Walkabout: Day 50, Another day

December 8, 2016 ~ Thursday

8a Morning Pages ~ Columbus, GA w/Melinda

I stayed in Georgia with Melinda another day. I stayed in my pajamas all day. It was lovely, until about seven.

Melinda was digging out her paints. We were going to paint! I was nervous, and she suggested I hit the bowl to loosen up. I thought that would be a good idea.

But that hit went right to my head. I got woozy and dizzy and a bit nauseous too. Melinda suggested I might lay down for a minute. I agreed, as that is about all I could do. The next moment, it was two hours later.

Now, do I get all down on myself over the choices I made yesterday? I opened a bottle of wine at one-thirty, and I was just finishing it after seven. I sipped slowly and mindfully and watched heart-warming Hallmark movies in my pajamas all day. It felt like Christmas. I felt clean and cozy and happy.

I snacked too much and didn’t move my tush all day long, but we need days like these from time to time, right? But how different might the day have been had I not had all the wine and weed? Would I have opened up to Melinda like I did?

But I also went overboard and missed the paint party we could have had. Was she disappointed?

I’m tired of wondering what my life would be like if I wasn’t drinking. That was supposed to be part of this trip. Like when I went out – stay clean and sober and clear-headed, so you can trust yourself.

I keep making new rules and then breaking them. This is two years I have been working on this resolution. Need it be any longer? Seriously – can’t I give this my honest best effort? I’m so tired of being angry with myself.

Should I be? Or did I need this? Really, Sonya? You were flat drunk one week ago. It took you all Tuesday to recover. You forget and indulge. You don’t need alcohol to cut loose and have a good time. You can bring your authentic self to the party.

I seriously do not understand myself. I feel so happy – elated even – when I can string together several sober days. But that addictive voice starts casting its spells, charming me into believing its lies.

Things are never as promised. And even if they come close, did I really need a substance to take me there?

I think I am amping myself up for another decision. I have made so many of them. What will it take for this one to stick? I do not want to wait until January 1st. I want to start now. I want to spend the holidays sober. I want to know and love myself that way. I want to set the good example. I can do this.

So I keep moving south today? I am kicking myself for missing the painting. That might be the one thing that could keep me here one more day. If I had a second chance to paint.

Otherwise, I need to head to Jacksonville. I have my $20 gift card I earned at REI, and it must be spent in a week. I think I will get some type of mallet and tent stakes. That is my main hiccup these days – trouble staking down the tent.

Julia’s appointment isn’t until 1:30 this afternoon. That is too late to be making travel arrangements. I will need to make a decision earlier today than that. I could enjoy another day of leisure, but I would want to stay sober, and I don’t know how likely that is if I stay here.

I also have no idea what plans Melinda has. She has said I am welcome as long as I’d like, and even invited me to her art show tomorrow.

Why would I go? To be closer to Vero and Grayson, to do my REI shopping, to pay my respects to Papa Bob.

Why would I stay? To have another day/night of creature comfort, to spend more time with Melinda, to devote more time to self-care and attention. The only risk of staying is missing Papa Bob. Or getting intoxicated and not being able to make the baby drive if I needed to.

I also need to dry out my tent, which we did not do yesterday. One more day would allow me to do that. Of course, whatever camp I choose would allow that as well. I wonder if I should also look for deet and mosquito netting?

Today is just beyond the seven week mark. I need to tally my spending and assess my situation. I feel like I blew the $30/day rule last week, but there is only one way to know for sure.

I know I cannot dream of leaving until Melinda is up and about, and that was well after 10a yesterday. I think I have decided I need to stay, if I am still welcome. I need to mind my duties and stay relatively sober – enough to drive if needed. And I need a firm plan in place for my departure tomorrow. I will want to leave early-ish.

3p I realize I have kept the experience of Papa Bob dying at arm’s distance from me. This was a family experience, a family I was no longer a part of. But that is not true.

My first thought was the need to gather Bob’s story for Grayson. This family IS my family. They are my son’s people, my grandson’s people, they are therefore my people. Strange that I could ever see their struggle as separate from me and my experience.

