Have Heart, Will Travel

Life lessons

Finally learning the Lesson of Margin

Life lessonsNancy Powell3 Comments

Our current RV park was supposed to be a quick overnight stay. Yesterday, as we were leaving the mountains of the recently visited national parks and headed back toward the California coast, the wind really picked up and we decided to get off the road even though we had only traveled a couple hours toward our destination.

Our spot is right across from a small playground, and Petunia spent hours there yesterday evening playing with other kids and making new friends. Late last night she asked if we could stay another night so she could play with them today.

So, even though we are somewhere we never intended to go, and certainly never planned to stay, we are indeed staying here an extra night. And Petunia is happily playing with her new group. This is the beauty of margin in your life and schedule.

Margin is a funny word and concept at first. It's that part of the paper that is supposed to stay blank, in case a word runs long or so your eyes can rest on white space and make reading the rest easier.  In a life, margin is supposed to be that extra space we have between what we have scheduled that we have to do and what we ultimately have the capacity to do. 

That space is supposed to stay blank most of the time in case something important runs over or comes up unexpectedly. That margin also makes the rest of life run more smoothly. However, in our hyper-drive society we have filled up our schedules to our ultimate limits--right up to the boundaries that are only supposed to be touched in times of rare crisis or opportunity.

Even at the beginning of the Grand Adventure, we noticed we were moving quickly from one thing to the next and keeping to a tight schedule. I am grateful that this experience has been the time for learning all sorts of things like we hoped it would be.  As Petunia spends the day playing with a bunch of new friends, one of those things I am happy we are finally learning to embrace is margin.

If this is a concept that interests you, here are some good resources from those who can better speak about margin:

http://www.sean-johnson.com/why-you-need-more-margin-in-your-life/ (Really good insights into scheduling margin into your everyday life)

http://michaelhyatt.com/more-margin.html (Great tips for scheduling margin into your work life, as well as other areas)

Life Class in Session: Lessons from the Student

Boston, Life lessonsNancy Powell4 Comments

We have made our way to Boston, and it's the first time in a couple years that Petunia has found herself in such a large, bustling metropolis.

While we were all taking in the sights and learning a lot about our nation's early history, Petunia turned the tables and taught us a lesson, too.

 At the fountain in Boston Common.

At the fountain in Boston Common.

As we were making our way down one city block, she slowed down and looked up at us.  "I want to go see if that man needs food. The one huddled up in the corner."

Mark and I looked at each other. We did have a destination and something of a schedule. Should we backtrack to go see if this man on the street is hungry?  Even though Boston, New York, and Washington, DC are all on our itinerary and we'll run into more and more people on the street?

The answer was absolutely yes.  Petunia's sweet heart felt compassion for someone that she thought needed help and we wanted to honor and nourish that reaction instead of ignore it. We were about half a city block past him by this point and there was a small cafe on the corner. We knew we could get some food easily if he was hungry, so now all we had to do was find out.

I walked Petunia up to him so she could ask.  We almost thought he had fallen asleep, as his eyes were closed when we approached.  We stood there just a moment and he suddenly opened his eyes. I said, Hello, and then Petunia asked him, "Would you like some soup?"

He told us that he had just gotten some food and had eaten plenty, so that he was fine but thanked us kindly.

As we were all walking away, Petunia told us she felt better that we had asked and now that she could know he wasn't hungry. There was a real joy in her face just from having gotten to make the offer.

 Me and my girl in front of the State House.

Me and my girl in front of the State House.

Although we saw many buildings, learned many dates, and heard interesting historical facts as we strove to teach Petunia the history of Boston, I believe she taught the best lesson of the day.  Have eyes that see everyone, and offer to help others when you can.

She wasn't overwhelmed at the thought of thousands of homeless people. She just saw one man who might have been hungry and offered what she could do for one person.

 Yes, school was in session with this cutie pie of a teacher!

Yes, school was in session with this cutie pie of a teacher!

 I love my sweet girl and hope her heart always stays tender.

I love my sweet girl and hope her heart always stays tender.

I am only one,
But still I am one.
I cannot do everything,
But still I can do something;
And because I cannot do everything,
I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.

