Is it one big puzzle?

Have you ever wondered where you fit in this world? Have you wondered what the BIG picture is? I sometimes think my world is a 200 piece puzzle and I am just one piece of it. In reality though, I think maybe we are all part of a bazillion piece puzzle and we are several pieces at the same time, in a never-ending puzzle. Sometimes our piece fits, sometimes it’s not quite right. Sometimes it is downright wrong. In the end, we find our matches and the picture becomes clear.

Where do you fit? What is your picture? Do you ever find tha t you get so involved in your 200 piece puzzle that you don’t see the big picture until you step back and look at it? Kind of like the forest for the trees?

A Weed or a Wish?

Walking along the river with my dog the other day, I was noticing the various plants and flowers along the edge.  I am no gardener so I admit I don’t know the names of them. I just know that they all have qualities about them that are beautiful is some way.  Some are prickly, others delicate and bright.  I’m guessing, most I see are actually weeds, their beauty in the eye of the beholder.

One such weed I came across- possibly a variation of the dandelion- made me think of years gone by when, as a child, we would blow on them and make a wish.  I don’t know if any of those wishes came true,  maybe we were just spreading weeds about the yard.  Seeing the flower now, reminds me that life can take turns as quick as the breeze, and that it sometimes takes more than a wish to fix it.

It would be nice if it were as easy as blowing the seeds off a dandelion to make wishes come true. To provide wishes to those struggling, the firefighters battling to save land and home, or those in need of a medical miracle. I was recently reminded how precious life can be and that even  the power of wishes and prayers may not be enough. I would gladly sit in a field of flowers and scatter the seeds to the wind, if I knew it would grant a

 

miracle.

Weeds, like some people, are hardy, surviving in some of the more  hostile environments, yet they do survive, and many thrive.  I admire those people who thrive in adversity, their strength and determination, the ability to be a bright spot even when seen as something less.  Don’t get me wrong, there are still weeds- like people – who are just prickly mean stickers.  I avoid them, because they don’t add anything I find positive.

I would rather be a dandelion.  A bright spot in a child’s day as they blow the seeds for a wish,  an herbal tea to provide that possible miracle cure, even a landing spot for a bee. Maybe some see the weed, I choose to see the wish.

Blessings Abound

Blessings Abound

As I travel around the country, through small towns and large, I notice the presence of many churches.  The stained glass windows of many catch my eye, as the sun glints through them.   I don’t often have the time to stop and take a picture, but when I am able, I cherish the moment.   There are times, as I travel through town, there seems to be a church on every corner.  Churches of different denomination yet, just in it’s presence, the message is universal.

Today, as we made our way through town, I began again to notice the churches.  I noticed the architecture of the different buildings, the windows, and most important- the open door of most.  As I was taking a quick snapshot of one such church, a kind gentleman asked if I had seen inside yet.  I replied I had not, and he smiled and said  ” come inside I will show you”.  I walked to the car where my son was waiting, telling him to come along and see inside.

As we walked inside Don, the gentleman leading the way, explained that this particular church, with its stone exterior, bell tower, rich wood interior and traditional stained glass windows, was designed after English country churches common in the 1800s. Built in 1892, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The worship space seats about one hundred twenty people and houses both a pipe organ and a grand piano. The sanctuary underwent a comprehensive historical restoration in 1993. Standing in the church with the sunlight shining through the stained glass windows, the beautiful woods of the pews and ceiling were so warm and inviting, a very welcoming building. I suppose if I lived in this town, I might make this “my church”, but since I do not, I will be content with my visit today.

We thanked Don for the visit and went on our way.  Even though I don’t live here, or worship here, I felt peace and comfort in his church, and, in turn, this town.  I know I will miss this area when we finally move along, but will take with me the blessings we have discovered.

Milestones

How do we define milestones in life? What makes one event more noteworthy than another?  I was recently looking on that famous greeting card website for an anniversary year designation, and noticed that there comes a time, after about 15 years, that the designation is rather ho hum.  As if those years don’t really deserve much mention.  Seriously- it said for year 23, the “theme” is air.  Air?  Am I to assume, then,  that I can put a lid on a mason jar and hand it over, for a gift of air?

I have been pondering this because today is my 24th anniversary.  A rather ho hum year according to that famous card company web site.  This years theme is stone.  I wonder, how did we go from a Diamond at year 10 to stone at year 24? Have these past 14 years not amounted to more than a rock?

Let me tell you – 24 years is nothing to sneeze at.  Marriage is so much more than the ceremony and reception.  It is all those small things, those ho hum days and events that never get the recognition they deserve.

The  day he clips a rose from the garden and puts it on the table because it’s pretty.

When she brings him Vernors because he’s been sick, and she knows it will make him feel better.

It’s laughing at your silly jokes, a hug just because, dancing in the kitchen to annoy the children.  Being able to disagree, but know, no matter what, you love them.  It’s laundry and shopping and cooking and cleaning.  Dealing with being sick, aging family and bills.

Marriage is hard, it’s fraught with pitfalls that devour many and  leave many more with bruises unseen.   It’s messy, and stressful and there are three sides to it-his, hers and the truth.

So when I look at that greeting card website that says year 24 is stone- and the big milestone of  year 25 is silver, I can’t help but shake my head and disagree.  Each of these 24 years has been a milestone to celebrate, to shout to all that those ho hum events and days have had as much meaning as that year 25.

So today, on this day of stone for my husband I , I want to publicly shout out to all, that we have persevered through all those ho hum moments.  We have fought and made up, laughed and cried, supported and cheered, and most of all loved each other as we promised we would.  You see, we made a choice, those many years ago, and though it’s been hard at times, I can’t imagine another I would have loved the way I love him.

Happy 24th anniversary my dear love.

Liquid Gold

It’s no secret that I LOVE coffee.  When I was younger I tried it and thought it tasted awful, bitter and just not something I would ever have again.  One night, in my early 20’s , friends and I had spent the evening having dinner and visiting, when the host asked ” who would like some coffee”?  I guess my eye roll was evident that I was a non coffee drinker and the outcast of the evening.  Being the good host, my friend assured me that he made the best coffee and I should have some.  Reluctantly I agreed; he was right, and I was hooked.

After that night I found that a really good cup of coffee is an art. I proceeded to try new blends, grind my own beans, and experiment with different types of brewing styles.  I enjoyed my time learning all things coffee, and then life got busy. Getting married and having kids, the fancy coffee gave way to name brand, regular old run of the mill stuff. No longer having the luxury of time or money to fritter on lavish fanciness.

Over the years, I have consumed mass amounts of coffee.  The large cup as I headed out at 2 a.m. for a work related trouble. The first cup in the morning as I began the long day getting kids to school and me to work.  My favorite – the large gas station cup, too hot to drink at first, then after 5 miles down the road you take a sip and realize it’s the WORST coffee ever, but you have 300 miles to go and you drink it anyway.

