I don't know what delusion I was under when I thought I'd be mostly posting pictures and saying very little. When have I ever said very little???
I'm writing from the Campgound and Barnes Crossing in Tupelo, Ms. I chose Tupelo because it was on the route to Taos that was plotted for me by AAA and it was about 5ish hours away from Athens where I was yesterday. And I love the song "Tupelo Honey" by Van Morrison! Who knew there was so much to do here?! Not only is the birthplace of Elvis, but there is an automobile museum (which I can't wait to see - love those muscle cars!!), there's arts and entertainment, outdoor recreation and lots of shopping! I'm staying at least two nights. I might even stay 3. I forgot that it's Labor Day weekend when lots of people go camping, so I will have to look into whether I can find someplace 4-5 hours away that is open Sunday night before I decide for sure.
Anyway...as to what I've done since yesterday - I got to see a bunch of friends!! I realized last night that I will not be seeing anyone I've ever met before until 9/19 when Liz C. (not the poo-talking Liz, a different Liz) joins me in Montana for a bit. That's weird to contemplate.
Emmanuel and I (pictured below in Tamora's apt.) went to hang out with Tamora for a bit before we went to meet my friend Mike and his newly-wed husband Zack (who I should also say is a friend) for dinner. They just moved to Atlanta two weeks ago because Zach is now an Assoc. Pastor at All Saints Episcopal Church in Atlanta. Mike is teaching four (count 'em - FOUR) biology labs at a college nearby. They lucked out finding him! It was really cool that I got be with three friends from New Haven all at the same time in Georgia!
Emmanuel, Barb, Mike, Zack and Tamora.
This yellow-green butterfly (or is it a moth?) was a casualty of my trip. I was looking at it stuck in my windshield wiper for hours thinking how beautiful it was. The golden color of the road appeared the moment I crossed the state line from Alabama to Mississippi. I'm not sure what they pave their roads with here, but it's definitely a switch from asphalt or concrete. (I just noticed you can see the butterfly in this pic too!)
Then we come to the Campground at Barnes Crossing. This is their fabulous ladies room, complete with toilets, showers, sinks, an ironing board and plenty of room for lounging! It's part of the larger welcome center which is pictured on the right. I'm excited to take another shower tomorrow! Woo hoo! And they have laundry facilities too.
I felt warmly welcomed here by Gary who is exchanging time in the office for free rent. He and his wife split the job. He was kind enough to help me get set up for dumping my waste from the van's bathroom (yes - it has a bathroom! And a shower!) and point out a couple of things that need fixing on the van. I asked him if there was an RV place around where I could get someone to fix a few of the things in/on the van that need attention and he told me there's a guy named Marty who was on the premises at that very moment fixing an axle. Gary came back later with Marty's card and said that if he doesn't come by tonight I should call him.
A little while later I was going for a walk when Marty pulled up asking if I owned the van that needs some odds and ends fixed. I said yes, and he said, "Why is there water pouring out of the back of the van?" I told him I'd been told by Diane to turn the yellow lever since I'd been getting just gurgling and sputtering from the faucet, even though the water was plugged into the water system at the campground, and that it must have something to do with that. Interestingly, Marty and I chatted for a few more minutes before we went back to take a look at the pouring water situation (oops!). He seems to think that there is pipe broken and is coming back in the a.m. to take a look at it and fix the other stuff that needs attention (shower head, wiper blades, the end of the electrical cord that connects to the campground's power, a cabinet that won't stay shut and double-checking that the refrigerator's connection to the propane tank is okay since it didn't kick in last night and the fridge was warm this a.m.).
I have a bunch of business to attend to tomorrow (including the RV stuff) so I might just stick around on Sunday night too, just to make sure I get the full effect of Tupelo before I leave!
Day 4. I'm writing from the Visitor's Center at the University of Georgia where my friend Tamora is a professor and my friend Emmanuel is a Ph.D. student in astrophysics. He's at a meeting right now so I'm hanging out waiting for him. I slept on his couch last night and took my first shower since Sunday!! The shower in the van is not really working. I'm not sure if I will try to get that fixed, or just take showers are campgrounds and such. That's the beauty of this trip - I don't have to decide! I can do whatever I want! (like not bathe for four days...)
I arrived at UGa. yesterday and met both Emmanuel and Tamora here at the Visitor's Center. Tonight the three of us are joining my friends Mike and Zack (who just got married this summer!) for dinner at a Mexican place. Mike and Zack just relocated to Atlanta a couple of weeks ago, so I get to visit three friends in one fell swoop!
