Thy Kingdom Come

One beautifully sunny morning in Vietnam.

We were just leaving the beach when a woman, an old woman, carrying big baskets of fruit approached us in hopes of selling her goods but we had just finished lunch, so we smiled, shook our heads no thanks and kept walking.

However, our daughter and son were further behind us and we didn’t see her approach them. So when we turned too look back we were shocked to see our daughter wearing the old woman’s baskets and hat posing as Banjo took her photo. We rush over a little disappointed in our children. To our eyes, it looked as if our kids were exploiting the woman for photo op.

Later however, we found out that the woman actually initiated the process. Apparently, she came up to our kids, took her baskets off her shoulders and thrust it onto Graciana, simultaneously taking her hat off and putting it on Graciana’s head. She snatched Graciana’s camera out of her hand, fumbled around with it for a bit and then handed it to him demanding him to take a photo. This all happened in a matter of seconds and then we turned around.

imageWe obviously didn’t know the backstory so we rushed over thinking surely we should offer her money for this unique photo op. We thanked her and handed her 10,000 dong. Which is about $.50 USD. She took her hat and baskets off of Graciana and we thought the situation was dealt with, but then she began to demand we buy a coconut from her. She took out her machete to cut the coconut and then badgered us to take the coconut. We asked her how much and she mumbled a number we thought was 50,000. Which is above the usual asking price but we thought OK, well just take it and leave. So we handed her the 50,000, she took it but began to shake her head (and her machete) violently. She wrote in the sand 500,000, which is about $22 USD!

Thankfully, by that point, a guard, some of the staff, and our host, saw what was happening and came over to help us deal with the lady. She was angry that they came to our side and waved her machete at them, clenching her fists around the money we had already given her. We all just stood awe as our host dealt with her. She let the woman know that her manipulation was unacceptable and that we weren’t going to pay her. I think we were able to get the 10,000 back but she kept the 50,000. Which was fine, we kept the coconut. She made a sour face and played victim as we all walked away. We left totally bewildered but we weren’t bitter. Honestly the interaction was so swift that we really didn’t have much time to process what was even going on until we walked away.

There was a sadness that came over us for her. What drives an old woman to become a thief? That’s really what laid heavy on our hearts. She was just a sweet little old lady, in the twilight of her life, meant to be enjoying the fruit of her children and grandchildren but here she was stuck in what was probably a long standing cycle of twisted thinking, desperate and demanding. She was roaming this life like a thief in the dark.

It reminded me of another thief, my grandfather. Who was shot (bullet lodging an eighth of an inch from his heart) trying to rob a club in Indianapolis, IN. My father and his twin brother were only 30 days old. I’m sure it wasn’t the first time my paw paw participated in what he would call a “lead pipe synch.” It was just the first time he was caught. It was during is his capture and imprisonment however that his spirit was awakened and he made a decision to change the course of his life. He made a decision to no longer live for himself but for the one who created him. This decision drastically changed the course of my family, this decision and the follow through after gave my family life.

All I could think of after we left this lady was how her con, although sly was so desperate. How I wished I would have had time to catch myself during the interaction to speak truth in love, to let her know that she was wrong for preying on us, but that the deceitfulness in her heart was a burden she didn’t need to carry. I don’t know why or how it all works, this idea of awakening but I do know that I long to see thy kingdom come… And it is during these moments that my heart aches for it most.

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Bahhh Habahhh

That’s how the locals pronounce it, Bahhh Habahhh. It’s one of the most beautiful and unique places to visit along the East coast of the United States. Situated on the northeastern coast of Mount Desert Island in Hancock County, Maine, Bar Harbor is the main hub for those visiting The Acadia National Park.

IMG_3818We left Portland Maine with one extra Bus Rider, named Maricela, whom we met during our five month rest in Austin, TX. A dear friend and fellow creative spirit, we convinced her (without much convincing) to take her vacation with us. She said yes and planned to join us for ten days.

Our time with her began on Mount Desert Island where we camped just nine miles north of Bar Harbor at Mount Desert Narrows RV Resort, using up the last of our ReadyCampGo.com membership for $25 a night. We spent a bit of time in the quaint little town, walking the main drag filled with tourist shops galore. We stocked up on groceries at the only local grocery store, got a coffee at Choco-Latte, and walked the famous sand bar during low tide.

Most of our time however, was spent in the surrounding National park. We bought a seven-day park pass for $25 and trekked up and down the island, exploring the rocky coast line, thunder hole and Sand Beach which is nestled in a small inlet between the granite mountains and rocky shores of the park. This gorgeous 290 yard long beach is one of the most popular points of interest on the island and we spent most of our time here. We’d packed a light supper and made our way to the beach around 3pm to avoid the day time rush and stayed until sundown, climbing rocks, reading, eating, resting and when we were brave we’d take a dip in the icy blue waters.

IMG_3842Most meat eaters flock to Maine for the Lobster. We have a few meat eaters in our lot and decided to take in the local experience of a lobster boil. After investigating all the options from dining out to a home boil, we decided to go DIY. We found a local fisherman and picked out three fresh caught lobsters at $40 total, as well as a pound of fresh clams at $6.99. We took them back to the bus, pulled out our big ol’ pot and boiled them in a water, beer, butter, and Louisiana Slap Yo Mama spice mixture. We accompanied the fish with corn, potato, onion and a salad. The process was actually a bit horrifying and once the meal was complete and ready to be served, a few of us could barely eat. The experience convinced us girls that we probably would never do it again but the fella’s seemed to take it all in stride, engaging fully in the experience. And, that’s just it… An experience.