Last summer, while on vacation, I was surprised by an old high school friend. We were spending time on the Oregon coast and he lives nearby. Not only did he take the time to come say hello, he brought coffee mugs that he made!  The most thoughtful gesture and so unexpected.

I use one of these mugs now every day. I love it. Funny thing is, it’s big!  The first time I poured coffee into it and returned the carafe to the coffee maker I thought I spilled it- it was about 1/3 empty.  I can read my paper, or a good book, and not worry about being interrupted because my cup is empty.

So, thank you Randy for one of the little things that bring a smile to me. The gift of your mug and the time to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee. img_3345

Flat Anthony

Funny thing about kids, they grow up. We have 2 sons that are growing into such fine young men, we  are so proud of both of them. For Mother’s day a few years ago,our oldest gave me a pillowcase with his picture on it. Seems kind of funny, but I love it. I bring it with us when we travel.

We have been an RV family for about 6 years, and in that time we have traveled thousands of miles around the country. We have been from the Pacific to the Atlantic, summer and winter. Some of our favorite memories happened because of a chance to buy an old RV..As a parent, it has been rewarding to know that we have been able to give the gift of travel and love for our country to our boys.

Our oldest son is now 22 and, as a young man starting out, no longer has the time to take off for weeks or months at a time. When we travel now, I feel a sadness that he isn’t able to continue to share in our adventures. Our remedy? We call it Flat Anthony- the pillow with his picture on it.

Flat Anthony comes along with us whenever we travel, and this last trip, well, let’s just say he had some adventures.  How could we not take him along?

We didn’t want him to miss beach combing, or climbing on the rocks, the dune buggy ride, whale watching, 4th of July or the evening campfire watching the ships on the river.

It clearly isn’t the same as having him along with us, and I sometimes feel guilty having fun without him. We are so proud of all his accomplishments, and maybe some day, when he is older with a family of his own, he will remember his youthful trips and want to do the same with his family.

For Love of Trains part 2

 

As we travel in our Rv, our trips always include some sort of train activity.  It is a given, a necessity for survival when your autistic son lives for all things train.  As we plan our trips we include train rides or visits to train museums to ensure  harmony along the way.  These plans give us locations to see, and something for our son to look forward to, as he puts up with activities he might not otherwise enjoy.

In the small Northern California town of Dunsmuir, there is a small Amtrak stop, and the Union Pacific yard.  We happened to be camping in the area and decided to go to Dunsmuir for lunch and to watch for whatever train might arrive. Andrew brought his small video camera so  he could film the trains.

We parked nearby and headed toward the Amtrak stop. Looking at the schedule, we found that we would not be seeing Amtrak – it makes its pass through town very early morning.  Andrew knew, however, that other trains travel this route all during the day so it was only a matter of time.  As he set up his video camera  we noticed some workers on the other side of the track.  We didn’t have long to wait before the horn of a train could be heard, and the shout from Andrew “here it comes!”

Pulling in to the station was a Union Pacific train.  The train pulled in slowly and stopped at the small station.  As we watched, the 2 workers we had seen on the other side of the track  picked up their bags and headed to the cab. At the same time, the 2 workers that had just arrived on the train, grabbed their bags and climbed out. This  was a simple crew change,  exchange in a normal workday of some train employees. We didn’t speak to the workers but what came next was so kind- an act of generosity that  reminds me there are great people out there.

The new crew climbed in the cab and suddenly one of them leaned out of the cab and called to Andrew to come closer. Andrew walked  closer, and the employee  opened the side cab door and leaned out, handed him a  lantern!  As he handed it to Andrew, he claimed he didn’t need it anymore.   Just like that, this man gave a boy something he always wanted. As quickly as he came out of the cab he went back in, told Andrew to cover his ears, blew the train horn and they were off. Andrew calling for them to drive safely.

We watched as the train disappeared down the track, another day in the life of a train lover..

 

 

 

 

For Love of Trains part 1

Andrew LOVES trains. That is a fact that is obvious the moment you meet him, almost as obvious as the fact that he is autistic. For us, this love affair is part of our family experience, it is a daily staple. It is woven in our conversation,our travels and yes our home decor. The love he has for trains however, has brought opportunities and has brought out the kindness of people that is so incredibly heartwarming. Two recent incidents, with regard to trains, have touched our family in such a warm way.

We travel in our RV as often as we can, summer being the longest trips for obvious reasons. This year we had a few trips already so our summer trip was not as far or long. It was however, one of the best we have had.

Part of our trip took us back to Portland and the Oregon Rail Historic Foundation (http://www.orhf.org/), home of Andrew’s favorite train, the 4449.  Visiting this museum and seeing his favorite train, was all he talked about for most of our trip. The day came to visit the train and you would have thought it was Christmas.  We had been to the museum before so Andrew knew just what he wanted to see. As he walked around, you could see the excitement in his eyes, his love for these big machines just radiating from his every pore.

While speaking with the gentleman in charge that day, I commented about Andrew being autistic- he said he knew- has a son on the spectrum as well.  We finished our conversation and then he looked at Andrew and told him to follow him. They walked over to the 4449 train and he told Andrew to go ahead and climb up in the cab, ignoring the please keep off sign, then he called over one of the workers to climb up with him.  Here was a sudden kindness to a young boy from a man who could see the thrill this small act provided.  The thrill that he was IN the cab of his favorite train, the thrill to “drive” that train-if only for a moment even if it never actually moved. We can’t thank him enough.

 

 

 

 

It’s The Small Stuff

We all have those days, the kind that seem to go awry from the beginning. Stress inducing, blood pressure raising rotten days. During those times it can feel impossible to see the positive side. There is always a positive side. Sometimes it is just the smallest of things that can turn around a bad day.

Recently, I came down with a nasty flu bug that had me feeling pretty bad for a week. I did my fair share of whining and wallowing in my misery. Thankfully, my family endured my complaining and I now feel better.

It’s easy to wallow in what is wrong, what is creating the current angst, but in those times, I try to step back and find a positive something. I suppose some may see a positive attitude as being naive, that I am not understanding the gravity of the situation.  Trust me, I understand.

I understand that people suddenly come down with incurable illness. I understand that people have relationships that fall apart. I understand the people commit unspeakable  atrocities against each other for some perceived wrong against them. Yes, I get it.  I don’t however, want to wallow in it.

I would rather laugh at silly jokes told by a 6 year old, or smile after reading that there will be a solar eclipse next summer in the U.S.A.  This is in no way diminishing the importance of some of those events. I think letting the anger and annoyance cloud the big picture, perpetuates the general feeling of anger felt by so many. With that said, I think for tonight, I will sit back, have a cool lemonade and enjoy my new fun socks.  It’s the little things that make us smile and remind us life is about more than the anger, pain and frustration. It’s the little things that make to rest bearable. 13244690_10209210328636016_2136243102944374746_n

 

Summer 2016

For the past few years, we have been fortunate to take our summer RV trips. We have had some incredibly memorable times traveling around the country, seeing such wondrous sites.  It can be a challenge, planning just the right trip, with time and money constraints and the desire to see everything.  Somehow we manage to have just the right trip for us, at that moment.