I need to enter into their experience with my family. I need to feel and honor Papa Bob, to visit his spirit with my spirit, to send my love and light, and to feel the loss of him – in so many ways.

We hardly knew him, but oh did we know him. He opened his home to us when we needed a place to go. He was kind and generous and loving and wise. I have been wrong to keep separate. We can never be separated. We share blood now. We always have.

Walkabout: Day 49, Mile 9117

December 7, 2016 ~ Wednesday

9:30a Morning Pages ~ Columbus, GA w/Melinda

I am sitting in the most cozy sleeping nook right now. Melinda has a bed outside on her back deck. It has a heating pad on it, and it is situated next to a faux fireplace. There is a string of little teal and white lights along the wall behind me. There are drapes covering part of the deck, just to minimize the wind flow. Otherwise, I can see the trees out back, right in front of me.

I told her I was going to have to steal her idea. I have always loved sleeping outside. Back when I lived in Oklahoma, I would sleep out on the front deck. In Virginia, when we lived on Bull Run Mountain, I would sleep outside on the trampoline.

I heard the birds as I stirred this morning. I could feel and breathe in the crisp morning air, but I was plenty warm next to the fireplace. I turned my alarm off at 7a. I thought I layed in bed for another hour, but it was actually 9a when I finally rose! Walked Justice and fed her, and cleaned up the kitchen before turning to my morning pages.

Shared some wine, mimosas and bud with Melinda last night. My head is a little fuzzy, but I feel good otherwise.

I talked last night. I actually talked. I risked being open with my thoughts and feelings. The imbibing helped, of course, but it felt good to just talk. I believe Melinda is a safe place to do that.

At one point, she said that she saw me become a scared little girl, about ten or eleven years old. She told me I needed to parent that little girl. I thought I was done with my inner child work! Is it possible she is pulling strings in there without me being aware of it? Does she need my attention? My help?

I think she probably does. Tears of recognition flowed freely.

So how do I do this work? Do I need to be in therapy? How am I going to afford all of this? I want to go to school. I want to write. I need therapy. What the hey?! I need. I need. I need.

So what would this inner little girl want to tell me? Or what do I need to tell her? That she is very brave, and that we turned out okay because she was so brave. That she did a good job, and that she is good enough – that everything she is and does is good enough.

She needs to know that her thoughts and feelings matter. That her likes and dislikes matter. That I will not betray her by keeping her silenced inside of me anymore. When she voices an opinion within me, I need to acknowledge her and act on her needs. She needs to feel that she is important to me.

She does not want to be indulged, she just wants to be heard and healed. I can start doing that. Instead of ignoring the inner thoughts and promptings I have, I need to bring them to the surface and honor them.

This means keeping myself open to see and hear and feel myself, not to control and manipulate outcomes by arranging my thoughts and feelings in a neat little strategy. I need to get raw and real with myself and with the people who are closest to me. And to do so with kindness and dignity.

I need to decide if I am staying here another night. I had reached out to Susan Tombarello, but I have not heard a reply. There is really no reason to rush to Vero. Looks like I can’t stay with Cameron and Julia anyway. I guess they are worried about the dog hair with the new baby. I guess that makes sense. They are brand new, young parents, and they want to do everything right. It’s cute and sweet. But it does leave me with the dilemma of finding sleeping ideas for the next month.

Rob’s dad, Bob, is in the hospital. They had to remove several feet of his small intestine. I heard he also had a heart attack last night. They didn’t expect him to make it.

Part of me feels I should rush down there, for the family, and to see him. But then I think how silly that feeling of “should” is. I have not been a part of that family in four years, and it was a strained role even in the years before that. What part of me things I have any obligation at all to him or to them?

But I feel a sense of loss anyway, and I would want the family to know that. I doubt it would be seen for what it is, though, as I have been absent all this time.

I am always absent, even when I am present.

I need to figure that out. I want to be a real person in my body.

And I want to believe in Edward. I want to be IN LOVE with him, in a place of shared intimacy, where we are fully our present selves and embracing the other fully and deeply. And to pledge ourselves here for always.

