An Old Familiar Place

Another week behind the wheel, another week closer to my goals. I’m parked in Dingman’s Ferry Pa again tonight, and I took Vinny for a walk up the hill. Anytime the weather is good we go up top to stretch our legs.

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I say hill, but it’s not much really. This may only be a parking area by a McDonald’s, but it’s better than a dirty old truck stop! It’s a short steep hill but worth the climb.

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The wind is strong today but the temp is 70 or so and Vinny just stands there as it blows past, slowly sniffing the scents we will never notice.

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I think it would be good to be a dog. Every moment a cascade of pleasure surrounded by the people that care for you and the simple pleasures only a dog could know. Sometimes he stares at the sky and I wonder if he can appreciate the beautiful blue color.

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When the wind rustles the dry leaves in the woods, does he sense the rhythm of nature, the symphony it places before us if we listen?

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I can’t help but feel a sense of comfort, a feeling of calm as I sit here. I’m in my element outdoors and I relish every moment I have to spend in the sunlight. Tomorrow I will drive 600 or more miles, and by Wednesday morning I will be in Georgia and half my week will be over. I hope to be back by Saturday so I can visit some people that have an existing charity in Maine and have offered to help me start my plan of sailing adventures for veterans and their children. I’m very excited to get started down my chosen path, my chance to make up for past mistakes and make a real difference. You can stand me up at the gates of hell but I won’t back down.

Exceptional People

I’m sitting in Carlisle PA tonight, and I will continue to Maine tomorrow and take a couple days off to rest and have my truck serviced. I always look forward to these brief respites back in the state of my birth. Even with all my travels it still feels like home.

In my lifetime to date I have met many people. Most are but a small blip in the movie reel running through my mind. Past coworkers and acquaintances left in the wake of time, some I thought were friends that have faded away. Lonely as I am, I was reminded recently that all is not lost, there are some exceptional people left in this world.

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This is the TA truck stop in Commerce GA that I stayed at two nights ago. It’s not far from Atlanta where I picked up my return load to PA. As I’ve said before I generally choose TA stops due to their cleanliness and amenities. It’s been about five months since I was last here, and I went to the same restaurant as the last visit. Only a “Chain” restaurant but I like to treat myself once a week just to keep it interesting.

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When I go out to eat I always sit at the bar for two reasons. I don’t feel the need to take a table that would serve many and I find the service faster at the bar. As I walk in I see the same young woman working that I remember from my last visit. When I sat down I could see the look of recognition in her eyes.

Mary is her name and she remembered me from my blog and the photographs I showed her on my last visit. I must admit I was a little stunned she remembered as most people in the service industry meet so many people It’s hard to remember a face after so long. They were not very busy and I showed her some more of my recent photo’s and blog posts.

When I told her of my fathers passing, and she read a few posts I had written about it, I could see genuine sadness in her eyes. It’s hard to explain how I felt right then, but I guess it borders on an understanding of how she was brought up, what her outlook on life is, what makes her an exceptional person. You might say, “How could you possibly know that in the moment”, but I say you can.

I think when you first meet someone there is a period of time when there is no mask, no false bravado or fake niceties. We tend to fall back on our upbringing and the lessons taught in being polite in society. I find this most evident in the south where family is still the most important part of the culture. Parents still take a greater hand in the raising of their children, instead of allowing teachers and modern culture impress ideals in young minds we may not agree with.

Church groups and an etiquette of modesty are more often the norm, not the look at me mentality that rules the airwaves and drunken clubs downtown. I may not be a religious person, but I can see the effect of that upbringing and the type of people it produces. I prefer them, to speak the truth, instead of the loose and free lifestyle of many younger people, or the bitter and angry middle aged souls that feel the world owes them something. I have felt the pull of that bitterness many times in the last few years but I am fighting with all my will to escape from it’s grasp.

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As I walk Vinny on a dusty patch of grass I start to think about other exceptional people from my past. Mr Lowell my high school Asst Principal, Mr Mason my Jr high science teacher, and of course my parents. The person I am today is due in part to the things they taught me as a young boy. Some I remember well, some come back to me in a given situation, but all were vital to the stable and productive person I hope I have become. And to Mary’s mother I say thank you, you did a great job!