Because we had already had a couple trips this year, our summer trip was not as long as some of our others have been.  We packed up the RV- a feat in itself- and headed out, just as the temperature in town heated up. We headed  to the Oregon coast, and to a climate I am more suited for.

We took our time heading north, and our first stop was a rest area in Canyonville Oregon. Nice big spot to stop for a night.IMG_2527

Next day, we continued to our destination of Seal Rock Oregon. We had the best spot- looking over the cove for great beach walking, tide pool searching, looking for shells and just an overall great week.

With Seal Rock as our base for the week, we had time to explore the coast.

I will say, I would certainly spend more time on the Oregon coast.  There is so much to see and do, all within an easy drive. More than anything, I found that being on the coast made me feel so refreshed.

How Much is Enough?

As I was stitching Henry’s sock IMG_2437monkey yet again, the thought occurred to me, how far do we go to fix things?  At what point is it time to move on or give up? How do you know that you can do no more?

Some things seem obvious- Sock Monkey just has too many holes. Or that pair of shoes that are super comfy ends up with the sole coming off. But is it that simple? I know, lots of questions, and it’s just an old Sock Monkey toy. To Henry, it’s his favorite toy, his comfort, so I stitch again.

We care for those things, or people, that mean something to us, that we hold dear. We go to great lengths to make them feel better, and at times it is hard. Sometimes it’s not enough, we can’t fix it. But we try, with all our heart and soul to make it better. We battle each day, hoping we don’t stop just short of success.

In those times that we do have to stop, when doing just one more is actually harming, not helping, it can be the hardest choice to make.  Giving up feels like we fail, but if all our effort is causing harm,  the better option is to stop. That is when we win.

There will always be what if- what if we did one more, what if we didn’t do that thing in the beginning and did option 2?  But then again, are we doing one more for us or for the one we are helping?

I hope, in all the times I have done just one more, or tried again, or even made that choice to not continue, that it was the right choice. It’s hard to tell and sometimes I may never know. I do hope that those choices I make actually help and not harm. To all those that are battling today, feeling like the ninth inning, tie game, full count, bases loaded and you are at bat. You still have one more chance, and who knows, it may be a grand slam.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        IMG_2440

 

Chance Encounter

On a recent Sunday afternoon, my son asked if we could go watch the trains at the train park.  It is a simple park, on a corner of a side street.  A large brick and wood gazebo sits toward one end, several cement picnic tables dot the area, a chain link fence along one edge that divides the park from the train track on the other side.  I agreed to take him, reminding him that the trains don’t run as often on Sunday. We made the 30 minute drive, enjoying the fall colors.  We arrived at the park, and spent about an hour waiting for the train to pass.  When it was clear we wouldn’t see a train that day, and it was lunch time, I suggested we come back on a week day when we would have a better chance to see the trains.

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The following Wednesday, my son had a half day at school.  We decided that I would pick him up from school and we would pick up lunch and have a picnic at the train park. As we continued to talk about the trains, my son said he wanted to take his video camera and tape the train passing by and post it on the internet.  My son is autistic and his favorite things are trains and YouTube videos.  Making his own YouTube train video is nirvana to him. The plan was set.

Wednesday came and I picked my son up from school, just as planned. As we drove the 30 minutes to the park, my son made sure I remembered to bring his video camera, and tripod, and headphones to help his ears with the loud train noise.  I assured him it was all in the back seat, and he settled in.  We went through the drive through at the burger place, deciding to eat at the park while we wait for the train.  As we pulled up to the park, I decided we should have our lunch inside the car so it wouldn’t get cold before we finished.

Faster than I had seen in a long time, my son finished his lunch and was out of the car racing toward the fence, video camera in hand,  to make sure he didn’t miss the train.  I grabbed my camera as well and followed to the table closest the fence.

At the gazebo stood 4 or 5 people, just sitting on the ledge talking, watching as my son set his video camera in just the right spot

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After a moment a woman from the group, seeing me with my camera, came up to me and asked:

“how much do you charge to take pictures?”

I replied that I don’t charge anything. She then said ” could you take a picture of my husband and me?  We’ve been married 30 years and have no pictures of us together”

Sure, no problem I told her. She then had a big grin and quickly called her husband over, telling him that I would take their picture.  I turned as her husband grumbled about getting his picture taken, but begrudgingly came over to where his wife was.

The woman and her husband stood near the picnic table and I snapped a quick picture of them.  I showed the woman the picture, to see what she thought.  She said ” can we take another? I had my eyes closed”  Certainly, so they stood again and I snapped a picture.  I said ” one more, to be sure.” And took another.  I showed her all three, and she again gave a big smile. During all this, the train had made its way past, as my son caught it all on his video camera.

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I asked if she had an address, and she went to her bag and pulled out a piece of paper and a pen, writing her address. As she handed me the paper, she thanked me again saying how happy she was to have a picture, maybe an 8×10?   I said sure, 8×10. She asked how long would it take? I told her a few days.  She gave me a big hug, thanked me yet again and said I was sweet to do that, turned and walked back to her husband and friends.

My son was excited to head back home and put his video on his computer to watch, so we headed out.  The next day I went to the store and printed her pictures, the first 2 in 4×6 and the last 8×10- I placed them in an envelope and sent them to her.  A few minutes of my time, to maybe bring a smile to someone I most likely will never see again.

 

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Thunder Bay to Sault Ste Marie

The final few days of our time in Canada, we spent heading to Sault Ste Marie.  The drive from Thunder Bay to Sault Ste Marie follows the north shore of Lake Superior, the largest of the Great Lakes.  It is possible to drive all the way around the lake via the Lake Superior Circle Tour, a 1300 mile drive.  Our portion was about 1/3 of the circle tour, and was beautiful.  Driving in a 42 ft Rv towing a van, we are rather large.  As we traveled along, we kept an eye out for pullouts to stop and view the lake. Funny thing about traveling in Canada, rest stops are not nearly like they are in the U.S. A.  As we traveled along, at approximately 65 mph, we scanned for rest area signs.  We would see a sign for the rest area, but it seemed that  we were already passing the turnoff.  Other times we would see the sign, slow enough to make the turnoff, but realize the spot was so small we would never get in, let alone get out.  On we traveled, wishing to stop at some of the beautiful view points of Lake Superior.  A drawback of being in such a big rig, pulling a van.

We did manage to find one turn out large enough for us to pull in and pull out without incident. I thought it funny as this was the only spot we fit, as we pulled in to Old Woman Bay-I had to put my feet in the water.  It was mighty cold!