The first pic below is my view from inside the van when I wake up in the a.m. (specifically, this was Tuesday, my first morning). It looks much brighter in this pic than it does in reality. It's much darker and much cozier. I feel safe and protected and all snuggled in, which is a wonderful feeling :-)
The biggest adventure of my day yesterday was when I tried to unhook the electrical cord and the dumping hose from the van. I couldn't get them unhooked! I didn't have the strength. I called my contact at the RV park and his son was on the way to help, but wouldn't be there for another 30 minutes. Then my nice neighbor Bill (pictured here with his little rescue dog "Miss Penney" (said with a Southern accent) was kind enough to undo them for me.
Then when it came to putting the dumping hose back into its housing unit I got stalled. First, I couldn't find the pin that holds it in place. I was positive I put it on the ledge of the door to section with all the hoses and couldn't find it anywhere! AND I couldn't seem to get the hose back into place. Luckily, Bill opened the van door and I had put the pin inside the door (this was after I had searched and searched for at least 15 minutes).
After a while of trying and trying to get the hose into place I called Diane (the owner of the van) and she suggested that I take the cover off and put it back on aligned differently, as well as grab the housing unit from behind and those two things did the trick! When I got that hose in place, and the hole lined up for the pin it was like a VICTORY!! I got a HUGE sense of accomplishment from doing that! Hard to believe that little thing could give me a boost like that. It's making me smile a shining smile just thinking about it!!
I felt like this situation was a good mix of reaching out for help (something I'm really just now learning to do) and doing something on my own.
In South Carolina I passed this GIANT PEACH (it's fake, btw) and James was nowhere to be found. I showed the pic to Emmanuel and said, "This wasn't even in Georgia [the peach state - for those not in the know] it was in South Carolina!" to which he replied, "Yeah, they compete." Ha! And yes, I also took this picture while driving (I know, bad Barb!).
One of the things I've learned already on this trip is that things take much longer than I think they will. This is true about driving, and anything I want to do in the van (cooking, getting dressed, putting on makeup, figuring out where I put something...). I knew that the space was small, and that I'd have limited resources, but I didn't consider the amount of time it would take because of those restrictions. And driving just takes longer. People have asked how many hours of driving I've done each day and I just don't know! Which is weird, because that's normally the kind of thing I like to keep track of (give me data!!). But I can tell you that probably six hours/day is going to be my max. I have an issue with my sciatic nerve sometimes when driving so that limits how much I can do per day, plus it just gets tiring. And it's about the journey, not just the destinations!
So that means I'm not going to make it to Little Rock tomorrow like I had hoped. Instead, I'm going to go to Tupelo, Ms. which is just over five hours. I already made a reservation at the Campground at Barnes Crossing. I'm going to leave here in the morning and should arrive by afternoon so I have time to check out the area. I'm thinking my next stop will be in the Ozark National Forest, which is when the really cool pictures should start coming your way!
Actual day 2 (I don't know why I thought yesterday - day 1 of my awesome journey! - was day 2). Today was much less eventful than yesterday. The coolest thing I saw was a sign that said this in a women's rest room:
It was at an American Legion Hall in Fredericksburg, VA. where I attended an open AA meeting. It felt like the perfect thing for me to see since I was there as an OA and not an AA. Interestingly, there were folks there with decades in AA who had never heard of OA or compulsive overeating! But I digress...
One of the reasons this quote was so important to me is that I just started taking belly dance classes which has been messing with my head in terms of my body image. I'm down over 100 pounds from my top weight and feel AMAZING! I don't typically have body image issues because I see my extra skin and flab as badges of honor. In fact, when one friend asked if I was going to have surgery to get the extra skin on my arms removed I said, "Are you kidding?! I grew that shit!" But in belly dance class, we're all always facing the mirror and it's impossible not to see how I look in comparison to the others in class. Though my size may be the same as theirs, the composition of my body is very different. And I was starting to think, "I'm not sure this class is going to do well for my brain because it's almost impossible to not compare myself to them!" But one thing I always have on in that class is a SMILE because it's so fun and so "out of my comfort zone" :-) So I will focus on that curve and not the others!!
