For anyone who’s been injured, you know too well the frustration. With nothing else to do I lay contemplating the last few months living outside of our of Middle-America 9-5 mediocrity.
#VanLife introduced us to the “dirt bag lifestyle”, weeks in the back country, Jet-boil coffee and Cliff Bars 7 days a week. And so much Ramen. I looked like a walking REI advertisement. Assuming there’s a market for male models built like an Ugly Ginger Gorilla.
Crashing in national parks, public lands, resort parks, theme parks, state parks, and the occasional parking lot. Asking locals instead of the visitor’s centers, travel bureaus, or big business tourism. “Life Lesson” If the tweaker who cant stop frantically scratching his face invites you to his home/ meth lab, “drop smoke and disappear like Batman”! Or just offer to get “Bath-Salts” from you car and never, ever go back. Drugs Are Bad Mmkay
In bad need of a place to wash laundry and resupply, we’d found a nice, clean, Mom&Pop RV park in Nevada. Checking in the elderly owner pointed to the top of a snow capped mountain range, advising us to visit Angel Lake.
In the middle of summer snow melt flowed into an alpine lake. A few locals sat fishing, picnicking, or sunning on large boulders. Wild flowers in full bloom, butterflies, and bees feasting on flower nectar. A seemingly endless sky, and crisp fresh air scented by a melody of aromatic wild flows tickled the nose with every breath.
Watching Lauren and Ruth explore I laughed. The cool breeze paired with the warm bright sun saturated the mountain ridge with color. This was a seemingly perfect moment. That is until the last step just before I sneezed. A lightning bolt of pain shot through my lower back, and for a moment I lost the use of my right leg.
Stuck in bed I grappled with some difficult questions. Why did we do this? Before we left I would have told you something like, to inspire people to chase their dreams. Or that I felt doing this was a higher calling, as if we’d find the tree of knowledge.
( There I was atop the mountain, the sky exploding with lightning and fire. Jesus, Buddha, and Elvis appeared as Johnny Cash offered me the ” Cold Beer of Knowledge”. It was sweet with a well rounded hobs flavor and perfect carbonation. And then I knew the solution to world hunger, and peace… Yeah it sounds stupid now, but hindsight’s 20/ 20.)
To be honest with myself, I simply couldn’t spend one more repeating day looking in the mirror at a guy who was angry all the time. Frustrated with organized religion, government, politics, business and the general middle American dream. Everything and nearly everyone made me mad. Home improvement stores, backyard BBQ’s, commercialized lives defined by consumer consumption and possession. People more like zombies, working a job they didn’t like, to afford a home they only slept in, and cars they only drove to work. Possessions as status symbols, lives defined by the things they owned. Or should I say the things that OWNED THEM. Eating and drinking in excess not as celebration but self-medication. Living for retirement, ” one day”. A day that may never come, and if it does most don’t know what to do with it.
If my life were a story I didn’t like how it read. The narrative was off, the supporting characters weak, and the setting horrid. So we began writing a new chapter. #VanLife, a life defined by self imposed poverty, lots of time in nature, a healthier lifestyle, and no small measure of facing fears. Yet once again this new story wasn’t what I’d anticipated. #VanLife wasn’t the Pinterest/ Instagram daydream those perfect REI model hipster gurus had promised.
We were living the “dream”, but something seemed wrong. Every day a new place, hiking, rafting, climbing, photography. I’m married to my best friend, an amazing supportive woman. We have a sweet silly dog, great friends, nice home, family, resources, and I’m on a trip most people only dream about. Lying in bed I started crying, why can’t I be happy. Then it hit me the problem with my story, was the main character. I’m the problem! It wasn’t the setting, or the supporting characters, it was me. Always focused on the failures, excess, and deviance of society, I’d forgotten to look at the brighter side. The love, smiles, laughs, art, wonder, discovery, the Joy of what it is to be US.
It was time to head East / South East, it was time to head home. I’d found my “tree of wisdom” , not in a vision, or a mystical place. It was lying in bed being honest with myself. It’s hard to run from the truth when you can hardly walk.
No this is not the last post about this trip, and yes it only got better. Next Stop UTAH! Red rock sunrises!