 

My Name’s The Teacher

Well the dawn was coming,
Heard him ringing on my bell.
He said, “My name’s the teacher,
That is what I call myself.
And I have a lesson
That I must impart to you.
It’s an old expression
But I must insist it’s true.

Jump up, look around,
Find yourself some fun,
No sense in sitting there hating everyone.
No man’s an island and his castle isn’t home,
The nest is for nothing when the bird has flown.”

So I took a journey,
Threw my world into the sea.
With me went the teacher
Who found fun instead of me.

Hey man, what’s the plan, what was that you said?
Sun-tanned, drink in hand, lying there in bed.
I try to socialize but I can’t seem to find
What I was looking for, got something on my mind.

Then the teacher told me
It had been a lot of fun.
Thanked me for his ticket
And all that I had done.

Hey man, what’s the plan, what was that you said?
Sun-tanned, drink in hand, lying there in bed.
I try to socialize but I can’t seem to find
What I was looking for, got something on my mind.

Teacher – Jethro Tull

I have had many different jobs in my life. From landscaping to carpentry, foundations to computer repairs, trucking to equipment operating. I have had many bosses, some good, many bad. There have been some jobs where I gave it my all, just to find I was being used and they didn’t really care. Some that care but there’s no future. But the currant company has given me hope that I have found something special.

Through all the trials of my life over the last few years they have been very accommodating, considerate and understanding, more than any company I have ever worked for. Now that my life has settled down some, I want to give something back. That opportunity has presented itself to me.

There is a tremendous shortage of qualified truck drivers in this country. Many people don’t like the idea of being away from home, the long hours, the mental strain and so forth. Many drivers have such a bad driving record most companies can’t hire them. And still more are ready to retire. Now what? Why in house training, that’s what!

This company, like many others, has decided to start a driver training program. Students that have graduated from a CDL school here in Maine will spend 6 to 8 weeks in a truck with a mentor, to help hone their skills in the safe handling of the largest vehicles on the road. All manor of driving conditions, backing situations, traffic conditions and other difficult problems will be addressed during training.

So how do I fit in? Myself and 3 other drivers volunteered to be trainers, and I should get my first student at the end of this month. When I first started driving I had gone to a school and had a mentor also. He was very thorough, patient and fun. I still remember the most important things he taught me, and I think I can pass them along to others and give them the same chance given to me so many years ago.

I hope to inspire them to give it a real chance, show them how it feels to be independent and in charge of your income. How each day, if you pay attention, you can find at least one moment that makes it all worthwhile, one moment that makes you smile, one image burned into your memory.

Like this one…

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Or this one…

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I really look forward to giving back to a company that has given me so much more than a job, they gave me a home, and I say Thank You!

This Way And That

I spent the night at the TA truck stop in Southington Connecticut last night. I try to frequent the TA chain more than others as they have better shower facilities, they are generally cleaner, (at least on the inside!) and I receive points for every gallon of diesel. Most chains give points but I’m not setting foot in their showers! Eww! As I walk Vinny this morning I am treated to a brilliant view.

First the truck stop looking west…You can just see the nose of my truck on the left.

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Now east!

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Enjoy your day and stay safe!

Reset In Maybrook New York

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Like most every reset I like to take a walk with Vinny my dog. Today we are at the TA in Maybrook NY. I was told by someone who works here of an old farm that used to be in the area, so we went to take a look.

Here’s the stone entrance he spoke of.

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Whats that smell? The smell of death is never mistaken for anything else. Here is the carcass of a dear and other trash dumped by someone.

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A little further up the road and one would think they arrived at the town dump.

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Even more around the next corner. Many people have no respect.

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Some of the trash has been here a long time. When was the last time you saw one of these?

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A little farther in I found the old farm well and what looked like a large stone BBQ.

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Here’s the remnants of a cement block barn, and even more trash!

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Past this point I come into an area that looks like it was open pasture some time ago.

 

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As we are walking back to the truck I notice something shiny in the crotch of a tree. What in the world is that doing there? You never know just what you will find at old homesteads.

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As we walk back into the truck stop, I thought it fitting that this truck came out hauling hay.

