And I’m Doing This Why?

Greetings from Mayberry R.F.D.!

This past weekend, the Doodle and I piloted the Terra, that’s our almost 38′ Class A Motorhome, down Interstates 71, 75, and 81 to the Mayberry campground in Mt. Airy, North Carolina. This is the beginning of our journey out of our home state of Ohio living in the Terra, on the road, for at least the next six months.

If this sounds sort of crazy to you, that’s okay. It still does to me sometimes even though it’s something I’ve wanted to do for many years. Life events, many good and one horrible, have led me to this time and this way of living and I’m optimistic about the adventure before me. And just a little anxious as well.

For those of you new to Posts From Along The Road, I want to backup to four years ago so you have perhaps a better understanding of why this almost 60 year guy is becoming a nomad. I prefer the term gypsy as it seems more adventurous and mystical than nomad but simply put, I’ve become a full time RVer. Here’s how I got to this point and why.

In late August of 2015 by wife of 30 years, Barbara, was diagnosed with a Glio Blastoma brain tumor. She had been having symptoms of nausea and headaches for a few months and one night after work we decided to go to the emergency room. Not expecting anything like cancer, we and our children were devastated with the diagnosis. It had only been one and half years earlier that we lost Barb’s younger brother Greg to a brain tumor as well. A train had just hit us head on. Again.

If you knew Barb, you wouldn’t be surprised by her attitude about becoming a cancer patient. She had a number of sayings and “it is what it is” became sort of a mantra for us as she bravely persevered through two brain surgeries, two types of chemo treatment, and radiation. Through it all, she rarely complained. She showed great strength to the kids and I. She knew what the outcome would be if a miracle did not occur but that did not cause her to fear as her faith was strong and her love of God was great. We were told the average life span of someone her age was around 15 months. We were blessed to have her with us, post diagnosis, for almost 19 months. She finished her journey with cancer in early March of 2017 on her brother Greg’s birthday.

During her battle with cancer, I started journaling about what she and we were experiencing as a way to help me cope with all the emotions I was encountering. I began writing on Facebook as I would sit on our front porch while she was resting. I called those entries “Front Porch Sit’n”. As Barb’s battle continued I found that my writings helped me and a number of others that were either our friends or folks also dealing with their own cancer journey in someway.

Because of that feedback and encouragement, I decided to start this blog about two years ago and have continued writing about life experiences living now on my own. You see you never really get over losing someone that was your other half. You just get through it. You hold on to hope and have faith that life will go on for you. Not the same life but still a life worth living. I’ve found that to be true.

Prior to her cancer showing up, I had been working on convincing Barb that an RV would be great to have for weekend getaways and longer vacations. We could take the kids and their kids with us on some adventures. After nearly twenty years of convincing her, she started to warm to the idea but only for trips, not full time. We went to a couple RV shows and she was really starting to come around to the idea. Especially when the term ‘glamping’ became popular. You see she liked the idea of seeing the country at our own pace and in our own ‘hotel room on wheels’ but she did not like the idea of a ‘dump station’. Yes, she had watched the movie RV.

As this world would have it, Barb never got to join me on RV adventures. And honestly with her passing I had pretty much given up on the idea completely. But a little over a year ago, the thought started coming back to me. I had started noticing RVs on the highways again. So many different styles, sizes, and options. I wondered if it was something I should go ahead and do.

I must have looked at twenty or thirty RVs over the past year before finding the Terra and deciding to go for it. Since late July of this year, the Doodle and I have been living in the Terra full time. I have no apartment or house to go back to although my kids have offered their sofas. For a short time. If it’s an extreme situation. I love my kids! 

 

So, it’s just the Doodle and I and our essential possessions in the RV and whole bunch of other stuff left in Ohio in a rather large storage unit. As George Carlin once said, ‘And when you leave your house, you gotta lock it up. Wouldn’t want somebody to come by and take some of your stuff.’ Truth!

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So here we are today October 16, 2019, parked on a hill overlooking the rather scenic Mayberry campground. We’ll be enjoying this view for the next month before heading further down the road to South Carolina during the month of November and then Florida in December. I have us planned and booked through mid January. Then we’ll head west around the Gulf of Mexico and through Texas, New Mexico, and into Phoenix, Arizona, by late February. Just in time to spend a month enjoying Spring Baseball games. After that I’m not sure yet where the Terra will take us but that’s part of the fun of full time RV living. You make plans but keep them flexible. Kind of like life in general don’t you think?

