PROTECTION IN PUDDLE WALKER
I’m planning on doing a video about this topic, but for those of you who do not follow us on YouTube @aswewonder, I give you this blog posting.
“Don’t you ever get nervous staying in the bus, camped out at night in strange areas where you are not known?”
It’s a valid question and it’s a question I hear quite often.
Only once in seven months have I felt like I was in a sketchy situation. It turns out I wasn’t, but if felt that way. Now, I need to add an addendum to that . . . I wasn’t so nervous or concerned that I didn’t fall asleep, so there’s that to consider.
I am not a fool. I know things happen. I know there are unsavory people out and about, so I am a bit prepared. I probably could be more protected, but I have no desire to carry an AK-47 while traveling around the country, so there you go.
My protection begins with Maggie Mae. She is protective, she is fearless when it comes to protection, she is territorial, and she is louder than loud. Her hearing is excellent, and believe me when I tell you nobody, and I mean nobody, can approach the bus without Maggie being aware of it and announcing loud enough to wake the dead that she is on guard.
On the outside of Puddle Walker I have motion-detection lights; they will pick up motion within a fifteen-foot radius of the bus, and they are quite bright when they come on in the middle of the night.
In addition, I have three cans of bear spray, a machete, and a hunting knife.
I feel safe.
What I do not have is a gun. I will not have a gun. I have nothing against gun owners; it’s a personal preference of mine, and I see no reason to change my preference at this stage in life.
That completes my safety measures. The bus is a hard one to break into, and I have no fear of that happening while I’m sleeping. There is a rear exit should I need it, and there is an emergency exit in the roof. I have a fire extinguisher, a CO2 detector, and I’m not sure what else there is for me to be concerned about.
So, to answer the question no, I am not worried, being on the road, camping alone. But thanks for being concerned.
A LESSON FROM MY FOUR-LEGGED FRIEND
Maggie and I, out for a walk, dusk approaching, wind flowing, summer waning, when suddenly Maggie stops. Full attention on a yard maybe thirty feet from where we stood. I looked, saw nothing; looked again, saw nothing, only the sway of bushes in the breeze. Maggie, undeterred, at full attention.
It took me the count of thirty, a full thirty seconds, to see the rabbit, literally standing in the middle of the sun-scorched lawn, the brown bark of a fir tree serving as the backdrop, same color as the bunny, an optical illusion for my eyes, but eye candy for Maggie’s. Which came first, the scent of the rabbit or the sight of the rabbit, I cannot tell you, but it’s not the first time my faithful companion has “seen” something long before I have, and I have come to trust in her senses and instincts.
The lesson I promised you? I am learning to trust in my instincts along this journey. What I see may not be accurate, and that is especially true of the people I meet.
You have all heard the old saying “you can’t tell a book by its cover,” correct? Meaning, simply, that the outward appearance of something, or some person, can be deceiving. In fact, if we actually took the time to investigate, we would often find that we are terribly incorrect in our first impressions. Now I say we, when I should really say I, but I feel safe in making the assumption that most reading this have been guilty of it.
This journey of mine, a journey to self-growth, has been a great classroom for me. I am slowly learning to “see” with more than my pre-conceived notions.
And, while we are talking about learning, I am also learning to be more aware of my surroundings. I am trying to see like Maggie. I want to not only focus on that which is directly in front of me, but also on that which is in the periphery . . . the stage and not just the main actors, to borrow an analogy from the world of drama.
And why am I bothering with all of this when football season has begun, and a new season of The Bachelor is about to unfold? Because it is my belief that I was born to be the best version of me I can be, and anything less than my full effort is a reason for concern.
Amen, brother! Amen, sister! Amen!
OF COURSE I HAVE BAD DAYS ON THE ROAD
I don’t want any of you, not for one nano-second, to think that it’s all sunshine and roses out here. That’s simply nonsense. Life in a two-story Victorian, or life in a converted shuttle bus, is still life, and we all have THOSE days.
I had one yesterday, and I’m still feeling the residual effects of it today. I was feeling isolated yesterday, lonely, and the mental gymnastics began almost immediately, small debate teams in my head shouting at each other . . . “what the hell are you doing? You’re an alcoholic, you idiot, and you are isolating.” Followed closely by “oh shut up, you are living a dream, this too shall pass,” and on and on it went. Exhausting to say the least, and the debates opened the doors to doubts, self-doubts to be exact, and the questioning of life choices.