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Well Vinny, time to kick back, pluck all the ticks out of my socks and your fur and take a nap. Goodnight all!

 

Fragile Lives, Shattered Dreams

When we were young the future was so bright
The old neighborhood was so alive
And every kid on the whole damn street
Was gonna make it big and not be beat

Now the neighborhood’s cracked and torn
The kids are grown up but their lives are worn
How can one little street
Swallow so many lives

[Chorus]
Chances thrown
Nothing’s free
Longing for what used to be
Still it’s hard
Hard to see
Fragile lives, shattered dreams

Jamie had a chance, well she really did
Instead she dropped out and had a couple of kids
Mark still lives at home cause he’s got no job
He just plays guitar and smokes a lot of pot

Jay committed suicide
Brandon OD’d and died
What the hell is going on
The cruelest dream, reality

[Chorus]
Chances thrown
Nothing’s free
Longing for what used to be
Still it’s hard
Hard to see
Fragile lives, shattered dreams

The Kids Aren’t Alright – The Offspring

I was just sitting in a truck stop restaurant having dinner and I overheard two young women, both in their early 20’s, discussing their lives in the booth behind me. One woman was very animated in describing her unhappiness with her relationship. She went on and on about he did this, he did that, he never this or that. I thought to myself how silly her complaints seemed to me, but is it just because I am male, or because I’m much older?

Why when her friend said just leave him and she countered with “but then I’ll have no money or car” did I feel like she just didn’t get it? She didn’t seem to realize how petty and shallow that sounded. Is she just that immature or does she see relationships as a way to get things? Is her self esteem so low that the thought of going it alone seem beyond the limit of her ability?

I will admit I was very much like her when I was young. My self esteem was so low I really didn’t understand my worth in this world, the value of my life was lost in the simple thinking of day to day existence. Without a goal, without a plan to achieve it, I was open to the influence of others looking to use me for their gain. Just as that young woman was using him for his car and paycheck, he was using her for sex most likely. I hope she wakes up sooner than I did and realizes the benefit to the world she could be if she just believed in herself.

I think the dreams of youth can be inflated by pop culture, social media, ideological professors, disconnected parents and other outside influences that can cloud a young and fragile mind. Too often we read stories of young “Snowflake” millennial’s that can’t adjust to the world outside of the collage cocoon, no “Safe Space” to run to so they wont be hurt by words or ideas they don’t agree with. Just because you have a degree in some social science dreamscape does not mean you will find a six figure salary your first day after graduation, or ever for that matter. I don’t feel bad that you now have a huge student loan, it’s your responsibility to pay it off not the government or the taxpayers. Welcome to the real world!

I don’t feel you need a degree in this world to make a difference. We all do our part to make things better in some way, even something as simple as holding the door for others has an impact. You don’t need a degree to check on your elderly neighbors instead of thinking “Meals on Wheels” or some other agency will insure they are fed and safe.  All the big ideals of Globalization has caused us to ignore the people in our small sphere of influence. We forgot what it feels like to truly help another individual on a personal level. I’ve done this in the past, and I’m going to do it again.

Every time I see a politician or celebrity on TV talking about this government program or that charity, how the children will suffer or the homeless are dying, it really makes me mad. I wonder if they ever directly bought some food for a poor family, brought a homeless person into their home and fed them? You can bet that NEVER has happened! No, they donate their time for the adds, hold a fundraiser for a charity, or just write a check. They go back to their gated community and congratulate themselves on how they made the rest of us look uncaring and mean spirited.

I’m afraid modern society in many ways has forgotten what it means to be a good neighbor, what it means to help someone directly. Oh there are those who volunteer at a soup kitchen or even join the peace corps and travel to Africa to help starving children. To them I say thank you for really giving it your all. But why can’t you start right here at home? Are not other countries responsible for their own destiny for the most part? Why should we neglect our own while sending billions overseas, sometimes to people who hate us? Am I wrong or does that just seem stupid!

I don’t hold out much hope that anything will change in the near future. Our leaders are so power hungry they are blind to the plight of ordinary people. They are so removed from reality that our voices are nothing but the incessant buzz of a house fly to be swatted. The saddest part of it all is that it’s our own fault. We keep blindly voting the same group back in time after time, even though we complain about the lack of results. Sounds like the definition of insanity to me!