Barb had another saying that has become a favorite for myself and our closest friends. “There’s a lesson in that”. Barb always thought of others first and even as she was going through her cancer, she kept that focus. While others were doing all they could to give her comfort and strength, she was passing it along to everyone she encountered. She gave it to me, our kids, our family, our friends, and even the staff at the hospital. She believed in not worrying about the future but trusting that at the end she would be okay. She lived her journey to the fullest and I believe there is indeed a lesson in that for all of us.

So if you are new to Posts From Along The Road, you now have the background on why I write and why I’m doing this whole RV thing. I have planned out the journey for the next few months but I’m not tied to it. I’m asking God to lead me on this adventure to see the places and meet the people I’m supposed to encounter. To experience life to the fullest on the roads I travel. To accept that it is what it is. And of course, to learn the lessons from it all.

It would be great if you would join the Doodle and I on our journey so please like and follow the blog and our social media for Posts From Along The Road. And please feel free to leave your comments on what I share and more importantly what you have experienced on your life journey. It would be a great encouragement to me to hear your stories.

That’s it for now and we’ll see you down the road….

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Waiting For The Fog To Clear

‘As I stand atop this cliff

I look out to the sea

And as I gaze I wonder

Will this fog ever lift

So the ocean I will see.

All around me is a mist

With shapes like shadows hide

But now the dawn does break

The things that were uncertain

Now revealed by the light.’

A few years ago, our family took a trip to the California coast to move our youngest, our son, to his first year of college at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo. For my wife and I it was a trip of mixed emotions saying goodbye to our son while enjoying the beauty of the area. As parents, we were very proud of him for having the courage to move so far from home but we knew we would miss him greatly. We had confidence that he would do well but we also felt some fear from thinking about the trials he most likely would encounter. On his own, away from home. Away from us.

After spending a couple days in SLO with him, my wife and I, along with his two older sisters, gave our goodbye hugs and kisses and started our journey up the coast back to San Francisco. Driving Highway 1 north we saw the most spectacular scenery. I honestly can’t remember how many times we pulled off the road to just stand and gaze from the cliffs to the sea. It was breathtaking how the light cascaded down the cliffs to dance upon the waters. It was spectacular.

One morning back in San Francisco there was a very heavy fog over the bay. From the hilltop near our hotel, I could see the early sun glistening of the tops of the Golden Gate Bridge. But about a third of the way down the steel beams disappeared and further down the road was completely hidden by the fog. It was a very surreal sight. In the same instant there was the clarity of the light and the uncertainty of the unseen. That vision and feeling comes back to me every time I think about our trip.

Fog. We’ve all seen it. Been in it. Felt it on our skin. We’ve breathed in the damp coolness. In a way it’s refreshing. There’s a stillness to it as well. Sort of peaceful although somewhat uncomfortable or unnerving. You know there are things hidden beyond what your eye can perceive. You know they are there because you’ve seen them before but now, in this moment, they’re cloaked by a mist. And you may question if they truly do exist. You wait for the fog to lift. For the world around you to be as it was before.

An earthly cloud is just one type of fog I’ve experienced in my life. There have been times, more than I wished, when I lived in a fog. Uncertain of where I was and what was going on around me. I couldn’t see beyond the next step and sometimes even that wasn’t very clear. I felt lost and alone with no certainty of what I would see next. Afraid to move forward. I wondered if the fog would ever clear.

And then it did. Slowly shapes became sharper and I could see what was ahead of me. What was around me. The light began to burn away the curtain my world had been wrapped in. Soon the uncertainty that surrounded me was vanishing. Disappearing into the sky. The fog I was living in had lifted and I was again living in the light.

I’ve come to understand that in those times of being in a fog, there really is very little I can do to make it go away. I’ve learned two things though that I can do. One, is to be faithful in the knowledge that this current fog, no matter how thick it may seem, will also eventually lift. And two, be brave enough to wait in the midst of it until I can take that next step. Not easy things to do but things I still need to do.

