Luke's Thoughts

Comfort and Familiarity.

We are back in Canada and taking it easy parked at a friends house in our home town of Brooklin. 

Although my wife wrestled with emotions about returning here, mainly having to answer people’s questions and the tugging that will happen at the strings of our family dynamic as it has become normalized the last few months, I was quite excited to see the old stomping grounds and visit with friends again.

I must confess a big reason for looking forwards to returning here for the summer was that I would not have to deal with towing the trailer and looking for dumps and camp sites, etc. It might seem like a silly reason but it’s a major part of our travelling experience. So much so that your path is often dictated by it, so not moving as much saves you all of that. It’s a tremendous load of my mind, although I must say that it has been getting easier. Driving with the trailer and maneuvering it is becoming second nature. I’m not saying I’m good at backing that monstrosity up into a spot but I certainly know what works and what doesn’t. I still need to take a few tries to put it into a spot but I care less that it took that many times. I’m at peace with my comfort level and abilities in this department. We’ve also gotten quite proficient at finding places to stay and obtain water/dump. Our resources for finding these essentials has grown and made things easier. Within a few minutes we can make a better plan as to where we sleep and resupply. These might seem like little things but they add up in the stress department and can put me on edge. I knew this journey had to come this point of comfort or else it would make enjoying it quite difficult. Now that I’m here mentally, I can focus more on other things. 

One of the thing I noticed recently was that I would wake up in the morning and open the trailer door and realize I wasn’t where I thought I was. I often did not update our location in my mind as we travelled. Only when staying in one place for a few nights did it become familiar. When this happened early in the journey it was a reminder that I had no familiar place. Now it’s been adopted as a positive trait of a traveller. 

Speaking of which, many people have asked what the hardest things have been about travelling like this and I have not been able to process a real answer. After 7 months on the road I can definitively say it’s the loss of two thing: Familiarity and Comfort, at the same time. Camping for a weekend is a loss of comfort but you know the camp site and it’s exciting cause you know in a couple of nights your back home. You can certainly rough it for a short time. Going on vacation at a resort in a new place may not be familiar but you are usually lavished in comfort and that makes up for any loss in familiarity. When you lose both, for a long period of time, as soldiers do going to war, then it’s a mental burden that you must get use to over time. I’m not intentionally likening this experience to war, as that would be too dramatic, but in this sense it’s quite similar. 

But time is a great thickener of things. Through time we get complacent, we accept our new way of life and it becomes the new norm. Funny thing is that I’m sure all long term travellers experience this, yet in the blogs I’ve read, it’s rarely mentioned. Well, I’ve remedied that here. 

Another benefit to taking this rest from travel is the financial. We can use a break of gas payments and doing too many extra curricular activities. We just have to remember to eat out less to recover from these last few months of spending. Being back also allows us to go through many of the things we don’t need and sell them on Kijiji and eBay. That is much easier when you are not moving every day. I’ve abandoned relearning my piano skills and have decided to sell the keyboard and speakers I bought to free up space and focus on the guitar instead. That along with some other electronic items, plus one of my rifles, we have some things to sell to bring in extra cash. 

One of the things we did not look forward to coming back into Canada was the phone plans. We have $70 unlimited everything plan in the states, which has been pivotal in allowing us to avoid searching for hot spots and spending hours at McDonald using their wifi. It was going to be terrible to lose it. Luckily I overheard that someone with our same carrier in the US, talking about how he told them he was travelling in Canada for the summer and it wasn’t an issue. I called our carrier and got the same positive response. So far so good. My phone has been working well without any issues across the border. 

I have not written my thoughts since the challenging weather in Albany, Georgia. They haven’t changed much. No new revelations. Just moving along with my heart and mind open, being sanctified each new day with Gods grace. Our visit to our favourite radio pastor; James McDonald’s church in Chicago, has confirmed what we already knew, as he gave us advice on our travels. He said it’s about strengthening our marriage and family while waiting to hear God’s voice and obeying when and where we hear Him. It was encouraging to be comprehended. I sometimes get down a bit for not having a fulfilling job to focus on as I wait and travel. I never thought missing work would be a factor but I do feel useless sometimes. Luckily there is a charitable opportunity for me in Brooklin this spring. Our church here is updating it’s building and I will be taking the lead in that since I have been afforded this time off. Although our church is strong in the Word, our building looks more like a large utility shed then a place of worship. It certainly does not match the ministry inside. We are looking to make it more inviting. 

That should be very satisfying work for me. I look forward to serving in this way. 

Returning to Canada and going through the inventory of things we can sell to simplify and bring in some cash. One of my favourite rifles is one of those items set to sell. Isla took this picture of me with my last moments with my “Jurassic World / Owen Grady” rifle before it sold.
General Posts

Back in the Great White North

It’s been a while since we updated our whereabouts in blog form so let me take you through it. After the tornado drama in Georgia we made our way west. How far west would we go before heading north to Canada we did not know. 

Alabama offer us a nice free camp site in the Tuskegee forest as we made day trips from that spot. We visited the Tuskegee airmen national memorial, which was a small bucket list item for Luke. 

