…are as varied as the places you pass through. Each of these folks has a story to tell or a story in them. Let’s tally up our chance encounters over the past week or so.
Addendum: I will admit to some brain buzzing and have made some necessary corrections below. Somehow some of the days blended together. Now that I’m rested and home I see the error of my writing. (8/5/10)
Day One was a long day…from my place in California’s great agricultural Central Valley to Newell’s digs in the gold grubbing historic foothills and then over the Sierra Nevada range to the endless dry miles of the Nevada desert, chomping on flatbread sandwiches and fresh grapes (thanks Newelly) as we watched the white lines whiz by.
On the morning of Day Two Newell looked out the window of the Motel 6 room and spotted an elephant just outside. Not for real – but a metal sculpture belonging to a friendly hobbit of a man with a trailer load of metal artfully formed into elephants and other animals. He’s from Jackson, California – between our home bases.
Day Three we wake up in a KOA campground in Lava Hot Springs, Idaho. Being a couple of wusses (with a lot of expensive equipment) we decided to take shelter the night before in a cabin rather than tent. To protect out gear (and that’s our story). Morning found Newell happily working away on her computer (yeah for Internet on the trail!!) while I rustled up a hearty breakfast of steak and fried potatoes – way too much for the likes of us, so we knocked on the door of our neighboring cabin and invited MarthaVan (short for Martha Van Inwegen) over to help us demolish our meal. Martha is in our age range and had traveled from working at a TV station (marketing) through various businesses and now is on the road herself marketing her line of personal products – destination this week was Butte, Montana for a mountain bike race. She tossed a couple of samples our way to experiment with – and they do a wonderful job of erasing the grease and grime of being on the road all day.
Friday through Monday/Days Three through Six had us meeting different batches, since we were at our respective relations’ homes. I swear I met more teens, pre-teens, and munchkins than there are in the entire state of Wyoming at my sister’s place. Well, maybe only ten or so, ranging from about three to young adult. But the one time we crowded into Jeanie’s living room for a potluck meal we were toe to toe and hip to hip as we ate.
A great group…they offered to take me horseback riding (too late in the day, sorry…maybe next time) and I whizzed them through two months of lessons in two days. No kidding – a bright batch with a passion for grabbing information and turning it around and making it their own. Of course it didn’t hurt that I only had a few pupils rather than the normal 35-45.
Newell settled in with her brother and his son…both of them typical back country rugged mountain men with the kind of charm only found in those who honestly enjoy their own existence and sharing it. While I left my family with hugs and kisses…Newell tossed extra baggage into the van. Yep, she went fishing and hiking and that bag is packed with fish and game (the fish she caught…the game courtesy of her brother’s freezer).
Day Six was uneventful as far as meeting folks went. From Wyoming to Pocotello, Idaho. There was a nice young man who checked us in at the campground and that was about it.
Day Seven…our second longest day. We landed at an RV park in Burns, Oregon and had just settled in when a group of young guys pedaled and drove in and set up camp near us. Turns out they were a group of Tennesseans and Texans who were doing a marathon coast to coast bicycle trip in support of aid and to draw attention to the Nashville flooding. So there we were – the two of us editing and trying to get online (don’t ask, it was abysmally slow) and them setting up tents, shooting interviews with each other, editing and relaxing.
Day Eight – I made waaayyyy too much coffee so sent the pot their way and they finished it off (hate to waste good food) and we were on the road again…this time to Adin California. The Newell guys have a cabin in the area where they go to do manly things and we got caught up in the spirit. I’ve shot handguns, but this was the first time since I was a kid I can remember using a rifle (only a 22). Pow! Pow! Another pine cone or can hits the dust!
The memorable folks this day were the gang at The Only Frosty In Town. Everyone there said hi to us and they meant it. Why did we stop there? Well in the Newell family the first person to spot Mount Shasta on the way to the cabin earns a cold treat courtesy of the other traveler(s) – and that was me since Newell was driving.
Day Nine and our final day on the road. Last night we stayed at the High Country Inn, Susanville. Wow. Big beds with fresh sheets and the first real hot shower on the trip (yeah, some of the places we stayed had showers which varied from dibbles to those wonderful changes from perfect to scalding to chilly without warning). I feel spoiled. Fast Internet, air conditioner.
Got up and had breakfast at the Sage Hen restaurant where we met our (first) person of the day – the newest waitress on duty. She took our orders carefully and returned with a perfect breakfast, only making a slight mistake when Kathy got the over hard egg (that’s me) and I got her over easy egg. Everything was forgotten as we inhaled the fluffy pancakes, perfectly cooked sausage and other tidbits.
We’ll be on the road in a bit and home tonight where I’ll finish this posting. The purpose of all this is to remind you that everyone you meet can become a posting or a visual story. Whether they be strangers met in passing or lifelong relatives…look for those stories that give your audience insight into how others live.
This posting written by me with a LOT of assistance from Kathy Newell who can remember details I often forget.
Happy trails to you…
Addendum August 5, 2010 at 9pm.
Home at last…the van is unpacked and reminders of the trip are piled in the living room waiting to be put away. Our Susanville waitress was our “person of the day.” We enjoyed a quick lunch in Truckee and I got to meet more of the Newell clan when I dropped her off at home.
At my home Ron and Alexis were glad to see me. The former because he really misses having me at home. The latter I think because she missed my van – she was stuck at home in the country. Now she can get out and have a life again.