I realize my life’s pages proceed in a jerky fashion.
I fire up the Jolly Swag and go. Who knows why the spirit moves? Sometimes it’s just time to leave, sometimes I really have a destination whose time has come, sometimes I have no destination other than the next wide spot in the road.
I have an instinct when I’m done with a place—at least for the moment. I spend an extra day making a few notes, sorting through the clutter I make so easily, vacuuming the outdoors grit that wants to travel with me. Setting out for a fresh place may not put me on the road for long. More than once I’ve driven less than an hour and something caught my eye and halted my rolling home. More than once, a half-hour stop turned into a half-dozen hours—or days.
I went to Quartzsite for a 3-day RV rally, and it took me two weeks to get away. A month later I went back for a couple of days, and it took me another two weeks.
Lake Roosevelt intended as a 2-day wind-down before the next stop at my brother’s home 60 miles up the road in Payson. I could not leave the study in blue that was the sky and the lake.
A 2-hour breather at Arcosanti inhaled me for another 6 days.
I visited my brother in Payson twice, each time for a week. I hustled around doing spring housecleaning in the lockers of the JS—sorting, tossing, and unloading excesses into a storage shed. I serviced my mechanical friend–zero-timing her oil, grease fittings, tire rotation. I sorted my larder and noted that I’d hardly used the soup, baked beans, or anything else that was not in the front of my food cabinet.
When the last pencil is sharpened, I go. I don’t make a big deal of good-byes because I don’t feel I am putting any distance between where I was and where I will be. “I’ll see ya later,” is my standard parting quip–even when it is doubtful that I will.
So when I left Payson I was ready for the pendulum to swing toward privacy, toward solitude, toward hermitage.
Show Low, 75 miles east, seemed like it would be another world, a last stop in AZ before finally crossing a state line for the first time in over two months.
A lazy hour drive of steady climbs and free-wheeling downhills through the wavy, green pine valley brought me to a seductive, sweet campsite. I parked and stayed inside my cave for days, coming out for a couple of stretchy walks.
Jack was the campground host, there a few days early.
Campground hosts are as chatty as you want them to be. In exchange for minimal chores and no cash, they are confined to a beautiful public campground for the best months of the year. Their social life, if they are to have one, comes to them.
When he knocked on my door to register me, he wore the official uniform of a National Forest Service volunteer–the forest green jacket and matching baseball cap.
He told me of a hard-to-find campsite in a nearby campground on the Mogollon Rim that had a 100-mile view.
It was back 8 miles. The 75-mile hop to Show Low was now in its sixth day and counting. The New Mexico state line was receding like a wake-up dream.
It was Thursday, and the long Memorial Day weekend was upon us.
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