Tuesday, December 31, 2013
We're having a Rumo Day. (Our friends the Rumos have five children. Every day is an adventure for them. Never wake up, exist, then back to sleep. Never. Always a little monkey wrench works itself in somewhere.)
Three of their kids ride with us in our RV, named Otto, traveling down North Carolina's Route 12 in Cape Hatterras National Seashore, heading toward the ferry to Ocracoke Island. The parents await us there. We plan to celebrate New Year's Eve together. Say hello to 2014.
So we are on the road. And our 14-hour journey to meet up with their parents now spans 29 hours because, well, Al can't be rushed.
But we are almost there. Thirty minutes to the ferry, an hour ferry ride then we will be there. Ocracoke.
But ROAR ROAR ROAR. Something's wrong with Otto. ROAR ROAR ROAR. We've lost gears. We're coasting down Route 12, no gears and three young children yearning for Mom and Dad.
Our first little miracle: A turnout. So we coast safely off the road with just Otto's nose sticking into the road. No problem. We have CoachNet, a super expensive road emergency service for RVs. I call. I cry. Our policy expired in February.
Our second little miracle: CoachNet assists us anyway, finding a qualified mechanic and notifying police to come to our rescue. We leave lots of messages for the mechanic (it's Saturday night now and nobody is home). The police come and we -- me, two 8-year-olds and the cop -- push Otto to safety (Al's behind the wheel; the youngest tends to the dog.)
It's getting late and we decide to head on to Ocracoke for the night and tend to Otto tomorrow.
Our third little miracle. All six of us (me, Allen, the three boys and our giant standard poodle) and our overnight bags fit into our toad, a Scion IQ (Go ahead, Google it ...).
Our fourth little miracle: Neither the police who watch us pile into the little car nor the Coast Guard who watch us pile out cite us for failing to meet the safety code.
Our fifth little miracle: Kenzie, Kenson and Kenley, the three little boys with us, smile, laugh and giggle despite the uncertainty.
Finally, 34 hours into our 14 hour journey, we meet up with the Rumos and snuggle in for the night, happy, laughing and pleasant.
Yes, it was a Rumo kind of day. And, thank God, it ended that way, too.
Friday, March 8, 2013
I don't like Fort Davis, Texas.
It's a dusty little town forgotten by most and existing, well, I'm not sure why. It's dusty here. When the wind blows, it brings more dust. My skin suffocates under layers of it. My hair scares me. My breathing labors. So, we're getting out of here.
But first, I need to mail off some birthday cards.
So we head to the post office, where I first meet a fellow sorting mail. He's a youngish guy, all smiles. He nods. Friendly.
At the counter, I watch as two women engage in a brief hug, then, with their arms still engaged, pull back and give each other wide, toothy grins. "It's so good to see you," one of them says. "I heard about your loss. I am so sorry." "Oh, thanks. I'm OK," the woman in mourning says. They lock eyes briefly, then they detach and get on with their business. Girlfriends.
My turn at the counter is sweet. I tell the postal worker my oversized card is for my granddaughter. So she digs in her drawer and pulls out a "Finding Nemo" stamp. Thoughtfulness.
I thank her and turn to leave and am stopped by the sight of a crowded bulletin board. Bake sales. Story times. A firehall dance. An involved community.
Then two men in front of me exchange greetings and the one man says to the other, "How are ya?" The older man smiles and nods, then says, "I'm just fine! I miss (Maude? Mable? inaudible name, but definitely a recently passed wife), but I'm getting on just fine." Resilience.
On my way out the door, a feller tips his hat and says, "Howdy."
OK. I get it. Fort Davis, dust and all, is a pioneer town. It's alive, perhaps, because of people like these, people who reinforce their independence with self-reliance and a strong sense of community.
People who don't crumble under the dust. They just shrug it off.
Tuesday, January 1, 2013
We're sitting around a campfire (well, a propane-fed flame licking fake charred wood in a metal pot) at Padre Island National Seashore welcoming in the New Year (2013).
It's windy, so our impromptu party of 12 (plus one dog) gathers leeward, using one of those monster motorhomes as a shield against the blowing sand and wind.
We're having tentative fun. We don't know each other. We're all so different. Some drink tequila, wine, beer; others do Coke or tea. Shy conversations abound, but all seek common ground: Where are you from? Been here before? Where are you going? And, a frequent question tonight, "What is your name again?"
We're all gray-haired, retired, not really able to dance the night away, but, strangely, I feel like I'm in a bar, a college bar. What's your major? Come here often? We're getting to know each other.
We are a community of Winter Texans, escaping the cold and icy climes of Ohio, Michigan, New York. We have a few real Texans, too. We laugh at clean jokes. No off-color ones are told. We're warming up to each other.
And we dust off old stories new friends enjoy hearing. Like the time Howie played a practical joke on Kathy, pretending he was a lecherous Santa; or the time I had breakfast with Keith Richards. Pat broke all hearts with her story about how her Aunt Cat's alzheimer's is winning.
We munch on popcorn, tell more tales. Laugh. Sometimes heartily. That laughter recasts our unfamiliar as familiar.
Soon, we collect our things and it's time to go, to walk back to our RVs. This assortment of strangers are now friends.
Happy New Year.