IMG_3881Our final morning was spent on Cadillac Mountain,  in Acadia National Park, which sits at 1,530 feet (466 meters) above sea level. It the highest point along the North Atlantic seaboard and the first place to view the sunrise on the East Coast. We woke at 4:30am to drive the half hour from our camp site up to the top of the mountain. There was road side parking along the way and a big lot at the top. We wound all the way up to find the hill packed with tourist it was very windy and cold and the view was somewhat lacking. We sat for a moment, but decided to stay would be a disappointment, so we drive down a bit to see if there was more texture and less people. We found just a few turns down the hill that there were not as many people and the view was actually better. The sun was distant and it was a cloudy day but the water sparkled none the less and we were glad that we had made the effort.

Our time in Bar Harbor and The Acadia National Forest felt a lot more like a vacation than we’ve ever had, mostly because we were on our own, flowing in a sea of tourist, with no hosts eyes to see life through. However, it was a much-needed time of reflection, reconnecting with nature, pioneering and time to spend with one another without any other distractions.

It will forever be one of those memories that our family holds dearly.
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D. C. On a Dime

Nomadic life is not the same as being a tourist on vacation. Nomadic life contains all the same mundane qualities of stationary life, just in motion. We have to do laundry, grocery shop, make meals, clean our bus, do school work, book musical gigs, find communities and host families to neighbor alongside, negotiate the road ways in a 40 ft rig, take care of maintenance on our bus and van and sleep, yes, sleep is good. And then, depending on our host and how we are all feeling, we might venture out to see the main attractions but usually our preference is to actively engage with the local culture through the eyes of our host. Once in a while, however, we get to go explore like a tourist. The difficulty for us, is the most of those moments, we’re broke. Ha! So, it was with our visit to DC.

We did find, though, that there were plenty of things to do on a dime. In fact, there were a number of free things DC had to offer. We visited the White House, the Capitol building, most of the Memorials and Monuments, the Smithsonian museums, including the Natural History, Air & Space, US History, the Zoo and Botanical gardens. We had a few spare dollars for parking and for meals. Our first dinner was at an authentic Ethiopian restaurant called Dukem Restaurant and our second meal was at District Taco.

 

And, then as a special treat, Craig took our son, Banjo, to his first major league baseball game. They saw the Washington Nationals vs. Craig’s favorite Chicago Cubs. Sadly the Cubs lost, but they had a great time and Banjo fell in love with the game. Being his first experience in the big leagues, he had a funny little moment while walking in to the stadium, pointing out the Nationals logo on everyone shirts with confusion and asking Craig if there was a Walgreens convention going on at the game that night. Craig laughed and quickly explained that it was the team logo. Banjo, was embarrassed but still found it silly that they would have such similar logos.

 

All up, our favorite museum was the Air & Space and we loved the Zoo and Botanical Gardens. Our favorite monument was good ol’ Abe as it was exhilarating to sit on the steps, people watch, and look across the reflecting pool at the Washington Monument. And for our meals, Dukem was probably a bit out of our price range but we ended up sharing a platter for two and one extra main between the five of us, and it was plenty. The food was amazing! District Taco was fast, delicious and we were able to fill our bellies for about $8 a person.

Our time was well spent and we learned a ton but next time around, we’d hope to connect with a host family or community and get the other side of life in Washington DC.

The Great Salt Lake

The Great Salt Lake

The Great Salt Lake is the largest natural lake west of the Mississippi River. It is approximately 75 miles long and about 35 miles wide. It’s the sixth most saline body of water in the world, at 22%, just behind the Dead Sea.  It is to saline to support fish, however several types of algae live in the lake and Brine shrimp/brine flies tolerate the high salt content and feed on the algae. The brine flies are harmless, tiny little things and are the primary food source for many birds that migrate to the lake. 

Bridger Bay Beach on the north end of Antelope IslandWe spent the day at Bridger Bay Beach on the north end of Antelope Island with our hosts and fellow folkies, the Danzig family (Otter Creek)

The beach had a distinctive “Vet Clinic” smell. Add that to the swarming flies and brine shrimp bobbing in the water and most would turn away. However, we were determined to really embrace this unique body of water and especially looking forward to floating like a cork. To lie back and float upon the lake with only the sound of the gulls overhead is a unique experience that we will cherish. 

 

 

Tent Rocks National Monument

Tent Rocks

On a Sunday afternoon we took a day trip to the moon, I mean the Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument with the Burton family. I say moon, because what we saw at Tent Rocks was otherworldly, ancient and enchanted.

Kasha-Katuwe means “white cliffs” in the traditional Keresan language of the Pueblo. During the 14th and 15th centuries, several large ancestral pueblos were established and their descendants, the Pueblo de Cochiti, still inhabit the surrounding area.

The national monument, on the Pajarito Plateau in north-central New Mexico, ranges from 5,570 feet to 6,760 feet above sea level. Apparently, The cone-shaped tent rock formations, also called Hoodoos, are the products of volcanic eruptions that occurred 6 to 7 million years ago.  While fairly uniform in shape, the tent rock formations vary in height from a few feet to 90 feet.

As the result of uniform layering of volcanic material, the colors are spectacular with bands of gray interspersed with beige and pink-colored rock along the cliff face. It took about 3 hours for the Burton Family (2 adults, 6 kids ages 15-2) and our family to hike the canyons, arroyos and scooping holes in the rock to the top of the summit and back.

Here are some of the photos from our adventure!