Old Diary

Sunday Morning in the Park with Peter

“It is a strange thing to come home.
While yet on the journey,
you cannot at all realize
how strange it will be.”
– Selma Lagerl

It’s hazy again.  The clear skies after yesterday’s rainfall have surrendered to the haze of summer humid heat.   We’re due for another warm one today — 90º plus.

Being parked here at Blackhawk Park, we are in familiar territory.  We’ve already heard woodpeckers, seen egrets and cranes, watched a Bald Eagle go fishing for breakfast.  We’ve seen three tows of barges:  a 9 barge, a 12 barge and a 15 barge tow.  It’s almost like we were never gone.

waiting for the rain to stopThis time I chose the Southern Loop (they call it the Western loop), of campsites — partly because we made our reservations when the campground was still closed due to flooding and this was the only section available, but also because we were anticipating our new solar panels and we wanted to insure being able to get a satellite signal.  (Which may not mean anything — the WX for the coming week is pretty much just RAIN!) All of which is just static on the radar screen of life.  Fact is, we like it here.

The Northern loop has a direct view of the shipping channel; the Southern loop does not.  To be honest, we hadn’t even heard the thrum, thrum, thrum of a string of barges until our walk this morning., but they’re out there. You just have to be in the right place at the right time.

River Traffic

Current river traffic at our location

There is a mainline RR track not far away; we hear a little commotion from the rail, but it’s not as loud as the OHV’s were when we listened from our front door at our compound in Siltcoos.

“The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land;
it is at last to set foot on one’s own country
as a foreign land.”
– G. K. Chesterton

I have a friend from High School who cannot understand why I like to travel.  They clearly lack the RV gene!  The concept that travel need not be about the places visited — but can, in fact, be all about your perceptions of life — seems to elude them.  But that is what travel is for us.

We travel in order to be changed.  To be changed in ways we could not anticipate because we cannot anticipate what will happen in a strange place.  (Well, not all that strange — we are after all still in the U.S.) There is that feeling of coming back to a familiar place but seeing it with new eyes; seeing it with altered eyes; seeing it with sharpened eyes is priceless.

“A wise traveler never despises his own country.”
– Carlo Goldoni

dragging a blanket

We all drag a little baggage along with us through life.

When I was younger I didn’t understand why returning to your own place would not result in a little despising.  There is always room for improvement in the world.  Why should seeing other ways of doing things NOT make you a little irritated?  But over time we grow and realize that’s not what it’s all about.  When you travel you don’t see things from the standpoint of a native — in order to do that you’d have to live your entire life there — you’d have to be saturated by the culture, the mores, the biases,  the fallacies, all of that and more.  No, when we travel we remain travelers who pick up a few bits and bobs and that’s usually about it.  When we return home we drag them along with us; and often we think we see the world through clearer glasses — and maybe we do — from the standpoint that we see there are alternatives; other ways, other ideas than we have as yet entertained.

Lucy_Blanket But the fact of the matter is we take ‘home’ along with us and we rarely really leave it behind even when we ‘relocate’.  Our ideas go with us, and our imaginations go with us: it takes a really long time to leave home behind and set down roots in a new place like a human transplant.  Young or old we all carry around our stupid blankets — and we think we’ve gotten smarter.

Comfort blanket … drag a blanket with you, à la ZegnaTruth is, as a species we seem not to get a lot smarter.

I was ready about the conflict between folks near San Francisco being casual about water usage at a time when the entire state is in a catastrophic drought.  And then a little while later I read about the Quake in Frisco.  Sometimes our values need adjustment by the forces of nature.  When Momma Nature turns off the water we think we can beg, borrow and steal it from other places and avoid her wrath.  That Momma nature might send along a trembler to bring our attention back to things that matter somehow seems like life’s way of bringing focus to life.

There are so many things that people who live through the same things can’t agree upon.  There is always climate change.  And economic inequality.  And a few dozen other problems that we can’t even agree are problems.  My point in all this is that travel — adventure — often ends up producing results that we never expect. We end up changed in unanticipated ways.  What is important changes.  What we are willing to give up changes.  What we are willing to fight for changes.

“Adventure is a path. Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated, often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind – and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.”

I’m glad to be back in Wisconsin for a while.  We have approximately a 1 month window here – because we have no plans beyond September 18th – at all.  We are here in Blackhawk for a total of 13 nights, then Bong Recreation Area for 14 nights.  After that as long as the doctor doesn’t come up with something she wants to do we are out of here. (We aren’t as young as once we were and while we are both feeling well, you just never know about those things — so we leave ourselves an open window).

We are talking about Texas for the winter.  But don’t be confused by that statement. For us talking is just talking.  And we aren’t all that sure, yet, that we have a ‘destination’ at all — maybe it’s more like the way a compass needle points in a direction  — without picking one point on which to focus (that you can see) and your present location always changes our perspective about where that needle is pointing.

There’s no telling how long it may take us to get to New Orleans, our first intended ‘general direction’   We already know we are going to take a leisurely meander.  We might take a month or more to arrive, then maybe time at Bayou Segrette State Park, and/or at Grand Isle State Park.

Will we, or won’t we try to get out of Texas in time to see some of the Sandhill  Cranes at Bosque del Apache before they head North for the Summer? All of that is on the table but none of it has been talked about in detail.  We are in the moment now, and I don’t think we’ll  talk about plans until after we are done in Milwaukee.  We are thinking about whether to replace one sofa this year; and if we did we might return to Bradd & Hall in Elkhart.  There’s a world of opportunity; and nothing to say we have to do any of it.

