70/7000 Putting on Some Miles and My Last Night

Days 63-68  August 27-September 1, 2001

Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Ontario. Putting on the miles to get home before school started, I didn’t set up camp each night but slept in the van.  I used a chair by a campfire in the evenings and made coffee each morning on my vintage Bernzomatic stove. Down to the basics, my journey is ending.

On Day 66 ( Thursday, August 30) I realized I was 90 miles from home. I felt this wasn’t right. I told everyone I was leaving on the Saturday after school let out and returning on the  Saturday before school started again. I really wanted to go home but my poetic soul and my  stubborn  inflexibility would not allow it. I set up camp, tent and all.

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And only on Saturday, September 1, 2001, did I allow myself to go home.

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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.

 

A Menopausal Odyssey, Day 13

July 5, 2001

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When I was taking my stuff down and packing up to leave the campsite, Jim was watching me.  I went up to him, shook his hand and told him he was a wonderful person and that I so  glad that I had met him.  As I drove off,  I could see him in my rear view mirror watching my van.  I feel so sorry for him.  It was very apparent that he had some problems and I hoped that he was getting some help.

It was a traveling day. I stopped at Kmart and bought a comfortable chair for $11.99 and finally found a pair of plastic camping wine glasses. I got a campsite near Wakefield, Michigan.  I sent my son the stuffed animal skunk that he told me to look for and some Michigan fudge.  Each day is different. “Give us this day our daily bread”.

 

A Menopausal Odyssey, Day 12

July 4, 2001

The Suck Factor!   It’s those moments when the descriptive word for everything is “yuck”!  It happens to me when I tired, hungry, in an unfamiliar or uncomfortable situation, or discouraged. I guess it’s part of life and can even happen during  my dream-come-true trip.

I woke up this morning fully controlled by the negativity of the suck factor. I think it was because of the fudge I had bought at one of the many, many fudge shops on Mackinac island.  I ate a big chunk  before I went to sleep.

I decided to walk the beach and do some writing.  I wondered if this rather long trip would really be worth it. Just when I thought this whole thing was a bust I turned the corner and saw two sailboarders on the water.  They were speeding along on the sun jeweled water.  They weaved and bounced and I could almost see the smiles on their faces. They were free and joyous.  I smiled.

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Every year I read the book, Hatchet by Gary Paulsen to my second graders.  It is about a boy who was stranded in the Canadian wilderness by himself.  Brian, the main character learns to accept his bad luck.   He  pushes himself to keep going until bad luck turns into good.  I have a favorite quote from Hatchet. “He did not know how long it took, but later he looked back on this time of crying in the corner of the dark cave and thought of it as when he learned the most important rule of survival, which was that feeling sorry for yourself didn’t work. It wasn’t just that it was wrong to do, or that it was considered incorrect. It was more than that—it didn’t work.”

My traveling days will ebb and flows just like my life. Sometimes things will be mediocre and other times they will be absolutely exhilarating. I need to keep on going, to ride the high moments and ride out of the low.  I am not going to get stuck.  My life is not going to suck!

I got asked out on a date today.  Jim, the young man in the next campsite, asked me to go with him to see Fourth of July fireworks. He said he would drive me there. First of all, my daughter made me promise not to get in a car or boat with anyone on this trip.  Second, Jim was all by himself and appeared be a little overwhelmed by life. My instincts broadcasted a warning , an “uh oh” feeling I had taught my students to always listen to.

The man was a poor soul.  I wish, as human beings, we could love everyone and give out help and assistance to all who are in need. But I have learned that I can’t because  sometimes it just doesn’t work out.  Rescuing isn’t always beneficial.  I feel guilty but  I couldn’t get over the feeling that if I had gone with Jim there would have been trouble.  That night I didn’t sleep in my tent. I slept in my van.

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70 Days, 7000 miles, Day 11

July 3, 2001

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It’s the second night in my Michigan campsite.  My plan for this trip has always been to head to Montana to do some fly fishing.  Last night I spent some time reading about mayflies. When I woke up this morning there was a mayfly on my tent. It was the first thing I saw when I broke into the outside world from the security of my sleeping bag cocoon. I believe in the significance and power of coincidences and I don’t take them for granted. Down to the water I went. The air was filled with the beautiful winged insects.  It was a mayfly hatch just like the one I had witnessed in the Adirondacks with Sharon. (“Mayfly, A Fly Fishing Woman’s Tale” blog post-June 19, 2018)  I looked to see if the they were mating but out of the hundreds there, I was only able to see one pair  engaging in procreation. I wondered if a hatch on the lake was different than a hatch on a river. I need to look that up.

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I spent the day in town and visited an Ojibwe Native American Museum.  I talked to a woman who was amazed that I was traveling alone.  She was retired and wanted to go down south to visit some museums. She was hesitant because she, too, would be traveling alone.  After talking with her awhile I’m pretty certain I convinced her to do it.

It was a great day!

70 days, 7000 Miles, Day 5

June 27, 2001

I left M.H.’s house in the morning and got on a highway that follow the Ottawa River. I was on my own now and I was anxious. I was really doing this, alone  I found a beautiful campground and was given a great site on the water.

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I was agitated for two reasons today. First, I had just finished teaching 5 days ago.  I loved teaching my second graders but the end of the year was so hectic.  A field trip, grades, lesson plans to be turned in, room to clean, grade level meetings, district workshops, placement of students for next year, final evaluation, etc., etc., etc.  It usually takes me two weeks into a summer vacation before I stop being a teacher.

And there was another factor, I hate making mistakes.  It is my biggest fear and the cause of the most distress in my life.  It all comes from once being a very self conscientious,shy child.  I always tried to avoid any kind of attention especially anything negative.

Today judgement and doubts were shouting at me. “Should I stay here for one night or more?”  “Should I stay put because of Canada Day on the first?” “I’ve only gone 300 miles?” “How many miles to Michigan?” “I’m I doing enough?” ” I’m I being enough?”

I chipmunk came up to me after I got settled and I fed him some crackers.  He came closer and finally came up on the picnic table.  The little creature allowed me to feed him as he sat before me inches away.  He was so trusting, so into the moment we were sharing together.

I  decided to stay here 2 nights or maybe three. I need to make a vacation transition, passing from a goal oriented rat race to serendipity, one day at a time, one lovely present moment after another.

I will get to Michigan when I get there.