Week 6

Peaceful Autumn Evening

We are half way through! How can that even be possible?  I knew it was going to go fast and it has.  And I’m sure Harlan would add that there are moments when it feels like the days are inching past.  When I was packing for Road School, I included a baggie of words, photos and images so Harlan and I could collage journals together.  (Side note:  I believe it was Day 3 of our trip when I realized this would never happen.  No way was Harlan going to eagerly collage with me and plink out Kumbaya on the ukelele.  Yeah right!)  Well, last night, I finally got to collage my journal cover!  6 weeks in I had some free moments and bandwidth for creativity!
Last week, a dear friend reminded me over dinner about something I experienced my first time in India.  The country and all the ways it flooded my senses was, at times, completely overwhelming and the only way I could process all of it was to take hours of down time, lying on my bed, staring at my phone.  No judgement.  Everyone processes new stimuli differently.  Road School 2017 has completely come in and captured all of my senses, turned my life upside down and given me new experiences to process daily.  And my bandwidth for creativity has been severley compromised.  I had plans y’all!  I was going to write a book!  I was going to create cirriculum.  I was going to paddle board every day and meditate.  I’ve barely been able to return a phone call!

And you know what?  That is actually the best gift of Road School (in my opinion.)  To be present with each day and not overload it with expectations, with productivity, with conversations that take me out of my experience with Harlan and our time together.  It’s taken me 6 weeks – the half way point – to feel like I’ve relaxed my expecations of myself.  I’ve slowed down, and  for the most part, each day unfolds in the flow.  Harlan and I wake up and figure out the day together.  Many days, the “agenda” gets tossed out the window for a different set of circumstances.  To live this way feels ancient, as in an inner wisdom based on weather, shelter, food – the natural factors that dictate our activities.  It also feels like an immense privilege – to be able to create each day with no need to consider a job, school or any other timetable.  It is incredibly freeing and I highly recommend it.  I wonder how I will ever go back to a schedule when this is over?

For those of you who are following along on our journey (and I am so glad you are!) last week we were pet-sitting and enjoying the creature comforts of having a house.  While staying in the Bay Area, I went to a Snatam Kaur concert in Oakland which was beautiful and got to visit with a few friends.  

Smokey Air and a skyline I don’t recognize

We took the Larkspur ferry into San Francisco one day and visited the city.  Harlan really enjoyed checking out a record store. And I got to reminisce about all the places I lived and worked a 100 years ago and basically be my mother when she used to point out all the places she lived and worked in San Francisco 200 years ago.  Hah!  But the highlight was the ferry ride back where we met a friendly woman who gave Harlan advice about keeping his hair healthy and how to keep his one dreadlock from becoming one giant clump and then gave him expensive Kiehl’s facial cream samples and basically made me believe in human angels. I loved her. Never got a contact for her but her name is Jen and she’s a barber in the financial district of SF. 

Nice Hair Buddy

Harlan and I decided to escape the smokey air and head back south to Santa Cruz to resume our triathlon training – which had been put on hold.  I dunno folks, I’m kind of freaked that we are going to be doing a (Sprint) triathlon in less than two weeks. Harlan remains unphased. 

Yesterday we biked, swam and paddle boarded. And meditated (awww yeah!) and today H went to the gym and I’m about to go to yoga with my all time favorite yoga teacher. There is a fire in the Santa Cruz mountains (what?) and today the air was filled with a familiar smell of smoke. I also think it is our first cloudy day we have had in weeks. 

I’m sure there’s much more to share but I’m running out of steam and Harlan and I are going to watch a movie on the iPad. The first time we’ve done that on the trip! 

Until next week…

Harlan’s beach fire
Never gets old
Working from Home
Creating

Week 4

Evening Run

 

Week 4 has just ended. There have been some subtle shifts – in the climate as well as within myself.

Flashing back to Week 1 (where I agonized over every decision and tried to plan out every detail before the moment happened) I have to say that I am proud of how Harlan and I navigate our world these days.

Last Tuesday Harlan arrived in California. We immediately headed down to Santa Cruz. We had no idea where we would park or stay, we just knew the weather was beautiful and we both felt compelled to get down there.

On the drive down to Santa Cruz, I asked Harlan to google “Santa Cruz RV Park” and lo and behold, there is one! And it’s got the best view in town, right at the back of the Santa Cruz Harbor. Harlan handled the reservations on the phone and we were all set. Instead of stressing out, it felt very easy and stress-free.

Our View

 

Instead of driving around Santa Cruz, we plugged in the van to the power adapter at the camp site and rode bikes everywhere we wanted to go – surf shops, the grocery store, the gym, my yoga studio, the community pool to swim laps, etc. Harlan would ride his skateboard to the beach or the coffee shop each morning. It was an idyllic week – with big thanks to Miriam for loaning us 2 bikes so we could cruise around SC so easily.

Other than the absolute joy of being so close to the ocean, and seeing old friends, a highlight for me was going to a special service (called Kol Nidrei) the night before Yom Kippur. When I went to yoga on Friday morning at the Pacific Cultural Center, I saw that there was a Kol Nidrei service that evening and all were welcome. I am so glad that Harlan and I went. Even though we were with a group of strangers, the beautiful songs were familiar and gave us a chance to remember family members who have died and say prayers for them.

We rode our bikes home in the dark and just before we went to sleep, Harlan said he was glad we had gone (and that we had stayed for the entire service!)

