Just Shelley Places

Found Gift

I rented a car and drove to Crissy Field and spent a glorious afternoon walking around the Golden Gate Bridge and the beach. The tide was low and the waves were strong so a lot of surf boarders were out. Takes guts to surf around the GG Bridge.

Weather was awesome — brilliant blue skies, cool enough to make walking comfortable, and just enough breeze to blow that wonderful sea spray smell into my face. After all the rain, Crissy was full of all sorts of plant life and the sharp, fresh, green smell from the Field was the perfect accent to a perfect day.

Best of all, absolutely best of all: I can walk reasonably well on water packed sand or dirt (concrete’s disastrous for me); that combined with using a great deal of caution, and I was able to walk the entire beach without having my knee go out AND with relatively little pain. At the end, I jumped up on the sea wall, spread my arms wide, and screamed “I am woman! Hear me roar!” “G-rr-rrr-oarrrr!”

Well, I wanted to and thought about it but there were people around with dogs and I didn’t want to scare the dogs.

Wait, wait! The day’s not over. Tonight I got home and my Mom had sent me a Christmas present — a beautiful Meade ETX-70AT telescope. How did she know that I’ve always wanted a telescope? How did she know which one I wanted? It was about the best Christmas present I’ve ever had. I feel like a kid again!

When you have a day like today, it becomes a found gift — a day that fate gives you, rather than one that just happens.

People Places

What the folks say in the midwest

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

I am not a very outgoing person. It’s uncommonly difficult for me to just start talking to strangers, not because I don’t like people, but because there’s a part of me worries that I’m encroaching—intruding into people’s personal space.

During the trip last week, I deliberately went out of my way to get into situations of talking to people I didn’t know, every day; at rest areas, at breakfast, gas stations, whenever the opportunity arose. We generally talked about weather, traveling, destinations, but occasionally the conversation would focus on the Middle East, Iraq, and the war on terror.

Almost all of the people I met were retired (hence traveling in September), and most were from the mid-west, though there were some exceptions, such as my flower children of a previous post.

There was a couple I met in the Roosevelt National Forest who were from New York. She was the one who told me to look out for the wild horses, with coloring unique to the area. She told me many things, her talkative nature matched by her husband’s absolute and complete silence.

They had flown out of New York before September 11th, because they didn’t want to be in the city. Their son had been in the World Trade Center the day of the attack, though luckily he had gotten out, but he still works in the general area. She talked with a friendly smile, but with a desperation as if she had to talk and talk and talk. And the more she talked, the angrier and more quiet her husband became.

I sat with another couple at breakfast in Wisconsin and we talked about Iraq. They had voted for George Bush and support him still, but are confused: they didn’t understand what the urgency is in going after Saddam now. They expressed concerns about how difficult this fight would become, and the potential loss of lives. I was particularly pleased and proud, though I’m not sure why, when I heard them say that they were concerned about the loss of innocent Iraqi lives. Not just our people, but people over there, too.

There was the elderly man at the rest area with his ancient mutt that he jokingly referred to as a miniature Great Dane. The puff of fur was no bigger than my last stack of pancakes, and it was hard to say who of the two was creakier when they walked but sweeter of disposition.

When the weather drove me to an early day in Rapid City, South Dakota, I chatted with a woman taking her two daughters to college in upstate New York. We were both thankful to have found a hotel room. I watched her as she walked off to join two daughters, two smaller boys, and a cat in a carrier. And she could still smile. Amazing.

In one combination gas station/restaurant I stopped to get gas and some coffee. When I walked over to the help yourself coffee pot, a group of farmers sitting nearby stopped talking, uncomfortable in continuing their conversation with a stranger in their midst. However, as suddenly as they stopped, they started talking again, as if aware that their silence said just as much about them as their conversation.

And in almost every inn and hotel, a television set was running with a story that seemed to continue round the clock: invasion of Iraq. It formed a backdrop for all of the conversations, sitting as a silent participant at the tables, walking along side the paths, mingling in the crowds — not heard directly, but felt.


Road Trip

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

From this hour I ordain myself loos’d of limits and imaginary lines,
Going where I list, my own master total and absolute,
Listening to others, considering well what they say,
Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating,
Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me.
I inhale great draughts of space,
The east and the west are mine, and the north and the south are mine.

Walt Whitman, Song of the Open Road

In the morning I begin another one of my road trips, except this time I have no particular destination in mind, and journey for no purpose other than the feel of the road beneath my wheels. I’ll most likely be starting a new contract soon, and wanted to grab one more adventure before settling in behind cubical walls.

I promise copious photos and interesting stories from my (paper) journal when I return.

In the meantime, I owe some answers about RDF to some folks, as well as a couple of book reviews. I just finished the RDF posting, and I’m going to try for one of the reviews, but the other, on Geek Love will never occur, I’m afraid. I found I could not finish the book.

Geek Love is a story that’s based on the human drama, played out in a circus sideshow. Unfortunately, since I was a small child, I’ve always hated sideshows, freakshows, anything of this nature. I can’t stand Ripley’s Believe It or Not, and positively loath Ye Olde Curiosity Shoppe in Seattle. I once watched the Movie Freaks when I was younger, and had nightmares for months.

I have no doubt that Geek Love is wonderfully written — the reviews of it are incredible. But the subject defeats me, and I must apologetically and regretfully return the book to the library. Denise, sorry!