A Diamond Amongst Gems

Convict Lake, CA    October 24, 2009

We love Convict Lake in the Fall.  If you’re one who loves the green of Spring, then get yourself to Convict Lake for the fire of Autumn colors.  Your love affair may just be enhanced multifold.

It was in the Fall that George and I made our annual trek to the lake.  We were meeting our good friends Ralph and Susan there for an enjoyable short week before they had to head back home in Orange County. Susan had their campsite bedecked with pumpkins and Halloween hocus-pocus just for the fun of it. I knew all this because we had the campsite right next door and up of them. Being situated just a little bit higher, I could look out my window and see the finery below. They had a new puppy in tow, an Aussie, a true bundle of energetic love aptly behaving to his breed. We had our Aussie in tow as well. He, however, had come of age and was pretty much settled in to just pure love as family dogs seem to do.

After the week together came to a close, we said our goodbyes to our friends and wished them a safe journey home. Being October at Convict, it was not long before Ralph and Susan’s site quickly appeared to be taken in by another group of people. George and I decided at that time to head for the creek that flowed from the lake to give our dog Toby  some free run and water play time before the campgrounds became repopulated once again.

On the return to our site, we noticed a group of four men had set up their rig below us where Ralph and Susan had been.  As we were passing by, one of the men literally ran out from a group of trees.

“What a beautiful dog! ” he yelled excitedly.  Our Toby, being affectionate by nature, responded accordingly and begged to meet this man.  It was love at first sight to the two of them, he, explaining he was a Veterinarian from Costa Mesa, and Toby, responding with wiggles and licks. Apparently, he and his buddies came up every October to fish and have man-time together. They, too, knew the secret of color at Convict Lake.

We discovered this man’s name was Joel, and we thanked him for his kindness to Toby. It was obviously just as much his pleasure.

Darkness came way too soon that evening for us. Because we could see our neighbor’s activity from above, it was kind of fun to get an inside view of what real men do when they are away from their wives. They began in much the way George and I did: Red wine at sunset, dinner preparations soon following.  Joel was cooking that night; a wonderful aroma of spaghetti sauce was on the Coleman stove on their table. The others were enjoying conversation amongst each other, no woman there to tell them to add more salt or any such thing. I heard them laugh occasionally, intuiting to me that they honored their long friendship over the years.  After dinner, Joel became the entertainment, bringing out a guitar and singing softly within the psithurism of pine and aspen trees.  This man thing, this being with long time friends, appeared not to be an over-rated thing; Rather, it was one of those highly valued things that only happens when true friends meet not only to fish, but because they insist that it happens.  Joel appeared to be a diamond amongst these gems.

Morning broke with a promise of yet another beautiful day in Paradise at Convict Lake. George had gotten up early and taken Toby for a walk. On his way George stopped at a restroom close to our rig.  He met one of Joel’s friends outside of the restroom.  He seemed a bit in shock.

“The Coroner will be arriving by our campsite shortly…” he began. “Joel died last night after we all turned in.” Of course, George was speechless, and so was I after he returned to our rig.

The morning was filled with silent scuffling and murmurs. Indeed, the Coroner did arrive in due time along with other officials and finally take Joel away.  His wife was coming to Bishop, the closest town, to take care of business. It was such an odd feeling to know what had happened in this place I had come to love and the living movie I had watched the night before about four men and a friendship. When one is surrounded by beauty, one doesn’t expect sad things to happen.

George and I spent two more days quietly at Convict… but so did Joel’s two friends!  They went about their business as if he was still there with them; they fished, they laughed, they cooked.  They toasted Joel.

