Thanksgiving

Flashback Saturday

My wife and I were laying on our couch, getting in some snuggling time after a day of cleaning the rig from stem to stern. Vacuuming, dusting, doing laundry, oiling the rather dry wood.. All the things that you tend to put off as life tends to get in the way. Ours might be somewhat of an exception to that rule, but, our “version” of life can get in the way.

Skiing, scuba diving, backpacking, and yes a couple of days of work. Roaming through Breckenridge or Dillon, Colorado. Mostly getting out and about to see what is local and fun. Such is our life. It is fun, exciting, relaxing, and to us, ideal.

I had this incredible flashback or “vision” of around 1980 or so. Lynda and I used to lay on my “poof” or bean bag at my house. (remember those bean bags?) Anyhow, I would lay there and wonder what our future held. I knew I saw a future for us, I could feel it, taste it, I could almost see it, but it always seemed to cloud over right when I saw that bright spark in Lynda’s eyes. It would flash, and for a moment, I could see… something.

When we broke up after I joined the Marines, I can remember standing on the 3rd deck of the Supply Company barracks in the twenty two area in Camp Pendleton, looking out at the helicopters coming in and out of the airfield, and kept wondering what happened to her. How she was doing, who she might be and of course a twenty something mind would go off into the void, and I would end up with a beer in front of myself, sitting in the 22 area E-Club and with a heavy sigh, on to whatever the Corps had to offer.

Years later I had returned to Roswell, New Mexico, (no alien jokes PLEASE) and used to run a 5.5 mile loop that went by Lynda’s parents home. I would look longingly at that home, wondering if by chance she might happen that day to be there. And of course, I never stopped, just kept running by. I left New Mexico again, and went to Alaska, and again, wondered what might have happened to Lynda. Eventually, I left that thought for a new love in my life, Connie Calhoun, and this was 1989.

In 2001 my world came to a halt. My wife, Connie, died after her diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. 163 days from diagnosis to death, that fast. Something neither of us ever saw coming. We had been together almost 12 years. Been married almost 4 of that. I left Alaska on a “walkabout” an Australian term for go travel until you find yourself again.

I returned to New Mexico, and this time, I stopped at Lynda’s house. I met her mom of whom I had not seen in twenty some odd years. The years had been very kind to her, and she was very kind to me. She told me that Lynda was married, and that JD (Lynda’s father) was still kicking. Mostly small talk, but I could tell something was a bit off.  I told her thank you, and left, with no intent of ever looking for Lynda again, as she was married, so that was that.

Two years later, I was leaving Alaska permanently. My house had become a mausoleum, and if I didn’t do something I would end up joining Connie in that trip to the great beyond. I had just been contacted by John Wolf, a friend that owned a home in Girdwood, the local ski area in Alaska. It was about 45 minutes outside of Anchorage, and he needed someone to house sit for him. Shucks. While my house was up for sale, I had a place to stay.

In that time-frame, I started looking for places to go, to do that “walkabout”. I was on Classmates and as I was looking for old friends to go visit, I stumbled across Lynda’s email address. I sent her an email asking if this was indeed the same Lynda Smith I knew in high school. Time crawled until I got a response. It was. and we started up a conversation through emails. After some time, I asked her how she was REALLY doing. She replied with leaving a bad job and a bad relationship. I offered her a trip up to Alaska.

She took it.

We stayed at John’s house until March, and left Alaska in an 18 foot travel trailer, and my home was in the process of being sold for above what I asked for. We were happy, and on the road to an adventure.

Since then, we have been joined at the hip, and happily so. The past almost 11 years has been magical. There have been incredibly happy moments and incredibly scary moments. and quite the mix of the two. We are currently in Breckenridge Colorado, with the snow lightly falling outside our home on wheels. As I lay with Lynda on the couch, listening to her breathe, and watching the snow fall and blow outside, there was this flash, this sudden “flashback” of that vision.

It was that vision that I had almost managed to see in 1980. It was the future that I knew we had together, one I was completely convinced would happen. Just had no idea of how, when or where. I believe in quantum physics, the concept that time is not linear, it does not travel in one direction, we simply perceive it that way. Today, here and now, I have had the opportunity to believe that sometimes, just sometimes, life can be foreseen, imagined or not. And I have to admit…

That vision has been one of the best in my life, and I can safely say that it was not imagined.

The other vision? Seeing Lynda as an old woman puttering around in our kitchen, smiling, eyes shining, and happy. I look forward to seeing that again, in the next flashback down the road. When experiences like this happen?

It makes me relish the coming years.

