In A Land Far, Far Away

So many people have written, asking what in the world possessed Heidi and I to embark on this wild ride. Since I began writing Fork as a way to up date a few friends and family who already knew the whole story, I guess it never occurred to me to begin at the beginning! I’ll try to move the tale along with photos (that way you can skip the narrative if you wish and still get the general idea).

~

~

It all began in a land far, far away called Iowa. Heidi and I met, I’m guessing, in 1982 in the nursery at our church. Our boys were both born that year, 6 months apart, so we spent quite a bit of time in the nursery.

To be honest, we didn’t hit it off at first. Actually, she didn’t particularly like me and I was afraid of her. 😀

We were just about as opposite in our relational styles as two people could be.

Heidi was a fiery, straight to the point, red-headed Fighter.

I was a classic, non-confrontational, peacemaking Flighter.

We got used to each other after a while. 😉

~

~

The first Fork in the Road really took place in the late 1980’s when we started, what eventually proved to be a fairly successful Speaking/Training business, capitalizing on our opposite-ness. We taught communication skills – primarily to healthcare professionals – for the next 20 years.

~

~

In the spring of 2008, Heidi found a renter for her house, bought a 32 foot Motorhome and packed up to escape Iowa winters, which were becoming miserable for her due to some health issues.

~

~

With one half  hour driving lesson and verbal instructions on how to hook up her Saturn for towing, she was ready to go. Did I mention she’s a Fighter? She was completely undaunted.

~

~

I was recently divorced so Henry and I decided to hitch a ride. We said many, many tearful goodbyes and set out to begin a grand adventure.

~

~

Initially, we’d hoped to take the business on the road, but the logistics of marketing 6-9 months in advance when you didn’t know where you’ll be living stumped us. At this point we came to another Fork in the Road.

~

~

When we’d spoken at the National Health Care Convention in Portland, Oregon several years earlier, we rented a car and took a road trip to Cannon Beach. I’d always loved the ocean, but Heidi, not so much. She fell in love with the ocean in Oregon.

Many of you are familiar with an organization called Workamper which caters to part-time and full-time RVers. Before leaving Iowa, we saw a Workamper ad for a job in a private RV park in Gold Beach, Oregon (on the southern coast, 60 miles north of the CA border). We called and got the job. We work-camped (each working in the office 20 hrs per week) in exchange for free site and utilities, with the promise of pay for hours over the required 20.

~

~

At this point in our newly begun adventure, we ran into two problems. The first is fairly common. There didn’t turn out to be any hours over the required 20. The second was hopefully rare: the owners of the park were unethical and unscrupulous (which is why I’m not mentioning the name here).  There is an English proverb that says:

Every path has its puddle.

Well, yep, we  stepped in that one. No extra hours meant no income. I was a frequent visitor at the Gold Beach Visitors center – coming in for tide tables and trying to learn all I could about the area. One of the part-time employees told me there was a position opening up. I was fortunate enough to be hired. It was an incredible job! I loved promoting the area and I could watch the waves break on the beach from my desk.

~

~

As much as I loved the Visitors Center, it was only 18 hours a week at minimum wage. So when our 6 months of work-camping ended, we came to another Fork in the Road.

~

~

We said goodbye to our new friends, left Oregon and headed to California for another work-camping job.

~

~

For 6 months we worked at Edgewater Resort and RV Park on Clear Lake. This time we got paid for every hour worked and then we repaid the park for our site (at a reduced rate).

I cleaned the pool. That was the easy job. 😀

~

~

We cleaned cabins, campsites and did yard work. We cleaned the restrooms… all the time!

I’m sure we had the cleanest restrooms in the state of California. Not only did we clean them every hour –  each Monday we spent half a day power washing and bleaching every inch from the ceiling to the floor drains and all the fixtures in between.

~

~

We painted fences and built fire-pits and shoveled gravel.

~

~

~

It was tough, physical labor and it made for one long, hot summer. We worked 5 days a week and cleaned houses for our boss on the 6th.