Over the past month living in the Terra, there have been many mornings where there was a fog in or around the campsite. The Doodle and I would venture out into it and take in all that our senses could manage. We would walk through it just a few steps at a time and stand to look around. Surprisingly we often saw, heard, or felt something we probably would have missed had the fog not been there. A hidden experience the fog revealed. Unexpected. Thankful.

Both clear and foggy days lie ahead for all of us in this life. And when the fog comes again I know I will be okay. It will lift and the light will make things clear. It always has and always will if I am brave and have faith.

See you down the road my friends….

The Seldom Seen Road

For the past year, I have been living in a very nice two-bedroom apartment in Powell, Ohio, which overlooks a road called Seldom Seen. It’s not a very long road, maybe two to three miles in length that connects the Scioto Riverside Drive to Liberty Road. I was curious as to why the road was named Seldom Seen because today it’s pretty busy and just about everyone in our community knows where to look for Seldom Seen. Should be renamed to Frequently Seen maybe.

So to discover the history and the reason why the road was named Seldom Seen, I went to the source of all true and factual knowledge, Facebook, and posted my inquiry to a group dedicated to all things Powell. As of this post from along the road, no one seems to know with certainty. But there is a lot of fond recollection of past times spent on Seldom Seen before it became Frequently Seen. Memories of bike rides down to the river or visiting the farms that were along the road. The good old days if you will.

I grew up in Coshocton County, Ohio. I too have fond memories of taking long bike rides in the country on dusty roads. Passing farms and ponds. Stopping to get a drink from a natural spring along County Road 24. Some Saturdays I would tell my mom where I was headed and approximately what time I’d be back and then start peddling out of town to spend twenty or thirty miles of my life enjoying the back roads. Maybe even some seldom seen. Yes, those were the good old days. At least they were for me.

The road. We bike it. We drive it. We walk it. We sometimes despise it. But we all are on one road or another during our life. Use of a car is optional but for expediency, it is a good idea. Many of the roads we go down over the years are not drivable. They’re rough and rocky. Full of potholes and wrong turns. Some even dead ends. Each road, even the road of life, can be an exciting adventure full of enjoyment. But very quickly that road can become an unexpected calamity. A detour from what we had planned. And sometimes our GPS doesn’t recognize the road we’re on or it takes us on a road the doesn’t even exist. I guess there’s just no way around it. The road, the road of life, is what it is and we just have to do the best we can to get to where we’re going.

This is the first post from along the road for the Doodle and I since we have moved out of our apartment overlooking Seldom Seen and into our motorhome. For the next two weeks, we are staying at a very nice campground in a little town just a few miles from Frequently Seldom Seen Road but yet far enough away to be a new experience for us. Something we haven’t seen before. The roads between where we were and where we are were very picturesque with farms and creeks dotted along the way. A very pleasant drive today. But I know that those same roads have had some pretty tragic accidents over the years.

Maybe it’s good luck or bad timing that brings us what we encounter on the road. Maybe it’s not our fault. Maybe sometimes it is. Either way, it is what it is and each of us has to decide how we respond to what we encounter. Do we push right through it? Do we try to steer around it? Do we double back and take another road? Or do we sit and wait for the road before us to open up again? I’ve made all these choices in my life. Some were the right decision at the time and others were not so much.

I’m thinking the point is to just keep going down any road you can take which will get you closer to where you want to be. Adjust your course as needed but keep going. Take that seldom seen road maybe just to see it. Don’t sweat the detour as it may just take you to a place you never knew you needed to see. Make a call to a loved one while you wait for the road to open up again. Better yet get off at the next exit and go see them. Your destination will still be there. It’s okay to take your time and see what or who is along the road and even notice who is traveling next to you. Life is one road we’re all on together. So why not share it and the experiences with one another. Having travel buddies does tend to make the road seem less long you know.

What was it James Taylor sang it the song Secret of Life about the road?

“Isn’t it a lovely ride,
See me sliding down and gliding down,
Try not to try too hard,
It’s just a lovely ride”

Hope you take that seldom seen road. You just might see me and the Doodle on it too.

See you down the road….

