If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a million times. Words like “mind-numbing terrain”. “It’s so boring”. “There’s nothing to see”. “Longest drive ever”. Any guesses what these words are describing? Well I’ll go ahead and give the answer: Western Kansas. I-70 in particular.
And I have to be very honest, I’ve uttered those words myself over the years. Shame on me.
My oldest daughter has an SUP. Stand up paddleboard, in case you need to know. Her mother-in-law also has one. They rave about how fun they are, how easy they are to use, how great the muscular work-out they provide.
So I sure enough wanted to try and see for myself last November in the bay water of Palacios, Texas. Perhaps I should have received warning signals from the opposing phrases “easy to use” and “great work-out”. But, of course, I didn’t. Read on.
I had a “moment” the other day. It all started when I saw my hairbrush while getting ready for the day. It was full of gray hair. FULL of gray hair. And in that moment, I “saw” my mom. Of course when my eyes lifted to look in the mirror, there she was again.
The day was Sunday. As we were in church right before the service was to begin, a young woman and her very young daughter walked down the aisle next to where we were seated. She took a seat in the pew in front of us and to the left a bit. It was the front row of our section in the very large church we attend. No one else was sitting near them, giving us a close up view of the two of them.
I grew up in a really small town in northern Kansas. Minneapolis. Not THE Minneapolis. No, when saying where we’re from, I’m certain every former and current resident always adds the important qualifying word: KANSAS.
The new year, 2022, came right on in the door and sat down. Looking suspiciously similar to the past two years. I feel certain that I’m not the only person on the planet who is done with the pandemic. Every news clip on COVID, vaccines, deaths, hospitalizations? I just can’t anymore. Not that I don’t care. That’s not it at all. I do care. The numbers, the news, the pictures, the personal stories really break my heart.
This morning when I woke up my mind was filled with an intensely awful memory from when I was around 5 years old. Involving a life altering event to my parents and sisters and myself. You won’t get details, but the effects of that event were permanent and sad. Anyway, as this flash of memory hit my brain waves I sensed God asking me “Can you be thankful even though….?” What a difficult thing to ponder. Especially at 5 in the morning. I couldn’t answer right away.
For most of the month of November we’ve been volunteering at a faith-based camp on the Texas gulf. Palacios by the Sea is a lovely little spot in the universe. So low-key and friendly. About 4600 folks call Palacios home. It’s bordered by a lovely bay that connects to the Gulf of Mexico. By the way, for those of you word nerds who need to know how Palacios is pronounced: Puh-lash-us
Do you like to wait? When we go to restaurants and see more than 10 people in line generally we turn right back around and leave. That’s how much we like to wait. Once in south Wichita I was stuck in my car waiting on a train, and it turned into a 45 minute wait. Then I learned this was the norm for that particular area! I just can’t think of anything I really enjoy waiting for. Not food, not trains, not telephone calls on hold. I could go on and on.
We were driving through the Flint Hills of Kansas yesterday. Isn’t it beautiful?
Maybe you do this too……read on.
There are homes in this picture. You can’t see them well from this view but I assure you they are there. We drove down several lovely country roads while driving to and from this location. The views were just stunning, I’m not exaggerating. And as usual, I love seeing the homes on these acreages. On absolutely serene looking acreages that just scream “Perfect Life”. Do you know what I’m talking about? I look at these homes and think how awesome it would be to live there.
So….do you dream and imagine and envy a bit on drives like this? Like I do?
After a long period of time with no volunteering trips with our RV, we finally finally are able to get back out there and go. As I mentioned in my blog post titled “Purpose and Plans”, everything kinda stopped in 2020 for us due to Rotten Rona. In 2019 we began the volunteering plan, in 2020 it screeched to a halt. Only two projects total for us and BAM, done.
Against my better judgment I’m fixing to tell you a camping story. With details I’d prefer not to share. Go ahead and read, but I may need you to sign a waiver first promising you won’t share info. Reality check, Simply B, that can’t happen. They’re going to read it anyway. Well, okay, here goes.
Every single year the hubby and I take at least one camping trip to Colorado. Every year we are joined by at least one of our daughters and her family, often there are three families involved. This year our trip included seven (7!!) families from my branch of the family tree. For a full week in the mountains.
** Spoiler alert** we all love each other. No dysfunctional family drama involved. That’s not the forbidden info.
Again, I have been given the opportunity to reminisce about my mother. Several days ago I had cataract surgery. Soon I will have cataract surgery on my other eye. Just a short appointment, quick recovery, and voila, good eyesight. Maybe even no prescription eye glasses needed once my other eye is done. Just that simple.
Mom’s eyes developed cataracts at a pretty young age. I was ten when she had surgery, which would have made her 50 years old. 1965 was the year. This surgery wasn’t simple and my mom wasn’t particularly enthused about the whole process.
Did you know there is a national park in south central Oklahoma? Well there is! Chickasaw National Recreation Area.
We decided to take a little four day camping trip to this park, sight unseen, no idea what to expect. Sense of adventure kicked in while googling Chickasaw National Recreation Area. Our trip was delayed one year because our initial reservation was in March of 2020. Need I say more? ‘Rona ruined that plan.
Fast forward to 2021 and life is kind of good-ish again. Things are opening up, so we rebooked some campsites and hit the road with my sister and brother-in-law.
We camp in a fifth wheel. We winterize our 5th wheel late fall every stinking year. Always with a sad face. Because we love to camp and the winter feels like an eternity when we can’t go camping.
Our part of the world experienced record breaking cold temperatures this past winter. And they lasted for a record breaking fourteen day period. Why does this matter? Well, it can mean winterization fails. AKA, cracks and leaks. Ugh.
Thus, our annual spring shakedown camping trip was taken with trepidation. Actually, for more reasons than winterization fails.
1963. If you were alive and above the age of 4 or so in 1963 you undoubtedly recall the day in November.
In February of last year we visited the 6th Floor Museum in Dallas. Dallas is huge, 7 million people live in the metro area. There are many buildings with six floors. But only one building houses the location where a gunman shot and killed President John Kennedy from a window on the sixth floor.
While walking through the museum and listening to the audio headphones tell the story I was taken back to that day in November. My 3rd grade classroom in Minneapolis Grade School. We listened to the news over the loudspeaker while our teacher, Mrs. Warren, wept. The only sound was the voice on the speaker and the weeping of our teacher. While a room full of eight year olds tried to process what was happening.
Today I’d like to just share with you some observations on aging, really growing up a lot, becoming long in the tooth. It’s hard to come up with a palatable description for, uh, getting old. We’ll stick with the “tooth” phrase for my purposes today. You’ll see why later.
Are you a hugger? I wasn’t as a child. It wasn’t our family’s “thing”. That’s okay, I suppose. Pretty sure all you non-huggers are tolerating the COVID-19 restriction policies better than us huggers. Though I’ve grown into being a hugger (with a few limits), during these pandemic days I truly treasure all the human interaction I can get. Smiles (that you can actually see on an unmasked face), hugs, elbow bumps, conversation. Anything, I tell ya. Growl at me even.
We’re retired. It’s been two years now. Since we love to travel and have a fifth wheel, we looked into ways we could incorporate both of those into our life plan. Doors opened for us to volunteer at faith based camps while living part-time in our fifth wheel and in the fall of 2019 we had our first stint in eastern Oklahoma. After the first month we loved it so much that we quickly signed up for another month.