Thursday, September 29, 2016

I'm from America -- Day 337

We are back on the road, having completed our stay at Redwoods River Resort in Leggett, CA. We don't currently have jobs lined up for the rest of the year, so we've decided that we're on vacation! We met up with our friends that we made this summer in Ukiah to see the City of 10,000 Buddhas, one of the first Chinese Zen Buddhist monasteries in the United States, and one of the largest Buddhist communities in the Western Hemiphere (from Wikipedia).

When we left on Wednesday morning, the sense of adventure was back in full force. Anya had us all up and ready to go by 9:30, and we only stopped briefly for hugs and good byes at the office on our way out. The drive to Ukiah wasn't far, but Fezzik hadn't been on the road in a long while, and we wanted to give him plenty of time to warm up and get stretched out again. He complained a bit on some of the hills, but after the first hour, he was back in traveling form. Pulling into the Redwood Empire Campground (which we visited back in April on our way up) and seeing our friends' rigs already in the parking lot made it feel almost like home.

After getting parked and settled, the very first thing on my mind was: Jack in the Box. I hadn't had a #27 in five months and if you haven't treated yourself to this culinary delicacy, I encourage you to do so. #27 is life.

We weren't going to the City until Thursday, so we spent the afternoon playing golf on the Xbox and then had a pizza delivered. (Because delivery pizza is superior, and that is something else that I hadn't had in five months.) Can you tell that I like food?

I had mentioned that feeling at home is difficult while on the road, but having good friends makes it easier. These folks that I met over the summer are a new part of our extended family, and no matter where the road takes us, we know that we will have our friendship. As our extended family grows, it expands the areas where we can feel comfortable traveling, since we'll have connections all over the place.
Fezzik with our friends' rigs

I wanna be a citizen of the whole USA. When people ask me where I'm from, I don't wanna be labeled, or pigeonholed, or defined by whatever location I tell them. You want to make assumptions about me? I can't control that. You want to know me? You're gonna have to actually talk to me and find out who I am.  There is no box for me to check anymore.

There was a woman here in this campground that saw our Texas tags and asked if we were from Texas. Because I knew that this woman was not actually interested in getting to know me, and we weren't going to spend any more time together than the five minutes of this conversation while I'm hooking up my water line, I said that we were from the Dallas area. She then confessed that she had a niece in Texas, but she doesn't like it there. Thank you, random stranger, I will be sure to let Texas know that it didn't meet with your approval.

We have enjoyed the small town of Ukiah, population 15,871. Seems like a booming metropolis, after the seclusion of our summer retreat. They have a lot of recognizable chain stores, as well as some unique shops and eateries. And then of course there was the City of 10,000 Buddhas. I didn't take any pictures, partly because I was afraid my phone was going to die, and partly because it just didn't feel right. It was a very cool experience, and I love that a place like this exists. It's a whole small town of Buddhism. You could feel the peaceful energy, from the wandering peacocks to the laughing children. I would love to create a place like this one day, only not Buddhist. Just peaceful and friendly, welcoming to all people.

Wouldn't that be a wonderful world in which to live? I feel like it starts with us. Our rig is a peaceful place, and we try to spread that energy wherever we go. As we build our community, eventually we will have a peaceful gathering of folks, a village, a town, a city. Who knows? Maybe one day we'll have a whole peaceful world.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Soul Camp 2016 -- Day 334


I remember a time when electronic music used to drive me batty. Repetitive, and lyrically lacking, I just didn't get the appeal. Combined with the social stigma of the illicit activities and the illegal nature of the underground rave scene, I stayed a good distance away for most of my life. Now, I'm not here to discuss the culture, the community, or the history of electronica, because I'm not nearly knowledgeable enough on the subject, but what I am here to do is share my experience.

As I have grown older, and wiser (though some would like to debate that point) I have learned much about love and acceptance. Everyone has their own path to walk, and what might be right for me is not going to be right for you. One fun part of my life has been finding people that want me to be who I am while enjoying who they are. I like to meet people where they are. I do not want to change them, I want to understand them. I want to accept them, and love them. I believe that if we could all learn compassion, the world would be a much better place.

While we were here in the redwoods this summer, there have been six major weekend events. Three of them were holidays, with all of the family celebrations and camp-style activities included. Two of them were biker events, with deep-throated Harleys, and lots of bearded old guys. The last one was Soul Camp, with the promise of all night parties and very pervasive, thumping bass lines.

The holiday weekends reminded me of the summer camp movies that I enjoyed when I was a kid. This was a little different since whole families were here, but there were lots of campfires and s'mores, volleyball and pool games, and wholesome fun! The biker events were a bit rougher around the edges, with a LOT more beer drinking and very loud, fiddle-laced, deep-fried rock and roll. Walking through the campground at night felt much like being in the bad part of town, and you kinda got the feeling like you would not really want to upset anyone.

Soul Camp was very different. The whole feeling of the place was like a huge egalitarian society from the future. There were no strangers to be found, because every person that you saw greeted you with a smile, a wave, or even a hug. This was the first time that I have felt this accepted and welcomed in any large gathering, and it was amazing. I worked a lot of shifts in the Pub, and got to meet a bunch of the coolest people. After work, walking home in the dark didn't feel the least bit uncomfortable. The bumping of the bass was better than a compass, since the main stage was about twenty yards from my home.  Dancing lights, dancing people, and dancing music were EVERYWHERE.

And so, we danced. A lot. We got as close to the stage as we could, so that the pumping sounds could be felt in our bones, vibrating our hearts and minds. We danced with people that had glow sticks, fuzzy hats, men in broom skirts, people with backpacks, skinny jeans, silk scarves, sunglasses (at night), and no shame. There was something very special about being able to do this among the ancient trees with the stars looking down on us. I think the universe was smiling.

I know I was.

This was the perfect way to wrap up this summer. This was our first workamping experience, and I love that it was so amazing. The relationships that we have built here are so genuine and deep, it is amazing to realize how quickly they were formed. And while I'm by no means a Club Kid, I will forever remember my first Soul Camp.