I’ve found myself wondering What is the purpose of this trip? What do I hope to gain from it?
I’m not obsessing about it, but the questions have rattled around in my head every day.
When I shared this with a wise friend today, she said: “I would encourage you to set those thoughts aside.” She went on to observe that the purpose may not be revealed to me until long after the trip…and to encourage me to “Stay open” (that’s her favorite advice) to whatever may come, trying not get hung up in the whys of it. She made a good point when she said the worst that can come from it is that I’ll see lots of pretty places. I like that mindset…and I’m gonna do my best to adopt it. Don’t worry. Don’t wonder. Just be.
(Really, though, I could get eaten by a bear, and that would be worse. Just sayin’.)
Moved on from Shasta today, but not before chasing down a waterfall. This one was way off the beaten path. I actually had to call a ranger from a backroad because I couldn’t figure out where the thing was! Then, I swear he told me “take the path to the right,” which I did, but he should have told me (or I should have heard!) “take the path to the left…” I almost gave up and moved on, but I stuck with it, and when I found Faery Falls, I was so glad I had. It was lovely and quiet, with no signs marking its site and no crowds scrambling for pictures. There was a couple playing in the water in their underwear, and they asked me to take their picture.
Drove east in the direction of Lassen Volcanic National Park, taking my time and stopping a couple of times along the way. When I arrived here, at a place just south of the park called Mill Creek, I was greeted by the loveliest hosts and loveliest river-side campsite. And also by Asher and Koah, who became my favorite memory (and lesson) of the day.
As I was setting up camp, I heard voices and realized there were two little boys playing right down the hill from my spot. I hollered “hello,” and they came right up and started telling me stories and asking me questions, like little kids do when they’re not shy. I asked where they were staying, found out it was up the road a ways, and figured I was gonna have to fit them in my packed car to return them “home” before dark… Fortunately, though, their parents weren’t far behind (with a third little one in tow). We chatted for probably 30 minutes – about my tent, our travels, this, that, and the other – and I really listened, even to the boys (maybe especially to them). They were 8 and 4, and in my “real life” (former life?), I might have been annoyed by their chattering and stories and questions…but in those moments, there was no place I’d rather have been and no company I’d rather have kept. They moved on after while, to explore the rest of the campground, and I went up into my Snail Space to take refuge from the mosquitoes. Probably a half hour later, I heard “Goodnight, Elizabeth!” sing-songing from the path, and when I peaked out my window, they announced “We saw a reindeer!” then the older of the two raced up the ladder of my tent to show off a seed pod he’d found…and I loved it! They made my night, and I smiled when they said “We’ll see you in the morning,” even though I knew I’d be up and out and on the road before them.
Indeed, I didn’t see them this morning, but I thought of them and smiled throughout the day. Maybe, just maybe, moments and memories like those are the purpose of my trip.