I don’t think either of us had ever been as tired in our lives as we were that summer. At the end of the day, Henry had to help me hold my book. 😀

~

~

This fishing was good, though! I was rarely too tired to fish (catch and release).:D

~

~

Six months later, the season was over in CA and we’d come to another Fork in the Road. Henry’s traveling companion in these photos is Harvey, the un-invisible Pooka – my homage to my favorite movie, Harvey.

~

~

We longed for the wild Oregon coast.

~

~

My wonderful boss at the Visitors Center did some fast talking and I got my job back. This is a photo of Heidi and I with Sue, who was my boss, and now is a life long friend!

~

~

While I worked at the Visitors Center in Gold beach, we lived 27 mile to the north in Port Orford where we worked as Park Hosts. We worked in two stunningly beautiful State Parks.

This was my commute.

~

~

If you’ve never driven 101 along the Western coast, it would make a great bucket list addition!

~

~

~

~

I don’t think anyone’s ever had a more beautiful drive to work.

~

~

At Cape Blanco, Heidi cleaned 5 little cabins while I worked in Gold Beach.

~

~

Two nights a week, we sold firewood. We were frequent visitors to the lighthouse in the park.

~

~

Tseriadun State Park, also in Port Orford, is a day use only park. We were there Oct – Dec, so all we did was keep the path to the ocean and the beach litter free.

~

~

It was a rough gig as you can see. 😉

We were the only ones there. We closed the gate every night at 6 p.m.

~

~

~

~

The State Park jobs in Oregon are usually set up on a 3 month rotation. When our time in Port Orford was over, we settled in a little RV park in Gold Beach. It was off-season so most of the time we had the whole park to ourselves.

~

~

We left our chairs in the lighthouse for storm watching. It was also a wonderful place to watch the highway of crab boats that ran from December through March.

~

~

I literally walked out the door and down the beach to work. It was incredible! Then, one day, it dawned on us that we were still really quite broke and were running out of  years to rectify that.

~

~

Through my contacts at the VC, I was offered a job as a live-in night manager at a beautiful resort in town.

~

~

Within weeks, I was also the Guest Services Manager, Heidi was the Assistant General Manager and Henry was the Mascot.

~

~

Which is all the data my computer can handle for tonight.

Next stop, Texas.

To be continued…

Frost and Fork (continued as assigned)

Two roads diverged in a wood and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference. ~Robert Frost

Heidi passed this post to me, but I’m not sure what question I’m supposed to answer? If the question is Did we chose a road less traveled by?  Well, judging from the double takes when folks see a woman driving a Motorhome, towing a Jeep, the answer must be Yes. This is pretty funny since driving a Class A is so easy. If you want a driving challenge, drive carpool in a mini-van.

If the question is Why? then the answer is I have absolutely no idea. I’ve always thought of myself as blandly conventional, so I’m possibly the most surprised by a less traveled path.

I think my best answer to either question comes from one of  my favorite philosophers, Elwood P Dowd.

My very favorite movie is Harvey.

I love Jimmy Stewart who plays Elwood P Dowd.

I love his best friend, a 6 foot 3 1/2 inch Pooka named Harvey.

And I love his life philosophies:

Well, I’ve wrestled with reality for 35 years, Doctor, and I’m happy to state I finally won out over it.

And

Years ago, my mother used to say to me, she’d say “In this world, Elwood, you can be oh so so smart, or oh so pleasant.” Well, for years I was smart… I recommend pleasant. You may quote me.

And I do, often. I recommend pleasant.

As Heidi pointed out yesterday, the forgotten portion of the poem is: though as for that, the passing there had worn them really about the same.

I especially like that part. We may have more in common than you think: me here in  Texas, writing at 2 in the morning, in an RV, guarding a gate at an oil rig; and you, wherever you are, reading this right now.

At heart, most of us are just looking for ways to love and live and celebrate the joys of the every day. We do it in different places and in different ways, but the path of tenderness and compassion and treating others with kind regard wears well, wherever, whatever your journey.

I always have a wonderful time, wherever I am, whomever I’m with. ~Elwood P. Dowd.