When George and I got home, we looked through the local paper for any word of Joel’s passing.  Sure enough, there it was: An obituary one full column long, top to bottom. This man was not just a veterinarian; he was an amazing human being.  It told us Joel had been a veterinarian for 30 years. He had begun several Societies and Animal Care-taking causes including The Avian and Exotic Bird Society, The Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center and The All Creatures Care Cottage in Costa Mesa.  He was a Bonsai Tree practitioner and wildlife rehabilitator who once rescued a pelican from an oil spill and kept it in his bath tub until he was well enough to be released and THEN took it out on his surfboard several times to ease it back into its environment. All this on top of his leadership in several other animal related groups.

Joel was only sixty-two when he passed. He had been diagnosed with esophageal cancer and thought he had beaten it. When it returned, he believed the best victory would be living each day to its fullest and with gratefulness. It was no wonder we had the honor of meeting such a man. He was ready to learn about and love every being he met.

For us, he gave us a heartfelt compliment, that of loving Toby.

In the end, Joel gave to our world His Best. Whatever could be kinder?

 

 

For those of you who would like to know more about Joel, Google “Joel Pasco, Oct. 28, 2009, The Orange County Register.

 

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Plan B

Starting out, the  plan was to head for Lake Louise in Alberta, Canada. Neither George nor I had ever had a chance to see this calendar-worthy place, and I had always had visions of where and how I would photograph it.  This particular trip began in the summer of 2010.  I am adding that little bit of information because it is an essential, albeit poignant, part of this account.

Leaving Orange County in California, we headed north through Los Angeles. About the time we hit the populous San Fernando Valley, a startling thought suddenly occurred to me.

“George. I didn’t bring my passport.”

” I didn’t either.”

Silence prevailed for an uncertain moment as we both sifted through our brains for some kind of option at about the same rate.  Personally, I was thinking initially at warp-speed A) Egad. We’ll have to go back, quickly followed by B) Egad. We’ll have to go back AND fight the LA traffic all over again but with more traffic and heat as the day wears on, and finally in reality speed C) We just CAN’T go back.

George must have been going through the same processes as he spoke up about the exact time I had reached C. “Well… we can’t go back, but we can change our destination. We’ll just have to go to plan B.”

Hmmm. Another moment of silence.

“How about the Olympic Peninsula?” he added. “You know, the Pacific Coast Range and all that? We’ve never explored that area…”

Within a window of about 5 minutes, our entire agenda had changed to “Plan B”. Although I had been excited to see Lake Louise, this Plan B actually started generating new ideas in my head as to what we could see and the routes we could take. Having slowed down to 55 MPH during this Interstate Intermezzo, we now happily returned to 65 MPH pulling once again our home-away-from-home behind us. We had a destination to reach.

We had many adventures throughout Northern California, Oregon and Washington State along the way, following, for the most part, US Hwy. 101 through the beautiful peninsula with lakes and rivers.  But it was about Port Angeles along the Strait of San Juan de Fuca in Washington that we began to tire of being on the road every day and began to long for a respite somewhere for more time than just one night.

It was about that same time that an interesting handmade sign beside the road caught George’s eye:

“Homemade Elk Jerky. One mile ahead”.

Oh yum. My favorite, I was wise enough to say only to myself. But sure enough, there it was, one mile down the road as promised. A man and his motorhome and his elk jerky beside the road. It was a beautiful thing for any self-respecting jerky lover. George, of course, stopped in anticipation of smoke-enhanced elk deliciously cooked for hours with tender loving care. Need I mention I stayed in the truck with our dog Toby (well, in all honesty, I’m sure Toby was on George’s side with this one)?

George came back a happy man. He had bought a good supply of elk jerky which he immediately started in on.  For the record, I did try it; It was OK.  The best event, (in my opinion) however, was not the jerky but the information George received from the Purveyor of Fine Meats and I know not what else.  George had had the good sense to ask the man if there were any campgrounds within the area (he must have been a local, right? I mean, he had a motorhome and all…).

The man looked at George and our rig AND our CA license plate and  responded, “Sure! There just happens to be one down the road a ways. Just continue on down 101 and you will see a sign that says “Forks”. Look then for another sign that says “La Push”. Turn right and drive down the road fourteen miles and you’ll see the campground.”

