When Life Gives You Lemons…

My Campsite north of Westport, CA

My Campsite north of Westport, CA

For the past few weeks I have been traveling the west coast in my Roadtrek. I have literally been traveling the coast following route 1 and 101 north from Los Angeles. I have been enjoying the cool air while so many were suffering through a heat wave.

When I arrived in Crescent City, California a good friend, Cat and her two dogs, joined me for four days. It was fun to have company and see a part of the United States I have never seen before.

janet & Cat getting ready to ride.

janet & Cat getting ready to ride.

 

Cat and I are getting ready to embark on a journey together. She and her two dogs are bicycling the Pacific Coast Route. Me, Elsie and the Roadtrek are going to be her support team, otherwise known as the “sag wagon”. We will start in Vancouver, BC and finish at the Mexican border. It is a long ride and I have no doubt it will be fun.

We were planning to leave this week past. There has been a delay.

I have not learned yet, how important it is, to stop driving before one gets too tired. On Monday, I was running errands, after spending a lazy day on the beach, walking and photographing.  At the end of the day I did one errand too many. I pulled into the Home Depot Parking lot, parked my rig, leaned over to pick up my wallet, and the next thing I knew I was rolling over a curb and a rock. My Roadtrek was obviously not in park. While backing off I pulled my whole front bumper off.

There are many nice things about a small town, one of them is the people. After calling my roadside assistance with Coach-Net a local body repair man, Mike came to my rescue. With the help of a couple other RV’ers and Mike the bumper was temporarily put into place. When I asked Mike how much I owed him, he just waved me off. I gave him a hug instead of money. His kindness was appreciated.

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Bumper Bandaids

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Bumper Bandaids

The next day I made my way, via a beautiful drive through the redwoods and a few stops to zip tie loose areas of my bumper, to Medford Oregon. Medford is close to Ashland where Cat and I are meeting up to start the journey north. Thanks to the Roadtrek Facebook page, when I whined about my dilemma, I soon had two offers of places to stay in Medford while my front end is secured back into place.

I have been staying with Mary. I first met her last winter in Anza Borrego State Park. A little over a month later she and I and two other women met up in the desert again. This second meeting is when I fell and broke my ankle, while hiking. Sigh. We did form a good start to a friendship, one I hope endures.

Mary has been a perfect hostess and friend. She has helped divert me from obsessing over my stupidity and has been introducing me to Oregon. The first day we toured Lithia Park (designed by John McLaren who designed Golden Gate Park in San Francisco)  in the town of Ashland, met up with Cat for lunch and went wine tasting in the afternoon. It was relaxing and fun.

Sometime that afternoon I began to realize that I could just chastise myself over and over again or I could let it go and enjoy my side trip to Medford and Ashland.

Crater Lake National Park

Crater Lake National Park

Yesterday Mary and I spent the day hiking and touring at Crater Lake National Park. Here is a one word description of this park “Beautiful”. I don’t believe that a bad photo could be taken of this place. It was amazingly beautiful. The lake within the crater is the most beautiful color of blue. It is said that the water is so pure that you could dip your cup and drink right from the lake. The water comes completely from snow melt and rain. What keeps it so pure is that there is only one place on the lake where you can actually get to the shore and even that is restricted use. It was an amazing day and I am glad that I finally was able to see this spectacular place. it was good to get some hiking in, something I have not done much of lately.

Janet & Mary hike to a waterfall

Janet & Mary hike to a waterfall

Today, Friday my Roadtrek made it’s way to the shop. I am hoping that it may be ready to go my next Wednesday.

Recreational Marijuana Shop

Recreational Marijuana Shop

I realize that I have several choices on how I choose to act in any given situation. I was not hurt, my RT was a little hurt, Elsie was OK and this is a very temporary set back on a grand summer and fall adventure with a good friend. The lesson here is, there are many times I can make lemonade when I am given temporary lemons. Very few episodes or events are so dire that I cannot, at least attempt, to turn them around and discover something positive about the situation at the time. The past four days have been fun. I have been exploring a new area of the country and having fun with friends. I have visited my first recreational marijuana store (it’s legal here) and I was able to visit Crater Lake National Park which has long been on my list of must sees. Deepening the connection with Mary has certainly been worth while. I have been having fun.

