Living in Glenwood Springs, CO (an Aspen wannabe, but never gonnabe town) changed me, it changed us. Our kids were growing up thinking everyone was an intentional self-absorbed jerk. That cops were nothing but ridiculous bullies, personifying nothing good and everything bad. That being harassed by city officials over the legality of everything was normal! That a daily knock on the door by a police officer was normal. That dogs were never allowed to bark … ever. That when at the pool you should not splash or laugh or scream – the pool was like the library or mass. The people of GWS are cranky and miserable and law crazy.
Everyday was a struggle, everyday was met with a new fight. The fights left Dan & I exhausted and bitter and nearly people haters. We were left believing all people were two-faced hypocrites who would just as soon beat you down if it would make their lives easier. Believing that all people lie about everything and about nothing. That people take and never give. That it was a dog eat dog world and only the cruel and vicious survived. It’s all documented, all true … we crossed the wrong fat cat in town and he (a Farquod look-a-like) and his freak of a wife made it their mission to make us miserable. They fell far short of their goal, but they made our lives “difficult” for sure. I kept reminding the old man that we WOULD outlive him, it’s all I had, but I think I scared him!
Ack, such ugliness and we were surrounded by it, though it was obscured by the beauty of the mountains, the river, the adventure and the extreme. It took us a while to come up from the fog. Why the hell didn’t we leave? What the hell would possess us to stay? Comfort. Security. Fear. All these things. And finances. We were hit pretty damn hard after 9/11 and again in 2011 – financially moving made no sense. We owned a house, if we sold and moved it might be a few years before we could buy another. Fear settled in and harnessed us. The unknown was, well unknown. Our kids were safe and they had food, shelter, clothing, adventure and vast lands to explore. So, what finally made us leave? The fantasy of freedom turned reality of freedom and … knowledge.
What knowledge? Well, in our travels, we’ve found something profound! And that is this: the rest of the world is not like this. They don’t plot, they don’t plan, they don’t have agendas. They are welcoming and happy and kind and unassuming. The rest of the world is quite fantastic really. So fantastic that when the site I blog for requested some tales about crazy people we’ve run into, I had nothing! Me, I … I had nothing. In the 16 months we’ve been traveling, we have honestly not met one single unhinged person on the road, unless you count the nut-case at a playground who threatened to call the cops because the kids were not using the equipment “correctly” … they were a “bad influence” on her 6 year old she said as she puffed on a cigarette and promptly inhaled!
And it’s not even because we haven’t prejudged places. We have. We are guilty of hearing things and making assumptions. But every preconceived idea we have had about any of the places we’ve been have turned out to be false. Take for instance, LA. We’ve all heard the stories about the folks who reside in LA. They are all bleach blonde, anorexic, card carrying Gold’s Gym members who are rich, haughty and look down on everyone. There are drug deals and murders on every corner. Everyone is waiting for their big break. No-one speaks English. The smog is so bad you can’t see 2’ in front of you. False. All of it false, to some degree or another. Of course we were only there for 33 days, and I don’t claim to be any sort of LA authority, but that’s my experience … even going in with totally different expectations! The people in LA and on the beaches are awesome! Case in point, my middle finger never itched and I never muttered anything rude and R rated under my breath, or out loud … ok, well, except in traffic! We camped in close quarters with older folks, partiers, bikers, businessmen & women, families, you name it, we encountered them.
The people who knocked on our doors were those coming to say how much they loved watching the kids play, to say they had seen us on The Today Show or to say they watch our YouTube videos, to offer us water and wood and charcoal, etc because they were leaving and had no use for it, to ask to borrow our bike pump or to say “hey neighbor”! The police we encountered were good natured and happy, cracking jokes and fist pounding Dan. They didn’t give a crap that we had a dog or 12 kids. In the heart of the city people were friendly and polite … we were stopped three times for photo ops. We met not one rude, mean, cruel, ridiculous, petty, insidious, etc person. I’m sure they are out there, but they did not accost us!
The country is full of wonderful places that is home to wonderful people. Columbus, GA, incredible people. The Ottawa, OWL Rafting, the best! Rock Island, TN, our favorite State Campground ever as the Rangers are incredible! AL, VA, NY, DC, WV, NC, SC, IL, KY, KS, MO, TX, WY, MT, ID, NV, CA … all inhabited by wonderful people. Southern hospitality is a real thing! We’ve been invited to dinner, to parties and to camp on private lands! The people we meet are becoming our friends, part of our family.
Place by place, day by day, my faith in humanity is being rekindled. People are nice, they are inherently good, they care about their neighbors, their friends, their fellow parishioners, their families, and they want what is best for them. It is refreshing and it is rejuvenating. Common sense is abundant. Thank you Jesus, for the opportunity to grow some wings and fly with my children and husband and to see what it’s like in areas not blinded by money and corruption and stupidity.