On Tuesday, I finally left Pennsylvania. I was a little torn when I started out — part of me wanted to stay in my comfort zone — but almost as soon as I was underway, I started feeling the thrill of being on the road again. I think I have some bio somewhere where I described myself as liking “cautious adventures” — setting off on a long drive, being on a strange road, wondering what comes next, it’s just fun. Even when it is going to be a long drive.

And I had a bizarrely nice experience on the road that I want to remember: I stopped for groceries at an Aldi in a town whose name I don’t know. It was just after the Malden Service area in New York State, and I had to drive on some little winding roads to find it, but then walking in, it was your basic Aldi. Maybe a little more run-down than most, with prices across-the-board slightly higher than most, but still the cheapest gluten-free cookies and decent Greek yogurt.

When I got to the check-out line, though, I went back and browsed some more because the line was so long. Finally, however, I bit the bullet and got in line, because it was not going to stop being long. I think I was probably the fifth person in the one-and-only line and before long there were several other people behind me. I couldn’t help noticing that it was a very diverse line. A couple young black guys, some older women, a Hispanic mom with kids, a person in a motorized cart… I don’t remember everyone, but it was a multicultural crowd — diverse by race, ethnicity, age, disability, everything.

And then a second cashier showed up and opened a new line. And people were so incredibly nice! There was no pushing, no rushing to get to the new line. There was much, “oh, you go first, you don’t have much,” and “no, no, you’ve been waiting longer.” I stayed in the old line, because the two people who already had things on the conveyor belt had lots of things, as did I, so I figured we could be the line of lots of things while the other line could be the quicker line, but the whole group of people just sort of organized ourselves that way. Kindly. Nicely. Generously. Politely. People spoke to one another and everyone was… respectful. Kind. Patient and friendly.

It was a seriously… well, honestly, a seriously odd experience. But lovely. Really, truly lovely. No one was impatient or hostile — we all just accepted that we were in this boat together and that we’d all get our turn eventually. And obviously, I can’t read minds — maybe some of the people behind me were fuming, maybe some of the ones that I wouldn’t have been able to hear were grumbling under their breath. But all the people around me behaved beautifully.

I’m not going to say it renewed my faith in the world, because despite all of the horrible things in the news every day, I’ve never lost my faith in the world. But I did sort of wonder whether we were all choosing to behave better because of all the horrible stuff in the news, because this seems like a time where we all feel helpless & overwhelmed, and being kind to a stranger of another race or culture is our own little match against the encroaching darkness. Or maybe it’s just a town of really nice people. That could be, too. I wish I knew the town’s name.

Post Aldi, I continued on to Westport, New York, to meet up with an online acquaintance from the Facebook Travato Owners group. Chrys is a fellow solo full-timer, closing in on her third year in her van, and an artist. She commented on a FB post of mine, something about our paths someday crossing, and I realized our paths were pretty close to crossing right now, so we made someday today.

She was staying at an independent campground, the Barber Homestead Campground on Lake Champlain. I mostly avoid the independents in favor of state parks or ACoE campgrounds, but I was so glad I didn’t in this case. My spot (#37) was great, possibly the only site with an actual water view. The showers were fantastic — clean, great water pressure, lots of hot water, and the individual room model, so you’re not actually showering in a place that strangers can walk in and out of. I like that in a shower. I also wound up doing laundry, because there were two laundry machines, reasonably priced at $1.50 per load. There was a pavilion with picnic tables, nice walks, tons of wildflowers, a beautiful 1800s school house, a gorgeous lake, an arts-and-crafts festival happening in the town…

And a new friend, too. I imagined, I suppose, that Chrys and I would meet up, chat for an hour or two over dinner, talk about Travatos and our travels and the FB group, and then wish one another well, wave good-bye, and anticipate meeting again on the road someday, maybe at one of the larger FB group meet-ups. Instead, she fed me delicious zucchini noodles over quinoa while we talked for MANY hours, until it got dark and the bugs were nibbling. And the next day we went to the arts-and-crafts festival together. And then had dinner together again and talked for many more hours. She’s a person who makes friends everywhere she goes, and so has great stories, a great attitude, a great approach to life. It was such a pleasure to meet her and get to spend time with her.

view out the van window

Room with a view

I didn’t get any particularly good pictures: in fact, most of them look out-of-focus. Since I’m using my phone — which doesn’t actually require me to focus! — I think that means I need to clean my lens. But I should do that soon, because I have already moved on from Barber Homestead and am at a state park in New York, my first NY State Park. I want to take lots of pictures. It’s fun and nostalgic and unfortunately, I’m going to have to write about it some other time, because the campsites don’t include electricity and my laptop battery is just about dead. So much to write about, so little… well, electricity. I’ve got the time, just not the charge. More soon!