Really, George?  FOURTEEN MILES off the main road? Again, I had the wisdom to remain silent. As we approached Forks about 25 miles away, I began to see cute little shops with Twilight novel-themed paraphernalia. Some people were even dressed as the characters in the series of children’s books.

I said, “Hey, look, George! This whole town seems dedicated to the Twilight series! … WAIT a minute! Wasn’t Forks the town in the series?”

He agreed it was. We stopped by the visitor’s center and learned that Stephanie Meyer, the author, had chosen Forks as the location of the novel because she wanted it to take place in the rainiest, gloomiest place in the United States. That would be the Hoh Rainforest in Washington State right next door to Forks! The ranger even gave us a map of the town so we could take a self-guided tour of the houses mentioned in the series. Who knew?!

We managed to make our way back to the 101 and find the turn-off for La Push.  About seven miles down a one lane road and weed country I finally began to have my doubts.

This time I threw my wisdom out the window and asked tentatively, “Umm, I don’t know, George. Did that guy appear to like having Californians in his state? Was he friendly?  Do you think he might possibly have been pulling a joke on us?”

George, forever trusting, just responded, “Let’s just wait and see.”

Mile fourteen was approaching and we had one last turn in the road to master. So far, no sign for a campground, no evidence of other human activity, not even the inevitable human trail of trash.

And…  there it was.

Before us lay an Eden not unlike perhaps that OTHER one. Imagine: A driftwood-covered beach and cove with a river emptying into it. A giant rock covered with its own forest. A fishing village and store. An inn and … A CAMPGROUND!

We quickly got a site and began to celebrate our good luck. We learned that La Push was an ancient Indian village, still occupied with a tribe. The words “La Push ” actually came from the French words “La Bouche”, meaning “The mouth” because of the river. When the native people heard the french words and weren’t familiar with the french language, they thought they were hearing the words “La Push,” and it stuck. The giant rock was a burial site for the Indians’ relatives. Traditionally, they would place their loved ones’ remains in canoes and hang them from the trees on the rock.

Oddly, this euphoric place is usually covered in a gray fog like the Pacific Range is known for, but to our great fortune, they were having a heat wave and the temperatures reached into the 90’s with clear blue skies and incredible orange sunsets ceremoniously displayed behind the giant rock. Toby loved the beach and since our stay here, Sunset Magazine has discovered it, too… twice! We stayed at La Push two more nights exploring the Hoh Rainforest with NO THOUGHT of rain. Seeing the wettest rainforest bright green in sunlight was another experience visitors seldom happen upon.

Alas, the old Elk Jerky Purveyor turned out not to be a jerk and an extremely kind person.  My wisdom thrown out the window was replaced with new learning about a very spiritual place.  My doubts have learned to become patient.  In the year 2009 Canada and the USA changed their policies regarding passport necessity because of growing security concerns for both countries. It was our good fortune that we had forgotten about that.  And, as for being passport-less in Canada?  That sounds like a movie waiting to be filmed… in Lake Louise.  Wink ! Wink!

 

 

 

 

IYAMAVIKING!

Going to a foreign country always seems to be a challenge in some way, whether it is a new language, new cuisine, new geography, or even new driving rules! However, all seems forgiven once you meet up with a true native who cares about people in general. Please allow me to share…

My husband and I were joined by two good friends on a trip to Iceland before it became the happening place it is today. We had many challenges to overcome because of the fact we went in the dead of winter, which meant research of their weather and the ensuing  appropriate clothing, which, in turn, led to extra baggage and weight, which, again, led to renting a large enough car to hold us all AND our luggage! After two car rentals we finally were able to head out to our hotel in downtown Reykjavik IF we girls held our luggage on our laps in the back seat.

