Our first 3+ months of traveling in Casa Blanca were a rousing success! The proof is in the pudding: a week or two ago, we spent an entire day cleaning her out. We removed every personal item and piece of non-attached equipment that had accumulated in the RV since June 22: clothing, dishes, food, toiletries, Arla’s art supplies, CDs, our portable CD player, sun hats, Arla’s books and writing materials, towels, sheets, decorative items, Arla’s sea glass and rock collection, our tablecloth, candles, etc. etc. Then, after emptying everything out, Charlie vacuumed Casa Blanca while I tried to figure out where on earth we were going to store everything that we had just removed. Once that was accomplished, we had a moment to sit in Casa Blanca, at our table which reminds me of a booth in a diner, with the autumn breeze floating through the louvered windows. And what we felt was a stir of wistfulness for the sweet summer days and nights spent there, when she was our home and the long road beckoned. We both agreed that, Mexico notwithstanding, we can’t wait until next spring when we can re-inhabit Casa Blanca and work our way westward.
Now it is autumn, four months since we first left our previous home. With the shortening days and the cool nights, we are glad to be winding down our travels and thinking ahead to what’s next: winter in Mexico! Four months in one place, making a home in Casa Laguna. Charlie looks forward to going to the beach a lot, and I look forward to swimming, painting, writing, cooking, and having some friends and family visit. We have several people to thank for taking us in over the past four months, and we will “pay it forward” by being equally gracious hosts. It’s going to feel like playing house! I loved playing house as a little girl……….do children still do that? I hope so. I hope that the ubiquitous ‘iPad-as-babysitter’ has not erased such simple rites of passage. I’ll let you know when I have grandchildren……….just kidding, kids! No pressure. Oh, I forgot….most of our kids don’t read my blog. I can say what I want.
Are you wondering why I would be SO excited about staying in one place for four months? Well, today I ran the numbers. Since departing Voorhees, NJ on June 23…………
We traveled 11,200 miles.
We slept in Casa Blanca at 2 National Parks, 14 State Parks, 4 RV parks, and 3 private campggrounds.
We slept in a total of 23 different beds, when you count Casa Blanca and what follows below.
We spent 17 nights in 11 hotels.
We were the houseguests of 6 family members and 7 friends, and spent time with countless others over meals, at celebrations, on the beach, and at a professional soccer game.
We showered in 41 different showers (Gail Licata, yours was my favorite!)
We went on 22 hikes.
We failed to count how many campfires we had or marshmallows we ate.
We watched at least 6 firework displays, one from above.
We suffered one tick bite.
We only ate at two chain restaurants!
We didn’t gain any weight!
We actually lost a few pounds.
As you can see, I’ve been counting! Thankfully I didn’t tally the calories we consumed or the money we spent, although we did begin doing the latter…….. but we gave up. It felt too much like work.
Right about now, four months of playing house seems just about perfect. It is time to slow down, I feel it in my bones as autumn sets in.
As our summer travels were winding down, our lives were touched by witnessing close friends go through losses. We attended a few funerals, and now another friend is facing the imminent loss of a parent. I have been through the pain of loss myself, but somehow bearing witness to another’s loss has a special poignancy. It is easier to see the entire cycle of life and death when you are not the one grieving.
Charlie and I have a running good-natured disagreement: I prefer living in a place with four distinct seasons while he would prefer a more tropical climate. I am excited to experience this coming winter in Mexico, and yet I feel like I’m cheating the gods. For me, experiencing the four seasons is as fundamental as being born, going through childhood, becoming an adult, growing older, and dying. The changing seasons reassure me that all is as it should be.
The chill of autumn, and the death it portends, serves as an annual reminder of our mortality. As I grow older, I find that life softens me the way water sculpts stone. My heart grows heavy with tenderness as life carves lines in my face and etches my heart with loss. With each year the autumn feels more poignant, and still it remains my favorite season.
We are all travelers through life. This traveler is flying to Mexico on Friday morning. I’m going to experience the Day of the Dead AND a Mexican Christmas! (I hope the gods will forgive me for cheating. If not, they can freeze my butt off next winter.)©