One of the best perks of life on the road is the ability to stop at any time and lend a hand/be available to someone in need. Whether it is your own family or an old friend or a complete stranger, there is nothing quite like the great feeling of being “in the right place at the right time” to make a difference for someone.
This month I began my four-month road trip as planned. Stayed a couple of days longer at one place to facilitate get-togethers with more family, added an extra night the next week to meet up with a niece I hadn’t seen in ma-a-a-a-a-a-ny years, and ended up arriving at my son’s house just as my daughter-in-law received a diagnosis of possible pre-eclampsia with the 7-month-in-utero twins.
What a great blessing to be able to extend a quick visit for over a week to help during the crisis. Fortunately, although the crisis quickly escalated, the twin boys were born naturally in the OR within days, and are doing fantastic in the NICU. Carrie is able to stay at the Ronald McDonald House next door so she can focus on the twins. The other five siblings are at home, being cared for by family and friends. It was a privilege to be a part of the “village” that cared for my family.
I say this because many times when I was working the 9-5 from a sticks-and-bricks stationary home, I would hear of something happening and be unable to physically help. I am rethinking part of my future planning – to always allow for helping others. Now that I no longer need to keep to a rigid schedule, like so many who live on the road, should we not stop and help whenever possible? Isn’t this one of the best perks of our “go with the flow” schedule!?!?!
Also during the month of July, I was privileged to visit the beautiful land and people of Prince Edward Island, Canada. I thoroughly enjoyed all the Anne of Green Gables attractions, including a musical theatre production in Charlottetown one evening. As I happened to arrive on July 1, the birthday of Canada, I was able to walk into a harbor festival in Summerside for a wonderful evening of music, good food, and fireworks with some lovely people. My little van parked in the public harbor parking gave me instant access, and I was able to stay there for the night – sleeping with a wonderful sea breeze coming in my windows.
The coast of Prince Edward Island has 37 lighthouses, 9 of which are open to climb and enjoy a magnificent view. The red cliffs along the coast were my afternoon delights – a different beach/park each day as I wound my way around the island. For any bikers, this is a biking paradise as bike trails wind around the entire coast – I enjoyed walking many of these trails. Each hill I crested provided yet another spectacular view of waves, cliffs, beaches, lighthouses, and so much more. The pink, purple and white lupin that grow along the roads are so pretty. Yet the entire island is sparsely touristed and never felt crowded.
When I arrived back in Maine, I was able to spend more time with my oldest brother than I have spent with him in years. It was a great time to reconnect and feel more like part of his family again! Another few days with another brother and his family, and I was so happy to help celebrate a favorite nephew’s 40th birthday. Spending more time just chilling and visiting – instead of rushing to see each person on a quick visit – this is what is different with my current travels. I spent some time with a friend from Long Island who summers at Point Sebago and met her family – the last time I saw her was when her first daughter was born and now the three girls are all adults!
An evening with two older cousins in Portland, Maine, made me very happy, and I learned more about my extended family than ever before. How sad that our previous generations allowed animosity and resentment to separate the family so that we did not get to know each other and spend time together while growing up. Happily, we are changing that as adults!
The next day I went to visit one of my cousins at her camp on Sebago Lake, which I vaguely remember from the past, and it was my great pleasure to have an afternoon to visit with her and one of her sons. My “first cousin once removed” is an amazing inner city high school teacher and I am so proud of the work he is doing and the relationships he is investing himself in with young people. What a glowing example of a teacher who cares, really cares, about his students as individuals! It was wonderful to hear about what they are accomplishing in Nashville, and I loved connecting with him over the picnic table lakeside.
My favorite cousin and her family was next on the list for a visit. While I have often stopped by for visits “on the way” somewhere, this was the first time in decades that I spent several days with her. Despite this, we have always maintained a connection that is more sister than cousin. I enjoyed spending time getting to know her family members a bit more. As I was leaving, she remarked how much more she would miss me now that we had actually spent some days together – exactly how I feel! Slowing down to spend more time with a person makes such a stronger connection, and I am so glad I have these opportunities. Pulling my little camper van into a driveway for a few days means we spend so much more time together yet I can sleep in my van and not inconvenience anyone – although my wonderful “first cousin once removed”, Sam, was willing to give up his bed to make me more comfortable!! Pretty cool for a 16-year-old young man to be willing to sacrifice his bed for me! His big sister, Deanna, was also wonderful to visit – they sure have grown up and are terrific adults.
By the way, Google informs me that the child of my cousin is NOT my second cousin, but is my first cousin once removed. Google also says they should be addressed as niece and nephew – yay! We usually just say “cousin” and leave it at that, but whatever the name, they are some pretty awesome people. I was able to meet my “first cousin once removed” Stuart’s wife, and their four kids I have only known through Facebook. Much as I love Facebook and social media to keep in touch with people, FACE TIME is so much better!!!
Now I am back in New York, spending time with my son Sean and his family, and making some smaller trips to visit friends and places in the area. I am looking forward to the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, next week. Two months of my four month trip are done, and it has been wonderful! I have reconnected and met so many family/friends – I feel so blessed.
How have the finances been? Here are the stats for the first two months:
JUNE (5 weeks, including last week of May):
Gas $470 – for 2786 miles; Food $130; Other $270 – TOTAL $870
JULY (includes trip to Canada)
Gas $433 – for 2638 miles; Food $183; Other $381 – TOTAL $997
August will be less expensive as I am based mainly in New York at my son’s home and just taking small trips. Lots of time chillin’ with the fam! I am also working more online classes to replenish the funds as I did spend more on food and entertainment/touristy stuff than I had planned. I am fortunate to have a job that allows me to travel and plan my work around the more important things of life! In June I earned just about $525 and a little less in July as I did not work at all while in Canada, and much of the time in Maine. When I leave New York, I will reduce my teaching schedule again to fit my travel schedule. Since my phone/insurance bills are only $300 a month, I am in good shape. With no other debts, I can enjoy this lifestyle by keeping it simple and doing a LOT of boondocking!
Where have I boondocked on this trip? Besides the driveways of family and friends, I have overnighted in: a harbor parking lot, a hospital visitor parking lot, on a town street beside a park, at Walmarts and Cracker Barrel restaurants, truck stops and secure 24-hour highway convenience/rest stops. I have only paid $24 in campground fees, for 3 nights, and have otherwise boondocked for free.
Hope your summer is going well, and you are happily connecting with family and friends, too! Life is too short to waste, and too beautiful to miss! While not everyone has the ability to travel like I am doing, have FUN and ENJOY each day!
Scout — out!!
From my bookshelf:
“It was not nature that moved me…it was the feeling of smallness, of isolation, that I craved. How I wish I felt at home in the crowds of Salem, the salons of Boston. Still, when I am in society, I feel their need and hopes on me like an actual physical presence….Company is a burden to those at home in the solitude of their souls.”
—The House of Hawthorne, by Erica Robuck, 2015