Trip Start Jun 01, 2005
12Trip End Ongoing
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It began with a phone call on a rainy afternoon from the campground in Hanover, Maine. Something told me that I hadn't "gone the distance", yet, so I started looking for campgrounds on the coast. But which one and where? One of the problems with traveling without an itinerary is that you have a massive amount of choices. Too many choices for Cindy. So, you get quiet and listen for inner guidance or you flip a coin. I started running out of coins so I just trusted that the right place would be waiting for me and, or course, it was.
After being overwhelmed with the choices in the Good Sam, the KOA, the Woodall's, etc., camping directories and the MapPoint computer program, I remembered something from my past
Now when you call to make reservations at campgrounds, the people answering run the spectrum from the harried, terse, burnout camp-workers to the cheerful, talkative, make- you-feel-like-family kind. Rene at the Camden Hills RV Resort was the latter. I was immediately drawn in by her friendly, welcoming voice. Especially, when she told me to call her back in 20 minutes while she rearranged incoming reservations to accommodate my stay. So, on July 7th I hooked up the trailer, loaded up the dogs and drove the three hours to Camden.
When I started on this cross-country journey at the beginning of June, a handful of people could tell that this wasn't an exciting thing for me; it was a spiritual pilgrimage in search of healing. Before I left Dallas, my dear niece-in-law Carrie gave me a great gift. It was a small, silver angel with the words "follow your star" engraved on it. I put it on my rear view mirror and looked at it frequently during my trip and prayed that I would find whatever it was that I was searching for. When I pulled up to the campground, prominently displayed next to the name on the sign was a single star; my heart grinned. It grinned even more when I pulled up to the site Rene had reserved for me: 11, a number that I have always associated with God. For whatever the reason and throughout my life, whenever I would see that number it reminded me of the existence of a Higher Power and I would always pause in thought to give thanks to God for being there
An interesting circular fact was that my trip began in Rockport, Texas and the campground was located on the border of Camden and Rockport, Maine.
I was only planning on staying there for a week so the next morning I got busy exploring the small, historic, coastal towns up and down Route 1. I scrambled over rocky, granite beaches where the forest met the sea. I smelled the salty air at the water's edge while photographing the numerous lighthouses along the coast that guided weary sailors safely home. I drove to the top of Mount Battie for the panoramic view of Penobscot bay and toured Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor. I studied the old brick buildings, churches, libraries, stores and seaside businesses from the 19th century. I would seek out weathered, wooden docks and the boats and ships that were moored there. Most of you know that I have spent a lot of time researching women's history from 1859 to 1921 (Ida's time) so it wasn't hard for me to go back in time and imagine what it was like without the gas stations, t-shirt shops and restaurants of tourist towns. Don't get me wrong, souvenirs are a necessity so besides the historic stuff I was required to shop... and shop...and shop.
Maine is lobster country and everywhere you looked there were lobster traps and colorful lobster buoys (even the highway rest areas advertise "lobster available" on their signs). The colors and patterns on the buoys are the specific signatures of lobstermen and have been in some fisherman's families for decades. I am a Gulf coast gal; I am more into crab, jumbo shrimp and oysters so I wasn't in any hurry to eat lobster
I drove down to Port Clyde for a short voyage out to an island where Puffins were nesting. (Sea knowledge: passage on a ship is a one-way trip; a voyage is a round trip) It was a beautiful day on the water and I have hoped to photograph a Puffin since I lived in Washington. But, alas, the time of day was wrong and most of them were in their nests, away from my telephoto's reach. Oh well, I got a great shot of an Osprey flying overhead and a curious seal on the port side before we headed back to shore
Sounds like I did a lot and I should therefore be satisfied, right? Wrong. I was supposed to leave the next day and all the beauty, sights and experiences failed to fill me up. Something was missing. I still couldn't figure out why I was really here and why I still felt so flat. I was about to.