I will work through it. I have now for seventeen years, but it’s a bit different now, and I need to learn how to adjust, to adapt, and to keep moving until Life flows to me once again. Swimming against the current is no damned fun; swimming against a rip tide, similarly exhausting. I need to just turn over on my back and float in whatever direction Life takes me.
The worst time is night. Yes, I know, I’ve written several times that I love the nights in Puddle Walker, and that is 90% true, but it’s the 10% which has the capability to upturn my apple cart. There are nights when I would love to have someone with me to talk to, share with, and just experience a human bond. On those nights, Maggie just isn’t enough, and silently the past comes creeping, and all the recriminations for the past as well.
I don’t know if you are like me, but for this boy, the big collapses happen because of a series of small obstacles prior to . . . for me, yesterday, the handle broke off of my portable refrigerator. No big deal. Then I turned the propane heater on, just a test, and immediately smelled gas, which led to a colder than planned morning. And then I realized that Maggie’s skin rash is not getting better but, in fact, is worsening.
None of those events were monumental. All three are fixable and certainly will not cause me to lose any sleep. But, those three events coupled with that growing discontent about being alone and, well, the recipe for dis-ease for Bill is ready for baking.
I’m a little better today. Tomorrow is a traveling day, further east along the Columbia, new sights/sites, and I’m sure my malady will improve. But, in the interest of honesty and full disclosure, I figured you deserve to know that dark clouds will, occasionally, blot out Mr. Sunshine.
MEETING AMERICA AND LOOSE ENDS
Met Doris and Stan this evening, a couple slightly younger than yours truly, from Bend, Oregon, they are, and they have a dog named Maggie. A match made in heaven, and we spent a good fifteen minutes chatting this afternoon; same thing happened last night, at a rest area, a young woman, Melody, noticed the writing on Puddle Walker and proceeded to introduce herself and tell me all about Bozeman, Montana . . . followed closely by a young couple, surfers from Victoria, British Columbia, chatted for five minutes, youthful smiles and a keen interest in living in a bus.
There is no denying the drawing power of Puddle Walker. People feel compelled to meet the person who is driving the rainbow shuttle bus, and I love it.
Stepped out of the bus this morning, six-thirty as is my norm, to give Maggie a chance to relieve herself, and was met by one of the most stunning sunrises, over the Columbia River, that I have ever had the pleasure to witness. So stunning that three other early risers were just standing in the parking area, staring at the sun, mouths slightly open, none of us speaking.
Ma Nature still has the ability to render me . . . us all . . . speechless, and I’m grateful that she does.
As odd as it may “sound” to those reading this, I am still trying to find a comfortable routine while living in the bus. I spent most of my life in a home . . . hell, all of my life, so I guess it is only logical for me to flounder, at times, trying to figure out how to live on a budget, while on the road, trying to figure out where I will be staying, where showers will happen, where I can empty the black tank, where, how, when, well, all of that. I will figure it all out eventually, and it will become second nature to me, but seven months into it, I still have hiccup times.
Cascade Locks, Oregon, where I find myself on the 7th of September, fitting in many ways, for Cascade Locks is the last point in Oregon visited by the Pacific Crest Trail. Hikers arrive in this little town, usually take a day off, and then cross the Bridge of the Gods, on foot, across the Columbia River into Washington for the final 550 miles.
We left on what, February something, the 2nd? I don’t remember. Whatever, we began that journey over seven months ago, and this is the first time I’ve stepped foot into this city. Almost all of the hikers of 2023 have come and gone; now only tourists greet me and Maggie, but it still, oddly, feels good to finally be here, like an exclamation point on a job well done.
Met a couple from Holland today; they saw the bus, came over to chat a bit; lovely folks. Maybe I should change the writing on Puddle Walker to read “Meeting the World One Handshake At A Time.”
Sitting here this evening, looking up at the towering evergreens, so prevalent in this part of the country, and I realize there are times I take this particular beauty for granted. I see evergreens daily. I have seen them daily for probably 90% of my life, so they lack a certain pizzazz for me, a Pacific Northwest native. But tonight I am reminded of why my dad was so dumbstruck when he first visited this area, during basic training, WWII style, and immediately after the war, moved his young family from Iowa to the Land of Evergreens. They truly are beautiful, and this really is a stunning section of the country. Toss in the Columbia River as a backdrop and you have a small sense of why so many settlers came across the Oregon Trail in search of a new life.
One more chapter and we will be in the present. You should be happy to hear that, Marty! 🙂