Since Santa Cruz kicked off our triathlon training, we are bumping it up a notch and are now headed to Napa where we will do some serious road riding and swimming. Now that we know the event is coming up, the thought of a quarter mile swim in the San Francisco Bay is a bit daunting, so we are trying to get some quantity time in at every lap pool in each town we stay.  Luckily, that’s been very easy and affordable, with nice outdoor city pools still open in October – and a great way to shower too!
The weather has been absolutely gorgeous! The days have been warm and sunny and/but we are definitely noticing the shorter days and chillier nights.

Fall is in the air

 

Regarding Harlan’s studies, I want to share that our travels are providing many opportunities for “teaching moments” and I can see Harlan absorbing all of it. I keep introducing different situations and people to him and he stays open and observant, as well as good-natured most of the time.
As I spoke about in our Week 3 update, Harlan had the good fortune to interview one of his favorite bands – Reel Big Fish. After the interview we sent a ‘thank you’ email to the trumpet player, John Christianson, who sent back a lovely reply with a quote from Mark Twain that I think sums up the mission of Road School 2017:
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”
Until next week my friends. Thank you for following along with us.

Lap Swim

Week 3

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Landed in CA
Week 3 update.  The themes this past week have been:

  • Back to School
  • On the Road
  • I Love Music

Last week Lili started college at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington.  She was happy as a clam at high tide (or I should say a geoduck to be exact.)  That’s the school mascot, voted #1 worst school mascot by MSN Now.   But “Greeners”  (as students/faculty from Evergreen are called) just laugh the haters off .  Before I left Lili at the parent send-off dinner, we were led in a rousing version of the school song:

Go, Geoducks go,

Through the mud and the sand,

let’s go.

Siphon high, squirt it out,

swivel all about,

let it all hang out.

Words to live by, for sure.  She’ll do just fine.

While my Road School sidekick was back in Boulder, playing his last 2 School of Rock gigs, I decided to head south to a warmer climate and find some sun.  I was thinking of naming the van “Sun Chaser” but that implies a lack of sun, so for now, she’s still nameless.  Anyone want to send in ideas?  We’d love suggestions!

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Need a Name!
The Washington coast is a fascinating mix of New England cranberry bogs and oyster farms and logging trucks with areas of clear-cut that make me sad.  Washington is beautiful and/but I find myself moody and melancholic there.

I loved Portland!  Such a great town.  I enjoyed meeting up with my girl Linda and her husband who have just bought a van and joined the rest of the United States traveling on the road.  #midlifevanlife for ever!

The California coast fills my heart with joy and I was blessed with no fog (repeat, no fog) and tons of sun.  The state is having a heat wave and we plan to take advantage of that next week.

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CA Coastline
While Harlan was back in Boulder it wasn’t all just down time and video games.  His favorite band (Reel Big Fish – a ska punk band) was playing in Longmont.  I had sent them an email, I found on their website a few weeks before. asking if Harlan could interview the band.  Last Monday I received an email from their manager who said Harlan should meet them at 7pm at the venue.  I was thrilled!  Harlan was terrified!  He worked with his advisor at Pacific Sands Academy to come up with relevant questions and his dad got him to the show.  Harlan was able to interview the trumpet player on the tour bus and it was a great learning experience for him to push through his nervousness and go for it!  He’s writing a paper about it all.

Picked up my buddy at the airport.  We are now free to dive into Road School 2017 without any further scheduled commitments.  Yay!  Looking forward to getting to the coast and beginning our triathlon training in earnest with swimming, running and biking and always living, loving and learning as we go.  Stay tuned and thanks for following along!

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West Coast Sunset

Week 1

Harbie
Rialto Beach, Olympic National Park – Harlan
Week One has come to a close.  Could it really have been only one week ago that we arrived in Seattle to pick up the van?   (We need a name for this ride!)

Here are some observations in no particular order:

From Harlan:  So far, in this first week, this journey has been a bit of everything. Mostly learning, a good amount of physical pain*, waiting, hopefulness and complete boredom. I’ve been messing around on my skateboard and have been excited with the progress as well as optimism for my future of skating. As we are going along with the trip, my excitement for the rest of the remaining months is only going up.

*from skating

From Roxanna:  The Pacific Northwest can be both achingly beautiful – as in my soul leaps in true moments of joy while I drive on the backroads of Olympic National Park.  And it can also feel like the loneliest/quietest place in the world.

My mood is directly proportionate to the amount of sunlight I am experiencing.

I am able to do more than I ever imagined.  I have jimmied fuses to get a diesel stove-top  working, dealt with “blackwater” (which has absolutely nothing to do with the awesome song with that name), checked solar power battery gauges, emptied the gray water, maneuvered tight parking spaces, and the list continues to grow.

Sleeping bags suck to have hot flashes in.  Like for real.

Harlan hates the name Road School. This dismays me. I love it. I am not going to cave on this one.

Real maps (as in paper) are cool and often more reliable that WAZE.

It’s good to have a little alone time each day and my son is the one who broke that to me on Day 1.  He’s right!

When things get weird, go for a walk.  Nature always helps.

This trip sometimes feels like it will be over in a blink and other times stretches out to infinity, like the drip drip drip of the rain drops on our windshield.

Routine is good; falling into an easy pattern of setting up the bed and flossing (yes, every day) and brushing teeth before bed and conversely, stowing sleeping bags, folding blankets, brushing teeth (yes, twice a day) can bring a nice rhythm to the day.

Harlan has a good heart with a soft spot for underdogs.  I really love that about him.  I am appreciating the opportunity to get to know my son for who he is, not necessarily who I want him to be or who I think he is.  And in all the space that we have created, I am learning more about him and about myself than I ever would have thought.