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We arrived in Sault Ste Marie about 2pm, and checked in.  At the campground was a self-serve rv wash, so Mark decided to wash off the miles of dirt and bugs while Andrew and I went to find some lunch.  As much as the rv needed to be cleaned, it’s not a fun job, fighting with mosquitoes at the same time sure didn’t help.

The campground we chose was a KOA.  A plus for this park was it had a nice off leash dog area.   More and more, campgrounds are including dog areas in their camps, and it makes traveling with a pet more relaxing.

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Our spot was nice and big, though our satellite didn’t work. I know, this isn’t the worst thing in the world, unless it’s baseball season and you will be there for several days. We spoke to the camp host and were able to move spots the next day.  DSC_0741As we relaxed for the evening, we looked through the tourist magazines to plan our activities for the next few days. Lots to see and do, and we looked forward to exploring  our last days in Canada.

 

Thunder Bay Ontario.

The drive to Thunder Bay was nice, easy. We arrived at Happyland Rv  and set up as usual, and even had some time to go swimming.  Nice big rig friendly park close to Thunder Bay. As we looked through the area information, we found there is a park nearby that we decided to go to the next day.

Kakabeka Falls is just  1 1/2 miles from the rv park.  At 130 ft high it is referred to as Niagara of the North.  A wooden walkway follows along the river and crosses over the falls, providing excellent views.  We spent a relaxing afternoon walking the trail and enjoying the beauty of the falls.

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Back at the rv, looking at the local tourist book, Andrew said he wanted to go sailing. We found a company that has sailboat rides on Thunder Bay.  We booked a ride for the next day.

After breakfast we drove into Thunder Bay, found where the boat tour was, and looked around a bit. It was SUPER windy, and the wind made Andrew a bit agitated.  Our tour was scheduled for 2pm, and we went to talk to the captain of the boat. With such a windy day, and choppy water, the captain suggested we come back at 8pm when it would likely be calmer. This turned out to be an excellent choice.

We arrived back at the boat in the evening, and it was indeed calmer. I explained to the captain about Andrew’s autism so he would be aware. i said that he may seem scared when he really is having a good time. I also mentioned that Andrew would love to “drive the boat”. The captain nodded and smiled and then we went to board.  The boat was a 40ft sailboat, with the captain the 3 of us and another couple. We got settled on the boat, and headed out toward the break wall and Lake Ontario.

On the bay the ride was easy and relatively calm. The captain pleasant as he shared information about the area.  In the beginning Andrew climbed up to the bow of the boat and enjoyed that view. After a few minutes we reached the break wall that lead to Lake Ontario. Passing the wall, the temperature suddenly dropped and the waves picked up. The captain put up another sail and we were then scooting along, wind in our face, the spray  splashing off the bow, and Andrew screaming with excitement.   As we were going along the captain asked Andrew to come on back and “drive the boat”.  Carefully Andrew crawled back and stood at the wheel- he was sailing and having a great time.

We sailed back to the dock and ended our evening.  Sometimes and idea comes, like sailing, and you just go with it. Have fun and do something different.  The joy of that hour and a half sailing trip is one of our favorite memories of our trip.

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Winnipeg to Thunder Bay

We left Winnipeg for the trip to Thunder Bay, and figured we would stop at a rest area or truck stop for the night.  A light rain was falling and our new wiper blades were not working the way they should.  We pulled to the side of the road and Mark got out to adjust the blades. After a soggy few minutes , Mark got back in the RV. As he dried off, I closed and locked the door- or tried to lock the door. Again, the door didn’t shut properly and the lock didn’t engage.  Why are we locking the door while we are inside? Well, just before we departed on our trip one of the bolts that latch the top of the door, keeping it snug while it is closed, had come off.  Our local RV repair shop wasn’t able to get the part before we had to leave.  We found, if we locked the dead bolt, the door was secure and no wind noise or chance of flying open as we traveled down the road.  So another rainy 10 minutes on the side of the road trying to get the door latched.  We did the best we could, then proceeded to move down the road.

The scenery was a little better- trees lined the road, so we had that.  As we drove along we looked for pull- outs or some type of truck stop, and found nothing.  Our plan of just pulling over for the night seemed like it wouldn’t happen, so we then started looking for an actual campground.  When we got to Wabigoon Ontario, I noticed a campground sign that said ” Big rig friendly”  Ok, great, that’s us. So we watched for the entrance and pulled in.

What we found was a smaller park , but we loved it. The owners  are Rvers themselves and they built the park with that in mind. Nice wide big rig friendly spots. No trees overhanging to scratch, good power source, nice washer dryer and shower to use, satellite . Not expensive , all around a nice place.  We walked down to the lake, but because of all the recent rain the access to the dock was flooded.  We did come across a turtle making his/her way to the lake.  Our understanding is Wabigoon lake is a great walleye fishing lake.

We spent some time talking with the owner- even had a wild thought we would buy the campground from him, we enjoyed our stay that much.  Next morning, we continued our trek to Thunder Bay

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On To Winnipeg

Spending a few days in Indian Head was relaxing. The town itself is small so our time was spent swimming, walking and swatting mosquitos.  With all the rain, they were horrible, and with us the majority of our trip.

Next stop, Winnipeg.  After loading the car back on the dolly, via plank of wood, we headed out. Cool, a bit cloudy and light rain we made our way East.  Crossing into Manitoba, the scenery changed,  trees lined the highway; a nice change from the flat grassland of Saskatchewan

We arrived about 530 pm to the KOA, a nice campground right near the Assiniboine river. Our spot was nice, near a decent off leash dog area- at least Henry could run a little.  There is a poo,l small cafe and the ever-present mosquito. The spots are good-sized for big rigs like us. There was the highway noise, but many campgrounds have that issue, and while we could hear it, I didn’t mind it much.

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After setting up, next order of business was looking for a ramp for the dolly. We figured Winnipeg should have something, as it is a good-sized city. Well if they did, we didn’t find one. We chose to contact the dolly company, we had purchased the dolly not long before we left so it was new for this trip. The folks were nice enough, offered to send us a new light grommet and a new ramp and straps to our campground.  When I got finished with the phone call, Mark realized that, even though our plan was to stay  in Winnipeg a few days, unless they did a rush shipment we would be leaving before it got to us. So, Mark called back and we had to pay for the rushed shipping. Even with that, we had to hope it made it before we were leaving. Thankfully it did, and for the remainder of the trip, the ramps rode inside the van. Not chancing another loss.

Winnipeg provided several fun activities.  One afternoon we spent some time at the local mini golf/go kart center. A couple of trips around the go kart track, a round of mini golf, and bumper boat ride was a fine way to spend some time

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Another afternoon, we spent downtown at the Via Rail Canada, and Winnipeg Railway Museum.  Via rail is equivalent to Amtrak.  Of course the railway museum had the usual trains- and it was a nice afternoon spent exploring their display.

