Mayfly-A Fly Fishing Woman’s Tale

The Autonomous Traveler

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When I was newly divorced and my kids were off to college I used to go to a place with a band every Friday evening with my single female friends. Heads up and stomachs sucked in, we pretended to be aloof.  Neon beer signs, the tiny red dots on the sound equipment, and a street light through a grimy window provided the bar’s main illumination.  But dragged down by disappointment and gravity, we welcomed the dim lighting. We always chose a table close to the small stage thinking that proximity to the band increased our chances of being asked to dance. We deemed some of the males unsuitable and rejected them. And since there is justice everywhere, even in a place that served draft beer and cheap wine, the men that we saw as desirable rejected us.

I would sip coffee in my living room the next morning hoping it…

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A North Country Love Affair

The Autonomous Traveler

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Author’s note: Since I wrote this piece a few years ago, I have to confess, The North Country and I now have an open relationship.  I go to Florida during the winter months.  But this is home, my base camp and I always return.   I’m here now. Unfortunately, the weatherman is predicting ice and sleet for this weekend. Ugh!

A North Country Love Affair

Being involved with the North Country is like being in a bad love affair. The summer woos me with warm breezes off  one of  The Great Lakes and the river. It offers me lush greens and sunlit days. It entices me with a multitude of lavish experiences: picnics under the trees, quiet moments on the shore, spectacular thunderstorms topped off with rainbows, and romantic interludes under the stars listening to the crickets and watching fireflies. It presents me with fantastic gifts: the sweet serenade of birds, the…

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It’s All About the Math-Hiking in the Adirondacks

The Autonomous Traveler

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One day when I was 46, I decided to hike all 46 of The High Peaks of the Adirondacks. I tend to live out my life in headlines, always proclaiming a new interest with passion and bursts of wild enthusiasm. So 46 at 46! The coincidence had a certain mystical quality to it and I was convinced that it was a personal thumbs up from Mother Nature herself.

My odyssey skyward started slowly. Having been recently divorced and with my two children away at college, I suddenly had time for myself and took up walking. It was good exercise and a way to manage my weight. But most of all I loved the freedom to finally be a self-contained unit moving forward in the the direction of my choice under my own power. I found peace in the rhythm of my steps and breathes. I enjoyed the smells, the green…

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“Can You Hear My Voice this Time?”

The Autonomous Traveler

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Sometimes traveling is not about tickets and long flights. Sometimes a significant journey is unplanned and brief. On March 14, I came out of an adult education class at Flagler College in St. Augustine, Florida and saw a large circle of college students under the campus gazebo. Because I didn’t want to intrude, I stood and watched from about fifty feet away. I listened to the speakers talk about the loss of seventeen lives in Parkland, Florida and the need  for people to reach out to each other with kindness. I moved into the circle and was handed a candle.  As a flame went from one person to another, a young stranger shared the energy of the light with me. The group walked silently around the perimeter of the college, coming back full circle to the gazebo. A group of students sang a song with the line “Can you hear…

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70/7000 Flying Insects, Thin Tent Walls, A Flood, and A Bag of Jewels

Day 61  August 25, 2001

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I stayed in a campsite in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Two unsettling things happened there.  First, the whole campground was filled with all types of flying insects.  I asked  if this was the norm and the people in charge just shrugged their shoulders.  Forest fires were popping up all over The West and I wondered if insects, like other animals, migrated to escape the danger. I never considered that before but it seemed to make sense.

My second situation involved the married couple with their two small kids who had the site next to me. Sometimes campgrounds are like mini suburban housing projects, one dwelling almost on top of the other.  This family’s tent was about a foot and a half from my tent.  I guess their kids were sound sleepers and wouldn’t hear any love making sounds.  What this couple didn’t realize was that I, inches away, wasn’t a sound sleeper and that I had very good hearing.

The next morning I went into Grand Forks where in 1997 The Red River had flooded the city. It was interesting to actually be at a place that had gotten so much coverage in the news.

I stopped at a craft shop on the main street and immediately rummaged through their clearance table at the front of the store. Nestled in a basket was a collection of shiny plastic jewels in all sorts of colors. There must of been close to a hundred of them. I asked the saleslady how much she wanted for all of them.  I guess she just wanted to rid of them because she let me buy them for almost nothing. I walked out of the shop triumphant as I listened to the jewels jumbling around in the bag.  I knew my  second grade students would love them as rewards. These magical pieces of plastic were far better than stickers.  I was so excited about the smiles and motivation I knew this treasure would bring to my classroom.

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70/7000 A Bar in a Church and a Grizzly Bear

Days 57-60  August 21-24, 2001

Heading home but still taking in the sights.

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I took this picture of  The Mint Bar built inside a church in Sundance, Montana.  Ironic? Amazing?  Amusing?  “The Wild West” is quite the place!

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I stopped at the Cabela’s Store in Billings, stood under a stuffed grizzly bear, and learned that adult bears average 8 feet tall and weigh 900 pounds. I think what upset me the most were the very long , sharp nails on the paws. So glad I never met one of these creatures.  I now have a very healthy fear of them.