Namaste

Categories: Adventure, Adventure Travel, Backpacking, Camping, Downhill Skiing, Family, Hiking, Hot Tubbing!, Living Passionately, Love, Reconnection, Religious, RV Travel, Scuba, Ski, Spiritual, Thanksgiving | Tags: | 2 Comments

Belize and the US

Well, I have been finding other fun to get into lately, and have been remiss in posting our adventures in Belize and the US. We went to Placencia, Belize and spent a few days at the Paradise Resort and enjoyed the night life of Placencia which was better than anywhere else we had been in Belize. We agreed that if we ever were to call Belize home, it would be Placencia. However, unless things got really crazy here in the US, that is not likely to happen.

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We left Placencia and headed to Punta Gorda. What a change that was. Punta Gorda does not rely on tourists for income, so at the very best, we were tolerated. Never threatened, but not favored either. The Coral House Inn was a beautiful home, and place to stay.

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Very relaxing. Very enjoyable. The bar was on the honor system, you drink a beer? Write it down and they will catch up with you later. You want a high-end scotch? yep, write it down and they will catch you when you leave. Then, in Punta Gorda we met Gomier the healer, the cook and the story-teller.

Gomier had a small “shack” called Gomier’s that served some of the best vegetarian meals I have ever had. Truly fun and amazing. Gomier was a class act all on his own. He is a “Rasta” which is a form of a religion that I don’t fully understand, but the Rastas are a peaceful  people.. and very cool. He made us vegetarian burritos that were superb, and then told us stories about the food we were eating. Fascinating.

Cooking!

Cooking!

We left Punta Gorda and enjoyed the drive down the Hummingbird Highway. What beauty. We returned the car in Belize City and caught a water taxi to San Pedro where we finished our travels in San Pedro at the Holiday Hotel right on the beach. We walked around town, enjoyed another massage by Ocean Essence Massage and what a relaxing massage that was.

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We dined with Christine Cotten and her husband, Tom Cotten at a local ex-pat’s restaurant and wow. that was excellent food. Great company. Christine helped us plan our entire trip in Belize, I cannot say enough about her travel agency, Belize  Travel Adventures. She put together the trip of a lifetime.

Christine and Tom

Now we are back in Breckenridge, Colorado, where while we were gone, our fridge had shut down (we turned it off as we left) the door latch had come apart inside the door itself, and our water line going to our fridge water dispenser also burst. All of which I repaired. I disconnected the water line and capped it until warmer weather ensues, I fixed the door mechanisms, and had to “jump” the fridge to start it again. Seems a controller board can get too cold and reset itself. and I found the way to “jump it” to make it function again. and the snow piled up a bit.

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For a guy who can barely screw a light-bulb in without goofing it up, I am becoming damn handy with a wrench. Our home is back in shape, I am in the process of slowly upgrading our stereo system and want to put in a nice one. I have removed the last TV from “Koko” and am in the process of building a stereo cabinet and an electronics/book cabinet out of the area that housed the rather large heavy TV.

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Lynda and I are preparing for the next leg of our “road trip FOR a lifetime“. We will head to the east coast to visit friends and hike parts of the Appalachian Trail. Then down to Florida to dive Key Largo for a while. We also want to spend some time at Disney World. Then? Back to Colorado in June to go to Lynda’s family reunion, and if we have the time? Raft the Grand Canyon. Once we are done in Colorado, we will head to South Dakota to hike the Black Hills, as they are beautiful

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Then? maybe to Colorado, or Utah for the next ski season…

For those that are enjoying reading about our adventures? Please leave notes, LOVE to reply, and even invite you to join us if you have the time. and we cannot thank you enough for reading about our crazy lifestyle.

erick and Lynda bristlecones

Erick and Lynda

Categories: Adventure, Adventure Travel, Backpacking, Camping, Downhill Skiing, Family, Hiking, Hot Tubbing!, Living Passionately, Love, Reconnection, Religious, RV Travel, Scuba, Ski, Spiritual, Thanksgiving | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

Guatemala

Lynda and I spent the day going from the Table Rock Jungle Lodge to Tikal in Guatemala. This takes a guide from Guatemala, a driver from Belize and a driver from Guatemala.  So to take two tourists from the US to Tikal takes 3 more people.. Unless of course you choose to go at it on your own. And we have met folks who are backpacking their way through Central and South America. Way wilder than we are. But again, I digress.

Tour Guides

The ride from San Ignacio was without event, but the rain and the countryside were fabulous. The free roaming dogs and pigs are fun to watch, and a comment was made about them as we drove. The driver did quite the zig-zag around a chicken… I mean a serious “holy shit” move. And then he explained that if you hit a pig or a chicken?