 

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After our tour of the railway museum explored some more of the downtown area. We came upon an area called The Forks. Somewhat of a plaza area along the river. There were shops and food markets inside where we had lunch, and took a boat ride along the Red and Assiniboine rivers. The water was already 7 feet above normal.  2 days after we left, they had even more flooding from the rain.

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We enjoyed our time in  Winnipeg. We relaxed and explored, and of course saw trains. With the new ramp for the dolly, and a light rain, we headed again East.

 

Indian Head Saskatchewan Canada

As with anything, long trips aren’t always filled every moment with grand adventures. Sometimes it’s the basic things of the day that bring great joy.

After leaving Calgary we headed East. We stopped one night in Maple Creek Saskatchewan at a very nice campground. The park was quiet, clean and had an indoor pool!

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maple creek, Saskatchewan Canada

It was nice to relax and swim after a long drive and I  forgot to take a picture of that pool.

 

After Maple Creek we continued our journey East. The drive was rather plain, low rolling hills but not a lot to look at.

summer  2014 364 As we neared our campground, we came upon a long stretch of road construction, and rain. After the smooth driving we had for most of the day, this rough patch was rather jarring. When we arrived at the campground, Mark went inside to check in, and I walked outside to stretch a bit, and that’s when I noticed….. one of the ramps for our car dolly was missing. The strap that tied them down had broken. Seems the rain and constant bouncing had frayed the buckle and it came off. We checked in and drove to our spot. A nice large spot- but with the rain the back-end of the spot had quite a bit of water, so was a bit soggy.

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We hooked up water and electric and then asked the camp host if they had a piece of wood we could use for a temporary ramp for our car. Luckily they had a nice wood post, which we ended up buying from them- we were going to need it for a while! At least until we can replace that ramp.
This inconvenience clearly didn’t bring us much joy, more like frustration, and phone calls and e mails. We don’t know exactly when we lost that ramp, and sure hope it didn’t damage another car behind us. What we did find at this campground, was that the train tracks were just down the road. With Andrew’s love of trains, this made up for rainy weather. We would walk down the road and watch for the train to come.

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heading to watch the train go by. Andrew likes to collect world flags and was thrilled when he had is USA And Canadian flags.

 

Not knowing the train schedule, we seemed to miss it when we were waiting by the road, but would hear it when we were swimming or at our RV.

This campground had a real nice play area- though rather soggy from all the rain, and a nice pool, always a bonus.

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As we relaxed, I watched Andrew, and thought how these small adventures, the walks to watch a train or an afternoon of swimming, were just as exciting as any grand adventure we might come upon.

 

Calgary Canada

Taking such a long trip doesn’t always give us the time to spend in some of our stops as we would like. With only so much time, our activities can be limited. So what to see, or do, in that short time? I don’t think many people take such long journeys, choosing to spend more time in one place rather than traveling as far as we are. Each agenda is right for that person. Sometimes, I find I would like to spend more time exploring a particular town. We make the best of our time, and note the places we would like to revisit some day. Our days in Calgary were like that.
We stayed a bit out-of-town, and that was ok, I prefer the quiet out-of-the-way campground rather than a noisy city one.
To get a small feel for the city, we chose to take the city train through town. With Andrews love of trains, this is a cheap activity. Not knowing our way around town, the train is an easier way to visit a big city. We get to where we want to go, and don’t just see a freeway.

We spent one afternoon exploring the downtown area, taking in the different buildings and streets in the Stephen Avenue walk area. We stopped for lunch and watched a street performer and listened to some musicians entertain the crowd.

During our walk, we came upon the Calgary Tower. Riding up the elevator in the tower, to the top, 525 feet up, is exciting. As you begin the tour, you are handed what looks like a large smart phone or tablet, and some headphones. All during your tour of the tower, you listen to the narration of information about the city. As you exit the elevator, on the top floor, you are on an observation deck with 360 degree view of the city of Calgary. On one side of the observation deck, there is a glass floor section that you can stand on for a very unique birds eye view below. The view reminded me of standing atop the Empire State Building.
We enjoyed the view from above the city.

Another day, we chose to drive to the Canadian Olympic Park, home of the 1988 winter games. In the summer the park is used for mountain biking, there is a luge ride and bobsled ride available as well. Andrew and I chose to ride the luge; claimed to be one of the longest. I also chose to take a bobsled ride. Where else can you ride an Olympic bobsled?! It was exciting and fun to walk around the Olympic park where those elite athletes competed. You could almost feel their presence among the buildings.

As we enjoyed the scenery and beautiful homes, we listened to the radio, and learned that a year prior Calgary had some major flooding. We learned how the city had rebuilt the damaged area. Arriving back at our campground, we learned that just a few days earlier, had been some significant rain. We missed the current flooding by just 2 days.

So there you have a glimpse of our time in Calgary Canada. I would like to go back and see Banff and Lake Louise. We were close but those towns are west and we were heading east. I know- they are really close but with all that was ahead of us, I will have to keep those on my “bucket list” for now.

A trade off

I love camping, always have. There is something about being outside, sitting next to a fire, the smoke filling the air, seemingly always blowing in the direction you are sitting. Marshmallows roasting, hot dogs cooking, all the traditional activities. When I was younger, camping meant a tent and sleeping bag, small camp stove and a chair. The lure was the outdoors. So many places to see, all with their own appeal. I’m old now.

Sleeping on the hard ground,and invariably a rock, has lost its lure for me. Camping has changed over the course of my life; it is now done with much more comfort. A real bed, bathroom, kitchen and air conditioning and satellite tv! Not really roughing it anymore.

Some may think that this isn’t real camping. As I walk around the campground I notice everyone is doing the same thing. When you pull in you set up your spot.  For some, that’s pitching the tent, others it’s plugging in and hooking up the sewer line.   It’s fun seeing all the different types of rv’s and tents; seeing where everyone is from is interesting. I notice, as people take walks around the campground, they give a sideways glance or point. Being from California and currently in Ontario Canada, we get our fair share of looks. Some will stop and ask if we are lost, or why are we here. Not lost and we are here because we can be.

So we set up our “summer home” and have all the comforts, but we still go out each day and explore something new. The wonders of the outdoors, the history of the area, the local flavor of the city. In the evening we may come back and sit by that fire, talk with the other campers, hear of their travels, share ours. It’s nice to know, if it rains, we wont be soaked and miserable.Yes, we have moved on past the tent on the ground and really roughing it. Our biggest issue seems to be trees.

I love a campground with shade and trees- but they block the satellite signal. Oh the horrors! We have spent time positioning our rv just right in the spot to get the signal, have even gone so far as to move spots. Not always with success. In the end, it comes down to a trade off- beautiful spot under the trees or satellite tv? Because it’s about the camping, the beautiful spot wins. Tv can wait, enjoying a campfire with new friends or family, well that always is my first choice.

Eagle Valley Campground rv park Saskatchewan

For our drive between Calgary and Winnipeg, we decided to make an extra stop about half way. While we have plans and reservations in different places, we truly have no reason to hurry. We looked on the map and figured Maple Creek Saskatchewan would be a good stop. Looking on-line we chose Eagle Valley rv campground.