Walkabout: Day 48, My chief aim

December 6, 2016 ~ Tuesday

7:45a Morning Pages ~ last day in Pisgah/Brevard (for now!)

I am beginning my trek south today, getting closer to my grandson and family. Cameron and Julia moved into their new place yesterday. They will be enjoying their last few days as a couple, alone in their own home for the first time, so I don’t want to intrude before Grayson does. lol

I am just trying to wander my way down and shorten the travel distance, so I don’t risk missing the big event. I am so excited and honored. (What is up with my spelling today??!)

I purchased a Christmas ornament for my grandson and family yesterday. It is a little black bear with a hiking stick that has bells on the top, tied on with a tiny red ribbon. It is meant to represent my walkabout – how Grayson was so important that I traveled 10,000 miles to meet him and make my home near him.

I got word from Melinda last night that she is up for a visit today, so I will travel five hours to Columbus for the night. I will also contact Susan Tombarello and see if she is up for a visit tomorrow night, assuming Grayson is still hanging in there. I am looking forward to the visits.

I have been on this leg of the trip for a week now. I would say “without companionship” but that is not exactly true, as I have met some very wonderful people along the way. Chris, the young homeless man. Sarah and her friends at the community theatre. Judy Morgan, Carolyn and Keturah (and Matt) at the Phoenix. They have made the last week really memorable. I hope to keep up with most of them, as I have so many others over the years.

I need to pick back up my Christmas card tradition. It sure was nice hearing from friends all over the country and spreading my own little joy as well. I could probably even pull it off this year. I just need a picture with Grayson to finish the collage. Then I can collect addresses using my contact list and Facebook. I can use the Spokane address as the return, so if we get reciprocals, Mom can enjoy them until I get back that way – if I get back that way.

I am truly and totally undecided. It may be in my best interest to come right back to North Carolina and start looking for a job. I could continue camping and boondocking until I find something suitable. I wish it didn’t have to be that way. I wish I could launch myself into full-time writing. I don’t know how to do that, but I will try to magnetize the idea and attract the right solution to me.

Sounds like there is quite a bit of rain in this region, much like Seattle. I wouldn’t mind that at all, but Mom might have some difficulty adjusting. Of course, she was not super excited about the snow in Spokane, but she has adjusted to that just fine. I dare say she has even enjoyed buying the boots and scarves she needs to deal well with the winter season in the Pacific Northwest. I know I have!! I love my boots and scarves!

There is someone out there who wants me, who would value what I bring to the table, who wants to hear what I have to say. I just need our paths to cross.

I have been using my formula for personal confidence again – I believe that I have the ability to achieve the object of my definite chief aim in life. I am no longer cloudy on my chief aim. I aim to be a writer. I want to write books. I just need to identify my message, my original idea.

I want to write my memoir, but I don’t want to stop there. I think I want to collect our family stories as well, so that Cameron and Grayson and beyond will know who our people are. So *I* will know who our people are. So much history will be lost forever if someone doesn’t capture and record it. I could be that person.

But that is a personal project. I could not support myself with that. Or could I? I don’t know. I just see myself sitting in front of Grandma Troendle, asking about her life, her parents, her grands, her stories. I see myself looking up newspaper archives in public libraries like a detective, piecing together stories.

Where do I go with this? How do I use it? I have no idea. I just feel inspired, and I feel that it is important. Where will the stories lead me? All over the world? How long and how far could I trace my roots? Will I bore before I begin, or will I build on each new discovery?

Walkabout: Day 47, SHE

December 5, 2016 ~ Monday

7:15a Morning Pages ~ Appalachian Coffee Co ~ Brevard, NC

The internet said this coffee house opened at seven. They open at six-thirty. I was robbed! lol

I rose about six this morning and, knowing the coffee house opened at seven, I went ahead and got breakfast ready for Justice, changed my pants and reset the car. At ten of, I put the car in drive. I know I wanted to bring myself joy by spending this early hour in the coffee house, writing my morning pages.