-Edward Everett Hale

One if by Carriage, Two if by Sea

Life lessons, Maine, National Parks, RV destinationsNancy Powell4 Comments

We continued our exploration of Acadia National Park on Day 30 of our Grand Adventure.  We decided to check out a small portion of the island's Carriage Roads, which were planned and financed by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. between 1913 and 1940.

There are 57 miles of carriage roads in the park for the use of hikers, bikers, horse riders or even horse-drawn carriages. Motor vehicles are not allowed. This feature is just one aspect that shows the foresight and generosity that went into planning Acadia, making it one of the great national parks of the country.

 There are also many beautiful bridges among the roads. We spent some time at this one.

There are also many beautiful bridges among the roads. We spent some time at this one.

 Even with so, so many visitors to Bar Harbor and the park in August, there was peace during our walk along one of the carriage roads to Eagle Lake.

Even with so, so many visitors to Bar Harbor and the park in August, there was peace during our walk along one of the carriage roads to Eagle Lake.

 Underneath the bridge we explored was a rocky stream.

Underneath the bridge we explored was a rocky stream.

 Petunia found it a very enticing place to explore.

Petunia found it a very enticing place to explore.

After Petunia made her way to all the rocks she could easily reach, she paused to determine each time if she could make the jump to the next one, which was a little further than comfortable, while also wet and slippery.  I remember willing myself to be quiet and watch, neither encouraging her to go for it nor discouraging her from the risk.  I had the feeling even then that this was a parenting lesson with training wheels...a foreshadowing of many such, ever more consequential, moments to come.

We were blessed enough to still have Petunia's grandparents with us and they treated us to a wonderful cruise out of the harbor that afternoon. We saw animals, natural beauty, summer "cottages" of the uber wealthy, a lighthouse and all type of marine vessel!

The biggest treat was to come toward the end, however.

 We set sail for our tour. We were threatened if anyone dared hum the tune to Gilligan's Island. ha!

We set sail for our tour. We were threatened if anyone dared hum the tune to Gilligan's Island. ha!

 Well, isn't that something?

Well, isn't that something?

 Egg Rock Lighthouse, with all sorts of sea birds and seals on the rocks around it.

Egg Rock Lighthouse, with all sorts of sea birds and seals on the rocks around it.

 Look at the little guy in the bottom left corner. Is he posing for the camera?

Look at the little guy in the bottom left corner. Is he posing for the camera?

By this time, Petunia had been going around town for a couple days in her officers navy hat that was a gift from her grandfather. We were told that the female captain of the ship might welcome a little help, and sure enough...Petunia got to pilot the ship through Frenchman Bay.  She was honest-to-goodness steering the ship under the direction of the captain, following commands and in control of the wheel under the captain's watchful eye. What an opportunity!

 Love our little sailor girl!

Love our little sailor girl!

 What a brave mariner!

What a brave mariner!

 Listening to some tricks of the trade!

Listening to some tricks of the trade!

 Well done, officer!

Well done, officer!

When we got back to land, it was close enough to low tide that we could walk out on the bar again.  This time, though, Petunia spent some time trying to skip rocks and needed a little help.

 So she got her next lesson of the day...this time a lesson on rock skipping from Gramps Fuzz!

So she got her next lesson of the day...this time a lesson on rock skipping from Gramps Fuzz!

 Showing off the great skipping rock she found to put her new found knowledge to the test.

Showing off the great skipping rock she found to put her new found knowledge to the test.

 There it goes!

There it goes!

 Happy with her results!

Happy with her results!

We decided to end the full and wonderful day with a ride to the top of Cadillac Mountain for the sunset view.

 What a way to end a fabulous day!

What a way to end a fabulous day!

An apology to my laundry room

Life lessonsNancy PowellComment

Dear Laundry Room,

I owe you a BIG apology, and I hope you can forgive me.

What did you ever do to me except sit there, big and inviting in my home? Sure, occasionally you hid socks and small pieces of clothing from me under your appliances, but even that cannot really be blamed on you.

No, you were good and faithful...always there, ready to be at service.  But me?  I abused you some days and neglected you even more.

The piles, the overflow, the days on end you never even got so much as a nod from my direction...  I am sorry.  You see, I'm not trying to excuse my behavior, it's just that we had SO MANY clothes, towels, and linens that we (and yes, it hurts me to say this now) didn't need you very much. We just didn't.

