Whatever Comes My Way

I spent the morning buying food for a cross-country camping/hiking/backpacking road trip — dried fruit, nuts, protein bars, foil-packed tuna, even a few freeze-dried meals from the sporting goods store. When I got back to the house where I am staying (for the next two months, or so I thought), the manager of this manufactured-home park accosted me in her silly plastic-wrapped golf cart and told me I was here illegally and that I had a week to clear out.

“Illegal” seems a bit harsh since I am here by the owner’s permission. Apparently, however, my being here breaks some sort of park rule saying that non-owners can only live here if the owner is in residence. What it comes down to is that, illegal or not, I have to leave in a week.

old manThe people I’m renting from have a small room in another house they will let me move into for a couple of weeks. It’s in a home for old people who need care and I won’t have my own bathroom, so it’s not an ideal situation by any means. It might not be particularly admirable of me, but I cannot handle being around the sick, old, and dying. I’ve had too many years of that, and now I need to feel alive while I still have a bit of youth left in me. (Well, I suppose it’s more accurate to say while I still have a bit of middle age left in me. People keep reminding me that I am no longer young.) People also tell me I am too sensitive, and that is true. I feel for those folks, which makes it all the harder, but they are not me, and I am the one I have to be.

So, unless something else happens to either delay or jumpstart my trip, I will be heading out in about three weeks. I am mostly ready. I still have a few bits of gear to get, such as a polyester hiking shirt. I only have cotton shirts, and apparently, one should wear polyester when one is backpacking because cotton loses its ability to insulate when it gets wet. To me, the solution is not to get wet, but I am trying to pay attention to wiser and more experienced folk. I also need some sort of hanging food sack, but again, I only need that if I am around various wild animals, insects, and rodents. And of course, there are none of those critters out in the wilds, are there?

I’m being facetious, of course. I know I need some sort of food protection if I am camping away from the car. (If the food is in the car, in an odor-proof bag, there shouldn’t be a problem.) I’m just not yet sure what sort of protection to get. A bear canister is overkill for most of where I will be.

People seem to be worried about my taking off in the winter (others are worried about my taking off by myself during any season) but it’s time for me to be adventurous. To see what’s out there in the big wild world. I do heed their worries, though I don’t have many of my own. If the weather is truly atrocious in three weeks, I might talk the woman into letting me stay a couple of more days, or I might get a motel somewhere along the road.

Or . . . whatever comes my way.


(Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”)

5 Responses to “Whatever Comes My Way”

  1. rami ungar the writer Says:

    Pat, whatever you do I know you’ll do it with the grace you seem to handle most situations in your life. And if you do end up leaving soon, good luck, and stay warm!

  2. Becky aka TXBX Says:

    How ridiculous! How sad that they have such a silly rule! The house owners must be very kind people to make alternate arrangements! Perhaps the room available is on one end of the building and has a different entryway? Is it a nursing home or assisted living? Can you go have a ”look & see” before you decide?
    On another topic: Don’t worry about the polyester shirt until you are ‘on the go’! Most people I know are happy with cotton, and you might find a better price on one you like as you travel. Your posts make it look as if you are prepared to tackle moose and mountain lions! I’m cheering for you!
    My knees aren’t great due to a fall years ago, so I don’t ‘hike’, but I do camp in remote areas. As for food, I leave mine in the car in an ice chest that has a suction lid. I decided to do this because I once bought a used ice chest sight-unseen from people who had a car accident and needed to sell their stuff to ride a bus back home. The ice chest looked new, and the suction lid was hard to open, so I handed over $10 happily, and the lady dumped out all of the bright clear ice and canned drinks, and it looked very clean inside! When I pulled it open later at home, it smelled terrible, so I sat it out by the trash cans. My son came along and asked me why I was throwing it away. I told him it smelled terribly, so he went to look at it. He informed me it had been used to store illegal “smokes”!! He said I was lucky I hadn’t been stopped for some other violation while it was in my possession! I never smelled it, even sitting in the back seat of my car. But when I decided to wash it out, the odor hit me like a truck! …… so food inside an ice chest stored inside a car seems like it might be safe enough to me. The national parks require to keep all food ‘inside’, or else in one of their bear-proof containers. I’ve done both without incident. I did wake up one morning in Raton, NM, because my RV was ‘rocking’. I carefully peered out the window and came eyeball-to-eyeball with a large deer / elk ‘beast’. Both of us were startled, but I watched from the warmth of the motor-home while it sauntered away to have a drink from the puddle under the faucet that supplied water to me! Evidently “I” was in HIS territory!
    You’ll have tons of fun traveling! I know many people who do such things and have a great life! You will have fun …. I have no doubt! Just go do it. i have friends going to Quartzsite, AZ this week, and some who are already there. Some camp in tents, some use their vehicles with a shade or shade trees when available. Others have RV’s of some type, but prefer to stay in the desert area with other friends. The camping is usually free on BLM land, and the people come from everywhere to enjoy the trades shows, hear the discussions, learn about everything from rock-hounding to fancy frills.
    You will need a sun hat of some type in the desert!

  3. Junie B. Says:

    I think you’re living an exciting life. I have planned a trip to AZ, camping all the way by myself, pulling my little camper behind me. I would probably use a tent if I was physically able. I grew up camping with my family so I’m no stranger to it. Mom was a scout leader and she taught us how to survive in the woods alone. I have made a few practice runs locally and I did just fine. I even made a fire without matches. I think I’m good to go. You’re on an adventure Pat. Make it a great one!

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