As we thought, the drive was long; what we learned as we drove, Saskatchewan is not very scenic. Ok, it’s scenic if you like low rolling hills with no trees. For miles and miles. YAWN!

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We arrived at the park about 5:30pm. I was pleasantly surprised at what we found. There were trees and it was a decent size park. What we found interesting was how the park was set up. Normally you turn into the rv spots like in a parking lot, here the sites are more like a turn out on the road. I thought it was odd at first, but after being there I liked that concept. With the spots being on the side of the roads, the center space between the roads wasn’t as broken up

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This park also has a restaurant and an indoor pool. The restaurant is small, and serves Carribean/ cajun type menu. We did not eat there- though the food looked good, it wasn’t what we felt like having that day.

Andrew and I did take advantage of the pool- an extra charge of 5 dollars I think it was. After a long drive, it was well worth the cost. There is wifi, but not at the rv sites- it is avail in the restaurant area.
the park is near the highway but I didn’t find it overly noisy.

Overall, it was nice, good for a big rig like ours, and the pool was a plus.

Spring Hill RV campground. Cochrane Canada

 

After leaving the U.S.A. we entered Canada through the Roosville entrance station in British Columbia; in the North West corner of Montana. The crossing was uneventful and took only about 10 minutes. Our destination, Calgary Alberta Canada. The drive to Calgary was pretty, though long. We had light rain during the drive but nothing major. We reached the campground at about 7pm.

The campground is farther out of the city of Calgary than I thought, but it was ok. Large pull through site but they have post fencing on the corners of each spot, making it a tight turn for us bigger rigs. It actually took some patients and maneuvering to not hit the post.DSC_0386DSC_0385

The park has many full-time campers, people in the area working so they stay at the park. there was construction in the park for improvements. From what I gathered, they were building a new playground spot for kids.

The other campers. long-term and short were pleasant. There is a gas station, store and restaraun. There is a pond with a small dock, use at your own risk. The area surrounding the pond is gravel rocks, there was construction debris around. A few days before had been some heavy rain so much of everything was soggy.

The location is out of the area of Calgary, though close enough to travel into town. Also it is on the way to Banff.
I wasn’t impressed with the park, there was highway noise, though most parks have that.

Gold Spike NHS

 

 

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While planning our trip, it was always understood that we would go to Salt Lake City area to see Gold Spike National Historic Site.  With Andrews love of trains, and his desire for over a year to see this, it was automatic.

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The drive there, as previously noted, was rather uneventful, if not boring.  To be honest, Nevada and Utah on highway 80 are not exciting at all, but we  muddled through and reached our destination.  The first night was just set up in the campground and rest. The next morning—-THE PARK

I don’t think I have ever seen such an excited boy, as Andrew was, to finally see his dream spot. We no sooner pulled into the parking spot and he was out the door, heading to the entrance, knowing his two favorite trains waited for him just on the other side.

Gold Spike NHS is the spot where the transcontinental railroad, the Union Pacific and Central Pacific met in 1869, uniting the country by rail.

We spent four separate days visiting this Historic site. Each day Andrew was as excited as the first

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We were able to get up close to the two trains- the Jupiter and the 119, exploring and asking questions of the park rangers. We were fortunate to also watch a reenactment of the meeting of the 2 trains.

The park staff were so pleasant and made us all feel like friends. After seeing us each day for 4 days, they never got tired of our questions and were always pleasant

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For being about 30 minutes from our campground, Gold Spike NHS is an interesting site, and a must see for anyone interested in the history of trains, and how they united our country.

Before we left the area we stopped in Brigham city, and the Brigham city train depot. This is a small depot/ museum. There are many artifacts of the late 1800’s. As Andrew spent time on the telegraph machine, the proprietor commented how enthralled Andrew was with the machine. I told him how Andrew had asked me for a telegraph system not long ago. With that, he looked at his wife and asked if they still had that “old one” well they did, and he presented it to Andrew, who was beyond thrilled.

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It has been those little things on this trip that have made me smile. Gold Spike NHS and the person involved in the reenactment helping Andrew drive the spike in. The folks running the train depot museum giving him a telegraph. Each small act of kindness has made our trip special.

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We Have Become “Those People”!

When we bought our first rv, we were excited to discover a new way of travel, and another way to see this beautiful country

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Granted, our rv was not new, in fact it was pretty old, but we loved it and it served us well for 5 years.  We made several cross-country trips, and some short ones, each one had its unique experience or adventure. This was all new to us, but we embraced the journey and  enjoyed all the experiences we encountered.

I recall, driving down the road in our old rv on our first long journey, seeing the large rv’s pulling the matching vehicle behind.  We marveled at how big they were and that their pulled vehicle sometimes was a Hummer!. We could not imagine how much it cost to drive all that. We rattled on down the road in our little rv happy to join the other travelers.

Pulling in to a campground one evening, we plugged in and hooked up the water, ready to enjoy ourselves, when I looked a few spaces over and saw ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE! There it was, big with matching car- a Jeep, I think,  and matching lawn chairs and ground mat, a satellite dish and all things fancy.  I felt like we didn’t belong, maybe we were in the wrong park, we didn’t have the “right” rv.  I looked around and saw everything from the basic tent to pop up trailers to rvs like ours and the big guys with the matching everything.  I went back inside our little rig and commented to my husband about what I saw. I loved his response; ” they may have all that stuff, but we are all at the same park enjoying the same sights”

The next evening was July 4th, the park was in an ideal spot to see the towns firework show.   That evening, as all the campers brought their lawn chairs out to the grassy spot, I watched as everyone enjoyed a really great firework show. At the end, the group wandered back to their spots, happy with the evenings show. What I noticed then, was that most people went back to the fire pits to roast marshmallow’s and enjoy the rest of the evening, except for “those people”.  I noticed that those people had retreated back to their fancy rigs to watch tv or whatever they had in there.  We chose to join the group and spend the rest of the evening with conversation and meeting other people.

As time went on, and many of our trips concluded, it was time to sell our little rv.  For  a couple of years  after, we found that we really missed it and decided to buy another one.  After lots of saving and planning and searching we found one!  Funny thing was though, we have become ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE!  We bought the BIG rig. We don’t have the matching car but we have some of the “stuff”

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I didn’t really realize we became those people until the first night in the campground with our new rig. We pulled in, hooked up and I l looked around at the few other campers already there. We were the biggest. I still didn’t feel like those people, we  are happy to talk with others, we like the campfire and meeting people from other places.  I kept noticing, people would walk by and we would get that sideways glance- like they were afraid to approach us.  Would we judge them because they were there in a tent? Absolutely not. We are nice, really.

