Category Archives: Health & Fitness

Road Rage Redux

Now at home, in the crowded Baltimore Metro area, I find myself falling back into some old, bad habits. Rush_hour_traffic_in_Washington,_D.CSpecifically, the tendency to judge other drivers and be mad at them. So many cars in so little space makes for some crowded road conditions. Cars are abundant, omnipresent. I forget sometimes that, in each of these vehicles (usually one person per vehicle, unfortunately) is a human being. Driving a car does not, as we may believe, make a person immediately an idiot. It’s so easy, though, to fall back into that mode.

800px-Photograph_of_Shirley_Highway_During_Evening_Rush_Hour_Traffic_-_NARA_-_546644Driving down the road I find myself angry without much provocation . Angry at the people behind the wheel of all those cars. “You cut me off, you dumbo!” “Where did you learn to drive?” “That was such a stupid move!”  Truth be told, drivers of cars frequently make mistakes. Some are small and irritating. Some are huge and irritating as well as dangerous. I’m not saying that I should be able to ignore the dangerous moves of another driver. That would be dangerous for me!

The question is, how can I ignore, or rather accommodate, those little driving gaffes that we all make. 800px-Signal_korea_3red_and_left_TurnYou know, the small things. Like changing one’s mind in line under a red light and not quite fitting into the new lane, thus blocking my way (as if I’d get far anyway!). Or, forgetting to use one’s turn signal until the last moment or not at all. Any driver wanting to move their car in front of you in the travel lane. These small things are not life threatening (usually) and can be accommodated. I can relax and not let them bother me. Even better, maybe I can even back off a bit to help the person who changed their mind under the red light and move a few inches so they can fit in. Or, give a little wave and a little space to the guy who wants to nudge his car in front of yours. Relax. Smile at the person in the other car.

lossy-page1-800px-EVENING_RUSH_HOUR_TRAFFIC_ON_PARKWAY_EAST_AT_PITTSBURGH_PENNSYLVANIA_-_NARA_-_557229.tifIt’s a good exercise for me – to actively practice unclenching; relaxing. To help another driver in a small way. It doesn’t really make me late. Not at all.  There’s lots of tension involved in keeping people from “taking advantage” of me. Which is exactly the bad habit I’m in danger of falling back into.

So, I’ll take a cue from The Voyage of the Tramper and see my fellow humans, even those behind the wheel, as the lovely, intelligent, capable people that they probably are and give them a break in traffic. 800px-Traffic_jam_Rio_de_Janeiro_03_2008_28It enriches me to be generous. And it just might make someone’s day.

– Jane

All photos in this post are from Wikimedia Commons.

Project Clean Stream – 4/06/2013

We worked at the Loch Raven Reservoir, trash was located

We worked at the Loch Raven Reservoir, washed up trash was located on shore…

ALL STREAMS LEAD TO THE CHESAPEAKE BAY!  At least around here they do.  Check out the amazing size of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed on their site.

...then gathered by mountain bikers, with the help of local high school students...

…then gathered by mountain bikers, with the help of local high school students..

...then hauled out by bike, for the city to pick up

…then hauled out by bike, for the city to pick up

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Even during our Voyage on the road we knew what was going on in Baltimore.  We arrived home just in time to participate April 6 in one of my favorite local causes.  Mountain bikers have issues.  We love the outdoors, we love the trails.  We even get along with most other users, despite the “Mountain-Dew” commercial image of flying muddied bikers wreaking caffeinated havoc on  downhills with jumps and loud thrashing.  We recognize everyone’s right to be out there enjoying the same places we love.  Managing this and supporting sustainable trails is important.  Another issue is trail access, in this we have an international ally.  IMBA is the International Mountain Biking Association, who educate riders and agencies as well as provide advocacy.

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The International Mountain Bicycling Association is a non-profit educational association whose mission is to create, enhance and preserve trail opportunities for mountain bikers worldwide.
Who else was out there this April ?: Chesapeake Bay Foundation picture (see the link below)

Who else was out there this April ?: Chesapeake Bay Foundation picture (see the link below)

Other groups are out there too.  Getting along and aligning missions gets more done.   Gladly we don’t have to work against each other even though there have been historic cases of one trail user wishing the others would go away.  No, today there is actually coordination going on.  MORE is the region’s mountain bike club, Mid-Atlantic Off-Road Enthusiasts.