What’s In That Trailer?

I’ve hauled all types of paper, food, booze, construction supplies, live plants, bagged mulch, wood shavings, and on and on. If it will fit in the trailer we pull it all across this country. When leaving Maine it’s almost always paper, and today was no different. The paper this trip is tissue in it’s basic form. This was made at the Baileyville Mill.

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I picked up this load in Hermon Maine today at a warehouse, but I was at the mill a couple weeks ago during a snow storm. Wood chips are brought in large trailers from area wood lots. The unloading process is to back the trailers onto a ramp, unhook, then watch as the entire trailer is tipped up and dumped.

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The chips are processed into pulp then pumped into the paper machines.

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Here are the finished rolls in the warehouse. They are huge!

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Can’t tell just how big they are? Compare them to a forklift.

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They are so big I can only fit 5 in my 53 foot trailer!

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The next truck you see ask yourself…whats in that trailer?

 

What Is Wisdom, And Where Can I Buy Some?

We all would like to think we are wise, refined in our thinking, complete in our depth of thought. Bold in our actions with the assurance of our ability to discern the proper path, the right way of things. With our perceived knowledge of a sage and the foresight of a prophet we sometimes fall prey to our own misguided plans that lead to sorrow or pain. I have been down this road, sometimes more than once. After careful thought I believe the path to wisdom is found in the realization of our mistakes and the focus of thought in not perpetuating the same.

Over the past few weeks since my father died I have been caught in a battle between sorrow and hope, disbelief and fortitude. On one side I feel the loss of someone dear, a wound only now realized in it’s pain. On the other I feel the excitement of my plans for a fuller life, the freedom of the seas and the restless longing for travel. I feel torn as to how long to mourn before release, how long to wait till I no longer feel guilty for past sins. I am not as wise as I wish for I have no answer.

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I question the wisdom of a job that can be very dangerous at times. One false move and my best friend and I could be injured or killed in the blink of an eye. I tell myself that the journey to happiness is fraught with danger. Only those who are willing to pay will succeed. Again, I hope I am right.

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There are days when the majesty of the open road take my breath away, the beauty of nature overwhelms you and you feel like all is good in the world. Moments like this are the saving grace in my life, the recharge of my internal batteries I so need at this time.

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When I drive in the early morning I feel a sense of peace as the sun rises. A new day has come, another chance to get it right. Even as I write this, tears well in my eyes with the hope of a future filled with the things I am most inspired by. Nature, photography, sailing, solitude, giving back to those in need. I will fulfill my goals no matter how long it takes.

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While stopping at a rest area I notice these two trees. They seem so lopsided in the growth of their limbs, very few between them. It comes to me the simple wisdom of it. It make no sense to grow limbs in the shade of each other, better to send more limbs and leaves into the sunny side. So too should be my life. No more standing in the shade of despair. Better to stand in the light of hopefulness, basking in the glow of the brilliant light of another day. Better to squint in the sunshine than stumble in the shade.

PS: In a shocking LACK of wisdom, the hospital that last treated my father sent a package to my mother a week ago…in that package was my fathers false teeth. Even though they knew he was sent to hospice, they felt compelled to mail them. Unbelievable.

What Inspires You?

Anyone who knows me understands that I am obsessed with sailboats, right mom? But realistically the boat is only a means to an end. The boat is one piece in the lifestyle I have been searching for my entire life, even though I didn’t understand the “Big Picture” until recently.

Some years ago I moved my folks to a town in central Maine called Sebec. We bought 2 plots of land and a 34 foot motor home. (If you look closely you can see Vinny in the windshield) 

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We stayed at a nearby campground for a month while my father and I cleared one lot to move the camper to so we could live while setting up their home next door.  Here’s a few pictures of the initial setup for the camper.

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Once this part was done we could place the camper and not pay for the campground. I had a power pole placed and we moved onto what would become my lot.  I think it was only a week or so until we had a bad hailstorm come through. Pretty big hail for Maine!

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My mother and I still talk about how much fun it was living in that camper.