But, Laundry Room, I am reformed!  We've lived several weeks in an RV and I now see what I was taking for granted.  The times we've been in a home and can wash clothes whenever we want, without carrying loads across a campground or to a laundromat and without guessing how many quarters we will need has been glorious!  

Furthermore, we got rid of LOTS AND LOTS of our stuff, and you will be needed more often.  You'll make friends with your new, regular customers.  "Oh, hi, Texas t-shirt! Here again already?"

Laundry Room, I promise we'll be better friends starting next August.  I knew I would learn a lot on this journey, and I guess this is one of those lessons.

Sincerely,

Nancy, a new laundry enthusiast

Day 16: You win some, and once in a Blue Moon you lose some

Life lessons, RV destinations, State Parks, National ForestNancy Powell1 Comment

As I've written about our travels to the north, I have shared that I only had reservations in one place between where we left home (Texas) and our destination for August (Maine.)

We have had a lot of luck, which I am calling Grand Adventure serendipity, on our side, and even though we've been winging it with almost no reservations in the middle of a beautiful summer, we have had no problems finding a comfortable place to stay.

When it was time to end our most delightful stay in Watkins Glen, New York, our idea was to head to the Green Mountain National Forest in Vermont. Besides wanting to experience its beauty, legend has it (along with lots of websites and rv camping forums) that there are plenty of places to stay for free or nearly free in federal lands, as long as you don't need a full hook up with electricity and water.  That seemed like a great plan for us since we only wanted to spend one night and get back on the road fairly quickly.

My best guess is that we were getting a little too comfortable with our "winging it" luck. Because we loved the state park we were leaving, we did not leave very early in the day. Then we had to drive across New York and into Vermont.  Even though the National Forest is right there on the border, it takes some time to get where you are going. They don't call them the Green Mountains for nothing. Those mountains are legit!

We drove up and down, coaxing (the-yet-to-be-officially-named) RV who did a great job, but was kind of saying something like..."Umm...what??"

 

 Cloud level driving in the aptly named Green Mountains

Cloud level driving in the aptly named Green Mountains

We still haven't fully figured out if the following story is due more to this particular National Forest, our status as newbies, or the nighttime arrival into the camping areas.  Whatever the reason, this was our experience...

I had tried to do a little reading about where a motorhome could camp for the night in the Green Mountains and we headed to a camping area. When we got there, we saw that we had arrived at a "normal" campground--albeit with very tight spaces--not the primitive wide-open fields we were expecting.

Not wanting to disturb anyone further at the late-ish hour we had arrived by unhooking our car and backing into a space, all while shining lights in every nearby camping spots' location and in general attracting more attention than a lightbulb at a junebug convention, we decided to pass on that area and look for a new spot.

We didn't know where we were heading and we were off to find a place in the wide wild forest.

In God's provision, it happened to be the night of a Blue Moon.  We sure would have had it rough without those moonbeams!

 I know this is not the caliber of picture normally found here, but I wanted to give just a sense of of the wonder we felt when we saw this full, bright moon pop up right between those mountains out of nowhere!

I know this is not the caliber of picture normally found here, but I wanted to give just a sense of of the wonder we felt when we saw this full, bright moon pop up right between those mountains out of nowhere!

To make our long night's story shorter, I'll just say we drove around for a couple hours. At every potential spot, we spotted homes or private businesses. Is this normal in a National Forest? We were expecting much more deserted land. We'll do a bit more homework before we plan that again.

We finally decided to "give up" our idea of roughing it in the forest and headed for a state park campground we discovered located within the forest. We made our way there and found out that it, too, was full. When it rains, it pours.

At this point we needed to stop and rest.  We pulled into a thankfully large and empty parking lot of the state park, turned around to be ready to head out as soon as possible, and settled down to a dinner of Honey Nut Cheerios with banana slices before grabbing a few restless hours of sleep.

 

We pulled out very early in the morning before anyone would have to tell us to leave. We put a good number of miles between us and our less-than-ideal camping spot before turning into the quintessential, small town diner for a large breakfast. We got reset, and headed out ready to tackle the new day's adventures.

 My eggs florentine with breakfast potatoes were scrumptious!

My eggs florentine with breakfast potatoes were scrumptious!

 

You win some. You lose some.  You gain experience either way.