I prepared for a few days after worrying for a week or so wether I should go on this trip at all...was concerned about covid, people's reactions to me traveling, how safe it was out there, etc...but I knew I would not be able to keep myself from blazing across the country to Oregon once I gave myself the go ahead...I needed to be with these sweet mountain people who loved me dearly...
I got up at 6:00am on July 29th and drove to Amarillo and spent the night...drove out to the Cadillac Ranch and took some photos...the next day was a long drive to Flagstaff and after checking into my hotel did a quick jaunt down town to walk around...wasn't much going on so pretty much stayed in hotel room and ate noodle bowls I brought with me...knew I'd be getting up early and the next day's drive to Atascadero was super long and stressful, but I had a friend there that I've know for over 20 years and it was so great to see her and have a nice meal outdoors on a cool patio with her and her husband. I decided to stay an extra day there and not drive...so we had a super fun day driving around the central coast and visiting all the little towns. And I stayed in this lovely downtown boutique hotel and just loved every minute of being away from Austin. The next day I drove to Rocklin (outside Sacramento) and stayed with my friend Steve and had a wonderful day where I felt just so taken care of and such a warm sensation of being with someone that I've known and loved for a really long time (I always tell people he was my best boyfriend ever). Steve has a big heart and presence and takes care of those around him well. I hung out at his wonderful comfortable home with his dog and sweet 4 year old son Jasper. At first I thought I wouldn't be able to handle staying at someone's house, especially on a couch in the living room, but as soon as that warm family glow spread all over me I knew I would stay at Steve's. I slept like a baby and awoke to his sweet doggie sleeping with me and drove to Bend, OR to break up the drive. I could have driven straight to Welches but didn't want to arrive at my hosts house too early and had heard great things about Bend. It was a mistake to stay there - Bend is a shithole and my cheap hotel's wifi went out around 7:00pm and I had kind of a meltdown which turned into a grieving session that lasted in me bawling for hours. At first it was just frustration about not having internet and really being sucked into Hell on Wheels again, but then I was forced to confront those juicy old deeply crusted over wounds/desires that seem to only emerge with a 5 day 80mph road trip. It's happened to me on every road trip: I spend most the day in euphoria/raptor like focus on the road...followed by a gradual falling apart and vulnerable period where I feel sad and weepy. All ancient grievances are re-hashed, and only when I park and get into the hotel am I relieved and hunker down for deep sleep. What happened in Bend was some familiar stuff I've been dealing with for a few years with therapists in Austin; also a love jones that had me spinning in Austin and took 5000 miles to forget about. But then something very familiar happens at the end when I think all of my unhappiness is a particular person's fault: I unconsciously open my computer and look at the McMurdo webcams and go into a zone of what it is I am really grieving - missing the place that gave me everything...gave my life 24/7 badass meaning and purpose and joy every day. Before McMurdo I dated big tattooed guys/bikers to feel badass...then I got to become that badass I tried to get on the outside...she lived in me and just needed a place to manifest...this is hard, this time of year as people start to deploy, as I see pics of people in Christchurch getting ready for that C-17 ride to the Ice runway...something I got to do 7 times (1 time was by boat)...a situation that still rips my heart out every time I think about it because I miss it so much. I have a job now that almost gives me that much satisfaction, but it barely rates in comparison. It's a familiar patten when I start to feel sad: let the feelings overtake and dive deep into grieving, cry long enough to realize I miss my home. I still apply every year for positions, but have fallen out of the loop and much younger people deploy...and I keep trying to make my life here feel like the one I had there...and I have a very good life here, but it is hard for me to accept that the best is behind me...I can't even imagine there could be something that could be that fulfilling to my being, but maybe I should start trying to believe that there is.
But wait, I was writing about my road trip, which was one of the best trips I have every taken...so I get to Welches at about 10:00am and my host is playing golf and his wife is gardening. I have a lovely little room in their beautiful home on the river. I am euphoric driving over to the RV park I lived in and just traveling that familiar little road in the beautiful forest...I was so unhappy there most of the time but I love going back...what I didn't realize when I moved there was that I would form this community of people that I love - that I feel so close to - that can't wait to see me and welcome me like a beloved relative. I spent 10 days at my host's home and it was delightful...I saw so many friends and went to Portland and then when I left I had another exciting road trip with some wonderful discoveries: Helper Utah and Canon City, CO...two fantastic little towns that need to be visited again. The joy of the trip has evaporated with some realities of being back in Austin. I am happy to be in my apartment and be free for a few weeks, and then back to work for this insane presidential election.
I was so happy for the 3 weeks I did this trip. It could not have been better...next time I just need to make it longer...I had been planning to do this ever since I got the gently used Lexus as a gift. She performed beautifully. I had a mission, a goal, a destination, and all of it was wonderful...I just feel so loved by that mountain. I just can't live there full time.