Today is two weeks since I'm back from my latest trek. I had a lot to catch up on when I came off the road and there is a long (longer than I thought) list of things I want to do to the van in preparation for the next long trek. But, it has been too cold to work on the van (warm weather is in the future, actually, beginning today - hooray - except it's raining).
So, between doing the inevitable catching up on some things that were tied up in my mail that I decided to have held in South Dakota until I knew I'd be somewhere long enough for the mail to reach me, sorting through all the stuff in the van to eliminate stuff carried along but not needed (that seems to happen after every trip), working on some client project work and other things on my "to do" list, I have been recapping all the terrific folks I met and visited with along the way. Some are old friends (I mean that in terms of the length of time we've known each other - although some of us are beginning to approach the time when we'll be considered "golden agers"). Others are folks I've known through a variety of Internet connections and/or readers of this blog. Finally, some are people who crossed my path during the trek for one of any number of reasons.
The people I meet and interact with are as important a part of my adventures as the roads I travel and the places I get to see and explore. I made a list of people I had some form of interaction with on this trek and it's quite a list. I hope not, but I may have missed a few people as I made up this list. The list also doesn't include the numerous servers, other business people and camp hosts, among others, I met as I patronized their restaurants and businesses or connected in other ways. So this list could easily be double the number of people noted on this list.
Here's the list:
Dudley Carpenter - Sparta, NC*
Muffet Gray Carpenter - Sparta, NC*
(I saw numerous others I knew while with Dudley and Muffet and met several new folks)
Ed Purdy - Mebane, NC*
Jane Purdy - Mebane, NC*
Gaston Matthews (aspiring musician) - Raleigh, NC**
Jimmy Crawford - (aspiring nomad - in a year or so) Raleigh, NC**
Richard Rosen - Sebastian, FL*
Art Gliner - Vero Beach, FL*
George Morrisey - Merritt Island, FL*
Carol Morrisey - Merritt Island, FL*
Richard Parker (full-time RVer at Florida RV Show) - Tampa, FL*
Joan Parker (full-time Rver at Florida RV Show) - Tampa, FL*
Marshall Ellgas (full-time vandweller) - Hudson, FL**
Allison Ellgas (full-time vandweller) - Hudson, FL**
Gary Pinnell - Sebring, FL*
Linda (owner of Linda's Books), Sebring, FL***
Tommy Head - (former boat & vandweller and current RVer) Port Charlotte, FL**
Barbara Glanz - Sarasota, FL*
Mike (boat dweller and aspiring vandweller)- St. Petersburg, FL**
Barbara Hanson (aspiring vandweller) - Clearwater, FL**
Michael Aun - had dinner at Celebration, FL (from St. Cloud, FL)*
Christine Aun - had dinner at Celebration, FL (from St. Cloud, FL)*
Lois Miller (RVer) - Hudson, FL**
John Miller (RVer) - Hudson, FL**
Dick Strader (Full-time RVer from WV) - Crystal River, FL*
Joe Uvick (full-time RVer from Flint, MI) - Ocala, FL***
Lisa (RV traveler) Ocala, FL**
Rachel (RV traveler) Ocala, FL**
Lyn Castro (RV traveler from NC) Ocala & Osceola National Forest, FL**
Bobby Stephenson (RVer from southwest VA) - Osceola National Forest, FL***
Judy Calhoun - (van camper from upstate NY) Osceola National Forest, FL***
Tom Calhoun - (van camper from upstate NY) Osceola National Forest, FL***
Jerry (van camper from Pittsburgh area) - Osceola National Forest, FL***
Kathy (van camper from Pittsburgh area) - Osceola National Forest, FL***
Kathy (vandweller from Cornwall, NY) - Osceola National Forest, FL**
Lou Heckler - Gainesvile, FL*
Jonellen Heckler - Gainesville, FL*
Ray Perez - Gainesville, FL*
Gypsy Jane Cassidy (full-time RVer/vandweller from VA) - Hazlehurst, GA**
Ellen (full-time nomadic vandweller) - Hazlehurst, GA***
Leonard Steward - (soon to be full-time, home-made RVer) - Jasper, GA**
David Hair (part-time vandweller from Dalton, GA) - Blue Ridge, GA/Tumbling Creek Campground, TN**
Cuzzin Dick Tracy (full-time vandweller from Dalton, GA) - Tumbling Creek Campground, TN**
* Long time friends from graduate school, social and business
** Friends I met for the first time (with an exception or two) who have been blog readers and/or participate in various on-line forums I am a member of
*** Chance meetings during various stops or camp stays along the route of the trek
I want to thank each of these individuals for their individual (and, in some cases, joint) contributions to a most enjoyable first trek and adventure of 2014. You'll note that in some cases I didn't list last names and this was simply because I didn't have a last name to list. And with the exception of only one person on this list, I look forward to my next encounter with each of them.
