"What a wonder life I've had! I only wish I'd realized it sooner." Colette

May 25, 2016


“Wyoming is 50% Baramite.”

“I’m not familiar with that religion.”

'Tom' looked at me. “No; makes the ground water taste a little salty; a little briny.”

Ptew, ptew…a LITTLE briny?  I stepped into the (campground) shower a cuke and came out a pickle.  Good thing Tom helped me hook up when I dropped into the tiny campground outside of Baggs, Wyoming, across the border from Colorado.  He offered a gallon of drinking water, recommending against hooking up to their system.  Fortunately I've been hauling enough, and usually pick up a gallon jug while spending the night at Walmart.

Tom is a disabled Vietnam vet with some strong opinions about insurance companies, bossy broads and greed. As I listened I found I agreed with some of his grievances, but more than anything I believed Tom needed what I do so often: someone to listen, really listen, with interest and without lip service.  That’s hard enough to find in a world of people you know, let alone strangers.

Living on-and-off the road the past half-dozen years, many of the fellows I've run into have been veterans down on their luck and/or emotionally shattered, like me. They often live solely with a pet, like me.  Some never fully recovered from Vietnam and much of America's non-welcoming return home. I can't say like me, but returning home after my mid-life crisis-adventure was just as traumatic.

I had a bit of an epiphany the other day while listening to a radio broadcast about soldiers and PTSD.  The discussion was whether all PTSD’s are created equal; not that any veterans are ‘faking,’ oh no; but that there are more issues facing returning servicemen and women than just getting over the horrors of war.

Often it’s reintegration with society which causes much of their stress, and civilians can suffer from PTSD, too.  THAT is something with which I can truly identify.

I lived on my trawler, Ruff Life, in the Caribbean for 12 years; from 1997 (shortly following the death of Princess Diana) until 2009, when my own world exploded.  Sure, I had a few trips home to visit family and shopping malls, but anchored in la Parguera I was oblivious to most of the world's doings.  The longer I was gone the more disenfranchised I became, without realizing it of course.

When I returned to terra firma, ‘home’ was no longer home.  I felt like a cave-woman emerging, I lamely tried to explain to everyone I knew.  I found a society too fast to understand let alone embrace. I’d missed the changes as a result of 9/11 (although in Puerto Rico we all suffered repercussions); and the Internet revolution? Fuggedaboudit.

I was lost.  I didn’t know how to act, or rather react, to people, situations, everything.  Family and friends, while sympathetic, understood me as little as I did them. Everyone expected me to just jump back into my old life, and I've wasted precious time trying to catch up.

“What HAPPENED to you?!” pal Rita demanded when I returned.

What happened to ME?  What the hell happened to YOU people? When did everyone become so angry and hostile towards one another?  Our parents disagreed with one another, but didn’t pack a pistol to dinner parties to bolster their argument. People were doing and selling things on TV which were revolting, so I could only imagine the movies.  I was wrong.

Law and Order, a favorite show, was in season 3 or 4 when I left, but at Rita’s there was something on called SVU.

“Look at…when did they startRITA!!”

“What’s the matter?  You should see CSI!”

That says it all. Now lest you think I’m criticizing my friend, no; she just happens to represent societal views to me because she was the last friend I saw before leaving the States and the first I met upon returning.

I can relate to vets with PTSD more than many of you, and that’s not just an unhappy observation.  I continue to feel lost in today’s society; doubting my opinions and sensitivities when gauged against the ‘norm’; which is why I prefer solitude and wandering with BC.  It helps keep my sanity, particularly after being exposed to television for any length of time. Believe me when I say I’m happier this way.

As for Travels with Buttercup, we picked up the Lincoln Highway in Wyoming.  It’s the first transcontinental automobile road, running 3500 miles from New York to San Francisco. Originally a private enterprise, the government stepped in with matching funds in 1916 and the old network of trails and roads became Highway 30 and later Interstate 80.  Who knew?

Minor shaffoos and learning experiences continue along the trail, but nothing life-threatening. There’s a feeling of confidence being surrounded by truckers, and BC has an ear-splitting bark.  I did finally leave my gasoline cap behind at one station, but the owner of the Wyoming park had several from which to choose, gratis. That nice park ranger explained how to open the bear-proof trash bins when I was near to tears.  Tom provided a missing piece for my sewar hose setup, which I’d left behind in Oregon, and even kept his foot on it while I was dumping my tank to make sure it didn’t move. What a guy.

Last night I tucked into a darling campground* before a horrific storm arrived, complete with thunder, lightening and hail.  Apparently the worst of the ‘cloud’ was over the campground. More afternoon  storms were predicted throughout the weekend, so once the sun came out this morning we skedaddled from the area, but you know the saying:  you can run but you can't hide.  There are literally dozens of semis and other RVs parked in this far lot of Walmart, being buffeted as I type.  I remembered my dare to God that I want to go in a natural disaster, but now I'm glad for the extra 700-plus pounds.

“The wind began to switch; the house, to pitch..." 

The Point of Rocks Campground on the Lincoln Highway in Potter, NE welcomed us with the nicest spot for $20 a night, full hookups.  Nice, helpful owners, and the water tasted great!

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