Yesterday was full of delightful surprises and gifts. I started at the SHE museum just as they opened, and I had the whole place to myself. The exhibits were provocative. There was a story about a slave woman and the county who kept the deeds had opened these records to the public. There was a woman who wrote about the region too, the French Broad River, slaves, and the environment long before these movements began.

There was an exhibit dedicated to sexism in advertising, and I was appalled at the images and messages prevalent as recent as 1970. Women were portrayed as weak, dumb, and sex objects.

There was an exhibit on female nobel prize winners, the Nobel Peace Prize in particular. Of the nearly 850 recipients, only 48 have been women – 18 of these for the peace prize. The walls contained their stories and life achievements.

There was an exhibit on Ami Vitale, who began her career as a freelance photographer in India. Now she is an Ambassador for Nikon and a contract photographer for National Geographic. She lives in Montana. Her images are stunning and moving.

I had a couple of hours to kill, so I headed across the street to another local faire place and sipped on a spicy bloody mary during the live music brunch hour. Had a chance to catch up with Edward during the musician’s break. The music was a perfect blend of chill tones and Christmas.

I headed over to the community theatre after eating lunch out of my basket. There was supposed to be free parking and tickets available, but I soon found out neither was the case. Well, they had a few single seats open, but I would have to find metered parking or take my chances at the Renaissance Hotel.

I plugged the hotel into my GPS and navigated my way to the parking lot. I looked around at other vehicles, and I did not see evidence of stickers or placards or another indication of which cars belonged there and which did not, so I thought it would be okay.

The theatre was slam packed with people, and I was instantly overwhelmed by the crowd. I thought twice about staying, and I actually checked out the distance to the church concert instead. After contemplating each, I got in line at the box office. One woman stood in front of me, making her transaction.

Out of the blue appeared a friendly, white-haired woman who asked, “Have you already bought your ticket?”

I answered, “No.”

She tells me that she has an extra ticket, only one, that it would be free, but I would be sitting with people I didn’t know. Well, I would be doing that anyway, so I accepted with a broad smile and many thanks.

Her name was Sarah. Her friends were Cindy, Alice and Jeannette. They invited me to dinner after the play. I really wanted to accept, but I was worried about my car and Justice and the cost of a nice dinner in the city and the effects of a couple of drinks in a strange place, then trying to get back to camp in the dark. So I returned to my vehicle and my constant companion.

I almost changed my mind and walked back to the restaurant, but then I noticed the bright yellow placards hanging from the rearview mirrors around me. It was no longer safe to leave my car here. So I headed back to Brevard.

Wanting to relax with a nice glass of wine and enjoy another local joint, I parked in the Bi-Lo lot and browsed the Google Map listings. I decided on the Phoenix, a farm to table restaurant with live music daily, local musicians, and local art of the walls. The music for this day, Sunday, was brunch only, but it felt like a good choice anyway.

I loved the feel as I walked in. Cozy, warm, exposed brick, quite dinner crowd. I seated myself near the bar, so I could enjoy the whole scene.

I’m getting tired of writing, and I want to do this story justice, so I will pause here and continue a little later. I am anxious to hear from Cameron and to check on the condition of my tent. I may be able to dry out today, pack up tonight, and head south tomorrow. I hope! 🙂

Walkabout: Day 46, Soul enrichment

December 4, 2016 ~ Sunday

6:30a Morning Pages ~ Pisgah National Forest

The coffee shops don’t open until 8a today, so I will be writing my morning pages in the car. I am totally comfy, though. I have the engine running and the heater on, and I’m sitting in the privacy of the back “dorm” with the lantern on and Justice curled up in my lap. Life should always be so good.

It has been raining lightly all night long. I am a bit disappointed. The forecast didn’t call for rain until about noon today. I thought I would have time to hike, then collapse the tent before everything got wet. No such luck.

It’s all good though. I had planned on staying at least tonight anyway.

Julia has her next appointment tomorrow, and I will gauge the rest of this side of the journey based on what the doctor says. If she still has plenty of time, I can stay until I dry out, then maybe see Melinda in Georgia and Susan Tombarello in Jacksonville before ending in Vero.