We were pleased with our hotel and spent the first two days walking the city (it is a walking city) discovering both historic museums and wax museums to city water towers used also as a Convention Center to modern Music Centers. As serendipitous as travel may often be, we even happened to be there on “Woman’s Day” when ALL women are honored. My female fellow traveler and I happened to be in a flower shop when a man breezed through and gave each woman he saw a long-stemmed tulip. He cared nothing for the fact we were strangers to his land.  Needless to say, both she and I coveted our tulips the rest of our days there in Reykjavik, having put them in an empty plastic bottles on our window sills.

However, we encountered our first challenge the moment we arrived: There is very little parking in the city of Reykjavik. Had we missed the fine print somewhere? Hmmm. What to do with a rental car? Get up early and move it quite often! We needed that car to get out of town and see the many sights we’d read about in our research, but now we knew why the rental cars were mostly of the small variety.

It was on our third day we attempted to venture out of the city.  Believe it or not, accomplishing this became a major challenge. Unbeknownst to us at the time, the reason for this became two-fold: The main city streets and the major highway roads were often labeled with the same numbers, something I can’t understand to this day. After literally driving past the same boat marinas, water towers, restaurants, houses, etc. for an hour in what seemed like circles, the guys finally gave up and went into a gas station to (yes) ask for directions. AGAIN, serendipity befriended us, as there were two Icelanders in the station talking with the owner. Our men waited for a break in the conversation and then asked the owner how the heck one gets out of Reykjavik.  He showed them on the map and also explained the duplicate numbers the best way he could.  The two men listening looked at each other and shrugged their shoulders, adding, “Hey. We’re going that way. Just follow us!”.  We then also figured out why they were selling T-shirts in the local tourist shops with “Lost in Iceland” printed on them.

An hour and a half later, over the mountains and past the sea, the Icelanders we were following finally turned on their left turn indicator.  They turned and pulled off to the side of the road.  We followed as we wanted to thank them greatly! They came over to our car and told us to continue on up the road for about a half hour and we would see signs in English for the geyser we were interested in experiencing.  In thanking them, I noticed my friend studying their faces. She finally added, “You look like a Viking!” To which one of our guides replied proudly in a very loud voice, “I AM a Viking!”!  (Apparently, she was a Viking, too, in some past life).

So. Without the help of these two kind men, we would probably to this day still be circling Reykjavik, be it spring, summer, fall, or another winter. Their helpfulness was so greatly appreciated. After that day, we had no trouble figuring out the layout of Reykjavik and its outskirts.  I personally was hoping for a Man’s Day in Reykjavik after this. My friend and I would have had the perfect gift to give them, fresh from the window sills in our rooms, beloved as they were.

Wind

Anyone, who is anyone, knows Jalama Beach on the California coast is a wind surfer’s dream, but anyone, who is anyone, also knows there is a reason why:  It’s WINDY. Well, ninety percent of the time, I’d say. Anyone, who is anyone, would agree with me I’d also say. HOWEVER, here’s the rub: Not everyone even knows where and what Jalama (pronounced ha-lama) Beach is. I mean, yeah, it’s a beach; but it’s not your ordinary run-of-the-mill California beach. It’s more like an adjective rather than a noun: It’s… well… Etherial.

It is precisely because of that description rather than definition that I long to be there as many days of the year as I can, which, because we travel a lot to other wonderful places on Earth, isn’t very often. But that’s another story.

My husband was a firefighter. That meant he worked every other day for a while and then had a week off. It happened to be one of those weeks off that we decided to spend at Jalama Beach. We enjoyed a wonderful time there, and when it became time for us to address returning  home, I began to get a bit… pouty.  He was supposed to work a three-day schedule upon returning and I, in my ever-sideways-thinking-abilities, projected that I stay at Jalama and he could return and join me for the weekend.  This was not an easy task for him, let me assure you. We lived and worked in Orange County in southern California.  Jalama Beach borders northern California, basically 2 1/2 hours away IF you don’t encounter a snag or two going through Los Angeles (yeah, right).  I mean, what could go wrong?  We were “camping” in a trailer which was in good working order. We had a very attentive and protective dog (Oscar).  It was only three days that he would be gone.  The most amazing part of this whole plan was that he agreed.

