moon over a campground

Yesterday, I was midway through an entirely reasonable drive — three hours or so — when I decided I was too tired to keep going. So I didn’t.

I stopped at a rest stop, took a quick nap, then looked for a different, closer campground. I told myself that stopping early meant that I would have plenty of time to do useful things: work on Grace, write a blog post, sort my photos from the past several (busy) days, clean the van, wash the dishes, plan my next week’s destinations, walk Z, talk to R…

On that list of things, I walked the dog. That, I assume, is because she’s the only one of those things capable of nudging me in the leg and saying, “seriously, get moving now.”

Apart from that, I… honestly, I don’t know. Used up my time, anyway. I think I finished a jigsaw puzzle that took me far longer than it should have, and I know I made guacamole and salad dressing for my dinner. Oh, and I defrosted my freezer, which was urgent, because it had frosted over so heavily that I couldn’t get my chicken out. I then didn’t wind up eating the chicken, because it was so very frozen, but hey, it’s good to remember that I did something useful, however minor it was.

I did want to sort my photos, so I could post some pictures of the weekend, but I’ve used up my data plan for the month, so it would have been tedious to try to post pictures anyway. That’s to make me feel better about the failure. 🙂

But Tuesday of last week, I left my brother’s house and headed to my aunt and uncle’s. We had a nice visit — good walks, delicious food, ice cream at the famous State College Creamery, lots of conversation — and then on Thursday, I started on my way to Ohio.

My plans for Thursday/Friday were pretty vague: I’d been planning to maybe try to meet up with a stepsister and her family for kayaking and outdoor adventures. But the rain was torrential, so instead I camped for a night at Barkcamp State Park, right over the West Virginia border into Ohio.

I have absolutely nothing to say about Barkcamp. I got there in the evening, at almost 7, and it was raining. I left there around noon the next day, and it was raining. In between, I didn’t check out the trails, the bathrooms, the views, the utilities — I sat in the van and watched the rain. It was nice rain and a cozy day, but my opinion of Barkcamp is that it was very wet. I’m sure I’d have a different opinion under different circumstances. I should have taken a picture of the two inch deep puddle around my electricity pole, because it would have been an appropriate representation of my experience there. But I didn’t, because it was raining and I was wet and not interested in getting my phone wet.

After I left Barkcamp, I goofed around. Target, CostCo, parking lot adventures. I was headed to my stepbrother’s house for my stepmother’s 80th birthday party, planning to spend the night in their driveway, but I didn’t want to get there until after my dad and stepmom arrived, because my stepbrother doesn’t know me from Adam. Well, didn’t — I’ve now spent most of a weekend at his house, and he and his wife were warm and welcoming, so I’d feel a lot better about showing up alone at their house if I was doing it today. But on Friday, I didn’t want to do that. Alas, best-laid plans, and all that: C and my dad were delayed in a cell phone dead zone, so I had a chance to get to know my (warm, welcoming) stepbrother and his wife on my own.

Saturday was C’s birthday party. I really would love to post some pictures, because it was gorgeous. Pinterest-worthy in a major way. J, my stepsister-in-law, obviously worked really hard and has an eye for beautiful details, plus a green thumb. Or at least an ability to keep a lovely garden thriving and blossoming — the number of different flowers all in bloom was very impressive to me.

Fifty-some people came, including C’s brothers and a cousin and maybe a couple of their kids, plus seven of her children & stepchildren and some spouses, approximately thirteen of her grandchildren plus some spouses, and maybe seven great-grandchildren. Lots of food, lots of kids playing in the yard, and a day that after threatening more rain turned out to be beautiful.

Trying to think of the moments I would like to remember: a cousin of sorts (technically, I suppose, some sort of nephew) brought a drone and the whole party gathering on the porch for aerial photos. Sitting around the dinner table in the evening laughing about gout/misheard phrases. Stumbling across one of the kids who’d retreated to the house and was playing quietly by herself, and admiring her self-care instincts. Showing off Serenity to various people and wishing I’d washed the dishes and swept the floor. Helping M with flowers and later getting a chance to tell her how much I love her mom and how grateful I am for her presence in my life.

One of my stepbrothers — step-step brother, maybe? one of my stepmom’s first set of step-kids, anyway — and his wife managed to convince me that I really shouldn’t miss my chance to drive along the north shore of Lake Huron so I might be changing my travel plans to spend more time in Canada. I need to figure that out soon, I suppose, but it doesn’t have to be today. Fortunately, because somehow I am still really tired, far more tired than I ought to be.

And today is not going to be the day I would like it to be, because I need to get back on the road. Z has a vet appointment this afternoon — just for shots, not because her health has taken a downturn — so I’ve got some driving to do. And no set destination for the next few days. On Friday I’ll be in Michigan and all the people that I thought I was visiting there are either busy or non-responsive, so it’s probably going to be a much less sociable month than I anticipated, but that’s feeling sort of okay. Despite not being able to write for a few days and having spent far more time in PA playing video games than I should have, I’m feeling good about my progress on Grace. And looking forward to a few quiet days with nothing to do but focus on Noah and Grace and Dillon and Rose and bringing them all to their happy endings.

Oh, but I meant to write about Van Buren. I like it. I suspect it makes people driving big rigs and hauling big trailers sad, because the sites are not the biggest, but tent campers probably adore it. My own site has a nook — there is no other word for it — a little path into the woods and a space under a big tree that feels like wilderness, even though it is so not. It would be a fantastic place to place a tent. Or even a chair for some quiet time spent breathing in the green. Although given my current state of allergies and Ohio’s current state of bugs (soooo many flies!), I probably wouldn’t really enjoy it. There also seem to be plenty of trails, but all that rain has made them very muddy trails. I’ve walked a few steps into them and looked down at my little white dog, considered how excited I am about having a muddy little white dog (not) and not taken advantage of them, but if I was here for a few days, I definitely would appreciate all the places to wander. I don’t think there are showers, though, and no water hook-ups, so it’s probably not a place I’d want to stay for more than a few days anyway, even if I didn’t have to get on the road to bring Z to the vet.

And the other thing I wanted to at least mention is that today is the 2nd anniversary of Serenity’s arrival in my life. Later, maybe I’ll write some profound things about what I think as Year 2 draws to a close, and maybe a month from now, when it’s actually my second anniversary of being on the road, I’ll write more of a summary of the year, but today… well, it’s been a ride, that’s for sure.