Lone Star

It’s official.  I am now a member of the Lone Star State.  How cool is that!  Despite my misfortune in  picking the heat of the Summer to come down here and establish residency, I really like this place.  (You know it is hot when, after a nice, refreshing, cool shower, you break into a sweat just drying off.)  Dealing with reps in the County Courthouse, Tax Office, and Motor Vehicles Department went beyond smoothly.  It was actually a pleasant experience.  People here seem to start from a premise of being nice, unless they have reason otherwise.

Before even arriving in Texas, I had a magical introduction to my new home state via a book recommended by my dear friend and Texas native, Greg.  “Goodbye to a River,” written by John Graves and published in 1960, recounts one man’s personal memories and the cultural memories of countless others handed down largely through oral tradition.  The book’s premise is exceedingly simple:  travel by canoe down a North Texas river soon to be dammed–which would drastically alter the surrounding landscape and literally drown some of the places where these memories took root–and recount personal stories mingled with tales from the surrounding land.  It gives a priceless accounting of some of the struggles of that land, including those between settlers and indians, and is an archetypical example of the significance of the spoken and written word and the power of personal stories in shaping who and what comes after.  As Greg astutely pointed out, the book reads like a blog from 1960.

Speaking of powerful stories, I have met many lovely people at the Escapees Campground, including a number of ladies who give me great solace, encouragement, and confidence that, although I am traveling solo, I am far from alone:

  • Marsha, who left a nice, secure government job to become a full-time RV’er 17 years ago.  She is her nephew’s heroine (and a great hugger).  He must think she is the coolest thing since the iPad.  He helps her keep up with such technological trends, partly so that he can keep track of his beloved Auntie!
  • Hazel, who left Kentucky after the death of her husband to see what was “around the next corner and beyond the next hill… and kept on going.”  Sometimes solo, sometimes with a friend, she saw everything from Alaska to Mexico, California to Maine over the course of 27 years.  At 91 years old, Hazel is now a participant of the Escapees CARE program that assists members who need to come off the road for medical reasons (see previous post).
  • Dottie, who after she lost her husband, downsized from their huge Class A diesel pusher to a tiny (in comparison) Class B van and continued to travel on her own.  She is part of the original group of Escapees that helped to build the organization, the campgrounds, and the CARE center, and currently volunteers much of her time at Habitat for Humanity.
  • Dena, like me, refers to her “previous lifetimes,” which in her case includes seven children and careers ranging from nursing to trucking.  She has been solo’ing in her RV for 15 years, 127,000 miles, and counting.
  • Judi (another great hugger!) who has been full-timing since 1985, but RV’ing much longer than that.  A lengthy career as a long-haul truck driver did nothing to dampen her love for the open road as she moved seamlessly from trucking to full-time RV’ing, currently with her spouse, both of whom devote many hours volunteering at the CARE center.

May the light from these strong, independent, beautiful women–and countless like them–shine forever through their  stories, shared through family and friends, giving confidence, inspiration, and perspective to those who follow their trail as well as to those who forge their own.

(Photograph complements of my brother, Ross, a lover of kayaking and nature photography.)