It was a bright and sunny day that my husband drove off into the sunset leaving Oscar and myself to enjoy each other’s company. As he was driving away I decided to open one of our folding chairs to place on the sturdy wooden table and enjoy the color. Wouldn’t you know it! My fingers got jammed and stuck between the rods! In pain, I couldn’t even wave good-bye or even yell at him to quickly return… he had, by this time, gone beyond the cliff that overlooked the campground. Deciding I was not going to be rescued, I struggled with the dang chair until I was finally able to wrench my fingers free. Alas, as wonderful as my dog was, he was unable to assist me and could only lie there and watch me in my obvious dilemma. I remember thinking, “Egad. Is this a harbinger of things to come?”

As the sun set Oscar and I had dinner inside the trailer as the eternal wind began to get a little stronger. By the time I turned in it had grown into a filibustering tyrant. It occurred to me that the awning attached to our trailer  was beginning to behave more like a sail than a shade. I considered bringing it in, but unfortunately it was a two man effort as opposed a woman/dog proposition. By two o’clock in the morning I realized I was going to have to try my best to bring it in alone. In the dark. In the howling wind. In my nightie. Without my underwear (no time).

Out into the unknown I went, struggling at first to keep my dignity in place but then charging the awning full force, running from strut to strut to release locks and pulling the center cord like a window shade to get the thing in motion. It was not agreeable to my efforts.

Did I mention there happened to be other campers in this campground? Until this time, I was remiss in seeing them (watching me) from the moment my husband left until the moment one of them approached me at this ungodly hour and he simply asked, “Do you need help?”

“Ummm… Yes,” (she said understatedly).

Together we tried to roll it back in, but it was to no avail. It was somehow jammed after the wind had had its way with it (and probably me). At that point my rescuer disappeared into the night. I went back into my trailer to sit and ponder life. The next thing I knew was a knock on my door. I was shocked to see a Ranger in full uniform.

“Excuse me, ma’am. Your neighbor here came to get me to help him get your awning rolled back in place. I think I can help you.”

I sat down again. This life thing was getting even more worth a ponder.

Both men worked against adversity but they were able to get the job done. I, of course, thanked both of them over and over for different reasons. It was now 2:30 A.M. for Pete’s sake! Yes, things happen FAST on cold and windy nights.

The following day, those wonderful neighbors who I had met in the dark of the night had to pack up and go home themselves. I was sorry to see them leave as they had given me a sense of security and a new friendship. They, on the other hand, cleaned out their refrigerator of everything and insisted I take it all. They must have been a little worried I would end up isolated on this wind-forsaken beach and would never be seen again.

To the contrary, my husband cheerfully returned in two days asking what was new.

Thinking back, the pictures in my mind were baffling: Wind. Nightie. Fingers. Wind. Neighbors. Ranger. Wind. Underwear. Wind.  2 A.M.  Neighbors. Ranger. NO underwear.  Wind. A full refrigerator. Overwhelming thankfulness. Oscar.

Wind.

 

 

Inside a Small Box of Chocolates

Farran Village, County Cork, Ireland-

In September of 2006, George and I decided to experience the Land of the Irish on our own without the aid of a touring company. We did this because we had a full two weeks to explore a place we had never been, and hey, it appeared on the map to be simply a small island. We would be free to roam with plenty of time to see everything by accommodating ourselves without the baggage (sorry, can’t help myself) another couple might bring along. We have learned in our travels that with each addition of another couple, the time spent on waiting and decision making seems to advance at a logarithmic rate with each new couple.  To our dismay, we were only able to see HALF of this incredible history-laden island (Ahem; take note, fellow travelers).

