The Glorious Rockies! Photo taken in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Oregon surprised me. Since a few people have said to me: “you should live in Eugene, Oregon,” I expected to feel at home there. I didn’t. I recognized the vibe that people thought matched mine, but I discovered that a vibe isn’t enough to make a place feel like home. In the mornings, I loved going to the Morning Glory Café for breakfast—they served truly delicious food. Eugene is surrounded by mountains which aren’t visible from the city. I had to climb to the top of a Butte in Skinner Park in order to get a glimpse of them on the horizon.
The day I arrived in Eugene, I walked about a mile from the hotel to a downtown bank to get some cash. On the walk, I passed many homeless people—and my heart just plain broke for them. I like to solve problems, but this one is beyond me and because of that, it scares me.
I like what the city of Boulder has done for the population of homeless folks who live there. They created a day-shelter with showers, bathrooms, laundry facilities, and a safe place to take a nap. It doesn’t solve individual problems, but it does give people the dignity of being able to clean themselves and their clothes, and rest when they need it. I don’t feel capable of saying more about this—the problem is so large (we use the word ‘population’ to describe the large scale) and is so small (having to do with each individual and the specific problem that has them living on the street) and is complex enough to be overwhelming. We may simply have to rely on kindness as a culture to do what we can to help them achieve some experience of dignity as the citizens of Boulder have done.
From Eugene, I drove to Bend for the night, then drove on to Boulder, Colorado. That’s where I learned about their day-shelter. I spent some time with my friend, Pam, in Rocky Mountain National Park. I got to see a huge bull Moose—it looked as large as an elephant! But mostly, my eyes went to the snow-capped peaks. I loved seeing them, loved having them as my companions for many days. Their beauty took my breath away!
The Boulder Iron Man happened on the day I left. I stayed in the heart of Boulder at the Boulderado Hotel for five days. For several days before I continued my drive east, Iron Man competitors checked in to the hotel. They all brought their very expensive, light-weight, very sleek bikes, each person carrying their bike up the stairs to their hotel rooms. Seeing that vignette repeated over and over again, always made me smile…and wonder. How could folks living at lower elevations compete with people living at this higher elevation? I thought about this question every single time I climbed those stairs! Every. Single. Time. My lungs would need several weeks to adjust to the everyday physical effort of simply walking up the stairs! Elite athletes must practice running, swimming, biking at higher elevations.
Photo taken from the cottage deck at Lake Papakeechie.
I left Boulder on that Sunday morning and drove for two days to get to my family’s lake cottage on Lake Papakeechie in Northeast Indiana. Yes, I am lucky to have this place available to me any time I need a place of respite from the road. I am immersed in Big Nature here. As I write this, computer on my lap, feet propped up on the coffee table, I look out through a small forest of mostly very old-growth Poplars, Shag-Bark Hickories, and Oaks, at their reflections in the lake. It is stunningly beautiful!
At night, I go to sleep with my eyes open (until they aren’t anymore) watching the blinking lights of fireflies in the dusky light, the trees, the lake, and shooting stars in the night sky. I have slept more soundly here than anywhere else. Right now, I am alone at the cottage, and the deep quiet inside of me matches that of this gloriously beautiful nature of which I am a conscious, biological part.
The quiet will be shattered on the weekend before the Fourth of July, as many of my siblings (there are eight of us), their spouses and families, descend on this place and take up residence for the weekend. There will be rollicking good fun as we participate in the competitive games that nephew, Ben, and brother, Dan, has planned for us. Things like: fastest swimmer from pier to raft (sister-in-law, and tri-athlete, Kristy, always wins this), and men and women’s caber toss. The Flotilla Days race is normally in the competition mix, but this year it isn’t happening the weekend we’re all able to be here.
On the fourth of July, I’ll continue my adventure by driving to Chautauqua, New York, where I’ll be staying until the end of August. I’ve never been there and have wanted to go ever since I first heard about it years ago. My intention is to get a rough first draft of my next book finished while I’m there. I’ll let you know how that goes…
And finally, I leave you with this four-generation photo of my son, Troy, granddaughter, Vessela, and great-granddaughter, Olivia, who is now one month old, is doing well, and at 4lbs. 4.7ozs., has doubled her birth weight.
Happily, from the family cottage, and the road,