Yesterday in the few minutes I spent down in the ‘basement’ I realized that there are a couple things I could and should rearrange.  Our fan and our vacuum could live in the same tub. Once again, after drying out another tub last week, I find something has leaked in that same tub — so I have a chore — figure out what’s going on.  It’s not a leak in the basement — it’s only ever water in one tub — the one with liquid containers.  Maybe the solution is to carry fewer liquids 🙂

All of which is my way of saying we’re here to putter around for a while.  To move into our new house — to unpack our metaphors and metaphorically unpack our boxes of moved belongings from Journey to the Ambassador.

Thanks for stopping by and I’ll talk with you tomorrow.


4 thoughts on “Sunday Morning in the Park with Peter

  1. We love New Orleans a lot but have not had a chance to go back there since the big hurricane hit. We have always just flown there and would someday love to take our RV on a long coastal trip down to Galveston, then on to New Orleans, and just keep heading out along the coast to Florida. Dreams… dreams. Maybe someday when we are fully retired or semi-retired. Glad you have a nice stretch of time to truly move into your new home and just get back to enjoying your less stressed world once again.


    • Peg and I made one trip to NOLA after the hurricane. I did NOT like what I saw and for a while I wanted never to return.

      Some time later our daughter and SIL made their own trip and reacted very differently. They had never been before; I had been many times, had at one time many friends there, and had too much to compare. I heard about Bayou Segrette some time ago and I want to go and give it a second chance (also a few years later). I have no idea if we will love it or hate it this time but I am always compelled to confront my own biases and this is one I want to confront. That said, I don’t ‘get’ parts of the New Orleans vibe. I’m not a drinker, we don’t go out for ‘nights at the club’ to hear music; I don’t like being in large groups of people where several/many of them are misbehaving. I just don’t like crowds. Used to; don’t any longer. So, just what we will do when we get there has yet to be seen. It’s entirely possible we may camp across the river; make one drive into the city; cross back over; and spend 13 more days within earshot of the city. I don’t know. But I want to find out. I love the food. I love the people. We had many friends there at one time. One was the NOLA Man of the Year in the 60’s — a postman, with 16 children, and a wife who operated a daycare in that part of the city most devastated by Katrina. I had great times with that family. The children welcomed me into their homes over and over agin. I was once the only white guy at an all black funeral, I ate some of the best food in my life — but all that changed with Katrina and most of the family no longer call NOLA home. Never say never about what you will or won’t do. We never in our lives dreamt we’d be Fulltiming a year before we bought our Journey. But life changes. Or sometimes it’s just our perspective that changes and life was ‘willing’ all along. One can never tell. The last few days have been wonderful — even in the heat. It will take time to settle in – it took 6 months of being on the road in Journey before we really felt like we knew were things were. We’ve had the Ambassador 4 months now, but most of that was spent stationary without the things you learn when you are moving, and in some cases we’ve been ‘fighting’ the design. I realized a couple weeks ago that there was a drawer in my office designed for filing papers; I had been using it as a catch all; once I revised my usage it became a wonderful place! There are a lot of thoughtful little details that I haven’t lived with long enough to realize what the designer might have intended or figure out what to do with them. (or about them.) We have a lot of rain in the forecast now. I’m hoping to spend time in the ‘basement’ – down there in those below the floor storage areas. But you don’t do that in the rain, and you have to wait for the moisture to evaporate or soak into the ground before you start piling things from storage onto the ground — so, we’ll see whether we get to do as much sorting as I hope. It’s all up to Momma Nature; and I can always complain about not getting around to it for a little longer. 🙂 Cheers, P



      • We are no longer drinkers, too, but we mostly enjoyed the history, ambiance, and the many great restaurants there. Brennans was amazing. BTW, I have a nephew here with 16 kids, 14 adopted, multi-racial family. There are true joys, for sure, although highly over-protected IMHO. That’s another family tale for another day!


      • Quick comment before I have to get to doing things this morning.

        Twice in my life I got drunk. Once in private, once in public. Both were disagreeable enough experiences that I just don’t want to repeat them; besides which — seeing as neither of us drinks very much (1 glass of wine with dinner every day, and only during the summer in the middle of the heat the periodic stout or porter) we both get snookered way too quickly. So, we know our limit and abide by it.

        What amazes me is that people LIKE to get drunk! That ‘the morning after’ has become such a cliche is to me astounding. Why would anyone want to do that to themselves?

        Brennans, eh? My dad went the year before he died (1999) and loved it.

        Our tastes have changed over the years. Most of the time we don’t eat as well as restos as if we ate at home. We like our own cooking better — in most cases. But in the 70’s and 80’s we were really into FOOD! We went to every posh resto we could afford and some we couldn’t afford; we tried every kind of cooking we could get our teeth into (even as regular travelers, living in Milwakee, that wasn’t all that easy in the 70’s and 80’s) And over time I have come to like more honest food than food of repute. I look harder for ma & pa restos with a good reputation. And rarely are we disappointed. Not only can the food often be quite exceptional, the values is better ( after all, we are retired now ), and you usually don’t end up waiting in line for something over priced and under portioned.

        On the family front — we had but the one daughter, I am an only child, Peg is one of two, but her sibling is 7 years older than her and from a different father so there never was quite the same bond as close siblings — though we ARE still as close with them as you can be when you live 2000 miles apart. I could not fathom being in a large family; don’t understand why people HAVE large families; and am glad for the way I lived — and glad that there are others who take the opposite course. I think that says a lot about why I don’t like crowds; any crowds; every crowd.

        🙂 P >


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