Ireland seems to pride itself on it’s ability to be hospitable in that almost every other house has a B & B sign out in front of it. We did not know this prior to going to Ireland.  We had paid a rather-ish small fee here in America to assure that we would have a place to rest our souls each evening just in case we’d find ourselves lost in the Land of the Plenty-of-Celts. This seemed to work out fine for us most of the time, but we spent way too much time looking for our reservations that could have been spent in a local pub listening to that cheerful Irish music and making International friendships. In addition, I’d like to say there was a vast array of styles of living in these pre-arranged accommodations. But, like they say, it’s like a box of chocolates. Had we just walked up to a home of our choice, we probably would have been more comfortable some of the nights.

In our adventures throughout the southern part of the country we saw several billboards advertising a Ballyseede Castle in County Kerry, an authentic and refurbished one, open to the public for the staying and what they thought might be rich Americans. We had arranged to stay one night in a castle when we were planning our trip; We were hoping this was the one. When we arrived, we were welcomed with a short tour and were told our room was not yet ready.  We opted to have a drink in the library. The bar library: dark, enchanting, friendly.  This castle was elegantly appointed with satin and brocades, replete with knight’s armor, dining hall, side-room bar library, moat, resident ghost (Hannah) and two live Irish Wolfhounds at the entrance (very asleep, apparently not bothered in the least by apparitions). All this on acres of green… just green… front and back, forests to follow in the distance.  We were prepared to sell our dated car back home if need be to be able to spend just one night in this wondrous abode. As it was, that was not necessary.

After a night in amazing luxury, the next day we seemed to have gone from riches to rags in our accommodations for the evening. However, we were later to discover that our host , Oliver O’Callaghan, was a treasure trove of local history, and was more than willing to join us while we partook in Irish oatmeal in the morning.  He was quite outspoken, making sure we were aware that the world-famous Blarney Castle (think Blarney Stone) was historically “full of crap and the English.” Hmmm. Well, after all, we WERE in Ireland and if you’ve ever read any books about Irish/English history, you’d understand. At that, he recounted a story about a different castle, one somewhat close in proximity to the very B & B we were breakfasting in.  He went on to describe how we should check it out on our way to Kinsale that day if we wanted to see a REAL castle, giving us directions AND a book of B & B’s in that area and others.

Standing up and clearing the dishes, he returned from the kitchen and added, “I’m going that way.  I’ll take you there!”

We packed up our bags and did indeed follow Oliver down several country roads we would never have found on our own. Soon we arrived at Kilcrea Franciscan Friary (est. 1465 A.D.), sitting quietly by itself in a bit of historical ruination. Oliver got out of his car, and to our amazement, walked up to the locked iron gate, took out a key and opened it! He then began to share stories about the place as he invited us to climb the tower (which we did… scary, considering the on-going natural destruction of the place). Apparently this was the place the local people would hide in from the Vikings when they were in town centuries ago. He continued to give us a personalized tour and discourse of the abbey as we walked the grounds.  When we came to the main part of the church (now roofless), he went on to explain that when the English (there they are again) took over Ireland, they did not let the Irish Catholics bury their dead on “English” land.  So, the Irish would bury their dead INSIDE the Friary because it “belonged to God.”  He also related a story about a young Irish Roman Catholic, a Captain in the Hungarian Hussars Regiment of Austria (1746-1773) by the name of Art O’Leary.  He was hot-tempered and became involved in a feud with a Protestant land owner and magistrate, Abraham Morris, when he returned home from Austria. Morris was also Sheriff of County Cork at the time and  laid charges against Art following Art’s alleged attack on himself and the wounding his servant.  The feud continued. Morris demanded that Art sell him the fine steed that O’Leary had brought back from Austria for 5 Pounds. The law of that age was that no Catholic could own a horse worth more than 5 Pounds and could be forced to sell a more valuable one on demand of any Protestant. Art refused and challenged Morris to a duel, which Morris declined.  Morris then proclaimed Art could be shot on sight because he was now considered  an outlaw. Morris led a contingent of soldiers that tracked Art and was killed with the first shot. Later, Morris was killed by Art’s brother while Morris was in a window of a place he was staying in Cork. To this day O’Leary’s tomb rests in the Kilcrea Friary with his epitaph which we saw and photographed. On our way out of the abbey, Oliver walked to his car, opened the trunk, and showed us a beautiful picture book he had written and published about the history of the Friary.  It was his only copy and he had no more. We were not surprised when we saw it; After all, we were now rich with personal information about the area and its people given to us by our Oliver. However we WERE indeed impressed with his study and knowledge.  Above all, we were grateful for his gift of sharing his time and this place of history with us.  If there really is any truth in the Box of Chocolates theory, we found a sweet Irish Creme in this one man.  Thank you, Oliver O’Callahaghan.

