Saturday, March 3, 2012

(Not)On the Road

  The unsuspecting eagle watcher, Yellowstone National Park

So homeward bound we blasted, through the northern part of the country, I think perhaps the only part of the United States that is feeling winter. Steady temperatures ranging from twenty to well below zero in the states of Montana until around Ohio we froze. Our pillows froze to the sides of the camper in the morning, and we would wake with the sound of our own movement under sleeping bags and a down comforter making a crisp potato chip crinkle sound with every toe twitch and roll over. After leaving Yellowstone (where we had trouble starting our car everyday because it was so cold and diesels get crabby in the cold) we headed farther east. Making the choice to head back home I will not lie and say was easy. While thawing out in our one and only hotel room stay of the whole trip on a cold night in South Dakota we made the choice that it was time. When all of your water is frozen and you can pick up a pan with a fork because the ice froze inside the pan, and when your seven gallon water tank freezes and so does the water pump and drain, inspiration runs thin and wallets open for restaurant food. I don't know exactly how we would have prepared for this differently but I wish we could have. The complete and total absence of any campground being open in South Dakota didn't help as we spent a couple nights in a beautiful National Parks for seven dollars a night (record cheapest, and personally I don't think you should have to pay more than seven for a parking space) and the other nights in some not so scenic parking lots of a certain national chain which has been mentioned before on this blog.
This is a brief snippet of how our morning looked when ten below...
Patrick, waiting for  the second half of the intrepid duo to get on the road

5:30 am
I wake up, a tiny bit of light sneaks under the curtains in the camper but there is so much diesel soot and dirt and salt on the back window of the camper(the bed folds out underneath the window) that it is still pretty dark even in the middle of the day.

6:00 am
Pat wakes up and turns the heater on by reaching a few feet away. We watch our breath rocketing in huge plumes of warm air up to the top of the camper, which has over night gathered on all of the metal rivets and there hang icicles. Oh I have to pull one of my dreads off the wall of the camper as it has iced over (still attached to my head) don't forget the pillows!

6:30 am
The camper is starting to warm up, small droplets start to form and icicles and frost return to their watery state and begin to drip onto our sleeping bags. Quickly stuff away sleeping bags so they don't get wet for the next night. Oh wait the bottom of my sleeping bag is stuck to the side of the camper. Stand for five minutes while holding it over the heater and dry it out. Look for the long johns you've worn for a week. Why do my socks smell so bad? The dishcloth that landed on the floor? A good hockey puck if only we had some ice. I chuck it into the parking lot of the campground to test it's strength hoping it will break just to provide some humor.

7:00 am
It's so cramped in the camper with wet sleeping bags and a curious array of the un needed junk we always keep in the camper with us that we both hurry to put on winter boots and warm socks and put everything that can fall on the floor (food boxes, lanterns and headlamps and water jugs) down there so it at least starts on the floor. I get in the car and look at maps and see where we're going, whether that means we're going hiking or driving. Then in a cloud of cold exhaust we take off, sometimes with the camper attached

My favorite shadow rolling down the road, Badlands National Park South Dakota

Since returning home and I realize I have incurable wanderlust. Is that so bad? Perhaps our lives are meant to pay tribute to our nomadic forbears. How settled we all have become. The highly romanticized version and often repeated truths of traveling youth? Not at all, this is a wish based highly in reality, perhaps not in the reality of western culture but in the reality of my heart. Isn't the point of travel in the first place to fulfill the curious mind, to expand your consciousness so that we can see how we all relate to one another in the world?

 Toward the end of our trip I found this quote in a magazine and copied it onto a paper which I stuck to a wall in the camper so we could read it frequently. I think it stands out as a wonderful mantra for the traveling life.
“If you're really listening, if you're awake to the poignant beauty of the world, your heart breaks regularly. In fact, your heart is made to break; its purpose is to burst open again and again so that it can hold evermore wonders.”
-Andrew Harvey

Please do keep reading, just because we are home does not mean that we don't have more to share if you're still willing to listen. I'm hoping now that we actually have five minutes to stop and think about all that we've accomplished in the past three months that I'll be able to write more. And we do have adventures all the time you see. Till next time,