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Project Clean Stream is an annual event including Bluewater Baltimore, MORE, The Alliance for the Bay and other groups.  They have been making it easier for individuals to have an impact for years.  All we have to do is call, or email, then SHOW UP.  Our “little” Bay is impacted by citizens hundreds of miles away in 6 states.  Maryland of course, but also Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, DC, and even all the way up there in New York.  Check out some local links:

Project Clean Stream

Chesapeake Bay Net

Save Our Streams, MD Chapter

Maryland Department of Natural Resources

Some good news at Chesapeake Bay Foundation

I think my favorite part of all this is that in the frustrating world of decay and negativity, we are making a difference.  We are making progress!  I was born in the early 60’s and remember some dead streams I played in as a little boy.  I remember our old stinking Inner Harbor.  I’ve read and SEEN that there are rivers and streams now, that are healthier now than then.  I’ve seen crayfish, a fragile sign of stream health, thriving where once were murky, stagnant and lifeless trickles of a stream. It has been in our lifetime that we learned how small the Earth really is.  It has been in our lifetime that we construct fewer concrete culverts and actually encourage streams to slow down and add life to the water and those who live nearby.  It has been in our lifetime that we’ve begun taking steps to preserve our habitat.

I am impressed and encouraged to be a small part of our World.  Like the Elephant Parade (posted last week in Wow, Now What?), I am finding my place in a city, finding my place in the working world again.  Enjoy the wiki of ecology: the relationships of living things.

Wiki ecology

WOW, Now what?

First I’d like to thank anyone who checked in, commented or just plain enjoyed any part of our adventure via this blog.  We never considered having a big audience or following, only wanting to chronicle a little and maybe make a vicarious thrill available for family and friends.  Next thing we knew, we realized we had to keep up.  Writing regularly was the only way to avoid that overwhelming list of “things we should do”.  It grew to be a true joy and an integral part of the Voyage!

Second, I invite pretty much any of you to borrow the Tramper for your own trip.  REALLY!  Through some nice, mutual agreement (not necessarily financial), I would love to see someone else’s dreams facilitated.  A new pair of tires, a battery, or maybe some cool as yet unknown accessory could comprise a rental arrangement.  Additional requirements would include a discussion of the “value” or replacement cost and the suggestion of insuring the camper.  One final requirement would be a display of commitment or intent.  “You” would have to demonstrate a beginner’s understanding of towing safety, RV boon docking, propane safety, and a willingness to learn about the Tramper in particular.

Its simple really, remember I knew nothing about any of this before locating the derelict camper in Delaware.   The details of this learning adventure would likely include a nearby camping trip where I could explain things briefly and hand over the reigns.  Out of this, I would get a return investment of vicarious thrills  and a few weeks or months with “no Tramper in my yard”.  Driveway access to my workshop is narrowed by the sleeping beauty.

barely room to walk through

barely room to walk through

I also want to begin talk of my internal voyage.  We didn’t run away from a bad life to do this trip.  To the contrary, we loved our home, family, jobs, friends and the routine of daily life.  I LOVE TO WORK.  We left to celebrate all that we love and can still do.  We took the chance of “all that could go wrong”, Murphy’s law be damned, and did it.  Now we return safely and are faced with our life.  The rest of our life.  Life after the Trampervoyage; whatever that is to become.

Honestly it feels at once overwhelming and underwhelming.  During the journey we floated high in conversations.  There we were, living the dream.  People congratulated us.  People seemed to envy us at times.  Most encouraged and cheered us on.  The accomplishment was in the moment and in “where to tomorrow?”  Now, we have returned and there is no tangible evidence.  No physical accomplishment.   Maybe THAT is what drives me to make and fix so many things.  In creating tangible projects, I create my own little trophy.  I create my report card.  After all, wasn’t school sometimes more rewarding than work?  You got grades!  Someone told you how you were doing!

Today I broke away from Jane to do something separate.  We have had the incredible blessing of being together for nearly every task and joy for 190 days, 24 hours per day.  We were rarely apart.  Doubtful many couples could say that at any point in their marriage.  We’ve continued that at home, working on unpacking, cleanup and other home tasks.  But today Jane went to see her sister; I went to see the elephants!

In March of every year, Baltimore hosts the circus.  Hopefully each of you has some fond memory of the youthful attraction enshrining the circus.  Maybe you ran away and joined?  (If so, tell us some of your stories)  Anyway, one of the more colorful local traditions includes an Elephant Parade.  Tenders march the big beautiful beasts through the city streets, up from the arena to the Lexington Market for a big lunch buffet.  Then after a desert of watermelons, they parade back down to their cages, I presume, to await their other performances.