Hopefully I won’t have to make too much lemonade on this trip. It is good to know that I can if I need to. I am looking forward to what fun thing I will do tomorrow. Today I am thankful for lemons and lemonade, good friends and beautiful expansive, preserved wilderness that I am privileged to explore.

Click below for Photos of the trip, so far.

Photos

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Redwoods

Afternoon Bath

Afternoon Bath

 

Mountain Dulcimer

Mountain Dulcimer

Do you know what a mountain dulcimer is? I didn’t know what one was, until the day I walked into a gift shop and the owner was playing one. I fell in love with it. He told me that if I bought it and could not learn to play one tune, I could bring it back and my money would be returned. I took it home, learned to play Twinkle Little Star, and I kept this beautiful instrument.

Little did I know that chance encounter would change the direction of my world. I was in my 20’s, just graduated from nursing school and was looking for adventure. Every two to three years I would move to a new area of the country, get a job and explore the place I temporarily called home. I took that dulcimer with me every time I moved.

I lived in Durango Colorado for almost two years. Fort Lewis College, the four year school in town, offered a semester in, yep you guessed it, the Appalachian Mountain Dulcimer. I took the semester and learned to play reasonably well. Our teacher had the class perform at different events. It was fun. I made new friends and was introduced to folk music and dancing of all kinds.

During this semester we had a guest teacher come for a few days and help us improve on our skills. I was rather shy about playing in front of someone who could play so well. I would sit off to the side and play very quietly. Every time Neal, the teacher would come close I would stop playing. I don’t remember exactly what happened but he gave me a 6 string dulcimer to “try out”. What I remembered later is that the six string instrument was louder and he no longer needed to come too close when I played.

Enter the second dulcimer in my life. I now have a three string traditional dulcimer, made by Clifford Glen in Boone, North Carolina and I have a six string made by Blue Lion from California.
Even more important than the instruments, Neal Hellman, the dulcimer teacher became my friend.

Neal and I have been friends since the early 1980’s. We never lived close but we traveled in the same circles. He taught at music festivals and I attended them. The two of us would catch up over dinner or if time was fleeting I always took time to sit behind his sale table, and find out what was the latest happenings with my friend. I always enjoyed our encounters. E-mail also helped us stay in touch.

Neal and I are not too much alike. I think that may be what makes me like him. He is the only person I know who is able to make a full time business out of music. He plays, he records, he produces for other musicians and he sells a wonderful selection of music. He is the owner of Gourd Music. (click on the link to see his web site). He is funny and smart and fun to be around. He is a kind soul.

When he is on stage or teaching he is gregarious and entertaining. He makes everyone feel like they are the best musician in the room.

Over the years we stopped communicating. There is no reason for this, it is what sometimes happens with friends. Our lives move in different directions. Yet even though that happens, when friends get together again it is like we just saw each other yesterday.

Neal & janet

Neal & janet

Neal lives in Santa Cruz. Three days ago I reconnected with Neal. We visited, rode our bikes to Wilder Beach State Park, had dinner and watched the DNC that evening. I camped in his driveway. It was a great moment on this trip. I love seeing my friends. I especially loved seeing Neal after all these years. I have no idea why friendships happen and it really is not important to know, but I am certainly glad that he and I became friends. I am glad we remain friends still.

Friends support each other. I think they can bring out the best in each other. We can laugh together, share sorrow together and grow together and just have fun together. A lot has happened in both of our lives and I am glad we have had time to catch up. I am glad he is my friend.

Neal sitting on his deck in the Redwoods.

Neal sitting on his deck in the Redwoods.

And…You should see his yard. He has three redwoods in the yard. I am kind of enthralled by these trees.

Since this post I have been meandering up Route 1. When everything east of here is pretty darn hot I don’t mind being along the coast, in the redwoods and it maybe is 70 degrees. I am now camping near Crescent City, CA. It is near the Oregon border. Tonight I am meeting up with another good friend. No more solo camping for me, for a while. A new adventure is about to unfold.

Today I am thankful for friends, new and familiar. I am so glad Neal and I connected once again.