The Struggle Is Real

This mantra has become commonplace over the past few years, especially in my kids’ generation. My thirty-something daughter recently text me about something and at my age I’ve forgotten what it was exactly, but my reply to her was simply ‘the struggle is real’. She replied back that I had never sounded more millennial.

Me millennial?
Made me LOL! #word

Struggles have been a part of the human condition for as long as the Earth has been spinning. The world was doing just fine right up to the time Adam and Eve ate that apple. Just think what our lives would be like today if they had never indulged in that forbidden fruit. We’d all be living in a world of beautiful gardens. Living in peace. And harmony. And naked. Sorry to plant that seed in your imagination but hey we’d be used to it. Right?

If you’re like me, struggles come in groups or seasons in your life. Seems we’re on a journey through gentle valleys of peace and then all of a sudden we’re climbing up towering mountains of struggles. Wouldn’t it be nice to always live in a place halfway between the valleys and mountains? Still peaceful enough to enjoy the higher view?

A number of times I have lived in that place. Things were going pretty well. No real hardships or burdens. My job was going well. Our family needs were being met. The kids were growing. Our marriage was exciting. We were just enjoying life and coasting along. I’m thankful for those times and the loved ones I shared them with.

But then things would start to change. Finances became an issue. A job changed was needed. Kids struggled in school. Pressure was put on our marriage. Life’s struggles seemed to first trickle in then soon enough a full fledge flood was roaring into our lives. The struggle became very real.

Those times of struggle can be tough and overwhelming. Many times we feel there is no way out of the mess we’re in. How in the world will we ever overcome this and get back to better times? Get back to the peace in the valley again. Those struggles are very real when we’re living in the midst of them.

I’ve determined from my life experiences that the key to handling struggles in life goes back again to the beginning. Before that darn apple. Back to when the world had no struggles. Back to the garden. Back to living in peace with the world. And its Creator.

If you are a follower of the Christ like I am, you probably long for the garden and living in peace with the world and God. It’s hard, I would suggest the hardest thing we will ever try to do. Knowing and truly living the peace of Christ.

I would argue no human since Christ walked the earth has been able to fully live in peace. Many have come close but I think all have struggled and fallen short. But that should not hinder us from continuing our struggle to live with Him. For Him.

Our calling is perhaps not to overcome our struggles but to allow God to help us through them. To walk so closely with Him that we can lean on Him when we need to and allow Him to carry us when our struggle is too much. I’m not sure if my thinking is theologically sound but this is what I’ve come to understand.

Did you ever think about how human kind had our first shot at getting it right in a garden (Eden) and then how God himself went to another garden (Gethsemane) to take upon Himself all of our burdens, all of our struggles, all of our sin, to get it right for us. Guess that’s why I really love spending times in gardens. I’m drawn to them. I’m drawn to Him.

If you find yourself in a real struggle right now, try going to a garden, either in your community or in your mind, and talk to your Creator. He knows your struggle is real. He’s dealt with it before. And He will get you through.

Somewhere on a mountain side, just about half way up from the valley below, is that place, your place of peace. Where your struggles aren’t so great and you can sit back and enjoy the view knowing that peace, His peace, is also real. The Real Deal.

Now that’s the true #word.

See you down the road my friends….

Please Stand By

When I was a kid back in the 60s, frequently the message “Please Stand By….” would appear on our television. Usually right in the middle of my favorite shows like Jonny Quest, Gunsmoke, or Mission Impossible. Mom didn’t know about Mission Impossible so I guess you could say my secret agent skills were pretty good.

There seemed to always be something going on in the world that would be important enough to pre-empt my enjoyment of watching Jonny and Hadji help Dr. Quest and Race defeat some evil villain. I mean was it really that big of a deal, the whole Cuban Missles thing or all those updates on Apollo 11? I know those were significant historical events but watching Marshall Dillon and Festus save Miss Kitty was pretty important to me. Ok, maybe it was just watching Miss Kitty that was important.

If you’re 50 or older, you probably have your own black and white memories of the networks cutting in to let you know something was going on in the world. Maybe not in your world but in the larger world around you. So we would all stand by and watch the special report and just hope they would cut back to our show before it ended. That’s right kids, back in the day there was no pausing of your show. It kept right on playing. Bummer huh.