Relationships are really what make life the great joy it is (or should be). Sure! I have a definitive need for personal times of solitude, as do most people. Those are my "me" times when I can focus on my inner thoughts, absorbing something I've just experienced and learned and just enjoy the peace of being in my own company. After all, who is the most important individual to each of us? Ourselves, of course. If you don't like who you are and love yourself and take care of your personal needs, the chances are you're not going to relate to others very well.
We live in a very superficial world. We hear all too many people, whether celebrities, politicians, motivational/inspirational speakers, etc., tell everyone they "love" them. Heck! They don't even know most of the people they supposedly love. They could be loving spousal and child abusers, thieves, con artists, greedy, self-aggrandizing sociopaths and the list goes on from there. The term is used too loosely and generally. What is more realistic is to say you appreciate whoever the group of people are - fans, audience, employees, seminar participants, etc. for their time and attention. But that doesn't evoke the same emotional reaction and attachment as using that emotionally charged four letter word.
Now I thrive on the experiences of meeting and interacting with all the people I encounter, including those I enumerated above. And, since I do have some very personal, long time relationships with many of them, I can say that I love them with a brotherly, close friend kind of love. That means I have a personal interest in their well being, health, activities and families. And, I can truly say I loved meeting the variety of people I met and truly appreciate each of them for the individual each is and I would enjoy getting to know each of them better over time. But, I'd be much more accurate and honest if I said I really liked them. I remember a woman I had a strong interest in and an attachment to, once upon a time, saying to me, that she wasn't "in-love" with me, but she was "in-like" with me. My first impression was to be let down. But, after I let it sink in a little, she was being honest with me and while that relationship wasn't destined to be a "love-affair," it flourished as a very good and important friendship. Personally, I don't think anyone can ever have too many friends.
So, exploring and seeing all the beauty and amazing wonders of this world is fantastic, whether created by God or Nature or just a chain reaction series of events. Visiting the many man-made wonders and artistic, scientific and other creations of the human mind is also tremendous. But, learning about and exploring what makes all the individuals I meet along the way unique is the icing on the cake. And, while the cake may be great, the icing makes it so much better.
Enjoying the kind of "living free" lifestyle I have evolved to provides me with, what I feel are, exceptional opportunities to cross paths and interact with a far more broad base of diverse individuals than I ever did when I was living a more traditional, stable, fixed residential lifestyle. Eliminating, in my case, the "front" or "facade" of a home and business style that gave the impression of stability and some degree of business success has opened new windows of opportunity to meet and relate to people from all facets of our society. I can relate just as easily with someone who has an elementary school education as I can with someone who has advanced degrees. I can relate to those who have worked for someone else all their lives as well as other entrepreneurial people like myself.
I have not lowered my standard of living. I've simply reevaluated my values and interact with each person I meet as they are most comfortable. I place no one, regardless of their education, experience, talents, skills or station in life, above or below myself or anyone else. This has been a lifelong learning process for me. And the best part, is that I am still learning and I learn something of value from everyone I encounter. That is why being a living free, location independent, nomadic traveler is such an exciting adventure.