The Laughing Heart
your life is your life.
don?t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is a light somewhere.
it may not be much light but it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
you can?t beat death but you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it, the more light there will be.
your life is your life. know it while you have it.
you are marvelous.
the gods wait to delight in you.
Gods delight in Maya. I wonder if the gods delight in me, but certainly it wouldn’t be for lack of trying on my part. Trying to pull a plan like this together takes a lot of effort. Off and on, it’s taken a year to get it together. And pulling all the little strings together can be challenging. Sometimes you end up with knots.
Maya has to be in Grand Rapids, MI for a new study for the drug called DFMO. It’s not a drug that will make cancer go away, but for some children, it seems to hold the disease in check. Equally important is that it has very little side effects. The hope is, first, it keeps the cancer in check with “quality of life” – which is a term I’ve come to despise – and second, allow us to enjoy the summer.
Because we need to be in Grand Rapids in mid July, we thought that we could head out to east coast first. That would switch the last leg of the trip to the start, and still allow us to all the places which we wanted to go. No biggy… Matter of fact, when Visa cancelled my card for theft prevention, I had the card sent to Moncton NB.
Except… we decided to go to Maine. No credit card. OK. No biggy…
As the days rolled by, the strings were being brought in. Some we can do on the trip. Others needed to be done. One of the big things was a trailer. So, I bought one. 6×12″ trailer. Got a good deal and thought yes, we can do this. Measured the bike and yes… it will just fit! All good. Except, the back end eats up 2″ on either side. The bike,with the sidecar does not fit.
On Thursday evening at midnight, we took off. Jonathan, Taylor, Maya and I got in and started to drive. I rode the bike and Janathan being 19, drove the RV. He told me later that he was scared stiff driving the RV for the first while, with a 12 foot trailer hitched on the back.
Just outside Kingston, we stopped for some quick shuteye. And from 7 AM to around 1 PM, the three men tried to figure out how we can get the BMW in the trailer. We take the side car off. And so we did. Even so, it took some doing maneuvering things around. And the side car weighs a ton. Imagine an old cast iron bathtub. That’s what the sidecar is, with a wheel. There were quite abit of swearing, let’s just say. And even when we tied everything down,things shift around.
We drove towards Maine for the rest of the day. Crossing vermont is always nice. I was wishing for Jonathan to be on his bike riding the mountains, but that would have meant pulling the bike out. That was not going to happen. Tomorrow, when we get to Maine, we can pull the bike out. We stopped at a rest area and crashed. I think it was around 2:30 AM.
Once again, the first course of action was to pull everything out of the trailer. Everything shifted and we needed to fix things and tie them down. It took a good few hours again. There were good amount of swearing again. By the time we got going, it was late. It looks like Maine is so close… but, we just can’t seem to make any head way.
As sun set, we found our selves in Lebanon. We’ve been making painfully little advances. And everyone was tired so, we stopped for dinner. Luckily for us, there was a firework display and Maya seemed to have enjoyed it.
When we got back to the RV, we checked on the bikes. It had shifted. We could not drive on as it was. It would damage the bikes. So, here we are, in a non descript town,aside from it’s name, in a non descript parking lot, were pulling everything out again. In the trailer, there is a little platform in the front. If we could only tear the platform down… When satisfied that things were reasonably tied down again, we headed out. It was 2 AM.
We drove for another couple of hours or so and again, stopped at the rest area to get some shut eye. Only 250 km from our initial destination. There is a part of me that wants to push on, but we’re all tired. Better to be safe than sorry, especially with the trailer hitched in the back.
We finally arrived at our destination. There is a sense of relief as well as a sense of wanting to get to the beach, relax and let Maya and the rest of the family relax. But, the state park would not allow us to put the RV in the parking lot. Too big. sigh… it’s been like that. Well I tell myself, we’re all here, in one piece and aside from lack of sleep and some minor damages, all is good. So, we went to another beach and spent the day doing the things which we originally set out to do.
We found an RV park that could accomodate a 30″ RV plus the trailer. We were all so tired that we hooked up quickly and passed out. I hadn’t eaten much in two days… Mostly that is due to the fact that I could not find anything decent to eat.
We got up relatively early, around 9 AM. And for the next 4 hours, the boys attended to the trailer. First of all, pull everything out. Secondly, we needed to get the side car pushed in as far as it will go. That meant that for all intent and purpose, we had to stand the sidecar up. I somehow went out to a gas station and found a couple of round hooks that I could mount on the front 2×4’s. Now, I did bring my drill, but not the drill bits. One of those things that I shrugged off, as I did not think I would need them. By asking around, we found a drill and the drill bits to make the appropriate holes in the front. The two top hooks(albeit, it shouldn’t be used as a weight bearing hooks) were used to hoist up the side car. The bottom two were used to pull the butt end in. In addition, the 2×4’s pieces were used as as a stop, just in case the sidecar bounced around.