Remember Rene, the campground's signalman that guided me safely in? She had been off work the week of my exploration so I didn't get to meet her until the night before I had planned to leave. The moment we met there was an immediate, mutual recognition of kinship and connection: she talked as much, as honest and as deep as I did. I can hear all of you now, "oh my God, there's another one?!" Yep, I found my twin sister; not in looks but in depth of heart and experience. We rambled on for hours and it was the longest conversation I had had in months. As for content of conversation, I hadn't said "me too" that many times in.......ever! To say that we were kindred souls would be a great understatement and it wouldn't do justice to the intensity of all the energy and emotions I was about to experience due to the depth of our sharing. After our initial conversations, I couldn't have left Maine even if my life depended on it. For the first time in years, I wasn't lonely. It didn't hurt that each night she would come up with another reason why I should stay another day.
The first and probably most important reason for staying occurred early on in our friendship. She kept telling me about an herb farm down the road but I kept letting it pass. You've got to remember, I just spent 25 years with a Dad that talked nonstop about the healing properties of herbs and herbal remedies
The moment I touched the first plant in the aromatic, colorful, growing, garden of herbal healing, my emotional dam burst. I cried the deep, heaving sobs of a daughter who had just lost her father. I know that Dad had left in February but I had been kept busy taking care of his estate, going to Costa Rica, buying a trailer, selling our home and traveling from place to place. It was not until that moment in the garden that I gave myself permission to feel his passing and the sometimes excruciating pain of caring for him during his transition. I couldn't stop crying; I had earned a flood of tears and it was time to let them loose. When the flood finally slowed to a trickle I met Elizabeth. She was one of the gardeners and had noticed a crazy, crying woman over by the thistle (one of Dad's favorites). I proceeded to tell her the story of my Dad and asked if I could spread a small vile of his ashes somewhere in the garden. She asked the owner who said she would be honored for that to happen and could I come back at 3:00.
When I came back with his ashes I was clear and calm enough to recognize all the ways that this was a perfect place for Dad. The only thing my Dad loved more than herbs was women. This place was owned, maintained and tended entirely by women; pretty women. My Dad was in the painter's union for 25 years. The next town over was Union. The garden was at the corner of Route 17 (my family's number) and West (our first home was on West Ave). The lotion that my Dad loved to spread on his pain was Aveeno (the name of the garden was Avena's). The garden is dedicated to helping heal people with herbs (my Dad spent the last 25 years of his life doing just that). It was perfect.
I left with the promise that I would send a photo of Dad to "the girls" and parked down the road at a beautiful pond filled with Canadian Geese. I stayed there for hours staring at the water and feeling the peace and calm that I knew could be in me but that I had misplaced for a long time. I didn't want to leave. I was so moved that I had to call "my girls" (niece Heather and niece-in-law Carrie) to share the heartfelt moment of Grace.
The next several days were spent deepening my friendship with Rene. She and her partner, David are traveling campground workers. They would sign on for a season to take reservations, answer questions and maintain the campground. In exchange, their site would be free and they would also earn a paycheck. Although they had signed on until October, changes had occurred and they would be moving on soon. Since neither they, nor I, knew where to go from here, we decided that I would follow their taillights for awhile and see what happens. Each evening we spent hours around the campfire, sharing a lifetime of stories as we waited for our departure date. Our conversational exchange involved laughter, tears, hopes, philosophies, dreams and healing. We watched David play tennis, went to art shows and went out to dinner. One time, naturalist Rene prepared a healthy herbal dinner of thistle (weeds) and couscous. It was...interesting. The next night we had barbequed ribs; ah, food with sauce. It was the most wonderful time I had shared in years; I never wanted it to end. But, alas, it would.
While David and Rene were helping me to heal, I was offering them advice to assist them with their difficult situation. They had lived and traveled together for two years and the close quarters were starting to wear on them. They had decided to go their separate ways until I came in and offered them a diversionary vacation from each other. It was obvious to me that they were a great team whose hearts had just become a bit cloudy. During our shared time together, they began to see that love again.
In the meantime, the full moon arose, the wind shifted and Rene and I had our first and only, major misunderstanding. I was crushed with the thought that I would perhaps have to separate from my long lost sister after only just recently finding her. To travel alone again without a companion to share the journey was a devastating thought. Don't get me wrong, I am grateful for the dogs but they don't cook very well. Buck keeps wanting to add doggy treats to everything. And although Jetta is deep, she keeps to herself a lot. And Casey never uses his blinker when he's driving.