If Julia might go soon, I’ll want to be close by. Here in Asheville, at nine hours away, is farther than comfort when I have the chance to be in the delivery room with them.

The car is getting rather warm, but Justice is so cute and content in my lap that I don’t want to move. Maybe I can just shed an upper layer without disturbing her. I really don’t want to start sweating.

Mission accomplished. I love her so much! We have really bonded since spending so much time together these last few months. She has been my constant companion since August 15; sometimes my only companion. She watches out for me, protects me, and loves on me. I am so much better for having her with me. I feel badly about all those years I just thought she was a pest. She is such a joy to me now!

My alarm is going off in the front of the car, where I have it charging. I am just letting it play. Dad remarked in Myrtle Beach about my alarm, that it was so quiet. I told him I don’t need it to be loud. I wake at small noises, and I can’t stand the sound of a jarring alarm that makes me want to rush like a mad woman to shut it the F UP anymore! lol

Since it looks like I won’t be hiking today, maybe I will visit some of the surrounding area. Weaversville is just to the north, and Black Mountain is just to the east. Both are said to be good day trips from Asheville.

Maybe drive, then coffee? Or coffee, research, then drive? It will be only 7:30 or so by the time I finish my pages. Unless I pause now, research, drive, then pick back up at the new location. I think we have a winner.

9a Well, God is at it again. He led me today away from ideas that would have wasted my time and money, and toward activities that will benefit me and enrich my soul.

Soul enrichment is now a big deal for me. It is not all about conserving my resources at all costs anymore. No, I spend my resources wisely, choosing to invest in things that give me joy and bring light to others too. I need not worry about running out when I spend this way.

Give, and it shall be given unto you. It is a life philosophy. I make a statement and create a ripple effect with every dollar I spend. My pool is not stagnant.

I will visit the aSHEville museum today, which is dedicated to celebrating women in their exhibits. Then I have a choice to see a Christmas play at the local community theatre or to attend a Baroque concert to benefit a local animal shelter. I will choose when the time comes. I don’t think I can choose poorly.

Cameron posted a video on my timeline that brought tears to my eyes. It is about being a rebellious person that breaks the chains of day after day after day, for myself, and for others that are impacted by the choices I make. I worried so, for so many years, that it seemed I lacked the ability to inspire him. Turns out just living my life has been the best inspiration of all. I hope he gets courage, strength, patience, resourcefulness and grit from what he sees of me, and that he grows beyond my wildest imagination. ❤

Walkabout: Day 45, Poet for Hire

December 3, 2016 ~ Saturday

7:45a Morning Pages ~ Pisgah National Forest

I will be a writer. I only need to learn how to do it well. In the meantime, I will practice writing. I will practice keen observation, and I will record what I observe.

I will notice first my own body, feelings and thoughts. Then I will extend the same courtesy to those around me – all living “those” – people, places and things. I will take time to notice and feel into my surroundings and myself.

I wonder what time the ranger station opens. It would be nice to have a cup of coffee this morning as I write my morning pages, then browse the trails and choose a hike for today. They were already full of cars when we passed around 8a yesterday.

Another part of me says no. I have indulged in coffee shops long enough. Time to return to the rough stuff. I have two caffein shots I can take if I want. I picked them up at a gas station. They were in the bins next to the creamer shots, and they looked just like them. I only noticed them because I was trying to decide which cream I wanted for my coffee that morning. I tucked two into my purse, thinking they might come in handy.

I delighted in Asheville yesterday. I spent so much money (comparatively). I just could not stop. I was in heaven, and I wanted to support all of the local artisans I came across. I purchased wonderful food at the year-round farmers market. I took advantage of a sale at REI and got a new hydro-backpack when I picked up my fuel canisters.

Then I picnicked in 50* weather at French Broad River Park with the herbed chevre and whipped garlic spread on romaine lettuce and corn tortilla. (The tortilla was from New Mexico.) Justice and I walked along the river for a good couple of miles, and she romped with a perky chihuahua mix male named Pepper.