For the past few years, my life has seemed like a series of those “Please Stand By” moments. Have you had that experience as well? Your life is moving along just fine and pretty entertaining until out of the blue you’re pre-empted. Something that’s not part of your regularly scheduled programming pops up and you have to stop and focus on the unexpected or unwanted. You have no idea how long this unforeseen interruption is going to last nor do you know what you may find once it’s over and your show, your life gets back to normal. By the way, is there really anything that’s normal? A chat for another time perhaps.

Most of you know I started writing posts on Facebook and then this blog, to help me cope with my wife’s cancer journey. Cancer is about the biggest unplanned event any of us can ever have occur in our lives. It interrupts everything. It takes over and we have no choice but to go with it. It becomes the only thing on every channel of our life. And sadly for many, it ends the life we once knew and we now find ourselves cast in a show we don’t want to watch and a role we have no idea how to play.

But the show must go on, right?

It’s been 27 months now since my wife finished her season with cancer. I like to think, no, I know that she is now enjoying and is part of THE most spectacular, beautiful, and uninterruptable season humankind could ever hope to experience.  No pre-empting. Nothing cutting in. Just one continuous unending live performance of the best show on earth or above. I’m looking forward to that myself. I hope you are too.

My show, my life, honestly has been pretty good for the past year or so. The interruption of despair has ended. Sometimes grief breaks in and throws me off a little but that’s becoming less frequent and doesn’t last long. I look at those times now as my “Please Stand By” moments where my show pauses, I reflect and process the grief, and then get back to my regular programming. Although that regular programming is different than the life I had before, I find myself starting to enjoy it. To really appreciate it.

There’s a new plot taking shape for me. I’m still figuring out my role and I’m learning as I go how to make this season a good one. One of the best perhaps. There will be twists and turns I’m sure but I now know that when interruptions come, they are really just part of the larger production that I’m a part of. I believe that the Director will guide me to do my best and that the Producer believes in me no matter how many lines I forget or mistakes I make.

So just as Mr. Phelps always found a way to overcome the challenges, I too will get through my Stand By moments and keep that fuse burning until my mission is complete.

And the Emmy goes to…

See you down the road, my friends….

At The Surface

There really is something about being by water that is calming for me. Be that an ocean, river, or lake they all seem to bring me to a place of calmness and peace. Healing waters or perhaps just a restoration of balance. I really love being by the water and it’s kind of ironic. You see I can’t swim.

I guess I’m okay as long as I’m by the water and not in it. Although donning a life vest and floating along I’m very okay with. Gotta have that one life saving device that keeps me from going under and drowning. I prefer the orange colored life preserver myself as it seems to compliment my complexion. Pearly white.

This past Sunday while listening to our pastor give his message on parenting, my mind began to wander. I believe my wandering thoughts were triggered by something the pastor said about living in the moment with your children. So of course my thoughts immediately jumped to spending some time away from my beautiful loving kids. Guess a Freudian moment for me. See pastor Mark, you never know how your message will motivate us. 😄

Being so inspired, I went home after church, packed up clothes, supplies, and Izzy the Doodle and hit the road. Once I was driving, I headed East and decided to go to the Chesapeake Bay Area for five days. Not my first spontaneous road trip but the first I hadn’t at least researched a little before leaving. So the first time my bladder and the Doodle’s needed a rest stop, I took time to google a place to stay and booked an AirBnb on Gwynn Island in Virginia before continuing East.

Why Chesapeake Bay you might ask? Simply because I had never been there before and it was water. Plus the weather looked a lot better for the week than it did in Central Ohio. It’s now Wednesday and I’m very happy with my choice. Temps in the 70s, sunshine, cool breezes, and the peaceful sounds of water lapping on the rocks and birds singing in the trees. And very beautiful sunsets!

This trip has nothing to do about seeing the sights or finding entertainment. This trip is about slowing down and relaxing. About re-centering myself to what my life and living really should be about. A getaway. A retreat. A trip to focus on the water and allow it to restore my body and spirit. And a time to drink in more of the water of life.

As I enjoy this afternoon I’m watching the water in the bay. On the surface, it’s pretty calm and that brings me peace. Some moments the wind increases and the bay waters begin to wave up from the blowing. The water seems to speed up on its journey. And that makes me think of my life and how outside things or events can influence the flow of my living.