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Later, after my folks home was complete and they moved in, I cleared further back on my lot to build a shelter for the camper. I rented a small excavator to do the heavy lifting then built the structure. At this point in time my father was recovering from cancer and couldn’t help much even though he tried.

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Vinny thinking with his stomach!

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This picture above shows the left side of the camper. What you don’t see is the area to the right and the whole reason I set the lot up this way. This is Meadow Brook, about 50 feet from the right side and down a small hill. (There are the young cinnamon ferns Jessica!)

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This was the point in my life I had broken from the drug use of my past. Every day was a struggle to suppress the urge to fall back on the “crutch” I had relied on for so long. My goal in doing all this was to help my folks live in a less expensive area and remove myself from all the reminders of my past, including every person that I knew from a very troubling time in my life. I wanted the freedom of my little spot on this earth where I could get away from the stress of everyday trials, my safe haven. What I didn’t realize at the time was I would not find my peace tied to one spot. My wandering spirit and lust for ever greater adventure was bubbling forth now that my mind was clearing.

Some years later when my father lost his drivers license, my folks could not stay here because they were to far from stores and no public transportation was available. My fathers dementia was also becoming more apparent along with his angry outbursts. Not long after my folks gave up their house to the bank and moved to an apartment I sold my camper and land. I started to see I was never going to be happy in one place, never going to feel at home living a “Normal” life as most do.

Just let it go

My lust for travel was partially satisfied when I bought my truck and rode through almost all the states with Vinny at my side. It was at this time that I started to understand what inspired me, what gave me a true feeling of freedom. The idea of having your home with you all the time means you always have your comfort zone. Like a turtle, your always home no matter what. Everything you need is within reach anytime you need it. I felt in control for the first time in my life.

laura-dekkerThe idea of a sailboat came from the story of Laura Dekker. Laura was the 14 year old Dutch girl who had a dream of being the youngest person to sail around the world alone, and she did it! If you have never seen her movie “Maidentrip” on Netflix you really should. I was totally inspired by her strength and tenacity even when her own government tried to stop her.

I don’t know if I will sail around the world, but I know living free on a boat, no rent or property taxes, no electric or phone bills, it’s the way I want to spend the rest of my life. Even now as I watch her movie again I feel a strong attachment not to her, I don’t personally know her, but to her spirit and her strength, her unwillingness to give up. Just like my father, she never quit and neither will I.

I’ve looked at many boats, read many stories and articles about this design and that. Studied what made this boat or that the ideal candidate for me, but I finally realized I was not really forming a plan, setting a goal. I think now I have the perfect boat in mind, the goal I need to focus my aspirations toward.

Lin & Larry Pardey Books and Videos

Lin and Larry Pardey are among America’s (and the world’s) most knowledgeable and recognized cruising sailors. They are known as “America’s first couple of cruising.” Together, Lin and Larry have sailed over 200,000 miles, including two circumnavigations east to west and west to east aboard self-built, wooden, engine-free cutters under 30 feet. Author of a dozen books, countless magazine articles, and co-creators of five cruising documentaries, Lin and Larry have shared their sailing experiences with tens of thousands around the globe prompting many to take up the sport and live the dream of the cruising lifestyle. Their motto has always been, Go simple, go small, go now!

The above image and script comes from Lin & Larry Pardey’s website. Of all the information I have read I believe theirs is the idea I should follow. I see no need for a large boat, all the amenities and all the costs that go with it. A boat 30 feet or less, very stout and strong, good storage and easy to sail single-handed. A boat that has a proven record of seaworthiness and open ocean passages. A boat I can trust to get me there. I have chosen a Baba 30.

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Watch this video for a complete understanding of just how beautiful they are.

Granted this one is in “Bristol” condition, and the one I purchase may not start out as nice, but I can purchase one for $40,000 to $50,000 or less. If I work really hard I can save the money over the next 2 years to purchase it, then work maybe 2 more years to fund a complete refit with enough money left over for a long vacation to give her a long shakedown cruise. After that I can drive part time or go back to landscaping in the summer, the one job I truly loved.

This is what inspires me, this is what I have been looking for all my life. The freedom to go where I want when I want. The freedom to work a job I love not just the best paying one. What are you willing to give up for the chance to live a life worth living?  I’ve made my choice.