Then I drove to the heart of the downtown district. I parked at a meter and walked. I had a hot cup of coffee at Old Europe, which claimed to be the oldest coffee shop in Asheville. I walked to the Grove Arcade, which is actually a mall, full of artisans of all sorts. I purchased four heart pendants made of ocean jasper for mom and us three girls.

Then I walked some more. I followed the setting sun down one drive. I journeyed to the center of a silent protest at the Vance Memorial, where I met my Poet for Hire (story on Facebook and Instagram). I gave him twenty dollars, his top “asking price” as I wanted to bless him and was touched by his spirit and demeanor.

When my meter was up, I drove to Highland Brewery, supposedly the first legal brewery in AVL following prohibition and in its second generation of family ownership. I tasted a flight and settled on a coffee porter as the live music began – guitar and banjo in the front.

I wrote my Poet post and sipped, nearly in rapture. I am home. I am home. I was going to eat dinner out of my basket when I returned to camp, but I wanted to support the food truck parked outside the brewery too. It was a magical day.

I’m still having a hard time talking myself out of the coffee shop. It truly brings me joy to sit and sip on a delicious mug in a local shop. I will finish this there. 🙂 …

My does the price of coffee vary! I paid $3.50 for this cup. It was served in paper with a small pack of Newman’s Own Organic Peppermints. The shop is called “Crank” and it shares space with a bike shop. The smell of rubber tires permeates the place. I kind of like it. It feels raw and sweaty and ACTIVE and full of life and living to the fullest. But otherwise it’s not the best.

That actually isn’t fair. I’m just upset because my phone gave me a message that the system is almost full (storage), and I’m trying to upload my pics to dropbox and onto my laptop, which is low on battery and needs a charge, and the only available outlet is not working. U.G.H.

I cannot risk losing my cell phone functionality nor all the photos I have taken on my walkabout. I keep babysitting it, but nothing gives. I guess I will just keep at it until I run out of battery and coffee and then figure out what to do next. My phone indicates the photos are being uploaded, but my laptop file does not reflect the same.

I found the trail I want to explore, but I need a map. I will actually need to connect two trails to get there, and I think I might be able to access it from my camp. It would be Avery Creek to Twin Falls. But the Ranger Station is closed on weekends, and I don’t want to buy what I can get for free.

6p I went on a beautiful hike today! Eight miles in the Pisgah, much of it along Avery Creek, where the flowing water was music to my ears and soothing to my soul.

I used my All Trails map to guide me, so I had total confidence the entire way that I was heading in the right direction, how far I had traveled, and how far was left to go. It made an incredible impact on my mood and psyche. I felt very relaxed and was able to truly enjoy my moments in the woods.

My only alarm came when I realized that using both All Trails and Runkeeper was draining my battery. Fortunately, I brought my back up, so I finished strong and in great spirits. I shall try for an even harder hike tomorrow!

I returned with enough daylight to reset my car and use my camp stove to prepare a hot meal and two cups of hot tea for the evening. I am SO excited to have hot tea tonight!! Oh I have missed it so.

I used the last of the dried refried beans mix too, added the chipotle garlic and the last of the fresh pineapple. Oh my stars, I felt so crazy satisfied by it. I love having the ability to cook for myself again, with the new fuel canisters in tow, no rain nor wind to compete with.

I also used my new pack today. What a score!! I had more than ample water, with plenty of room for our snacks and extra clothing. I am so tickled at it all right now. All that is missing is Edward. ❤

Walkabout: Day 44, Twenty-nine degrees

December 2, 2016 ~ Friday

6:30a Morning Pages ~ Pisgah National Forest ~ Brevard, NC

I want to drive into Asheville and find a cute coffee shop to begin my day of exploring. My dilemma is that I have a great camp site in a popular location, and I am concerned that if I leave without pitching my tent, there won’t be a site to come back to. I really don’t want to go through the hassle of unloading the car and pitching the tent, but I also don’t want to go through the hassle of figuring out where I am going to sleep tonight.

If I drove back here, all of the sites could be taken. If I look for another campground, I’ll want to do that before dark. I realize it’s Friday night, and I want to experience the live music and art scene I have read about. I suppose I could find another evil empire, but that seems so lame.

