Tuesday, July 12, 2011
It was in the bathroom at the Spring Gulch Campsite in Lancaster County the morning we left for the Hudson Valley that I realized just how far I was from California.
The cleaning woman began her conversation with me while I was still in the stall. It involved missing handsoap, all the times people have taken it and all the places she's found it. (On top of the light fixtures being one of the more ambitious locales.)
When I emerged, the litany continued briefly before turning toward how the president isn't doing anything about jobs, followed by how she is looking forward to collecting an unemployment check come November when the campsite closes for the season.
Following the natural flow of the conversation, she then shared with me the news about her brother's aneurism and stroke two weeks ago.
Hand soap to aneurism is under five minutes – I'd have had to put on a garage sale in California to get that kind of chit chat out of a stranger. This was another land; this was the east, where people who have never seen each other before and will likely never see each other again have been known to talk easily about birth, death, and when the hell the bus might come anyway. I know this space. This is the crowded east, where towns and people fill in the space as fast as trees. PA, NJ, NY...The familiarity wraps around me, but I am guarded.
We are en route to Beaver Pond Campground in Harriman State Park in New York. It will be our last night out on the road. It's raining and green and Emily is meowing like crazy. The views of the Hudson will surprise us with their beauty; Isaac will get his first campfire night since South Dakota; there will be a young deer continually grazing within 20 feet of our site; there will be singing frogs and the discovery by my kiddo of a rock with impressions of shell fossils we will later find out are likely the leftovers of a traveling glacier from the last ice age; we are full circle; it has been quite the prehistoric-heavy trip. Things have changed a little since then -- the highways here are narrow and fast; we will study the map hard-- if you choose one direction you will be on 287 and if you turn the other you're on 278. Stay on your toes and whatever you do, keep moving. Today, that glacier would be a muddy puddle in the blink of an eye.
Before we began, the motto for the trip was SLOW. Ironically, it was Mike that put this out there, along with how glad he was for it. The van couldn't speed. We'd have no choice but to take it down a notch. But almost six weeks later, we must go faster, faster, longer, like someone who needs to prove something because they are different. Physically, I am hating on these northeast roads, my hands constantly around my growing belly.
But I'm proud of our little van. It made it, All this way. Go, Westy, go!
Mike has done ALL the driving. I didn't expect that. I feel vaguely ashamed. But at a certain point, it's like a pitcher you want to leave in the game so he can get his no-hitter.
The rain cranks up as we fall into our last night's van dreams.