Relocate! Relocate!

Allayne came out of the office to pet sweet Dawny who, once I had opened the door, was doing her best to barge headlong into the place.  We had arrived at this small campground in eastern Louisiana (Lake Bruin State Park) earlier in the day and came by the office after settling into our campsite to tell Allayne, who had checked us in, what a pretty park it was.

“Yes, most of the people who work here have been around at least ten years. It’s such a beautiful place.”  The peaceful look on Allayne’s face told all there was to tell.

Dawny found her beautiful place by Allayne’s knee so she could scratch behind her ears while we chatted.

Whenever we walk by any building:  shed, restroom, office, cabin, outhouse… it doesn’t matter… if it has a door, Dawny wants to go inside.  If I give her enough leash, she approaches the door, sniffs, and waits, anticipation tugging each wag of her tail.  Dawny can’t read, so all she knows is that, if it has a door, there might be someone inside who will give her love and/or cookies. Preferably both.  This day she lucked out with the lovin’.

How nice a life my girl has had that closed doors hold such sweet promise.

I asked Allayne about the local wildlife, especially the creepy-crawly kind, which I am increasingly beware of the further south we travel.

“Oh, yes, we get some action here.  We had an alligator get into the swimming area–”

“There’s a swim beach here… with alligators in the lake?” I asked, my wide eyes betraying any semblance of the cool, seasoned, old-lady traveler that I may have constructed up to that point.

“Sure.  And snakes.  I was out here on my cell phone one day and right over there,” Allayne pointed to a small gully that ran under the sidewalk leading to the campground office, “I saw something slither out.  It was slithering and squirming… totally creepy.  It must have just shed its skin and stuff was stuck to it all over.  It looked awful!  I quickly called the ranger:  ‘Relocate! Relocate!'”

My politically incorrect and fearful mind silently screamed:  Oh my God!  Relocate?  What if it came back??  Did they relocate it far enough away???  Kill it!  Just kill it!!  At least blindfold it, pick it up by the tail, spin it around until it’s good and dizzy, then toss it somewhere over there by Arizona!!!

“Relocate!  Relocate!” Allayne interrupted my neurotic thoughts, recalling her call for help.  I recognized a kindred spirit looking out from her wide eyes as she continued the story.  Help arrived.  It was a water moccasin.  They relocated it.  All was well with the world and this was once again a peaceful place.

Leaving Allayne to get back to her job, Dawny and I continued our walk around the campground, including wooden docks and platforms that stretched from safe, solid ground through the dark, moss-draped shoreline into the blue of the lake.  Absolutely beautiful.  Albeit not free of alligators, snakes, or bears…  A fellow camper reminded me that the namesake of the lake was, indeed, “Bruin” for a reason.  Bears used to be quite plentiful in the area.  Sheesh, I thought I had at least left the threat of bears behind me in the Appalachians.  Apparently not.

Unlike my dear traveling companion, closed doors signify something very different to me.  They make me nervous, hiding the unknown.  Turns out it’s mostly just local life living out its local life.  The nice part is that the more familiar it becomes–by staying a while, taking time to chat, or through repeat visits–the less scary it becomes.

So, Dawny and I pick up our tails and continue with our own version of ‘Relocate,’ in this case joining the snowbird ranks migrating south for the winter.  Our current journey will cover about 2,000 miles from northern Virginia to east Texas, with a stop to visit friends near Dallas.  By the time we reach Dallas, we will have visited nine campgrounds, all of them new to us.  Our route is a new one, too.  I am proud to say that we survived the tangle that is Atlanta for the first time.

It is a good life.  Each door opens to another beautiful place, filled with lovely views, friendly faces, and kindred hearts.  We need only to open our own hearts, to recognize and relax, to give and receive.  Dawny, for all of her simple brilliance, has that part down pat.

* * * * * *

Short review of Lake Bruin State Park’s campground:  Five out of five stars.  Please keep in mind that this is from the perspective of someone traveling in a 25 foot motor home with no tow vehicle and who does not need sewer hookups.  Although not very convenient to I-20 (the park is over 35 miles south of exit 171), it was well worth the trip.

Lake Bruin is an oxbow lake formed from an old loop of the Mississippi River that was cut off from the main river channel ages ago.  It used to be a fishery and was donated to the state park system in 1958.  Fish, turtles, and alligators were raised in basins that now cradle the park grounds and some of the camp sites.

The campground road and the sites are paved.  Most are pretty level and fairly spacious.  Each has 30-amp and water hookups and there is a decent dump station available.  There is a nice mix of sun and shade.  It is a good idea to scope out the sites before picking the one that best fits your needs.  I was able to get a good Verizon signal and several over-the-air TV stations.  The restrooms are modern and immaculate, and there is a laundry room on site.

Park staff is incredibly friendly and helpful, matching the charm of their surroundings with the best of southern hospitality.

Toodle-oo :)

Thank you cherished friends and readers for accompanying me and my sweet Dawny (sweet as long as you are not another DOG!) on our journey these past three years.  I do believe the time has come to wrap up the blog postings.  Although, who knows for how long?  All I know for sure is that my traveling companion needs loads of love and attention and care and that is where I wish to place my time and energy and love.