 

 

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Amazing Grace

 

Crescent City, CA   June, 2010

Travel weary from pulling our 26 foot trailer from Orange County, my husband George and I decided to give in and try and find a place to stay overnight in what seemed like a simple community along the coast, nothing special, but easy to drive into. We didn’t want to unhook if we could find a place that allowed us to stay intact. We also didn’t want to pay an arm and leg in a city of this appearance; that is to say few bright lights and glaring  traffic. It was late for travelers to hunt for a spot unreserved.  However, we did see one that immediately that caught our eye next to the bay and somewhat uncrowded. We pulled in with fingers crossed and were greeted by a man looking about 60, an apparent hippie keepsake, who was friendly and more than willing to take our money. He gave us a spot close to the check-in area, exactly as we had asked for with pull through abilities. As we were setting up, I asked him if there was a store near-by we could walk to as we were short on supplies and needed to buy something easy for dinner. He pointed to a store about a block away.  I sighed a relieved breath to him and thanked him.

George and I continued to set up our rig and were almost finished when we heard a knock on our door.  There was our manager, hands full and aroma beckoning with fresh fried fish, cole slaw, fresh bread, and two slices of apple pie, all on good china (!) standing before us.

“My wife made this for you,” he started.  “She knew you didn’t have dinner things.”

We were stunned.  The delicious smell alone kept us drooling to the point of speechlessness. Finally, we managed to utter our grateful thank you’s as he passed the dishes into our rig.

I had to ask.  “Why did she do this?!  This is just so wonderful!”

He simply said:  “It’s what she does.” And then he left.

Needless to say, we gobbled up every bite as fast as we could.  By then it was after dark and too late to return the cleaned china to their rig.

In the morning, I waited until I noticed stirring about their spot and then ventured over to their site, dishes in hand.  Another woman (a friend?) was standing in their doorway as I approached.  The wife was outside, cleaning things up.  The woman in the doorway saw me coming.  She had a knowing smile on her face, but said nothing as I approached.

I walked up to the wife, dishes in hand, and said, “Oh my gosh.  That was so kind of you to send us dinner last night!  It was really a blessing as we were so tired from traveling. Thank you so much!”

There was no response from the lady.  She simply took the dishes without even so much as a smile.  No eye contact was made.  I looked at her friend in the doorway with a questioning look, but she, too, was silent except she had a friendly look on her face. I reiterated my appreciation, somewhat abashed this time, and  quickly went back to my own domain. I shared my experience with my husband and we both just sat and tried to figure it out. Was she deaf? Was her friend deaf?  Did she not have the ability to speak? Was she anti-social? Was she an abused woman?  Was she extremely shy?  Had she had trauma that left her speechless? Did she just not like me? Had her husband made her make dinner for us? Many of those questions I could not fathom being true after the care she had put in to making our dinner for us.

As it was, we ended up staying two more nights in this place along the bay, thanks to our manager/owner’s knowledge of the other people in the park (but that’s another story). I never saw the woman again out and about. To this day I still wonder about her.  Still, this I do know: Whatever her dilemma was, it made no difference.  Her and her husband’s kindness spoke soundly of their character, be it silent or deafening.