You can agree with the spectacle or argue the treatment of zoo and performance animals everywhere, but I thought it was WONDERFUL.  Without these few “suffering” performing animals, most of humanity knows nothing of their immensity.  Most of us could not fathom the emotional eyes of an elephant, nor the grandeur of the whole animal kingdom if it weren’t for our contact, albeit limited through showcases of zoos, circuses, and aquariums.  The size, shimmering fur, smells and splashes of them all would all be reduced to photographs or TV shows someone else framed for us.  I saw intimate views of a fox family on public TV last night, yet my memory of the litter berthed under my mom’s porch was more vivid.  Those kits nipped and yipped playfully and beautifully, nursing until they were weaned before we “encouraged” them to move out of that urban den.

What then, does any of this have to do with the Voyage of the Tramper?  A full circle is a difficult journey.  Its hard to come back.  I have found myself looking at all that makes up a person.  I find myself lacking the same “value” I had as a productive, functioning and working member of society.  I felt as though I had retired.  I read a version of “retired” in Steinbeck’s East of Eden that I will avoid as I can with all my heart.  Retired meant surrendered.  Retired meant finished with all productive contribution.  Samuel moved to the city in retirement, and eased uselessly to his death.  He invited it.  He accepted it.  And he chose to cease contributing.

The happiest “retirees” I know now are volunteers.  Giving some of themselves to causes they value.  My sister, retired at one time, wrote the word “something” on her calendar a few days each week.  When called upon by the limitless needs of one charity or another, she could honestly say: “Sorry, I’ve got something that day”.  In this she protected bits of her time as needed.  Hospitals, The Aquarium, Red Cross, soup kitchens, and more, there are any number of fulfilling ways to “retire” and be fulfilled by those around us.  On our Voyage we met hosts at campgrounds and made breakfasts sandwiches with a local North Carolina church.

I have selfishly preserved a few extra weeks to work on our house and home before returning to work.  I had the luxury of free time.  Time sometimes takes on different dimensions.  Everyone I know who is retired says they don’t know how they got things done while they worked full-time.  Perspective changes.

When I have two hours available and two hours of “work to get done”, it gets done.  When I have a week stretched out ahead, pressure is off, things can be delayed.  Procrastination is a vine.  Working raises the stakes.  Work schedules create the skill of prioritization.  Working is vital.  I think working is a part of vitality.  Being productive raises self-worth.  Even exercise at a gym is a form of productivity.  Even playful exercise is rewarding and productive; improving health, re-creating us, building muscle all the while.

I found walking, then running along to keep up with the elephants invigorating.  It reminded me of my love of our city.  We have been in the cocoon of our Voyage for 6 months.  We truly felt disconnected from 2012-13.  In rural and wild places, this was only natural.  But the majority of our journey carried us also through rural, agrarian places.  Through what felt like a different time.  We often felt like we were living “in the fifties” right along with that old Tramper.  Cities became shocking.  The resort at Beaver Creek, overwhelming.  A modern pace of life distasteful.

Being home too has been bewildering.  70 square feet of living space and just one basket of clothes each has us in a simple mindset.  We see now we have “so many things” in our home.  I’m longing for the simplicity.  Too many clothes, too many dishes, pots and pans.  I am, today, adapting better.  I was part of the crowd who wanted to see the elephants.  I saw the elephants themselves, line up, gladly clasping tails in trunk and parade back to the arena.  In this too, I jump back into life, a life I love!

-David

ENJOY THE PARADE!

I had forgotten that it was going to be crowded, that it would be hard to get a good view

I had forgotten that it was going to be crowded, that it would be hard to get a good view

I had forgotten too, that I AM PART OF THAT CROWD

I had forgotten too, that I AM PART OF THAT CROWD

...and what a privilege, to be part of the crowd!
…and what a privilege, to be part of the crowd!

The BIG Buffet

Clearly the eye of a veteran

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Ladies and Gentlemen, children of all ages...

Ladies and Gentlemen, children of all ages…

the elephants begin to leave and I realize that I CAN KEEP UP WITH THEM

the elephants begin to leave and I realize that I CAN KEEP UP WITH THEM

lets stay together

lets stay together

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I Think they were Glad to be out in the sun! (I know I was)

I Think they were Glad to be out in the sun! (I know I was)

"hold hands when you cross the street"

“hold hands when you cross the street”

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Everyone, step-in-line

Lets go get ready for the show

Lets go get ready for the show

We love to ride: Pass this on

-David

The Voyage Continues

Or does it?

