I am still here! It is nonstop since I arrived back home. Overwhelming is an understatement. I knew better than to go into the rabbit hole of losing direction with everything on my plate. I found that I have a nice calm to myself. Yes!
I arrived Saturday afternoon and started to unpack my car, and by Sunday, I had finished phase one of folding up my year on the road. I can't believe how much stuff came from my car's tiny space.
On Tuesday, Mike will dissemble the build-up, but on Monday, I am already stopping at local car dealers.
I have a week and a half of doctor appointments. I'm trying to make sure my health is in a good place. My blood work shows the best results ever. Pretty much every doctor I see tells me, 'Whatever you're doing, keep doing it.' I see it as a prescription to get back into the wild.
Interestingly, I don't have a hard time watching Mike take apart my cocoon, I know I am ready for my next "home." I am also surprised that I don't have a nostalgic feel for my surroundings. Even when I visit my apartment to say hi to Randi, my wonderful tenant, I don't feel this belongs to me, even though I am renting it fully furnished. It baffles me, but I like Jennie's thoughts. She said, "That is great. There is no conflict." True, there is no conflict. I know where I belong.
As Mike takes apart my setup, Wendy and I help empty the rest of my gear when Wendy screams, "Oh my god, look what I found." YAY! My glasses! I almost bought a new pair. I am unsure how they fell to that side of my bed, but the only way to find them was to take apart my bed setup.
My days are long and hectic, but I have to squeeze in a hike to fill my heart. The next few days are calling for rain. I live near two beautiful parks—Ramapo Reservation in Mahwah, NJ, and Harriman State Park, NY.
As I get closer to entering Ramapo Reservation, a big smile takes over my face. Now I feel at home! I have been hiking in Ramapo Reservation for over thirty years, and I know the trail system inside out. I just have time for a short hike.
It is already close to six in the evening and there is not much daylight left, but it's one of my favorite hiking times. What's great about this park is that you don't need to hike far to enjoy a landscape of lakes and waterfalls.
The nonstop rain lets me focus on going through all my belongings and packing them to donate. Honestly, it's ridiculous how much stuff I have and don't need. It is important for me to give it to a local charity, and I found through the Archdiocese of Newark, The Mercy House. I am glad someone else will enjoy them.
A week passed, and I accomplished quite a lot. I have already test-driven three minivans and did considerable research online. I am narrowing it down to the Toyota Siena or The Chrysler Pacifica.
I am happily taking Saturday off to finally meet with Lee-Ann, who has followed my journey since the beginning. Throughout the year, we kept in touch through Messenger and Facetime. She is passing by on her way home to South Carolina from a trip with her trailer. Sitting across from each other and catching up like old friends is super fantastic. We do hope to meet again on the road one day.
Yesterday was another day I am so excited to take off. I invited my "Pit Crew" for dinner and I am cooking! Cooking is another creative outlet for me, and I always love sharing it. Tonight, I want to celebrate each of them and thank them for their beautiful support. (With all my excitement seeing my dear friends, I forgot to take a group picture.)
One of the dishes I am making for tonight is a creation I came up with back in March after I felt I needed more flavor in my food.
One evening, while camping, I decided to take a risk and pour salad dressing into my pan; I knew I might ruin my only dinner, but I desperately needed a change in flavor. Since then, this salad dressing has been my secret ingredient.
I sauté onion until they are light brown, then add the chicken sausage (I peel off the casing). I stir them both for about ten minutes and then pour some of the dressing. When my tortellini is ready, I pour most of the water, leaving just a bit to help mix all the ingredients. (see photo for ingredients.) It turns out I am not the only one who thinks this is surprisingly delicious.
I miss writing, but funny enough, I need to be in nature to put my thoughts into words, and I need an unfamiliar library to sit down and let my fingers dance on my keyboard.
By eight thirty a.m., I am parking at the end of Johnsontown Rd. at the circle—my favorite trailhead parking lot at Harriman State Park. The parking lot only fits a few cars, so an early start is a must; especially on the weekends. I take a short hike of four miles, Pound Mountain and Dater Mountain Trail. I love this hike for its many diverse terrains. Not for anything, but there is a reason why they called this County Rockland County. It's a good idea to hike in this area with hiking poles.
Boy it feels like I was just here yesterday, hiking through these dirt paths, finding my footing on the many rocks on the trail, surrounded by so many trees. It feels like home again.
I go into my la la land and let my thoughts fill my mind.
Maybe it's a full circle with this hike that brings me to this understanding about myself, or Eva Marie's words that still ring in my ears: "We love you the same as before you left a year ago."
I was always who I am! I was never lost; I just didn't have the space or the tools to rise to the surface. There is no "old me" or "new me". There is only an "improved me."
So here I am, sitting at Tuxedo Park (NY) library, putting my notes to another post. I have been passing this building for years, not realizing what a charming library it is.
I am super excited and a bit nervous this Friday morning. Mike is meeting me at the Chrysler dealership to check out another minivan...