Sunday, October 30, 2011

Camper issues

So, we all travel for different reasons.  I was traveling for multiple reasons myself - burnout, wanting a change, unleash my inner free-spiritedness, walk through my fears, etc., etc.  Most people are probably traveling for a vacation.  These are the people whom were in awe of what I was doing.  I relished in that positive response.
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Then there are those who are traveling as a way of life - free spirits, nomads.  These people are my inspiration.  I am in awe of them, even as I become one of them.

Then there are those who are traveling as a way of life who are struggling, who aren't aware of their personal issues and are looking for something...well, not just looking but grasping desperately for something...these are the people whom I have compassion for but need to stay away from for self-protection.  I can easily fall into some co-dependent behaviors, losing my focus on my own journey.

I came across one of these people in Galveston, at the camp site of the State Park.  He was kind, but with an agenda.  He offered me food and warm shelter in his RV during the night since the nights were so cold (which I nicely declined).  He wanted to show me around Texas, join him in his travels across the US...basically, he was trying to make a connection that comes with shared time.  He was ever so lonely and wanted a companion, immediately.  Each conversation became about how I was so much like him and wanting a relationship.  Umm...I just met you and I really haven't said much.  Ugh!  His deep-seated desire to have a connection overstepped boundaries and his comments were so inappropriate.

Instead of being friendly and working towards getting to know each other, he was overwhelming, all consuming...a leech...he showed up everywhere I went.  I couldn't go anywhere without being discovered.  We were neighbors at the camp and I didn't feel as though I could change sites, so I went to the beach.  He found me, joined me on walks...which normally would have been nice other than that I didn't want a leech for company.  I felt his needs and desire to be with someone sucking the energy from me - suffocating me.  This was an all too familiar feeling.

After a couple of days of this, I knew my time there was now limited.  I was hoping that his stay was going to be short, but he planned on being there for a couple of weeks.  I couldn't do this for that long.  It was unfortunate.  I wanted to stay.  I never felt that this man was a threat, but that he was so incredibly lonely and seeking something that I couldn't give him.

At that point in my life, I felt the urge to run, and I did.  Early the next morning I quickly and quietly packed up all my things and took to the road.  That was the best that I could do at that time, run.  Now,  looking back on it, I would probably have a different response and I could have found a way to take care of myself better and would be able to stay.  But, I guess that is the benefit of personal growth.  A similar situation probably still remains a trigger for me, but I know that I can do something different other than run.

So, I headed inland, to Austin...a place where residents of Austin consider themselves separate from Texas...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Texas ramblings...

My travels continued across the lower States. I wanted to visit Austin, Texas, to visit friends that I had made when I was on the Big Island, HI.  Yet, any stops before arriving there were going to be spontaneous, as the respite at the cabin along the river was in Louisiana.  I was beginning to gain the confidence of traveling alone, and my sense of free-spirit was starting to surface more consistently - meaning my fears were starting to subside, consistently.  I was meeting people along the way who were not only friendly, but supportive as well, even though nothing really required much support yet.  There was a sense that we are all connected, even though our experiences, food, music, etc., were different.  

See full size imageAfter visiting New Orleans, I crossed into Texas early one evening.  I ran straight into the Ego of the state.  I am not one to function with stereotypes and usually stay clear of them because I think it is unfair to have such generalizations - we are all individuals and I like to honor that.  Yet, at the Information Center at the border... was there.  Wow...they're not kidding.  It wasn't that they weren't nice, but they weren't as nice or as helpful as the other states had been.  It was subtle yet not.  I felt as though I walked into another dimension where Texas was another country, with such different rules.  Attitude, the underlying tone that draped each answer.  Good grief.  After a few experiences, I started to agree with the miscellaneous comments that were made about our president being a Texan...but I guess I should keep politics out of this.  For me, there is a difference of being proud of where you live and come from, compared to a 'better than' belief about where you are and come from.  

That being said, I headed for the coast.  I ended up in Galveston, at a State Park where I camped on the beach.  I spent the warm day setting up my camp, soaking up the sunshine and was in joy to be near the beach again.  I was one of few tent campers, RVs monopolizing the camp sites...later, I found out why this was so - at night it got so unexpectedly cold.  Shivering all night was so not enjoyable.  Yet, I stayed.  It was a clean campground, affordable, easy access to the beach where I spent my days and I was not ready to head inland to Austin.

While exploring, meeting others and sharing my story I met many who were in awe of my travels, yet almost all of them provided me with well-intended remarks of caution about traveling alone.  Wanting to keep my own fears at bay, I had to turn away from the negativity.  I truly believe that whatever we focus on comes to us, so I didn't want to focus on the negative possibilities nor even hear about it.  

All was going well until I met a neighboring camper...

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Creole, Cajun and French Quarters

Water ViewIn Louisana, I found a cabin to stay in along the river (False River Hideaway Cabins).  It offered traditional Louisiana food, food that was new to me - cajun and creole dishes.  Delicious and fresh.  Those few days along the river were memorable for the solitude that it offered, the exchange of energy with the animals and nature, and a time to reflect on my travels thus far.

I knew I was heading towards New Orleans despite my desire to be spontaneous.  I had never been and wanted to see how it had recovered since Katrina.  I stopped at an information center where an incredibly kind worker gave me support, information, discounts for accommodations and restaurants in the French Quarters.  I am sure he was this way with everyone, but his gentle way of listening to my questions and offering suggestions outside of my own personal knowledge that may have matched my needs better touched my heart.

I arrived on the outskirts of the New Orleans to see remnants of Katrina - downed lines, buildings in disrepair, signs stating things were closed, etc.  But, once I got down to the French Quarters I discovered that things pretty much had returned to normal, or seemingly so.  Businesses were open, crowds of people mulling around, music blaring, people drinking...and drinking, no matter the time of day...normal, for this area.  It was a good feel.  The music soothed the soul.  A feeling of recovery that one feels after surviving a devastating experience and coming out the other side was present and alive.  A sense of lightness floated through the streets and it was such a joy to see.

The Vieux Carré, French Quarter or simply The Quarter, is the oldest neighborhood in the city. It embraces an international influence of many cultures (French, Spanish, Italians, Sicilians, Africans, etc.) So much of what makes New Orleans unique is captured in the melting pot atmosphere of the French Quarter - from the raucous party atmosphere of Bourbon Street to the bohemian elegance of Royal. It's a neighborhood full of surprises, beauty and magic, and is why I ended up here.  I meandered the streets, gardens and riverwalk. I ate their famous beignets at Café du Monde, along with cafe au lait.  I sat along the riverwalk, people-watching and even met people from Boston.

I stayed at this old historic B&B in the French Quarter, which had rich dark furnishings that made the room even smaller, but elegant.  At this time in my life I was not a big party-goer so I was ready for bed long before anyone else.  I could hear the music and partying until sunrise, when I dragged my body out of bed for an early morning walk.  Leftovers were present at each establishment but mainly the streets were quiet.  Relief.  And, with it, on my third day, a desire to leave.