The Escape of the Covid Captive

I woke up and actually didn’t know what to do with myself. It was early September 2020, the nineth month of the worldwide pandemic. I had cleaned out drawers and closets, cut down the understory around my house, sewn masks, painted a picture, lost four pounds on Noom, and relearned how to make yeast bread. I just couldn’t bring myself to watch another episode of “How to Get Away with Murder” on Netflix and the book I was reading was good but not that good. Uncertain days, months and maybe, years stretched before me. I missed my normal life, traveling, meeting with groups of friends, festivals, and long afternoons sitting in sunny coffee shops in front of my laptop fantasizing about becoming a famous writer.

I felt hollow and totally dissatisfied. I needed to escape. I checked the weather, the next day would be sunny and pleasantly warm. I laid out clothes and organized my purse making sure I had my camera and extra batteries. And then I waited. When light flowed into my bedroom window I got up, drank my coffee and refused to clean up the kitchen in an act of rebel defiance. My domestic duties would be there when I got back for the next days, months, and years. I showered, dressed and opened the garage door to let the sunshine greet me and call me to adventure. My new car is the color of pine needles, I named it “Hunter”. Former vehicles had names like Silvia and Ruby but I’m a different woman now, truly brave and adventurous. Hunter is my noble steed. He also has Sirius XM and I chose music from the ’70s and because of the some divine intervention the station seemed to play all the songs I knew and loved. I turned up the volume and sang. Pumped and a bit giddy, I headed to the mountains, The Adirondacks Mountains, a great destination for a day trip.

I was free. A joyous woman on the road, living life. I came upon some construction and was stoppped by a flagman with a long white beard. I rolled down my window on the passanger. Laughter is the best medicine, I thought, especially during a pandemic.

“Santa”, I said smiling, ” so this is what you do during the summer!”

The man didn’t smile but replied, “Yup, I do a lot of things!”

I drove off. Damn! I had officially crossed over the line to crazy old lady. I quickly decided to take my sudden my vitality down a notch, a speeding ticket could possibly be my next problem if I didn’t settle down.

I had been doing research about logging for a future blog post. In my reading I had learned about a town called Everton that was abandon after the good trees there were depleted at the turn of the 20th century. Looking at my trusty topographical NYS map I found Duane St. in St. Regis Falls, NY that morphed into Everton Road and then became The Red Tavern Road. My persona quickly changed from crazy old lady to explorer determined to find clues.

Traveling to the mountains first required traveling north along flat roads surrounded by farmland but turning east, the trees began to hug the road, hills presented themselves and I felt the myself go higher and higher.

I noticed more conifers. The area was logged for spruce trees to make paper at the mill in Deferiet, New York.

My dad brought my family to The Adirondacks when I was a little girl. I have loved those mountains and woodlands ever since. I took it all in.

Red line against the green, I wondered why. Edging of an old road?

I found a spot that seemed to be somewhat denuded of trees.

The St. Regis River seemed to have become my travel companion as it suddenly appeared once again on this back road.

I drove on and ahead I saw some white water. I came upon guard rails and a parking area. A sign indicated that I was near Everton Falls. I was determined to take the rocky path to the water’s edge and get a picture. I broke my ankle in Israel in November of 2019. I’m healed but now I walk always maintaining a deliberate connection between my feet and my brain. I watch each step and sometimes use the trees as impromptu railings. I made it.

I was thrilled to find The Red Hotel. The the last section of road got its name from that establishment.

The sign said it was established in 1830. Was it a hangout for the loggers at the beginning of the 1900’s?

Near by was a cabin, was it from that era?

As I continued, I looked into the woods hoping to see some remains of the logging camps that once existed or the railroad tracks used to transport the logs.

I saw many places that might have been the entry roads into the cutting areas.

I drove until I was almost to the end of the road. I saw a sign for Deer River Campsite, I needed information and drove in. I love to travel because I find that wherever I go in the world people are generally welcoming and nice. I stopped at the camp office and shortly after the owner came up the road on a golf cart. He was a little guarded to begin with but after I told him I had an interest in history he became an ally.

Gil Paddock, owner of the Deer River Campsite

He went back to his residence and copied pages of the local history to add to my research and then he told to drive around the campground and feel free to take in the beauty of the landscape. I’m so grateful our paths crossed.

Sitting quietly on that bench on The Deer River Flow in my beloved Adirondacks, I found my escape. I have wonderful friends. Some would see this scene and say “so what”. But I’m fortunate to have many people in my life who understand what nature offers us, raw honesty, assurance, and vivid lessons of resilience and perseverance. A deep sense of peace washed over me at that moment and even seeing this picture now renews that feeling and brings tears to my eyes.

I drove back to St. Regis Falls and stopped at a place that I thought sold books but it turned out to be a lending “library”. I chatted with the woman in charge and asked her about any remaining evidence of Everton. She advised me to come back again when the leaves have fallen and walk the trails. I assured I would explore with respect, that I just wanted to understand the lives of people who lived and worked in the mountains and surely loved them as much as I do.

I’m The Autonomous Traveler! Right now I can’t travel to London or Jerusalem or Thailand. But my definition of travel has, in a strange way, expanded within its confinement. By participating in active observation and noticing along with the attitude of appreciation and acceptance, travel is rewarding in any locale. And if you are sincere in your interest and listen to the people along the way you discover wonderful new perspectives.

I will be making my third visit to The St. Regis River soon. I will be rewarded with beautiful fall colors and hopefully be able to find one of the deserted lumber camps and some long forgotten railroad tracks. My hope is to connect even more with the soul of that lovely destination. I will let you know what I find.

