The soul’s true happiness lies in experiencing the inner joy, and it will never be fully satisfied with outer, seeming pleasures. Its connection is with God, and nothing short of perfection will ever satisfy it.
Bowl of Saki, July 19, by Hazrat Inayat Khan
The above quote represents my journey so well. While it would appear to have been a geographical one, the reality is that my journey is much more on the inner level. The truth is this quote may have little to do with the following post but I really liked it and wanted to share it with you!
It has been one helluva journey but like all good journeys there comes a time when the end approaches and it’s time to go home. And so it is with this journey.
A white wing dove partaking of some saguaro fruit. The saguaro is that real tall cactus that typifies what people think of when they think of the desert.
I started out in Tucson, hearing the call of the road. I left and found myself in Costa Rica for two years. So much to love about that country, particularly the people and even more so my friends Juan and Renan whom I miss dearly. Mom came down which made things a bit rocky for a while until we were able to find her a place of her own and then, like magic, it all worked until we needed to leave Costa Rica for the States again. Mom was no longer able to walk and getting her around was impossible. She couldn’t be treated adequately in Costa Rica and we somehow found our way to Florida. Once we got to Florida it turned out she was also suffering from congestive heart failure so the move was quite fortuitous. And who could forget the craziness of my pilfered shipping container when it finally arrived from Costa Rica? Certainly not I! That was one hellish time, to say the least!
The beautiful Pacific Ocean from Jaco, Costa Rica.
I will never forget the long night I spent in Costa Rica waiting to get this shot. It was worth it!
A beautiful Costa Rican orchid. Juan and I often went out to explore the various parks together.
It still makes me a little sad to see the disaster the container from Costa Rica was when it reached my apartment in Florida.
The Bradenton/Sarasota area is vastly less crowded than many of the eastern Florida cities and I really liked the calm of the Gulf. I met some wonderful people there, many of whom I still maintain contact with. However, because of mom’s illness, which got progressively worse, it was a very stressful time with my having little energy for other people and new friends. Still, I look back at my time there fondly and I will always love Publix (the local supermarket)! Who every would’ve thought I’d get a motorcycle license but that’s just one of the interesting things I did while I was there!
My first view of the Gulf of Mexico in Siesta Key, FL. I was still living in Costa Rica but making arrangements to rent my apartment in Bradenton.
A view from Bradenton Beach.
I made the decision to get an RV and travel after three years in Bradenton. I didn’t go very far at first – just up the road a piece to Ruskin so I could still visit with mom frequently and easily. It was a journey of sorts but not a very distant one. I learned a lot about how to live in an RV, albeit a relatively small one, during that time. But if I’m really truthful about it, summer in an RV in Florida just wasn’t the easiest thing to do! Between the mosquitos and no-see-ems I felt like I was too often sequestered within my RV!
My first RV during our walk-through before I took possession of it.
The Little Manatee River as seen from Hide-A-Way RV Park in Ruskin, FL.
The Spanish Moss hanging off of a tree at my campsite in Ruskin.
I took this shot when I was living in Ruskin after starting the infamous RV journey. It always makes me smile. Can you see the little child? He was playing within the sign and they are talking with him.
And then came the day for my first long journey in the RV – leaving Florida to go to Indiana to visit my son and his family. Stops were to include Jacksonville in Florida, South Carolina, the western mountains of North Carolina, Kentucky and finally Indiana. The plan was to go back by an entirely different route but that was not to happen.
My first RV at our first stop in Jacksonville, FL for our first journey. Lots of firsts there!
My car “conveniently” broke down while in Ferguson, NC and it took over three weeks to be repaired. During that time I fell in love with the area and decided to remain here for a while. I’ve always considered myself more of mountain girl than anything else. I did manage to see the grandkids twice, once with a rental car in October and again in November for Thanksgiving with my car after it was repaired. I also made three trips back down to Florida to visit mom including the last, final trip to take care of things after her passing. There was a whole lot of driving during that time, less than four months and over 9,000 miles!
My first real fall in nearly 20 years. This was taken from the Blue Ridge Parkway.
I loved spending my first more or less real winter in nearly two decades here in NC after watching the leaves turn all sorts of beautiful colors the previous fall. There was something about last winter that made my heart soar. Out of all the photos I’ve taken while here, the ice storm photos remain my favorite as a series. But that was also the time mom took her leave. She was sure I was supposed to be there for her passing, as was I, but it was not to happen and she passed a mere five days after the last time I saw her. I wished I could have been there but given the difficulty she experienced prior to her passing I think it was for the best that I wasn’t. However, it still haunts me knowing she was screaming for me, begging me to come help her since I was always there for her. The reality was there wasn’t anything I could’ve done anyway but I do wish I had been there. Luckily she had two very wonderful surrogates who were able to hold her hand, literally and figuratively, as she passed through this difficult time. I maintained contact with her throughout the day of her death talking with her (or to her) three different times, even when she was no longer really cognitively with it. I also kept in touch with those who were watching over her. It ended up being a peaceful death in the end but getting there was so difficult for her and all those around her. I was told that was quite typical for those with COPD issues since not being able to breathe is quite terrifying. I will never forget the story the man who came to pick up her body to bring to the crematory told me. As he was taking her from the room, Emma, mom’s roommate, simply said to her, “Good-bye my friend!” That really broke me up, and still does, since mom had so very few friends in her life but when she really needed one God provided!