After a little while  some people approached us and began chatting. How big is that? What kind of gas mileage do you get? Mind if we take a look, we’ve never seen one like that.  We are always happy to invite people in, we love to talk and share stories.  We may look like Those People, but we are here, just like everyone else to enjoy the beautiful country we live in.

For all you travelers out there, enjoy the countryside, but hang out at the fire pit, roast a marshmallow, share a story.

Campground review 2 Missoula

 

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We arrived in Missoula Montana at Jellystone Campground, and checked in at the office. We found our spot- a pull through on the end of the row. After pulling in, we looked for the sewer hookup, and found we had run over it. We found that the connector was right at the edge not further inland of the road as most are. We needed to get help from the camp host to remove the cap, and he did comment that he found it odd the park had the outlets that close to the edge.

As far as the camp itself, it was adequate. There is a pool, but wasn’t open while we were there as it was too cold. There is one central fire pit up near the office. I suppose that is ok, but I prefer fire pits at each spot- I think they believe it will make people join together but I find it doesn’t. Oh well.

There was wifi that was adequate around the park, and an area to walk pets, on leash of course. There is another field area that was safe for allowing our dog off leash for a good romp.

I wasn’t overly impressed with the park but it was adequate for the few days we stayed. We did have nice folks next to us, from Alaska, that we enjoyed an evening of conversation.

Many spots accommodate large rv’s and that was nice for us. Some freeway noise but not too horrible.

Campground Review 1

Campground review

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Our first stop on our trip, other than a truck stop/ rest area, was Crystal Hot Springs rv park in Honeyville Utah. We chose the site for its proximity to Gold Spike National Historic Site; 32 miles.

I think there may be something closer but I like this park .

1) the price 25$ per night for full hookups – sewer/water/electric
2) There is wifi but only near the office, not in the campground area.

The rv section of the park has about 80 sites, all back in. some have larger trees for shade, but overall its nice.
There is an older swing set for kids to play. Nearby a shower/bath room. The woman’s shower was clean but older. There are 2 stalls and 3 showers. One of the showers is missing a shower curtain. I did not use the shower so can’t say about the water pressure etc.

There is a large tent area and many tent sites on the perimeter. The park also has several hot spring fed pools. One very large Olympic size that is shallow all the way across the maximum depth I think was 5 ft.

Thee are 2 Jacuzzi type pools, a small kiddie pool depth I think about 2 ½ ft. and another soaking type pool depth of about 4 feet, with waterfall features.

A big attraction for the kids are the 2 water slides. They are 365 ft long hydro tube twisty slides. Very fun.

All the pools are heated by the natural hot springs in the area and they claim the highest mineral content found in any hot spring in USA.

The swimming/ slides are an extra charge from the camping, though they do give campers a small discount when asked. Swimming only= 6$ swim and slide 10$. Pools stay open until 10pm during summer.

On the perimeter of the park is a small pond with a few ducks. At the back edge runs the train tracks and the trains rumble through periodically blowing their horns. This could be at 2a.am or 4 pm,

We were here over the Fathers day weekend. We arrived on Wed. and by Friday night the park was full- Lots of group tents camping, Families in rvs for the weekend, Sunday afternoon many had left, by Monday morning the place is pretty empty.

Overall the employees were all pleasant and we liked this park.

About Time

Day 1

DSC_0126   started very early, with still much packing to do, but with the days temperature climbing to 106 degrees, it was draining. Packing for a 2 month trip, through different time zones and climates, makes for a challenge to be sure we have what we need. I suppose if we don’t have it we will make do. We were able to get on the road by 3:45pm, later than I had thought we would but it was ok. We drove and by the time we reached Fallon Nevada, we were pretty tired. We found a rest area and pulled in next to the big rigs, for a night of sleep. Even with the low rumble of the big rigs idling, we were able to sleep quickly. When the sun began to peak, the big rigs fired up and began pulling out- that was our alarm clock for the morning,
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was not so exciting, long drive through the desert of Nevada and the blinding snow like landscape of the Great Salt Lake Basin of Utah. Nearing Salt Lake City, I called the campground to get the exit information. As I looked at our calendar, I realized I had made a mistake. Our reservation didn’t start until the next day. Somehow I got our travel days wrong. I called and they did have a spot for us, but not the one we had reserved, so for the first night we had one spot then would move to our reserved spot for the rest of the time. When we pulled in and I saw our reserved spot- occupied for that day- and the temporary spot- we would be in, we asked if we could just stay in the temp spot, it was nicer. Sorry, no , it’s reserved for the weekend, so we had to move. We settled in, and anticipated a good nights sleep; 8am, the train rumbled past and     DSC_0141

made its presence known by the mandatory whistle. Not long after, the campground was coming to life.
Day 3 Up with the train and Andrew was ready to head to Gold Spike National Historic Site DSC_0214 DSC_0148 We managed to have some breakfast, and explain to Andrew that we need to be back before 2pm to move the rv which meant this trip was just a check out. Our trip to Gold Spike NHS was fun. As we got closer Andrews excitement became electric. The joy for him to finally be here was magical to see. We spent as much time as we could before we had to leave, and Andrew, knowing we would be returning, was ok with that. Back to the campground to move the rig.
Back at the campground we moved our rv to its reserved spot, and got settled in. Andrew and I took Henry for a walk, and when we came back, Mark was on his knees wiping up a water leak from under the kitchen sink. Oh great! After some investigation we discovered it was the sink drain pipe connection. It’s accessible but in order to repair it will involve some work. For now we have it sealed and not leaking, but will need to keep an eye on it and get it repaired properly once we return. Andrew wanted French fries for lunch so we got out the fryer, Mark put the potatoes in, and the oil bubbled up and over! Great, a mess. We got that cleaned up and made lunch. Later we realized we had the wrong hose for the propane for the bbq grill, so the steaks we were going to have for dinner would have to wait, we had grilled cheese sandwich instead.
As the night wound down, Andrew went to bed,

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Mark and I sat outside talking and enjoying the evening, By midnight or so, we decided to get some sleep.
Day 4- started at 2:390 am and then 4:30 am with the trains making their pass trough town. We did wait until about 7 before we actually got going. Andrew was again excited to go the Golden Spike NHS, as this would be his day to spend as long as he wanted. We enjoyed our second trip the park, on the way back we stopped at Gold Spike Burgers. Andrew was so tired he was falling asleep. We had our lunch and headed back to the rv for a nap. After a nice nap, Andrew and I went swimming. The campground has a pool area with hot spring pools and a water slide. Andrew and I swam a bit then he went down the water slide. While he went on the slide, he had the Gopro camera, and took a video of his descent.
Day 5 Henry woke me at 430 because he had to go out. Ok, but I couldn’t find his leash anywhere! Finally found it, it had fallen on the ground outside the rv door. Took Henry out and came back to bed. We didn’t get up until 9am. We had some breakfast, then headed back to Gold Spike NHS for the hand car ride day. When we got to the park this time, they were doing the reenactment of the hitting of the spike ceremony. After that ceremony and Andrews ride on the handcar, we headed back to the rv. We made a side stop to a company called AtK that has a rocket display. This company recovers the boosters of the space rockets and refurbishes them for the next mission. They also test other missiles. Quite an impressive display of rocketry. Stopped at Wal Mart for some propane, for the grill. Back at the rv for the evening, it has been just a relaxing evening. We went for our evening walk, and will soon head to sleep.
 