Copyright 2020 @theautonomoustraveler.com All rights reserved.

Israel-The Kindness of Strangers

“Those who wander are never lost”

I never made it to Jerusalem. I honestly believe I wasn’t supposed to . I travel to learn things I don’t know, to witness things and try to understand what they mean. I went to Israel to learn about Judaism, a religion I know little about. What happened to me made that possible.

Our tour bus stopped in the Golan Heights near the Lebanon and Syria borders. I took a picture of the UN jeep and wished I had the opportunity to take pictures of the military equipment being transported along the the highway.

I climbed a little incline and this was the last picture I took before the incident.

As I came down from this little hill, I slipped on the gravel and my rear end landed on my foot. I tried to get up and and felt no support. The nice people from my tour gathered around me. Somehow I got my foot from under me and saw that my foot was at a strange right angle from the leg bone that was a large knot at the end of my shin. My guide, who was very upset asked no one in particular if if my foot was broken. The anthesialogic member from the tour group replied in the affirmation. His wife asked what level of pain I was in. I picked 3 and she replied that I was at least a 5.

I honestly felt nothing. I was embarrassed by all the attention and wanted the crowd around me to resume walking to the observation area. All my life I’ve had the ability to go into a state of numbness when needed. I’m an adult child of an alcoholic. Denial of situations and circumstances is a skill perfected by ACOAs like me. We trained ourselves to move through the awful stuff. The bad part of this is we smile through a lot of garbage. The good part is that we are very resilient.

Our tour guide called an ambulance. As the attendants lifted me up onto a gurney, I warned them that they were dealing with a woman who was not petite and cautioned them not to hurt themselves. I also asked the driver if we could stop for ice cream on the way to the hospital. Self- deprecation and humor have become my adult tools for dealing with life. They’ve became more pronounced as I grow older since I ‘m no longer the shy child I used to be.

I was rolled into the ambulance. I looked up and saw a smiling young man who said, “When I saw you I prayed you’d be American.”

What? From my prone position, as I tried to move my good foot so it wasn’t touching the injured one, I was totally confused.

“Hi.” was all I could come up with.

The attendant was glad I was American because he wanted to practice his English. I thought he spoke well and he told me he had learned much from watching American television. We ended up talking a lot and as a result I came to know about his fascinating religion.

This wonderful young man was a Druze. The Druze broke off from Islam in the 10th century and see themselves as a monotheistic religion that combines Judaism and Christianity with Islam. They strongly believe in reincarnation and accept no converts. Only individuals who achieve a specific spiritual enlightenment are able to be a part of the group and read Druze literature. They have no set ceremonies but eating pork, smoking and drinking are prohibited. 120,000 Druze live in Northern Israel. They speak Arabic but are a community distinct from other Israeli Arabs and serve their required time in the Israeli army.

Before my mishap we had driven through a Druze settlement and I was able to take this picture of a Druze woman.

The young man was kind and he told me he wanted be a doctor. I assured him be would be an excellent one.

I arrived at The Ziv Medical Center in Zefat, Israel and did the usual, met with the billing department, explained what happen, had blood work. I was then taken to a little room filled with people who turned out to be be medical students. As they stared at my broken foot, I told them I was very glad I got a pedicure before I left America or they would have been appalled by my ugly old lady toenails. They laughed. The real doctor didn’t seem amused. My leg was numbed and he proceed to twist my ankle bone back into my leg. I squeezed the young female medical student’s hand. A very heavy plaster cast was put on my leg and I was transported to x-ray. The bone wasn’t placed right. The cast was taken off, the bone repositioned once again as I squeezed the same girl’s hand, then more x-rays and success. One more trip to the little room and time for pictures.

I had to stay overnight but what a wonderful experience it was. I was sung to.

I was visited by a female rabbi. She came into my hospital room like a superhero dressed in a stylish black outfit, so powerful in her convictions. She seemed to give off an energy and almost glowed. She preached about the sanctity of marriage and I didn’t have the heart or the courage to tell her I was divorced and had no plans of ever getting married again. Strangely enchanted, I somehow knew I was supposed to put money in the yellow silk bag she carried. She said a blessing over me and I asked if I could take a picture of her. She wouldn’t allow it, saying that what she said was more important than who she was.

Michelle was sent from the tour company to watch over me and make sure I was okay. She became a friend and I will have more to tell about her in my next post. A lady entered my room and chatted. She gave me two candles for Shabbat, the Jewish weekly day of worship. One candle represents the the obligations of worship from sundown on Friday to the morning sunrise on Saturday. The other candle represented the joy and benefits of these special hours spent in God’s presence.


The candle lady and my friend, Michelle.

So much kindness. I never cried during the whole adventure until just before I left. The medical student who held my hand while I went through orthopedic torture brought me a chocolate bar and the note shown below.

The kindness of strangers is why I travel. I’ve been lucky enough to find the true spirit of human beings untainted by personal preference or prejudice. They are encounters with no time to gossip or label or judge. People reaching out to live and love in the present moment with smiles and acceptance. Our exchanges are fresh and alive without fear. This is the beautiful world.

I broke my ankle in The Golan Heights near the Lebanon/ Syrian border and never got to Jerusalem but I got exactly the journey I was suppose to have.

“We travel, some of us forever,to seek other places, other lives, other souls.”-Anais Nin

Copyright 2020 @theautonomoustraveler.com All rights reserved.