The Journey

It’s impossible to say when journeys begin, when the first call, just a whisper at that point, is heard. We know when they start — we write lists, pack up, lock the door, get in the car. Usually we have plans, but I didn’t. Before we left in August, 2011, people would ask me where we were going, and I’d say, ‘All I know is that I’m driving to the end of the driveway and turning left.’ I was heading out on adventures. That was the call. I’d rented the house, found a  33′ trailer, found a pickup truck to pull it with.

Kaliento 134We named the rig ‘Kaliento,’ after my partner, George’s, beloved boat, Aliento, which means breath in Spanish. And after Kali, the Hindu goddess of creation and destruction, the great transformer, whose stunning energy I felt was behind all this.

I didn’t want to sell my house until I was positive, but I was pretty sure I wasn’t coming back. I loved the house with all my heart and soul. I’d lived there for 25 years; raised my son, Luke, there; lived a full, beautiful, sometimes devastating life, with family, friends, work I enjoyed, gardens I loved, views over meadows, wetlands, water that meant the world to me. Love had been lost and found there. My father had recovered from his late illnesses there. It was the only place I ever lived that felt truly home.

Yet I wanted to leave. I was as surprised as everyone else. One day, I sat in my lovely office at the end of the house and visualized it stretching before me. And realized I was done. The energy to keep all that going was gone. The adventures that had been calling me for a few years came and claimed me.

So I left, with man and dog, in a Ford F-350 and a Jayco Super Lite Eagle fifth wheel trailer. George was 80, I was 60, my dog, Splash, was 10. No spring chickens among us. George is an adventurer at heart, and Splash was a dog of immense patience and flexibility, so they were, though as surprised as everyone else, game for the journey.George 2011 133

I had never towed a trailer before. A very kind neighbor gave me some lessons in the high school parking lot. I’d never pulled in for gas before we got on the highway, or gone through a toll gate, holding my breath, because I couldn’t imagine it was wide enough. We made two disastrous mistakes in the first week — didn’t hook up completely and left one trailer leg down. Blessedly both happened at the same time, and each saved us from the effects of the other. Still, I had an anxiety attack that lasted 6 weeks.Splash

Luckily we went to Canada first, where everyone was kind, so I could drive slowly and not get honked at. Our adventures began in the Canadian Maritimes. We meant to spend three weeks, but stayed six, because it was so beautiful. In the fall we headed west. Kali’s breath was blowing us toward the setting sun. Since then we have travelled from the Anza-Borrego Desert in southern California to Alaska.

We’ve visited friends and family, watched bears and wolves catch salmon in the southeastern corner of Alaska, gone into a valley of lava that is the headstone of the tribe caught in its flow. We’ve eaten lobster cooked in ocean water on the dock in Nova Scotia, sat with a herd of buffalo, including 4 babies, in a glowing prairie that ends abruptly as the Canadian Rockies rise. We’ve seen cobalt and aqua lakes, and one of pure jade.

Dease Lake in sublime British Columbia

Dease Lake in sublime British Columbia

We’ve seen skies on flame with orange and pink, hiked hills of sage-scented chaparral, walked the desert in moonlight. We’ve perched above the Pacific Ocean, wing to wing with brown pelicans, dolphins slicing the water below, while George recovered from surgery. We spent the last two weeks of the 2012 election in Sparks, Nevada, helping the Obama campaign get out the vote. And everywhere we’ve gone we’ve met wonderful people.

Blue-curls-trichostema-lanatum-Mishe-Mokwa-Santa-Monica-Mountains-California-by-Betsey-Crawford-2

Blue curls, from the Santa Monica Mountains. They look like unexpectedly elegant Dr. Seuss characters.

B-MojaveI’ve taken pictures of everything, especially flowers — in deserts, at the tops of mountains, by the sea, deep in the woods, out in meadows, on rocky outcroppings, in the crevices of decaying trees, in gardens private and public. Peering into the soul of the earth, place by place, flower by flower.

 

(The links take you to the record and photos of our adventures on the Kaliento page: www.facebook.com/kaliento1.)