Next we headed to the coast of Mississippi. This would be our first time boondocking. We found a great place in Fairhope near a restaurant and the owner was fantastic. He gave us great suggestions on what to do and see and eat. We visited the ocean again and Confederate president Davis’s house. We experienced Mardi Gras in its original splendor and had a blast dining at some of southerns best eating places. 

We moved on from here along the coast to Louisiana. 

Luke picked up a GoPro and we visited the swamp for a nice tour of gators and turtles sunning. The camera came in handy for some water shots. New Orleans was great and a pleasant surprise. A turn down bourbon street was the only low light. It smelled like vomit and garbage. A sad sight to see people parting and hung over in the early afternoon. Otherwise it was a great city with great food, world famous deserts and festivities around every corner. We stayed at a free camp site near some of the grandest plantations of the south. Visiting them and their slave quarters was eye opening and incredible. 

Civil rights struggles of the past are evident along the south but we saw no sign of the modern racism or bigotry we hear about from TV. I’m sure it exists but our experiences and way we observed were positive. 

After Louisiana we made the decision to head north. This is as far east as we would go. No Texas this time around. We had about 6 weeks left and we just didn’t think the time was there. 

Our first stop heading north was back in Mississippi. We visited Jones County, the place where defiant southerners chose to take over the county to create their own free state during the civil war. The following day we visited Greenwood. This town hosted the movie makers of “The Help”, a film about racial inequality in the 50s and 60s. Beautiful homes and filming locations to explore. 

We made our way east into Arkansas the following day. We came within about an hour of Texas when we visited the Diamond mine ate Crate State Park. We found no diamonds and it was super muddy but still fun. Springs National Park was our next Arkansas stop where we found ourselves in bath houses flowing with natural springs. Definitely not your ordinary National Park. 

On the way out of Arkansas we visited the Little Rock high school, another civil rights arena of the past. Very cool to learn about this place. 

As we left the state and entered Tennessee Cynthia’s mind was on Elvis. But for tonight we would be staying near the border in Memphis, at the grand headquarters of Bass Pro Shop. This gaudy pyramid was massive and the only free place to sleep in Memphis, but after we heard about people getting shot and having their cars broken into, we opted to stay at a local state park, which was a nice place to ride out what would be one of our last threatening thunderstorm of the season. 

Cynthia visited Graceland the following day and then we were off to Shiloh National Battle Field. Another night spent at Walmart produced our first snowfall of the trip. Not much snow but enough to make you miss Christmas. I would have liked to spend more time at Shiloh but the schedule was tightening up. We drove down the Trail Of Tears and made our way north to Nashville. 

This would be our second and last boondock of the season at a lovely older couples driveway. We bought a heater pad for the water tank and installed it because temperatures were hitting well below freezing for a couple of nights. Not worth risking it. We didn’t spend much time here. A quick visit to the downtown strip and the Grand Ol Opry rounded out the day. But no visit would be complete without some of the best southern biscuits money can buy at a local restaurant well known to many. 

Kentucky was our next state and before we could barely enter it Luke found himself at the Corvette Factory. What an awesome experience. I almost walked away buying a car. Almost. Mammoth Caves National Park was our next Kentucky stop and a short one. We missed all of the tours for the day and they were downright expensive. We sourced the only free cave and that was enough for us. 

We headed to Lincolns two boyhood homes on our way up the state. The following day a visit to the Louisville Bat factory made Luke miss baseball. The home of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill downs gave us a glimpse at the glamour of horse racing. No events were happening but you could see the grandeur and imagine what it would have been like. We took a slight detour east to see the Ark Encounters display of a full sized Noah’s Ark. Super cool! 

Next we were on to Indiana and the home Lincoln grew up in. Lincoln state park offered us 2 nights of respite by a beautiful lake. For the first time in awhile it was warm outside and that proved to be just the weather we needed to celebrate Isla’s 8th birthday. 

Our next stop would be just inside St. Louis, Missouri. We visited president Grants home and museum. From this point on we would no longer be moving west, just north east towards our old home. 

Back into Illinois we went and onto Springfield, the home of Lincoln as an adult. His presidential library and museum was here. We couldn’t help indulging and getting some souvenirs. The experience satisfied our Lincoln interest but we had to keep moving. We had less than a week before we had to be in Canada. 

We topped out in Chicago. Hoping the city would redeem itself from our last trip here, which wasn’t that good, we visited our favourite radio pastor at his Harvest Church. Pastor James McDonald made our audience and we had a short but fruitful conversation about God’s will and our travels. I’m afraid that would be the only highlight of Chicago. That and the deep dish pizza. On our way out of town we got heavily and mightily tolled. 

We were now heading east all the way back to Canada. On our way, Luke decided to drive well into the night to eat up some of the many miles we still had ahead of us. The following morning we visited Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Indiana, our last national park of this leg of the trip, and a great place to take a nature walk and see some nice natural formations. 