 

 

 

 

Wants and Needs

Merriam Webster defines Need as:

“something that a person must have : something that is needed in order to live or succeed or be happy”

It is always funny to me, when my son comes to me and says, ” I NEED this!”  This, of course, being whatever latest toy/Lego he just HAS TO HAVE. He doesn’t just want it, he NEEDS it, and is quite persistent in his announcement. With him though, that NEED can change as quick as the next commercial, or the turn down the next aisle at the store.  For him, NEED versus WANT are equal.

It isn’t always material things people insist they NEED.  Relationships can fall into that category at times. I have listened as people espouse how much they NEED the other person in their life.  That all-consuming, can’t spend a minute apart, what do I do without you, NEED.   It is wonderful to have a partner to share your joys and sorrows, your adventures and boring days, but to place your happiness on their shoulders  becomes smothering and draining. Why would anyone want that?   Isn’t it better to be proud of yourself and your achievements, secure in the knowledge you can take care of yourself and be self-sufficient, bringing all that to a relationship?  Encouraging the other person to be all they can be, not basing your happiness on them?

I would guess most people confuse what they want with what they need. Do we NEED that 3000 square foot home, with a pool? Or that fancy car? No, of course not.  Do we WANT them? I know I do. Do I have them?  No. What I do have is a decent size home, no pool. We have decent cars, no Mercedes or BMW, but decent.  You see, we didn’t go overboard with what we bought. We bought what we could afford, we worked hard and so far we have done pretty well.   We have planned for our wants and made certain our needs were met first.  Now we have the opportunity to purchase a really big want!  A new, well new to us, RV.

Yes it is big, and a bit costly, o.k. really costly.  Do we NEED it? According to Merriam Webster no.  Do we want it? Absolutely.  We had an RV before, and spent 5 years taking cross-country  family vacations.  We had our easy trips where everything went rather smooth.  There were those trips that became “adventures”.  You know the type; where it seems any and all mishaps occur, and during the trip it is all so stressful you think why in the world did we do this?  But, in  hind sight, those adventure trips are the ones you retell, with fondness and laughter, well after the stress has worn off.

Our summer travels will take us to the familiar and the new,  to family and strangers.  We anticipate “adventures” and hope for smooth rides.   Clearly this is not a NEED, according to Merriam Webster.  It is not a must have,  we can live without it, be successful without it and happy without it.  By all means,  it is a want.  So, for our youngest son, who says he “needs to travel” and for us as parents, who find comfort in the adventures, we will embark on new journeys.  We will experience new adventures, and working  together, find what truly brings us joy, as individuals and as a family.

Secrets

I had a nice visit with a friend recently, something we don’t always get to do.  When I called her, it had been quite some time since we had visited, but we have been friends for so long that it was as if it were only a few days since we had last talked.  On the day we met for lunch, she commented to me, ” when you called and said pick a day next week for lunch,  I was confused and thought I missed something we had planned. But no, it’s just us.  We don’t see each other for a long time, and then when we do it’s like no time has passed!”    I love that about our friendship.

Our lunch was great. We had a long conversation about a multitude of topics. We laughed and reminisced and caught up. We have been friends so long our conversations are easy, and it’s always nice to be able to talk to someone who knows your past .

As I was driving home, my thoughts went to our conversation, and more importantly, to the words left unsaid.  I wouldn’t say she shared secrets, it was more of a sharing of deeper thoughts.  Maybe you have had conversations like that. You are chatting away and realize  the person  has just shared some personal information without actually spelling it out.  A little bit of, read between the lines.

Friendships and relationships can be funny like that. You think you know someone and they share something with you that makes you see them in a new light. I think it is also a measure of comfort between friends.

I don’t believe anyone truly knows everything about another person.  Family members experience  one facet of you, coworkers another. Friends and acquaintances know another side. There is always a little piece missing with each relationship.

Every day life brings us another challenge, and challenges don’t always have to be struggles.  Letting people into our life, sharing in the  secrets we may have, can certainly help us all become better people.  A fresh perspective, an understanding that we are not alone in our thinking, all play a part in our lives.  It may be a little scary to open up and let someone learn a side of you they don’t normally see,  but doing so can be just the affirmation we might need at the time.

 

Before It All Changed

When we are young and carefree, it’s hard to imagine how life can turn, change and suddenly be something unimaginable.  We all have ideas, or scenarios when we are young, how our life will play out. Those wild unimaginable scenarios don’t ever cross our mind.  I planned, when I was young, to grow up, get married have a family. I didn’t plan on a child with Autism.   I have a friend whose husband is a quadriplegic, due to an accident, and know that wasn’t anything they planned for.

Just recently my friend was sharing some old photos, many of her husband, and it struck me, that at the time of those photos, they were living life, young and carefree, before it all changed.  Right until the moment of his accident,  and maybe in those first moments after, I would bet, they never thought  their life would be anything other than what they planned.

Like a game of pool, you line up the shot, 8 ball corner pocket,  you set your sights, pull back the cue stick,  take your best shot.  Everything is perfect, until that  8 ball hits slightly to the left of the pocket, ricochet’s  off and lands somewhere you didn’t plan.  You know you are still in the game, but the game is different now.  How do you go from being a young couple with a son, with nothing but the typical life issues, to a young couple with a son and now quadriplegic?  Talk about a major life changing event!  Everything in your world changes from that moment.  Your life, the family’s life, your dreams and what used to be your normal.  All changed.

Now there is a new world to learn, one that has immense challenges.  The basic act of getting dressed, eating sleeping, bathing, all those things taken for granted just moments ago, before it all changed. It’s not fair, or easy or anything you would wish on anyone, but it is now your world.   So what do you do?  You do what needs to be done, you learn all about your new world and move on.

It takes great strength and commitment to face these challenges and not give up.  Not give up on yourself or the person now in a wheelchair.  To stand united in this new challenge and continue to be happy.   I see pictures of  my friend before it changed, the smiles the happy times, the love that is there. I see pictures now of my friend, and see that same smile and love that is still there.  I can guarantee it’s been a struggle for all of them, but it says a lot to me that they have faced this challenge and haven’t given up.

Life can be a challenge, and all the plans we make can change in an instant.  No one plans for a catastrophic life changing event, it is too unimaginable.  To do so, would make for a rather negative existence.  Like most people, we go along, making our plans thinking all will be fine.  For those that have had life challenges,  whether they be physical or not, it can be so easy to fall into “what could have been, or should have been ” before it all changed.  I admire your strength to move forward.