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Today, we leave San Diego from Fiddler’s Cove on the Silver Strand – where we’ve camped for the last two weeks. We begin a new chapter.
Yes, it’s scary but people leave the place they call “home” everyday, right? We’re grateful this departure is our decision.
We are venturing out like toddler cubs exiting the cave – doltish, wide-eyed and giddy. Everything is truly a wonder when you don’t have to be at work on Monday. Recovering possession of our time is going well. I feel my powers of observation expanding, my brain breathing. Yesterday, I tracked a colored prism of light in the Airstream to find it’s source. Like having new eyes. This isn’t so much a retirement as it is a pilgrimage. We’re moving toward the heart’s desire, in a geezer kind of way: Doing what we damn well want. Revisiting old friends, old books, old jokes.
In the wise, sweet verse of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, I came across the line, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained” is hilariously funny in the farcical antics of The Reeve’s Tale – a mother-lode of great comedic writing. And, we hope our on-going journey to soothing and iconic places will produce good stories with super-sized portions of bawdy, provincial humor (our favorite).
So, yes, things have calmed down a bit from the hectic, discombobulating chaos of our early days, three months ago, when we first moved into the trailer. We had been so throughly overwhelmed with the exhausting details of preparation, moving, retiring, learning to maintenance our rig, entertaining, and tying up loose ends that inspiration for our shiny Airstream adventure had begun to dull … until I met our first campground neighbor who I will call Sam.
In November, Sam will be a hundred … that’s 100 years-old … with nearly 70 years spent in mostly full-time RV travel. Sam handles his 40′, 8-ton fifth-wheel like a pro – and he should considering he’s travelled every continent in the world in either a motorhome (which he designed and built himself in the 50’s) or a trailer, or other forms of transport including skis and elephants. Everest? Yep. He hiked to base camp in the 60’s, before Goretex. You see, Sam’s a legend. One might feel intimidated or awed to camp beside an RV Legend – especially on your first day of full-timing – but I consider it to be auspicious. And, even as we delighted Sam with an entire weekend of hilarity as he watched (from his immaculately maintained RV) our performance of every humiliating remedy suggested on Air Forums to dislodge a monstrous shitalactite from the depths of our black water tank, we just felt so honored.
Two years ago, after his wife of 70 years had passed, Sam dispensed with all photos and journals of their epic travels to distant and exotic lands. But in the warm afternoons, as I waited outside for Jim to come home from work, Sam would often invite me to “pull up a chair” and he would share recollections from his journeys – like the 4,000 mile trek down the White Nile from Tanzania to Khartoum by any and all means available. No visuals were necessary. I could see him young with his wife, in that moment, on a dirt road bargaining a ride from a farmer with an empty dung wagon, slinging their rucksacks into the open bed as it lurches forward… Stories of his travels came forth easy as pie. His blue-flame eyes burned through memories like dry mesquite, drawing me in.
In her later years, Beatrix Potter said, “Thank God I have the seeing eye, that is to say, as I lie in bed I can walk step by step on the fells and rough land seeing every stone and flower and patch of bog and cotton pass where my old legs will never take me again.”
When I caught a nasty cold, Sam and I parted ways. Then, shortly after, Jim and I moved to a different camp ground. Hundred year-old people don’t do Facebook, and it’s difficult to send mail to folks with no permanent address from folks with no permanent address, so we will probably never meet again. I’m okay with that. I’m a navy brat and I know how to move on. Still, The Legend of Sam will endure. The abundance of his traveling life confirms something I have always felt – that wandering is a basic human need. In his book, Blue Highways, William Least Heat-Moon says, “Instead of insight, maybe all a man gets is strength to wander for a while. Maybe the only gift is a chance to inquire, to know nothing for certain. An inheritance of wonder and nothing more.”
Jim and I don’t have 70 years like Sam and his beloved, yet, this is our chance.
So, with that, we say “Goodbye …to the people and things we will miss”
The San Diego County Medical Society said goodbye to Jim by interviewing him for the San Diego Physician Magazine – July 2016 Edition
And, though, certainly things will change, we finally believe Beauty is ready for the journey. Below is a short video of her interior.
“Now, let us ride” – Chaucer