We all experience the hectic life. Where we are going with the current trying to keep ourselves a float. Sometimes it’s easy and we float along enjoying the journey. But other times things move too quickly, the waters get rough, and our sense of peace becomes panic as we just try to keep our head above water. And sometimes it’s so rough we truly feel like the waves are overwhelming us and we’re running out of breath. My life has been like all of these over the past four years.

But today and for the past few months, my journey on the water has been fairly peaceful. Watching the waters of the bay I’m reminded to look just not on the surface but also below. You see while the wind may be pushing up ever rougher waves on the surface, below the surface it’s calmer. And the deeper we go the more calm the water becomes. It’s in that deeper water we can be at peace. We just have to figure out how to breathe down there until we can come back to the surface.

I’m beginning to discover that when things get rough in life, I shouldn’t hold my breath until it passes. I’m learning that when life’s waves start to overwhelm me, that’s the time I need to dive below the surface to the place where I can breathe in peace. Where the water is calmer as I get closer to its source. I need to trust that the waves will not keep me down. That because I know the source of the water of life, I’m going to resurface and will be able to sustain the waves when they come again.

We all have access to that source. It’s up to each of us to not panic because of the waves but to dive deep under the waves and seek the source of peace. To get close and breathe it in.

What is the source? For me, it’s my faith. My faith in a God that is above and greater than any waves in my life. Knowing that as I get closer to Him, through prayer and reading His book, He gives me the water and breath I need to survive. And not just survive but thrive once again on the surface of the waters of living.

As I spend my last two days at the bay, I’m thankful for the water. For the way it ebbs and flows. Even when the waves get rough I’m thankful because I know they will eventually calm. It’s up to me to find the peace that sustains and thankfully I’m finding it more and more.

And so can you. Dive deep my friends.

See you down the road….

Eclipsed

Did you see the super blood moon last night? The sky was clear here in central Ohio so it must have been good viewing. I wouldn’t know because having a head cold, I decided to stay in and go to bed early. Single digit temps and a cold virus just didn’t sound like a good time to me. Plus I’ve experienced a number of eclipses in my life so skipping this one seemed reasonable enough.

By definition, an eclipse is ‘an obscuring of the light from one body by the passage of another between it and the observer or between it and its source of illumination’. Last night that was the earth passing between the sun and the moon causing the earth’s shadow to alter the appearance of the moon. Going from bright light to blood red. For some a beautiful sight and for others perhaps frightening.

Today we understand the astronomy and physics of an eclipse and with this knowledge, there is no fear but imagine a society of people experiencing a lunar eclipse without this knowledge. Historical accounts tell us that events such as last night struck fear and panic in those that experienced it. Many perhaps thinking it was the end of their world. I wonder how many had their lives changed by something they had no understanding or control of.

Our lives are abundant with eclipses. Those that we see in the sky and those that we feel in our hearts.

For many of us, the light shining in our lives that brought warmth and comfort was eclipsed, taken away. A shadow began to spread across our world until the light we had come to love and cherish was gone. Replaced by the dark fear of living in a world we didn’t know or understand. It seemed, as if in an instant, that everything had changed. Everything, the thing, the one that had made our life bright and whole disappeared into the shadow and we were left in a very deep and dark hole. Alone in a world, we did not expect.

The darkness seems to never end as we live in the eclipse of our life. But the truth is it will end and light will return. Not necessarily the exact same light as before but the warmth and comfort we lost will return. Just as the moon moves out of the earth’s shadow, our life will move on and again be illuminated. We just have to ride it out.

I’m finding this to be very true in my life these days. The eclipse of the heart I experienced with my wife’s passing almost two years ago, is slowly brightening. Life will never be as it was but my life and my world do go on. The light has not been put out. It was darkened for a while but the darkness did not and cannot overcome it.

So as you experience the eclipses of your life, do not fear the darkness. Go through it. Lean on the knowledge that the light will return to you and shine upon you. Look to your faith and those that love you. Let their light guide you until you step out of the darkness into your new light. Be strong. Have hope. Welcome it back into your life.

May your light shine my friends and see you down the road…..