Sometimes you come to a cross roads and know you just need to duck down for a while before resuming the crusade. So I decided to take a sabbatical from … hectic modern life … job search … competitive pace of Los Angeles … traffic, noise, congestion. After a night at the Elements Gathering, camping seemed like just the remedy – a new endeavor for me. Simplifying life to its essence. And an opportunity for growing some new stories.
Started out first week of August with a tent, the requisite camping equipment and two small dogs on my first camping adventure. I began actually in Laguna at a farewell party for a young friend heading to Berlin for his first life adventure. Then headed north to meet up with my daughter, Emily, in Santa Cruz. She’s newly back from a four month photo jaunt in South America, her first life experience after graduation from UCSC in 2012 in photography and anthropology.
No good story would be complete without an emotional leave-taking from a love that equally feeds my soul and leaves me wanting. It gave me just the edge I needed as I launched my Prius into the fast lane. My first stop was Pismo Beach, to get my grounding followed by a few days planned at campgrounds in the Santa Cruz area. I’d decided to leave the rest to chance as I went along. Knowing I had a ticket from LA to Atlanta at the end of August to see my family, I opened myself to just wandering to see where I felt I could find peace and healing. I needed to shed and cleanse before returning to the search for meaningful work.
Rambling thoughts and random meanderings:
The kindness of strangers
Pismo’s Grover Beach pulled me into the morning with a chance encounter with a wise woman – Betty maybe? Dressed in vivid blue she strode towards me up the sand along the shoreline. Bending to meet little Princess and Chloe – she looked into my eyes with a knowing glance. She shared pearls of insight – steady in the wind, find your bearing, accept and forgive…. know you are on the right path. I COME here open to who ever needs me, and here you are with your dogs and your longing. You’ll find it. The path. Keep trusting. Intuition. Nothing new, just good to hear the echo.
Setting up the tent for the first time in woods of Santa Cruz – I thanked the father of Emily’s friend who was paying it forward and gave me the tent. He too had faced a year of transition, and generously wished me well by supplying me with a stove, sleeping bag and various necessities.
Obstacles had to be surmounted from the first – arriving at the gate, I was told I had reserved a site the required a handicap plaque, which I did not have. Tearfully explaining I had just driven all the way from LA, and could they find another site – I was rewarded with the last site available, literally adjacent to the bath/shower. Which actually proved to be a blessing my first night out.
Campgrounds breed community. The family next door with two small boys offered to help me set up. It was their first camping trip as well, so we shared cups, tried to build fires – and generally got oriented to the woods. Seven year old Jackson was good at helping set up the tent, and his little brother kept the dogs busy with much affection. I learned quickly to accept any offers for help – after my initial knee jerk reaction of independence. It’s a lot easier to put up and take down a tent with two people.
Paul from a neighboring site stopped by in the morning with 2 adolescent girls, with the Biblical names of Hannah and Rachel. “I heard you couldn’t get the fire going last night.” I hesitated, thinking – do I want a fire now? How long will it burn? What did I have to do? Where else did I have to be? “Sure – I’d love to have you show me how to build a fire.” said the city slicker. So I proceeded to learn how to build a fire in a fire pit – with kindling, rubbing alcohol and newspaper – to get the larger, hard wood to burn. It was fun, and kept me grounded for an hour or more, before heading into town for yoga with Emily. But that’s another story for the next sequel.