So I think, all things considered, my best bet is to write my morning pages while I wait for a little more daylight, pitch the tent, and then I can relax, knowing exactly what my overnight arrangements will be. The sky is already turning from indigo to azure, so I likely will not have to wait long.

In the meantime, I have the car running with the heat on, and I am perfectly comfortable. Though the temperature dropped to 29* last night, I was cozy and snug. I had three layers, my ear cover and beanie on, inside both sleeping bags. I also started with my slippers on, but I kicked them off in the bag before actually falling asleep. I am learned. 🙂

I’m getting really good at this. I have actually had the crazy wondering of whether I even need to rent a place in the near future. If Mom could get a roommate, I could save my money and start looking for a place here, near Asheville. Or I could just camp surf until Edward decides what he wants to do and we are married next August.

I know this is not a practical idea, but neither was the walkabout – at first. Then it became the best and most logical thing I could do for myself.

Maybe I go back to Spokane for Jan/Feb, the coldest months, and return in March? By then my savings will be nearly drained, and I have no plan to support myself. I need a solid income idea. Or I need Edward to decide he can and will and wants to support us. I still have time to hash all of this out. I have the whole month of December. And I will know exactly what to do when the time is right.

I am not looking forward to pitching my tent in this cold weather. I almost wish I would have pitched it last night. I almost want to talk myself out of it now. But a calm and content mind is too valuable. It will feel so good exploring today, knowing I am set for tonight.

Theoretically, I could turn the car around and use the headlamps to illuminate the pad. But I have one more page to write, so I will hold off for now. If it is still too dark when I finish, I will consider it. For now, I will just keep doing what I am doing.

My Mythic Journey book has challenged me to draw a detailed floor plan of a house I lived in before I was ten. I tucked this directive into my mind as I bunked down last night, and I tried to roll it around as I became quiet and content and drifted away. I brought it back to mind as I roused from a dream this morning.

I cannot remember details about most any house I lived in before the trailer in Oklahoma. I believe I was already ten by then. I will let it roll around more today. I could ask Mom for some hints, but I am hoping to access some memories for myself. I know they are in there somewhere. I just need to find the keys and start unlocking some doors.

The dream I woke from was the second dream I recall having last night. The details of the first one escape ne now. In the second, Mom and I are a team in some contest similar to the Amazing Race or Survivor. We have to work together to complete tasks and puzzles.

There is also a weigh-in component at each checkpoint. We are jogging and complete the first checkpoint ahead of the pack. As we weigh in, we are delighted to discover we have lost nine pounds total (together).

We move on to the next challenge. We take a pit stop at Tamara’s house, where she melts snow to replenish the water in our packs. The other competitors pass us as we head for a carnival tent. There are many obstacles, but they point us to a photo booth where we each must sit for separate pictures. Mine comes out with my face next to a baby picture of mine. I think they must have found and supplied the baby picture.

9:45a As I attempted to pitch my tent, a young man crawled out of his on the pad next door. I had heard him coughing and wondered if I woke him up. I was having the darndest time with my tent stakes and had all but given up on them. The ground on the pad was compacted with gravel throughout. My fingers were starting to tingle and go numb, and holding the rock I was trying to use to swivel them in was becoming a challenge.

The young man asked if I wanted help, and he remarked that the tent was quite large. I didn’t want to put him out, but I did appreciate the offer, and his help would make the job easier. I accepted, and we went to work.

He wore a beanie that was black with a white skull on one side. He wore the skull side over his ear, so when he turned his head, his skull was still looking at me. He had on dirty blue jeans and a pullover, and his hands were bare. I thought he must either be a hardened camper or homeless.

Turned out Chris was the latter.

In writing this, I am trying to recall details about his other features. Did he have brown eyes? Did he have facial hair? Do I remember a scraggly mustache but no beard?

What of his bare hands? Did I even look at them?

What of his smile? Did he smile?

Writers, good ones, should notice these things. I offered him a ride to Brevard, where he accessed services. He put on a nice wool-looking duster that cleaned him up proper. He led me to a gas station that offered free coffee.