I would like to say my traveling isn’t about running away from things, but as I zoomed down I-80 today on the first leg of my trip to Canada and the Pacific Northwest, I realized there is a little bit of that–fleeing–in my heart. I can’t help it. I have had a lot of things to flee from in my life, and I suppose it has become something of a habit.
This time, though, I’m not fleeing chaos or disaster. I’m fleeing normality. Much less serious. The emotional charge of this trip seems weaker than it was when I headed out to Florida to see a client in snowy December 2011 and didn’t come home to Nebraska for six months. Back then, I was reeling from a separation and impending divorce. This time, after the healing powers of time have done their work on me, life is good. I feel settled into the idea of traveling, of living the life I was meant to live.
Today at home, I spent most of the day organizing my things…the furnishing of my Jeep house. With Edward’s help, for example, I manufactured a bed from sleeping bags, a memory foam mattress, and the blankets from my bed at home. I brought my own pillow, too. During the months I am gone, these things will be the heart of my traveling home. When I sink into my familiar blankets each night, my body will descend into restful sleep, no matter where my rig is parked.
Tonight, I’m staying at Windmill State Recreation Area near Gibbon, built around a historical site named Windmill Crossing, where the Indians forded the Platte river during buffalo hunts. The park has a collection of windmills that mentally help make this park along I-80 a “thing,” a destination worth going to. There are also five lakes (one with a swimming beach), and both primitive and “civilized” camping spots. http://outdoornebraska.ne.gov/parks/guides/parksearch/showpark.asp?Area_No=196
The swimming beach at this park was the thing that caused my problem. Earlier, before the sun set, as it lowered in the sky, I took off my flip flops, rolled up the legs of my jeans, and walked through the ridges of freshly laid sand down to the lake. The virgin sand was deep and thick, and as I walked toward the water it became damper until it was wet, and finally it sunk below the surface of the water. With two steps into very shallow liquid, the sand suddenly became solid. I waded from one end of the water line to the other. The cool water on my feet was soothing, and I felt as though I had arrived after a day of fleeing.
After soaking up the evening air and breathing in the joy of three little boys playing, with water up to their waists, I headed back to the truck through the mounds of sand. I decided to take advantage of the opportunity for exercise, marching along the sandy rows, from one end to the other, then switching to another row, and marching to the other end. The sand was so deep and airy, I felt like a deer walking through a new snow as I lifted up my feet to take each step.
Back at the truck, I washed my feet with water from one of two dozen filled plastics bottles I had brought with me, unrolled my small oriental carpet, and covered the picnic table with a blanket. I pulled out the ladybug Pillow Pet Maggie had sent me for Christmas when I was in Florida, and lay down on top of the table to watch the stars. I stretched and meditated and breathed the night air. I noticed a tickle on one foot. Then another on my calf. And another on my thigh under my jeans. Before I knew it, I felt tickles everywhere. I’m sure some of them were in my head, but some–I was sure–had to be sand fleas.
For awhile after I packed up the rug and blanket, I tried to ignore the tickles. But I had visions of fleas permeating my small “truck house” and all the agony that would cause. I had no choice but to head to the showerhouse and wash them off.
Now, as I sit writing, the rug and blanket are lying outside the door of the truck on the ground in a different camping spot far from the beach. My skin is pleasantly uneventful. Tomorrow morning, I will blow this popsicle stand and flee the fleas.