Yesterday I contemplated talking about poo in my blog and thought better of it, but I've changed my mind! I'm going to talk about it! (Liz H. says that almost every time we get together the subject turns to poo...so this is for you Liz!). The reason I almost mentioned it yesterday is that I had an exchange with a sponsee a few weeks ago. I was telling him that my recovery has worked its way into the cracks and crevices of my life in ways I could never have imagined. The example that came to my mind when we were talking was that I had just recently, for the first time ever, not felt shame when going to a public restroom to poo. Even though everybody does it (and sometimes it stinks!) Before recovery, I'd try to wait until no one was in the bathroom, or go to a single stall bathroom, or I'd just feel this profound sense of shame for being a human who eliminates their waste. But recovery has changed me profoundly. I poo. Every day. And sometimes in stinks.
So the exchange yesterday with my sponsee was "Good thing I got over my shame of going poo in public rest rooms!! I'm going to be doing that a lot on this trip!!" If I had talked about that in the blog yesterday, I could have called my blog post "The moon, a zoo and some poo" which would have been hilarious! But I just couldn't do it. So here I am, doing it.
Day 2. I woke up at 3:45 a.m. to pee, and just couldn't go back to sleep! Here it is 11:35 p.m. and I'm still raring to go! I'm settled in the camper at a place called Prince William Forest RV Park in Dumfries, VA. I was trying not to stay in a campground today and not to hook up the electricity, but the van needed the juice so here I am! (it was a little more dramatic than that, but I will spare the details).
I left my place just before 5:30 this a.m. and first stopped across the street to take a pic of the almost-full brilliant moon on the New Haven Harbor. There is nothing quite like moonlight on the water...What a lovely last memory of New Haven before my trip. See why I love New Haven? And where I live!
I headed to Bedford Hills, NY to pick up the van from Diane who rented it to me through Outdoorsy.com. I met her at 7:00 for a run-through of all I needed to know (much of which I promptly forgot!), then unpacked my car and did my best to put things in places in the van that made sense initially. Then headed south! Can I tell you how much I love EZ-Pass?!! OMG that saved me so much time!!! I've been meaning to get one for years and finally got one a AAA for this trip. Game changer!! Some of the states have Express ways just for EZ Pass holders! And almost no cars are in those lanes - amazing!
Most of the way I was on I-95 or thereabouts (and am still on 95, really) and I decided to stop late in the afternoon. I honestly thought I was going to stop for the day, but since I couldn't get the a/c working I got back on the road for almost 5 more hours! Anyway, I stopped at the Plumpton Park Zoo for a little while. Thanks to the amazing app Picstitch (thanks Katerina!) I've grouped some of them together so I could share a whole bunch with less effort. I'm not sure why the parrot, whose name is Jewel, is cut off here because the original is not like that.
Anyway...the BEST THING I saw at the zoo wasn't even an animal! Check this out!! This tree normally lives in swamps so its roots come up to the surface for oxygen!! How cool is that??? They kind of look like little prairie dogs to me :-)
I'm going to call this thing below "Sci Fi Disney" because it reminds me of the Cinderella Castle at Disney, but it's futuristic. Can you tell I took it while driving?! (I know, wrong of me!). WTF is that?? If you know, please message me. I think it was in Maryland and it was definitely after the zoo.
This day has shown me that I am no longer fearful of life. I don't think I would have ever said in the past that I was a fearful person, but I was. Always on edge, afraid to make mistakes, wondering what people would think. Today I had no fear. I did not know what was coming up and whatever came up I just faced it (me and HP, that is). ((Sigh)) What a relief!
I will finish by saying that I am not likely to make blog entries every day. Some of you will shout "hooray!" when you hear that (ok, maybe that's exaggerated! after all, you are choosing to read this!) and some of you will be sad :-( since I know you're living vicariously through me. Be well :-)
My road trip begins tomorrow. The rough estimate Google Maps gave me is that it will be 6,260 miles. The first step on this amazing journey was actually over 3 years ago when I realized I was codependent and got major help and healing with that. As a result of that journey (which is a whole other story in itself...), I've evolved to the point where I am now about to go on a heroine's journey BY MYSELF for SIX WEEKS in a camper van (...down by the river*). I will try my best to make future posts about this trip mostly pictures with a few words.
* my homage to Chris Farley :-)
Anyway, for those of you who don't know the details, here is my plan (which is, of course, subject to change!)
Barb Nangle is the founder of Higher Power Coaching and Consulting, an entrepreneur and an eternal optimist. She loves motivating others to become better and better versions of themselves, just as she has become better and better versions of herself.