Ever wonder if there’s a reason two lives briefly intersect?
This happened a few nights ago, shortly before sunset, at our Ivie Creek Camp, northwest of Salina, Utah. (An unrelated note: Yes, the antenna is still at the top of the pole.)
It’s a man’s voice from the other side of the PTV. Bridget and Spike fly into a barking fit. I walk around to see a fifty-ish man with bleary eyes peering out from a ruddy face, a kerchief wrapped around his head. Is this guy drunk? Am I going to have a problem?
With a quick glance I see his motorcycle parked out by the main road.
“Is it free to camp here?” he asks.
“Oh, it’s not like up there?” He gestures toward Maple Grove Campground. “I saw a post with a number on it . . . “
“That’s the marker for the national forest road. When you see a marker like that, it means you can camp and it’s free.”
Relief pours over his face.
“I’ve been seein’ those signs and I didn’t know. Do you mind if I camp here for one night? I’ve been drivin’ all day and I’m awful tired.”
It’s evident by now that the bleary eyes and ruddy face are not from drunken stupor, but rather from exhaustion.
“Sure. I don’t mind at all. I just hope my dogs don’t bother you.”
“Aw, they won’t. I’m too tired. I just need a flat place to put down my bedroll . . . ” He trails off as he walks toward his motorcycle.
He drives his motorcycle into the clearing of our campsite and turns off the engine.
I show him two good spots, flat and private, under the oak trees.
“I’m Sue, by the way.” He tells me his name is Al.
“I’ll leave you alone, Al, so you can get some rest.” The crew and I go inside the BLT for the evening.
The next morning I let out the crew and I’m pleased they don’t make a sound.
I should offer Al a cup of coffee. I set up the percolator and turn on the burner. At that moment I hear Al’s motorcycle. I turn off the burner, step outside, and walk up to him. “Good morning, Al. Did you get some rest?”
“Oh, hi, Sue. Yeah . . . Thanks for letting me . . . “
I cut him off. “You don’t need to thank me. It’s your land as much as it’s mine. Where you headed?”
“Texas. I’m on my way to see my father. He’s eighty-nine so I thought I’d . . . ” He trails off.
I’m struck by the tender tone of his voice. His expression indicates that there’s a lot more, a whole lot more, but it’s way too much to tell.
After a pause he begins again with an explanation.
“You have quite a bit of road ahead of you.”
“Yeah . . . Yesterday I drove all the way from Gardnerville, Nevada. It’s about 50 miles south of Reno. This trip is gonna’ be fifteen hundred miles.”
I could ask him more questions, but I’m aware of the engine running.
Al is a man on a mission, so I don’t want to keep him.
There’s really nothing more that needs to be said anyway.
“Be careful, Al. God bless you and keep you safe.”
He smiles, says goodbye, puts on his helmet, and drives away. I hope he has a warm and happy reunion with his father.
And that’s the end of that little story . . . at least from where I stand.
This morning I complete the financial page for the month of May!
If you don’t know what I’m talking about, look up at the header. Click on “Money” and you’ll see a page where you can click on any month as far back as January 2012. Or you can hover on “Money” for a drop-down menu.
I hope seeing my expenses will help those of you who are considering or are already planning to live full-time “on the road.”