Another Apology to My Readers-September 2018

My apologies to my readers because I am interrupting the flow of my 70/7000  saga but this autonomous traveler needed to get away alone this  week.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s been a wonderful summer with camping, friends, home improvements, fly fishing, grandkids, and my first endeavor as a blogger.  But whoa, it got way too busy and  I needed some time to slow down and reflect. As Henry David  Thoreau said “Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify.” And so following his example, I got myself a cabin among the trees at KOA in Westfield, NY for six days and vowed to live life as “deliberately as nature”.

 

 

They know me here, I’m a return customer.  Dennis, the owner, greeted me when I arrived. He knows I  walk the beach in nearby Barcelona, NY on Lake Erie to collect beach glass and said the shore had been waiting for me.

My friend, Thoreau, said, “A lake is a landscape’s most beautiful and expressive feature. It is Earth’s eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature.”

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I walked this segment of the”earth’s eye” everyday and with each day I walked farther and farther as my body welcomed more steps and my spirit freed itself from the details of everyday life.  And things became simple and wonderful; the rhythm of waves, and the sound of the pebbles under my feet, and the colorful bits of glass that chose to reveal themselves to me.

My high school friend, Pat, who shares my birthday, joined me for a day.  We walked the shore and engaged in great conversation.  To our delight, we both found rare pieces of red glass.  Stopping in nearby Fredonia, we went to The Lady of The Lake Shop. It is owned by  another Pat who goes to Alaska, works with the crew from “The Deadliest Catch” and brings back Alaskan sea glass to sell at reasonable prices. I couldn’t resist buying two pendants and a pair of earrings.

 

Again I apologize for taking a break from my blog but as Thoreau said,  “How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.”

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Resiliency for Traveling through Life! And How to Get It

I’m reposting this for my friend, Leona, who turned 89 a week ago. We had lunch today and I found out she never saw this post. Enjoy this, dear friend. Love you and happy birthday!

The Autonomous Traveler

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When I was an elementary teacher, I heard about a summer class, something about making kids stronger. The course description said the class was taught by a guidance counselor who had helped students find their inner strength. I wondered if he would reveal the culmination of all  this wisdom in a little package or capsule of words and procedures that would push my students and, maybe, myself to never ending excellence? Was it worth taking 5 days from my summer vacation to go to the class that was over 60 miles away? And then I got the idea! I’d find a campground in The Adirondacks near the class and commute. I would be a student during the day and at night I would complete any assigned reading by the light of my gas lantern and a wood fire. I loved the idea.

The instructor seemed knowledgeable and passionate about what he did…

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70 days, 7000 miles, Day 14

July 6, 2001

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Breakfast at a cafe outside, Wakefield, Michigan. I’m going to put a lot of road behind me in the next few days.  Got to be careful, a lot of deer around here. I saw a young buck on the side of the road and I don’t know who was more scared him or me. Women admire my quest.  Freedom calls a lot of them. A woman I talked to at The Straits told me about  her dream of escaping from her family for just a little while and going on a biking trip alone.

 

70 Days, 7000 Miles, Day 3

June 25, 2001

Great night’s sleep. Woke at 6:00 am. Breakfast. Said “goodbye” to M. and R. and thanked them for a really great time. Went out on the main highway and almost got  hit by another car. They honked at me which I accepted because I didn’t see them because I wasn’t looking.  Note to self- BE CAREFUL. PAY ATTENTION!!!!!

Headed north of Ottawa to The Gatineau Region, the foothills of the Laurentian Mountains, to visit another Canadian friend, M.H.

After I became divorced I threw myself into life.  That whole thing about getting back on the horse and keeping busy, the American cure for everything.  I joined a local Toastmasters’ club which was an organization that had nothing to do with toasting but with public speaking in general. Because our local chapter was so close to the border,  we were part of the larger Toastmasters’ regional organization in Canada.  As a result, I went to competitions in Cornwall, Ontario; St. Hyacinthe, Quebec; and Montreal.  The big convention was in Ottawa.  There were informative workshops all day, and then the banquet and dancing. It’s where I learned the chicken dance. Canadians, especially Quebecers, know how to party.

I met M.H. who a regional director when she asked me to sign a petition to protect the wolves in Canada.  Since I am an outdoors person, we struck up a conversation about common interests.  She told me she had once worked in communications for Lester Pearson who was prime minister of Canada from 1963 -1968.  I saw her from time to time at TM events and at our local chapter. She invited me to visit her.

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I found her blue house among the trees. I brought in my stuff and then we went to Wakefield where Lester Pearson was buried.  I sensed she had been very fond of him. M.H. explained that in their youth, Lester Pearson and his two friends, made a pact  to be buried next to each other. There they were, three graves, the prime minister, Hume Wrongs, Canadian Ambassador to The US, and Norman Robertson, Under Secretary of State for External Affairs.  A fitting tribute to a lifelong friendship.

We went back to M.H.’s house for dinner on her porch.  We talked about getting older and the problems that go along with it, loneliness and the inability to handle daily mundane tasks.  M.H. is very involved, intelligent, and vital. She is running for her life like I do. But old age is frightening.  I will deal with it when it comes.  Not today.