If you read between the lines.  If you’ve read all of the comments and our replies.  If you’ve glanced at a map or noticed a change in our pace.  If we bothered to tell you anything at all.  Put these pieces together and take note.  A circle is completed as we write from our Towson home.  Travel decisions each day were affected by so many things.  We left in hopes of “6 months to a year on the road”.   A chance to bike, hike, ski and live wherever the day took us.  One hundred and ninety days later we felt the calls homeward.  Each day on the road we asked, “where should we go tomorrow?”

As we drove down from the Rockies toward Denver, my answer was “maybe we should head home?”  This thought was cemented as we spoke of finances.  A warm day of mountain biking was enough to detain us in Kansas, but not to change our direction.  A few grey days on the road, and storms that kept threatening from the North nudged us Eastward.  A final clear day, snow on the Ohio and Pennsylvania grass led us to see I-70 as a good way home, despite previous months of avoiding Interstates.

Over my shoulder we knew the Baltimore sign depicted the long road from Fort Cove, UT

With a quick picture over my shoulder we knew this Baltimore sign depicted the long road we drove from Denver, and Utah near Zion and Moab

Locals had led us to unexpected jewels!  Serendipity showed us safety and regular smiles!  I got to ski a whole lot!  We hiked peaks, canyons and caverns!  Jane saw warmth and wildflowers!  In fact, today we see the old tricks of March; wet snow, heavy branches and refrigerated blossoms.  No worry, it melts fast this time of year.

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The pressures that led us home were many.  We ran out of paper towels.  The Tramper account has seen only withdrawals for months now.  Both of us need to find jobs and pay some bills.   Marfa kept raising concerns about that big Continental Divide.  If needed, I’d imagined a plan to rent a truck in Utah, towing the heavy Tramper over the mountain passes to Denver if necessary.  With  Jane driving the 4Runner sans trailer, it would do fine.  The concerns continued, passes provided 25 mph crawls, but the transmission temperature never went out of control again.

Ahh, but the concern for this and other bits went on.  The 5  Day weather reports gave us windows to travel in.  (I won’t tow in snow and have even avoided rain as much as practical)  Safety is always a lens of concern for me.  My focus on joy and adventure is tempered by wanting to get home safe.  My responsibility to “keep Jane safe” is not just a funny topic.  Many nights were lightly slept in anticipation of noises or vehicles arriving nearby.

Yes, we crested one of the highest points in our journey, skied a few more times, and headed East.  I poked fun at our nation; “they’ll be nothing to do between here (Summit County, CO) and the Appalachian Mountains.”  “My cousin used to drive from Colorado to Baltimore in 36 hours.  We’ll be home in 3 or 4 days”.  Fortunately Kansas threw a surprise at me.  The world is full of surprises.  You’d think I would have remembered that lesson from earlier in the “Voyage”. 

We have many thoughts to share.  We have over 11,000 pictures to peruse and condense to a more sharable 100 or so.  We have memories of our longest “vacation” ever.  We have lists of new friends.  We have blog and Facebook followers.  And we have lots more to say.  We will be looking back at the trip and looking at its impact on us.  One visitor we met in Colorado asked, “How has your perspective changed”.  I shied from an answer, telling him I will know more a few months after our return.  If I don’t change actions or lifestyle, how can I say my perspective has changed?

We wonder if there are other questions out there.  We are likely to post retrospective thoughts.  Maybe a bit of logistics, maybe we’ll post what we’d do differently, perhaps a few suggestions for future travelers.  I want to post a piece with all of the barns we saw.   I see a whole post of cool things seen on trucks.  Trains became our favorite night time neighbors.  Wind energy prompted inquiry all across the country.  We hope to add more thoughts and questions.  Our life now has the vision of the Tramper.

Over all it was such a treat!  Jane and I lived in a 70 square foot space, awoke and stayed together 24/7 and not once broke into fisticuffs as Jimmy Cotton, our new friend in North Carolina had feared.  We truly hope that as we traveled, you enjoyed.  As we posted pictures, you felt a fraction of the awe we shared.  Surely if we can do The Voyage of the Tramper, whatever you are dreaming of is possible too!

-David