Although this is the second round of our road trip and, really, our indoctrination into the nomadic lifestyle, we feel it is crucial to begin this blog where we began…eleven months ago. We left the Pacific Northwest, just north of Seattle, during a cold hail storm , at night no less! We had some feelings of trepidation for leaving so late but then remembered our focus in faith and left.
At the Skagit Co op, in Mt. Vernon, we sat next to a man reading the Bible. An omen. As happens often at co- ops, a conversation started easily. Koran, as he was named at birth, traveled from NYC through the South and then across the USA without any money: he said faith was what he relied upon. Only faith. No safety net. He slept on park benches, sometimes in homes, churches or on sidewalks. Wherever. Koran told us all this with a large grin and eyes alight with passion. He had been a school teacher in NYC, but one day , for no apparent reason, he was born again. Immediately he felt called to walk across the USA with only his Bible. This was his second year of “faith travel” and Koran had no intention to return to his former life . What struck us was that he seemed content, even happy. The clarity of his faith touched us profoundly. It almost felt as if he was an apparition since we often eat at this wonderful co op and had never met him there, nor experienced any encounter of this weight at the co op. A blessing for our trip, a meeting with a remarkable man.
Back on the freeway, the sky opened, the full moon was visible and stars sparkled. It was a message: all is well.
As we traveled south the temperature plummeted. It was four a.m. and although we were tired , we would have kept on tempting fate were it not for that certain voice from somewhere beckoning us to take the next exit. Good thing we listened! We found a gas station in Vancouver, WA, surrounded by lovely trees and pulled some fleece blankets from the back to keep us warm. Amazingly, we slept. Exhaustion took precedence over the cold and discomfort of sleeping upright. After about four hours we awoke to daylight and a barking dog. A highway patrol officer was parked next to us so, we asked him about the road conditions. He said we were “lucky” to have exited when we did because black ice had formed quickly and thickly , resulting in many accidents.
After some coffee , back on the road and the thrill of sunshine. Driving along I-5 in the early morning is daunting until Portland is far behind you: so many, many commuters slowing traffic to a crawl. Yet the momentum of travel is such that we did not want to stop for breakfast until we had logged some significant miles. Ironically, the need for a restroom forced us to exit a few miles from Roseburg, Oregon. Truly in the middle of nowhere: what looked like a quaint restaurant from the freeway was, really, a delapidated former pizza parlor . Now, it was a sad semi-grocery with no restrooms. “The former village had once thrived but now was nearly abandoned”…..this from a voice at a picnic table near the door. A man of about sixty, or so, smiled at us.
Although he was disheveled with a large plastic bag full of cans at his side, his inner dignity and some ineffable quality made him glow. We liked him immediately. He knew what brought us off the freeway. Lucky for us he was there because he told us where to find the rest room at the park, a few steps from the store. Whew. An easy conversation ensued when we returned. After tellling us about the history of this abandoned site and his previous life as a stock broker, he said : “Even though I’m dirty, stinky and poor, I am happy.” The WAY he said this had power. We could feel it was true. He looked beautific. He emanated the kind of profound peace and tranquility you would expect from a yogi or monk. No doubt there was transmission, much like what is felt from a holy/realized person. No doubt he was a fully realized man. No fee or long distance travel to India, Tibet or a monastery ! Here, on a forlorn piece of land next to has-been restaurant, we were gifted with a treasure.