But anyway, I was thrown back into deep soul searching. My first response after the altercation was to run. Yet again, someone who I trusted and loved hurt me deeply. After a day and a half of painful, gut-wrenching tears, I decided to go on an adventure fix. I drove north for a nighttime kayak trip to see the bioluminescent dinoflaggelates (glowing plankton). As I was driving, I found a great classic rock station, sang along at the top of my lungs and started to look around me. It occurred to me that I have always disconnected and run when someone, seemingly, hurts me. Most people don't intend to hurt me it's just my experiential cloudy perception that betrays me. My MO; if you love me you are lying or will eventually hurt me. Bullshit! People are fallible. They have quirks, faults, mistakes and lessons of their own to learn. Get over it Cindy! The world is not out to destroy me. We all have our own speed bumps in life it's just that sometimes we happen to be in the same vicinity when they occur. I love Rene. I will always love Rene and this time, I decided, I will carry her with me and try to stay connected.
The kayak tour was a bust. A lightning storm and an ass too big for a narrow, ocean kayak cancelled the trip. But, by now, I didn't need the fix anymore. I drove back to Camden, repaired my relationship with Rene and tried to decide what to do next.
Oh great, more inner questing without looking outside myself for answers, bummer. North or South, which way do I go? There is the western hemisphere's largest whirlpool North and Texas is South. Am I tired of traveling and want to go home? But where is home? Definitely not San Antonio but what about Austin or New Braunfels? And what do I want to do when I get there? Shit; anybody got a coin? After four very long distance phone calls and much, much quiet time, I decided; I'm heading south.
I realized that the most primary question in my life right now is "do I want to be rooted or rootless?" I have an idea of what travel on the road could be like; now I needed to find out if Texas is my home. I also need to decide if I want to travel to RV parks across the country and put on entertaining shows or if I want to devote my life to caring for the family caregivers of hospice patients; or both. I also need to volunteer in hospice settings and see if my desire is just a carry-over from caring for Mom and Dad or if I truly have a calling.
I knew the directional decision was right because I felt more excited about going "home" than I ever did when I was leaving two months ago.
I hugged Rene and David, thanked them for "everything" and told her that it was time for us to part; physically not spiritually.
I had one more person to meet before I left Maine. During my travels, I had noticed all the elaborate "lawn art" that RV'ers put outside their trailers to make it more "homey" and I had told Rene that morning that I wanted a heron.
I drove 45 minutes to Augusta to purchase a crate of doggie poop bags. (nice segway don't you think?) There are no Petsmarts in Maine that have my favorite form of doggie clean-up (large, blue bags that come on a convenient, portable hand-held roller) and I have three dogs and no desire to view their business through sandwich baggies. What did I say, we all have our quirks. On the way back, right before I got back to the campsite I saw some bird carvings on the side of the road. I blew it off and kept going until my mind nagged me into turning around.
It was there that I met Charles A. Prescott. Eighty-six year old retired prison worker, married 58 years, in WWII for 4 years, came from a family of 13, had 5 children, and was a part time wood carver..... (yes, I got his life story in 20 minutes). I also got a lot more; he grins like my Dad. And, sitting on the work bench in front of me, someone had scribbled the name Pat in black marker. Charles went on and on about how he didn't trust the doctors that were treating him for cancer; just like my Dad. And, not surprisingly anymore, he had one 4 foot carved heron that he said would probably be his last because of his arthritis. It didn't look like a heron; it looked like a blue duck on stilted legs. The color was wrong, the markings weren't exact and I fell in love with it while I listened to Charles' story. When I bought it, I shook his hand and his strong, tight grip would not let go while he continued to talk. Another deep connection. Thanks God. Thanks Dad. Thanks Charles.
So that is the story of Maine. I know it was long winded but y'all know how I am. I love to tell a good story and I hoped y'all enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed living it.
I left Monday and headed South towards Connecticut; but then that's another story.