The second RV hanging out in Ferguson in the snow.
My favorite winter shot from here in Ferguson.
The day mom died we had the biggest snow storm of the season here in North Carolina. It was also the day the first cardinal arrived to partake of the bird feeder I had out there for about two months without any visitors at all. I believe that somehow she managed to influence that first bird to come visit me that day. Just two days after her passing, after the snow melted enough for me to drive, I made my way back to Florida to take care of all the arrangements. When I got back home I took some down time for myself, time to just be on my own and mourn as well as rejoice in the peace mom finally found for the first time in her life, a peace I was also feeling living in the solitude of winter. After only a week or two I started to write again in the mornings, something I couldn’t do for years because of taking care of mom, and I wrote furiously. In the next ten weeks I wrote over 500 handwritten pages, most of it extremely good material. Every morning I woke up thrilled to be alive and managing to get this incredible material down on paper. I shared it with a few friends, all of whom seemed genuinely excited about it and how it could apply to their lives or to others they knew. This, I was sure, was the reason I moved here, so I could get this epic written. Deep solitude was the only way it would have happened.
Here’s my girl getting some sustenance. To me she looks like she is nursing off the plant.
One day I decided it was time to go to the DMV in town and finally switch over my plates and license from Florida to North Carolina. I had been putting it off forever! It was a mere three days before my birthday, the day my registration and license both expired, and a mere three days after I got insurance for the first time since I left Tucson six years previously. I had put it off long enough!
It was a beautiful day so I was driving with the top down, really enjoying life. Things were finally going well – the writing was better than I’d ever have expected, I was enjoying my life more than I had in a very long time and I was just plain old happy. I knew I was on the right path and it felt great to be on that path.
And then a young driver in a red pickup truck changed it all. He hit the back of my car twice and I hit the truck in front of me once. Those three bonks have changed my life, probably forever. I have since had what appears to be seizures. I can no longer drive (doctor’s orders), at least for now. The end of next month I will be going for a sleep deprived EEG (no sleep at all the previous night with testing early that morning; the idea is to stress the brain to see if it will produce seizures. I absolutely, positively dread this test since the plain EEG was so difficult for me.). If I have seizures, I will be diagnosed as having epilepsy. (Which reminds me – I didn’t take my anti-seizure medicine yet…okay, done!). If I have epilepsy, I will not be able to drive a minimum of six months.
One of the beautiful Ferguson sunsets.
So now I’m looking at the next part of my journey. Not being able to drive pretty much makes living here an impossibility. Plus the intense solitude, something I longed for, is now starting to feel oppressive in some ways since there are few things I’m still able to do right now. Both reading and writing the way I had been are impossible. I’ve looked at potential places to move the RV where I’d be closer to town but none of those would work for various reasons. I’ve known I needed to consider where my journey would take me next and ended up with two possibilities – Indiana to be around my son and family or back to Tucson to be with friends.
The next stop of this journey with all sorts of crazy stopping off points will be back to Tucson, thus coming full circle. My son, while assuring me he would love to have me near them, believes like I do that friends would probably be even more important in the moment. He also knows I never really did want to leave Tucson, certainly not permanently, but did so for a variety of reasons that no longer exist. It is time for me to go home again. My six year “vacation” is over.
I fell in love with Tucson much like I fell in love with the Blue Ridge mountains of North Carolina – I barely entered into the area in both cases and it was truly love at first sight. I would’ve been happy staying here in the mountains albeit without so much solitude but a young man in a red pickup truck kinda changed all that for me. I didn’t think I’d ever be ready to leave here and, at this point, I’m still not really ready but I will be in another couple of months when the time comes to actually do this next phase of the journey. Right now I’m shooting for starting the journey out of here around mid-September.
And so my decision has come to end this blog. It is up for renewal by the end of this month anyway so the timing is right. I really debated this since I’ve loved communicating with you in this format. However, writing has gotten so much more difficult and I really don’t have that much to say right now. If I change my mind, I will save the whole website so I can bring it back to life once again.
One of my more artistic endeavors of a flower in Ferguson.
Thank you so much for your love and support. I have loved sharing my journey with you. Hopefully we will remain in touch one way or another after this but if not, I’m so very grateful we have met.
¡Buen viaje! May God bless you on your journeys!
[Okay, so I realize I can’t really just say goodbye to you at this point since my journey will be continuing. I just got off the phone with BlueHost, my web hosting peeps, and negotiated a much better price so we will be here for a while longer at this point. I’m pretty sure it was the right thing to do! So, journey on!]
A stunning monsoon Tucson sunset. And people wonder why monsoon is my favorite season in Tucson?
© 2016 deborah kauffeld