Seemed like we were driving forever. But finally we got to Acadia national park at 9:52. The office closed at 10 PM, so we were very lucky to have made it. Also, there was only one camp ground available, which we took gratefully.
I had to get up at 7:30 to get to the front office. The office opens at 8 AM, and I wanted to see if there are any cancellation. We were lucky to have found that the camp site was open today as well. So, I asked for it. Of course, without a visa and fresh out of cash, the nice park ranger lady would not hold the spot. So, got on to “master jon jon’s bike” and headed back into the Bar Harbor to get some more money. Made it to a bank and I went out to fill Jon’s bike with gas. I did not want to take the chance of running out. That’s when I realized that I did not have my bank card with me. Good grief!!! Headed back to the bank and of course, the card is no where to be found.
With the way that things have been going, I was sure that I would make it back only to find that the spot was taken. It was not. With that, I was able to relax a bit. We went to the sandy beach. It was nice to finally relax a bit. The water was bitterly cold. The boys had a contest to see who can stay in the water the longest. I won, apparently because I have more body fat. Oh well… When the nuclear winter comes, I’ll be ok?
One thing I really wanted to show Maya was the intertidal pools. I don’t know why, but exploring the world with Maya is something I found delightful. I think Maya feels the same way. We went to the Sea Wall park. There are a handful of photo’shere. Initially, Maya did not like the idea of wading through the seaweed field. However between the “No way” and “Oh look”, Maya had a splendid time. She did not want to leave and only agreed to go back to town with the promise of coming back.
For me, the entire trip was really high lighted by these few hours exploring the world with Maya and Taylor. We all had a marvelous time, finding sea urchins, crabs, hermit crabs, star fish, three lobsters, sea snails etc. This is what I wanted to give Maya and Taylor. Engage the world that is yours! Respect it. Love it. Delight in it, just as gods may delight in us. If the trip has been tiring for me, physically and mentally, these few hours made it worth while. And I would like this summer to be filled with this sense of wonder. When will be have the opportunity to engage our world like we have just then? If I can do nothing much for my kids, this I can do and gladly faciliate the opportunities.
Long drive home… 17 hours and 1200 km..
- We got to Maine and back safely. The RV is not new. It’s been around. We threw the book at it really. It held 5 people in it, as well as towing a trailer full of bikes. And on top of that, we climbed the mountains of Vermont. On our way back, in the back roads, the incline was so steep that the RV could only muster 10 km / hour. Had it blown up, it would have been a rough day. It got us there and back safely. So, it treated us well.
- Much of the problem came by the way of the trailer. Remember, remember, remember always to measure twice and cut once. It caused a lot of sweat and toil. It put scratches on both my bike and Jonathan’s new bike. It’s like that on the road sometimes. But it’s an experience that means a lot in many ways. I guess the first is the fact that stuff happens on road. You have to roll with it. Secondly, nothing was really damaged. There are significan scratches on my BMW. While it saddens me to see it scratched, it also brings me closer to her. She has again, treated me right. And again, I am grateful to her. Had the gas tank punctured, as it could have, that would have made for a really bad day. We did not have that day! I dented the trailer from trying to make a very tight turn. But, nothing seriously got damaged. Had it been damaged to a point where it was not road worthy, it could have made for a worse day. That also did not happen.
- I am very proud of my boys. Both Jonathan and Taylor had the whips put to them. It’s not easy to pull out all the gear in the middle of nowhere, at 1 AM in the morning, on many occassions. Yes, there were grumbling. Yes, there were tense moments. But I would like to think that these events cemented our relationships in ways not seen before. If there is a hope from my side, it is that I have shown them not to give up easily. Engage the problem and do your best. These hardships were paid for with love.
- I am equally proud of Maya. She always amazes me. When you leave her to her own devises, you see an emergence of a child that engages her environment fully. She lives like she’s dying. Whether it is digging a hole in the sand, or whether it’s being couped up in an RV for days on end, she is happy to engage her life. What more could any parent ask for? We only need to let Maya be Maya.
- If there is one thing that stood out about our trip, it is this; It’s not the events that define your life. It’s how you react to the events that define it. The circumstances were challenging. It was my mistake. It brought on the hardships. But we all made it. We know a thing or two more. And there were moments that couldn’t be bought any other way. For that, I am thankful. Universe has a funny way of unrolling itself. And she was kind to us.