Saturday, April 17, 2021

Love Letters to My Life #34: Taking a step changes the path

(We know the day we were born, but most of us do not know the day we will die. This love letter to my life is written on the day I've designated as my death day: the 17th of every month, and reminds me to be grateful for my incredible life.)    

It began when I bought a tent. The yearning for kayaking time on a lake had already prompted the purchase of a lime-green kayak and an easy-load rack. A couple of day trips to lakes close to Reno, though, had failed to scratch the itch for time on clear water surrounded by big trees. Turns out, my yearning was quite specific.

Camping appeared to be the only answer. Thus, the tent. Which lake was prompted by a decades-old memory of one night spent on the beautiful Lake Almanor, two hours north of Reno. So off I went for a four-day shake-down cruise on what I imagined might be my get-away plan to balance my urban life in Reno.

The lake was everything I remembered and more. The camping had some rough edges which I assumed would be smoothed out over time. With the pandemic in full swing, campgrounds were forced to close half their sites in an effort keep people socially distanced. At the same time, people were desperate to get away from their locked-down lives. Simply getting a camping spot required lining up at the break of dawn (or earlier).

Kayaking toward Mount Lassen

Leaving Reno at 5:00 a.m. mid-week, I lucked into a ponderosa-shaded beach site and settled in to a lazy schedule of kayaking, reading, napping, and making lists of things I needed to improve the camping experience. Afternoons were filled with exploring and kayaking other bodies of water in the area and the small town of Chester which has a lovely outdoor coffee shop, a tiny bookstore stocked with treasures, and the Blue Goose Gallery, filled with incredible art. This felt like my place.

Driving around the lake on day 3, I saw a sign: Vagabond Resort. Who could resist that name? I turned in, drove down toward the lake and saw the sign that changed everything: For Sale, posted on a beautiful lake-view deck alongside a 5th wheel RV. It was lust at first sight.

Three weeks later I was moving in to what I thought would be my summer get-away from Reno. It didn’t take long to realize I no longer wanted to live in the city, any city. Vagabond Resort is only open five months a year (something about 10 feet of snow making the rest of the year iffy); so I started thinking about possibilities for the other seven months. As much as I loved Reno, I wanted to live in nature, making friends with big trees, wildflowers, wolf lichens, and mosses.

The next six weeks were a head-spinning series of synchronicities that wound up with my seven-month winter home being in an RV park on the outskirts of Julian, in the mountains east of San Diego. This past winter was a steep learning curve teaching me how to live through winter in an RV while falling in love with the oak forest around me, and renewing connections to close friends in San Diego.

It’s now time to get ready for my migration north, from mountains to lake, from oak to pine, from walking trails to kayaking shining waters. A year ago, if someone had told me this would be my life, I wound have thought them crazy, and included myself if I gave it a moment of thought.

 However, although I didn't know it at the time, buying that tent was taking a step toward what was calling me. I truly had no idea I would wind up here in this rather unusual two-RV lifestyle, but I do know I’m deeply contented and grateful.

What is it you still yearn for?

Perhaps it's time to follow Sir Francis Bacon's advice:

"Begin doing what you want to do now.  

We are not living in eternity.  

We have only this moment, 

sparkling like a star in our hand - 

and melting like a snowflake."    

      -- Sir Francis Bacon


  1. I’m so glad you summarized your year. It IS crazy, and enviable on many levels.

    1. Thanks, Pat ... and thanks for all your help getting me through this first learning curve winter!

  2. You’ve made a wonderful life choice which will bring you joy and happiness through each season of the year. Thank you for the gift of your beautiful book. i so enjoyed reading it and looking at your amazing photos and artwork. I’m moving into a huge new house on a hill and it has a big guest room. Come visit anytime!!

  3. ReAnn ... send pics! And, I would love to take you up on it.