So, let’s not linger on the page, let’s not get tangled up in words, and let’s not pay undue attention as health fails.  It is a respect thing.  A privacy thing.  I would like nothing better than to drive off into the sunset with my girl in a colorful flash of uncommon grace, waving the Queen’s wave from a workamper’s work cart, Dawny smiling at my side…  Later, Alligator!

For Dawny’s friends, her good days still outnumber her bad days.  For this, we are grateful.  Were she to be fully informed on the ins-and-outs of the blogging world and the potential everlastingness of the written word, I believe this is where she would like to be remembered.  Healthy enough to enjoy long walks and still full of sass.  Excited and eager on road-trip days.  Happy to receive cookies and loving from friends, old and new.  Ready to bite some random dog’s head off.

Okay, okay, I hear you.  I am placing all sorts of human feelings and motives onto a dog.  Well, since she has responded with more feeling and exhibited more honest, raw motives than many bipedal beings I have encountered, we shall claim poetic license and craft things how we please.

It is, after all, our blog.  Our journey.  Every bit as much hers as it is mine.  So, yes, this is a fitting time to pause.  Paws.  Four happy paws and a sassy wag of the tail…  After a while, Crocodile!

At this point, my hope is to find a productive focus despite my own dwindling energy (sadness has an insidious way of sapping time and energy from the day, peace and rest from the night).  I would love to concentrate more on ebook stories.  It is such a cool way to create and communicate.  I will keep you posted on any (if any) future publications here, should you wish to continue following the blog.  If you stop following, though, I will certainly understand.  Life is so full of options.  Clutter.  Noise.  Options.  Sometimes it takes real effort to sort through and find the peace.

Meanwhile, Dawny and I shall quietly retreat to a more private space.  We will continue to roll down our beautiful together-path as long as Time allows.  What happens after that is anyone’s guess.

We wish all of you simplicity, honesty, and peace in your lives and loves.  Beauty and laughter lining your roads.  Thank you for sharing ours these past three years.

Toodle-oo, Mr. Magoo! —

Carol and Dawny Virgil Prewash Sassy Generous Evans (a.k.a. Midnight Unicorn…  a.k.a. Best Road Doggy in the World…  a.k.a. Best Doggy in the World)

J.O.Y.

Saturday

Ann called today.  She is a friend from my days in Virginia, including the time when I ran a small personal services business.  Ann worked with me in that business for a while, but we knew each other primarily from church.  A few years ago, she and her family moved to south Florida.

Today Ann was passing the exit for my winter campground on her way to Georgia.  She thought of me so she gave me a call.  We had a nice chat as I lay curled up in my bed with Dawny, who hasn’t been feeling so hot lately.  Today she has had a particularly bad spell.

Ann and I chatted for awhile about this and that.  Then she mentioned that their family recently lost their beloved dog, Skipper.  Rather than crying and moaning about his death, Ann happily told me how they gave Skipper a roaring send-off, complete with a doggy bucket list.

It was a bucket list to die for.  It included chocolate and beer.  I think that if Skipper asked for it, they would have provided him with a smoke.  He enjoyed a day with Daddy on his boat and a walk in the woods without a leash….  That last one was a little scary since he got a bit away from them and poor Ann was afraid they would have to call the vet to cancel the euthanasia appointment because Skipper got himself lost in the woods.  But he came back.  And they made their appointment.  Talk about irony on top of irony.

Ann said that what has gotten her through this time–in addition to fond memories of Skipper’s life and his final days–was the acronym J.O.Y.  She explained the “J” is for Jesus, the “O” is for Others, and the “Y” is for Yourself.  If you look at the world through this kind of construct, it can help get you through some of those challenging times.  You put Jesus first, others second, and yourself last.

Jesus.  Well, I sure didn’t want to go into it over the phone, or even in person should we meet later this month as planned, but I have a real problem with the whole organized religion thing.  So let’s not even get started on that.

But if I think of what the person, the concept of Jesus means to me in a spiritual sense, it does carry a particular meaning and weight.  Simply and purely put, Jesus is Love.

Ok, I can go with that.

Others.  In the context of losing a loved one, Ann explained that you look only at what is best for them.  Ann and her husband knew that Skipper was in pain and was suffering.  They had the power to cut that suffering short, releasing the little fellow from his time here in this world.  They gave Skipper a few super special days celebrating his life and their life together.  Then they released him.

Yourself.  Putting yourself last allows you to let go of your loved one.  The only thing that matters is what is best for them.  And you give that to them with love in your heart.  It is not about you.  It is all about them.

Until they are gone.

Then it can be about you.

Ann sounded very joyful on the phone today.

As I sit here with a listless Dawny at my feet, however, I weep.  Mostly for me.  Selfish, self-absorbed me.

**********

Sunday

Oh, joy!  Dawny woke up hungry and ready for her morning walk.  She did a loop and a half around the park with no problem and when the workampers’ golf cart drove by, she tried to chase it down in hopes of catching a cookie or two.

Love, except in its purest form–attainable only by God and Dog, in my opinion–is based on self-interest.  That doesn’t make it bad.  Just human.  And this highly imperfect human is grateful for every day with her nearly perfect Dog.

Today’s post is dedicated to Miss Ashley (Texas ranch dog extraordinaire), Missy and Benji (beloved canine companions belonging to friends at this winter campground), and, of course, Skipper.  Rest in peace, and bless your sweet souls for your faithful love and devotion to your respective humans.