Three summer months traversing the western US, three months prepping our house for friendly renters/caretakers, and now we are off again on a journey with no concrete destination or time constraints.
We’ve taken one week in Rio Vista, close to our Airstream storage facility in Fairfield, California, to stage and prep our journey.
Our campsite is on the mouth of a maze of sloughs and canals on the edge of the Sacramento Delta. It is strange, looking out from the kitchen window seats and watching motorboats cruise out of the local docks below us, cows trolling the farm land directly behind, and an incongruous ocean vessel seemingly slowly skimming the landscape in a hidden deep water canal in the background.
What would be the best of camping, for this week is tempered by having to pay a pretty exorbitant site fee for the privilege of having no electricity, sewer, or water hookups, as the local water supply has been deemed unfit, so boondocking we go. Well… there are flush toilets (those that aren’t locked for the season), and the wildlife is awesome: owls, eagles, egrets, ground squirrels, feral cats, and the cacophony of cows remains constant. We meet fellow Airstream travelers, Scott and Cornelia, to share stories around the campfire. The serendipitous synchronicity of these types of meetings is magical, even more so fueled by fine wine.
Did I mention owls? I’ve always had a fascination for these silent swooping night scavengers with haunting hypnotic calls. You know you’re a geek when: you listen to hours of Roger Tory Peterson’s bird calls on CDs, the announcer listing the name of each bird and a recording of the call is played…twice. Having said this, when I tell you that we have heard the screech owl exclusively, there will be no doubt!
The most exciting thing besides recognizing the call of this mostly invisible predator is discovering owl pellets! They are usually found directly below roosting branches in hangout trees (kind of like beer cans in 7-11 parking lots) and contain the undigested remains of the owl’s meals. Careful inspection may reward you with what looks like coyote scat covered in hair and often with a pointy end…don’t make the mistake of probing that one, unless you are a geek of the third order! I picked up three (owl pellets) adjacent to our trailer and cut them open to discover small mouse bones and teeth buried deep within an “Easter egg” of fur.
One pellet contained the leg bone of a small crab, which answers the question: Are owls into “surf and turf?”
Why wandering, travel?
Re-framing, risking, imagining, cycling, exploring, provoking, questing, migrating, proportioning, stimulating, re-creating…
The obvious: travel takes us outside our norms and patterns of everyday life. The world around us bombards our senses with countless electro-chemical stimuli which we in turn order and form into patterns of recognition and consciousness. Perhaps one example of this would be the study of Pointillism, a technique of painting in which distinct dots are applied in patterns to form an image. Georges Seurat was one of the originators of this style, and I remember visiting the Art Institute of Chicago and standing too close to the painting, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.
Thousands of colored dots overwhelmed my senses, but upon stepping back everything blended into a focused and pleasant image.
Travel changes our perspectives and reframes our comprehension of the usual, besides pulling us away into the bigger picture. There is ever-present danger in this action though, as it challenges our opinions and world view. A study of humanity is very much a study of migration and exploration that, we believe, will take us into the stars.
Our human tribe does have several branches, however. Nomads are infected with the push of wanderlust provoking the desire to see what is around the next bend, whereas the pastorals find comfort and safety in the castle of hearth and home.
We like to think we have the best genes of both tribes in our Airstream. A moveable base camp with creature comforts and wheels to permit movement on terra firma, with a secondary tow vehicle permitting deeper flexibility of exploration.
Our summer wanderings taught us that there is potential agony and ecstasy in every moment, meetings with remarkable people and places, challenges to be met, and lessons to be learned. We’ve spread our wings and now travel south for warmth for winter and the road ahead.