We didn’t stay long though and that evening arrived in Niagara Fall, New York. The Walmart parking lot we stayed in had mounds of snow melting away. Now we knew for sure we were close to Canada. 

The following morning we crossed the border with no hassle. St. Catherine’s was our first city back into Canada and the home of our cats. Yes, our two cats whom we gave to Cynthia’s aunt before we left on the trip. They knew not who we were and had assimilated beautifully into her home. This gave us relief. They were living well satisfying little cat lives. A quick visit to the only Arc’teryx outlet on this side of the continent for some new kicks and robes and we were on the highway home. Of course we hit traffic but it wasn’t too bad. In no time we were back in Brooklin eating at the local Pizza Nova as if we had never left. 

We made our way to Bob and Kathy’s up the street on full stomachs. They welcomed us with open arms as we made our way up their ling driveway, and before long we had parked the trailer in the same spot that we had left from 7 months before. It was good to be “home”Maybe a bit overwhelming for Cynthia, but Luke was happy to get respite from driving the trailer around. 

Our summer plans are to remain in Ontario, making our way between Brooklin and other locations of familyAnd friends through the province. It was now time to relax and reconnect. 

Our first place to visit back in Canada. The home of our cats, Indiana and Phoenix. (And Cynthia’s aunt of course)
Cynthia's Thoughts

Pressed Between the Pages of my Mind

Listening to: Elvis Presley – Memories

The night before I visited Graceland, I could barely contain my excitement. I couldn’t fall asleep because I was too darn excited to be at Graceland the next day. I couldn’t figure out why it was too much for me to handle… I wasn’t huge Elvis fan, I wasn’t counting down the days until I got to visit the mansion… I racked my brain for reasons why I would be so excited and then I realized that this was 26 years in the making.

I was about 7 years old when I remember learning about Elvis Presley. One of his many hit songs was playing on 1050 CHUM while I rode in the car with my Nanny, I don’t know where we were going and it didn’t really matter, it was always a treat to just be with her in the car. I heard her sing a line or two from the song and then she sang, “return to Cindy” over Elvis’ crooning and shook my world. The song was Return to Sender from the movie Girls! Girls! Girls! and my Nanny explained that she would always sing “return to Cindy” instead of “return to sender.” In an instant, I was filled with joy that my Nanny would sing my name instead of the correct lyrics and that’s when Elvis Presley was etched into my memory.

When I was about 8 and I was on one of many, MANY sleepovers at my Nanny and Grandpa’s house, I was looking through one of her magazines and I saw it. The Jungle Room. Probably the most famous room at Elvis’ Graceland. That’s where it was born, my desire to see this man’s house.

When I was about 9 years old, I found out that Elvis died. I was in my classroom at the end of the day, getting my outdoor shoes on and talking to my teacher when the subject of Elvis came up. I remember nothing about the conversation before learning about Elvis’ death and nothing after, because… that was the day I found out that Elvis had been dead for 17 years.

When I was about 11, I was completely obsessed with wedding videos. I would watch my aunt and uncle’s wedding videos over and over again, but the video that had the most impact on me was my Auntie Charlotte and Uncle Darren’s, my mom’s sister and brother-in-law. They were married in 1986, but most of their reception music was classic oldies. I remember dreaming about my own wedding one day while watching my Nanny and Grandpa, so in love, dancing and singing along to Can’t Help Falling in Love. They floated around, stared into each others eyes and sang those words to each other like it was their own wedding, like no one else was even in the room. That moment is so imprinted on my memory I can’t listen to that song without crying since my Grandpa died.

When I was about 15, I was introduced to Elvis the actor. One lazy Sunday afternoon, my mom and I huddled in and watched Love Me Tender on TVO. He was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen and seemed to have all those ‘50s gentlemanly qualities that were already so lacking in my generation. I had such a great time vegging out with my mom that we made a date to TVO’s next Elvis movie the weekend after.

You see, for all of my childhood, Elvis’ music surrounded me. My Nanny and Grandpa were always listening to 1050 CHUM or other popular music from their generation. My mom was always playing oldies music at home too. Sure, there were The Everly Brothers, The Platters and Patsy Cline… But Elvis was the standard. Elvis Presley’s music simply defined my entire youth.

I’m no die hard Elvis fanatic, in fact, I only have 21 of his songs on my iTunes. I own none of his movies. I don’t have a t-shirt with Elvis’ face on it. I don’t have a pink Cadillac toy. I don’t bid on red Elvis scarves on eBay. All of my affection for Elvis is a direct result of my upbringing. A direct result of my Nanny and Grandpa, their love for each other and their love for me… And for the innocence of that, I’m so thankful.

Fans would write messages to Elvis on the wall around the perimeter of his house, and they still do to this day. Luke encouraged me to leave my own mark too.
Luke's Thoughts

Respect the Wind.

I wanted to just write a few thoughts about my time in Albany, Georgia. I was feeling rather unfulfilled in my acts of service towards others since we left home. I felt as if it was all for us, this journey we were on. Although this is a journey of self discovery, it was also to be a time to connect with those along the way and to shine His light, something we are not very good at as a family.