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Monday, May 8, 2017

Graduation


One sure thing about camping is the ubiquitous whistle of a distant freight train. No matter where I am camping in America, I always hear that unique whistle. I don’t hear it at home, only on the road, like a clarion for the soul, a metaphor for my wanderlust, a symbol of that feeling of freedom for the traveler. I haul my little 16-foot home behind me as I travel. I left home about one in the afternoon on Tuesday to get across Maryland by nightfall. Almost to Hagerstown I camped at Greenbrier SP, a lovely place in the western mountains of Maryland. I cooked dinner, had a fire, and listened to the Rangers dominate Ottawa in Game three and then heard the Yanks complete a comeback. A good evening followed by a good sleep. I woke early and was on the road by six for the long ride and day across to just inside the Illinois border to camp at Kickapoo SP. I arrived in a light rain, set camp, and opened the awning so I could cook dinner. I was tired after the long ride, so after dinner I packed up in the light rain so I wouldn’t have much when I woke in the morning. I’m glad I did. It poured all night and was still pouring when I woke. Broke camp and was on the road by 6:30 and drove out of the heavy winds and rain. It took me nearly an hour and a half of these brutal conditions to arrive in clear skies and little wind. The cross wind was brutal to trucks as I saw them listing ever so. I saw a couple of barn roofs stripped of a panel in two instances. When I cleared the maelstrom, I was overdressed. The temperature had risen fifteen degrees with a bright sun. I changed into shorts and ate shirt. As I crossed the Mississippi River into Iowa and its flat roads, the sky ahead was cloudless. I arrived at Ledges SP in Boone Iowa at two in the afternoon; set camp and then drove into see Tommy in Ames. He is excited about graduating, has a job, is going to a Cubs Yankee game on Sunday with his girlfriend, who is a Chicago girl, and then flying to NYC for a week and will be going to Game six of Rangers-Ottawa series. Then he returns to Ames to start his new job on May 15. As he said, “That’s when life gets real.” But until then, he is grabbing life by the horns and enjoying his last days of school life and its freedoms. He will begin his new life as a catering manager for the Hy-Vee markets in Des Moines. He is excited and happy for a job in catering, his career choice, and to be in the area sharing his dreams with his girlfriend who is following her dreams in broadcasting. I’m so proud of him for where he is now after such a bumpy time of it in the beginning of his college life. I love it, a NYC boy in Des Moines dating a Chicago girl.
He and I went to a local café for a drink and some tapas plates. I then took him and his roommate to dinner, before returning to his favorite bar to watch Game four of the Rangers-Ottawa series. Once again the Rangers dominated as they have in the previous three games. The Rangers should have swept these guys; instead it is 2-2 in games. Hope they clinch for Tommy in Game 6 at MSG.
I am camped in a hickory forest. Some old growth as well as new growth. It is filled with birds and woodpeckers, hammering away. I had breakfast outside watching spring come to life, listening to the clattering of birds, and the soft voices of young kids as they bike around the loops while some seniors are getting their morning exercise. Iowa is celebrating their State Parks this weekend, so the place is filled as they begin another season of outdoor fun and games. I wonder if they celebrate Cinco de Mayo in Iowa? And there is that train whistle.
Graduation weekend is the best. A proud and happy graduate. Proud parents. The emotions are intense.
And then it is over and we all disperse.

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