, invisible, same-old same-old. I was reminded of how absolutely, incredibly, stupendously beautiful the Bay Area is. I recall feeling that same way whenever I'd come home for a visit when I lived in New Jersey many, many moons ago. Sometimes we just forget. Now, if all those people from other countries and states, who decided they also want to live where it's absolutely, incredibly, stupendously beautiful, would go home…  I'm not really that narrow-minded, but you know what I mean. I feel I have a little more clout to think this kind of thing than most others as I am a third-generation (northern) Californian. Not too many of us around. I remember when Oregon's natives had a campaign to keep Californians from moving up there!

Speaking of the Bay Area made me think of something that happened while in Florida. Someone asked us where we were from and we responded, "The Bay Area." This person said, "Oh, from the Tampa area?"

Uh. No.

There are many bays around the country, and I'm sure the locals near any of them call them 'the bay area,' but it seems to me that in general terms, there is only ONE Bay Area in all the country and it is San Francisco (never, ever call it Frisco!). Just like there is only one 'Windy City,' one 'Big Apple,' one 'LA,' one 'Sin City,' one 'Big Easy.' Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe I'm just a proud, possessive, native, California snob who feels squeezed out of the place (by people, cars and politics), that has always and will always, no matter where I am, be home to me.

Enough of that.

Our sweet, adoptee, Spooky, has been re-adopted by my sister, Pamela. We just couldn't keep him. When we took him in he was 7 1/2 pounds of furry skin and bones. He weighed in at 15 1/2 pounds the last time I stood on the scale with him. Because of his size, just plain big and tall, he couldn't comfortably squeeze his way through the kitty door to the litter box and would pee on the carpet. He'd force his way through to poop, but not pee. We just couldn't have that. As long as he had easy access, there was no problem. He is a wonderful, calm, friendly, loving and beautiful kitty. But with his health problems, I couldn't leave him with a shelter. Someone might've decided he wasn't adoptable and, therefore, not worth saving. I couldn't bear to not know what became of him, so I am eternally grateful that my sister took him. He'll be happy because all animals are cherished there. Our little home seems kind of empty without him, but I don't think Louis and Brandy have minded his absence one bit. In fact, I think they're relieved.

We leave, again, in four days. By then, we will have been home for a month. The time has gone screaming by and of the many projects we intended to do, several have gone undone or unfinished. Probably because we didn't make a list and now I can't remember what they all were. I had to break the news to my son-in-law, Terry, that I've decided to keep my sewing machine, so now I don't feel the rush to finish the dashboard cover, complete with screened cutouts for the vents (pain in the arse), that I started. And, we were going to go through our drawers and closets to weed out clothing we haven't worn over the last year, but that hasn't been done in any major way. But that's okay. We can give clothing to charities wherever we go.

We will be heading up to Shingletown, outside Redding, for five nights to meet up with our friends, Mike and Deb, for a short visit. Then we will head into Oregon to spend a month near Ruch (pronounced Roosh), where the annual international paragliding competition called Rat Race, at Woodrat Mountain, is being held. We'll be seeing many friends and meeting lots of paraglider pilots from all over the world. This will be our third time at Ruch, but the first time in many years. From there, we will be dry camping at a National Park near the coast to visit friends and family for a week, then on up to Washington for another month. From there, who knows? We'll figure that out when the times comes. Such is the beauty of this life on the road.

Oliver on his birthday present from Gramma and Papa.

Hey! How come no one let me taste this stuff sooner!

Jack and Oliver show some cousin love.

Jack, Papa, Elizabeth and Oliver.

Jack helping the inexperienced driver.

Oliver enjoying the pool with daddy, Chris.

Oliver with mommy, Hayley.

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