You had better keep going, or it will be the most expensive animal you ever ran over. The owner (and everyone knows who the owner is, as these are very small villages) will try to get you to pay for all the eggs the chicken would have ever hatched, and the food it would have produced. Same with the pig, all the piglets they would have ever had and the food they would have produced… So if you smack one? Keep on trucking.

We met our Guatemalan guides at the border, and they all knew each other. Good team to have if you are bouncing through Central America for your first time. And we are as nervous as a long tailed cat in a room full of rockers. I mean when I heard about Guatemala, it was always about corrupt police that would drag you off into the jungle and shoot you, or drug lords lurking at every corner, or something else.

We were commenting on the road to Tikal that for the most part, was paved and in good shape. Our Guatemalan guide explained that in a couple years past, the road was unpaved and took 3-3 ½ hours to travel. Now? Only 2 hours to get through. We came onto a military checkpoint, my hackles rise, Lynda gets a bit closer to me, and guess what? The driver waves, the soldier waves, they smile and we go on.. Slowly learning about paranoid US tourists… us.

The biggest crime in Belize and Guatemala? Human trafficking. Running Chinese from Belize or Guatemala to the US. Or bike theft which is the second largest crime. So drugs are not what the people in the US think, by any means. I find it quite interesting how the media and the government in the US makes so much ado about nothing.

Hugo, our guide, was very informative he talked much about the Mayan culture and its rise and fall. We spent the majority of our time on the road asking questions about the locals, learning about their government and it’s issues, then about the local ecology. Central America is far beyond the US in preserving their ecology. Or at least appear to be. Recycle, use and re-use, some due to the very nature of being a third world country, but also realizing the connection between man and the world… Screw up the world? And you don’t have a chance. However there is still an inordinate amount of garbage all around… not good.

More Tikal with Guide

There is a large lake the guides take us by, and I have long since given up the ability to pronounce it, that the locals use quite a bit, including laundry places where the ladies will spend the day washing clothes for the family. I mean standing waist deep in the water with shelving all around and mashing, squeezing, thrashing and rinsing the laundry. This same lake, every 3 months or so, gives off a sulfur purge that the locals say smells quite bad.

My theory is that it is on a volcanic vent that “belches” every so often and creates the smell. It may also be that the bottom of the lake has a methane deposit that releases periodically as well. It would be an interesting study. We were also shown how some villagers are using old plastic bottles and concrete to build walls in their homes and insulate against the cold here. (Cold being a very relative thing) but the plastic bottles that reduce the amount of concrete used, keep insulation value, and actually provide light into the house versus using costly windows. Clever people here in Central America.

The trip also had a stop at a local shopping store that donates an amount of purchases to local charities; thereby the entire tourist guides tend to stop there. The food is good, the pico-de-gallo is HOT, habanero hot, but enjoyable. The final stop in Tikal at the actual site is well maintained and for us, fairly slow tourist wise. Our guide, Hugo, was again very informative about the site, and was able to show us highlights that if we had been on our own, would likely have missed. Hugo also told us where to get the best angles for photos at, and what we were photographing and the history behind each area. We took off around the central Mayan ruins area, peeking in on areas that while have been seen by many, gave us a rough glimpse into the past of the location and its people. I will say that looking around and the locals had performed realizing that the local community was about 128,000 people, a LOT of work.

Tikal center

Then the realization hit that they had zero machinery, and it was all done by hand and by animals. They flattened large areas for building their temples and astrological viewpoints from, knew enough about stars to align the buildings perfectly, and were able to raise these buildings without help of any mechanical assistance.

Pretty damn crazy.

And to both of us who had seen pictures of these ruins in our books in school? Even more astounding was that two kids from Roswell had made it here to see this human accomplishment. I think this was a surprising discovery that somehow, two kids from a pretty humble start in life had found their way to Guatemala and were standing in some ruins dating back to 700AD. Not a bad start for a road trip for a lifetime.

Us in Guatemala

When we finally finished the tour of the Tikal site, we returned to the Table Rock Jungle Lodge with little or no issue, muddy, tired and very happy. We spent the evening talking to travelers, who were staying here, and wild tales were shared, contact information swapped, and tired eyes took us to bed. Then Lynda had a surprise visitor. Something she ate caused a blockage in her intestine, which catapulted us, right back into the wide world of cancer.

Jungle Boogie

Jungle Boogie

Lynda and I had hoped that those days were behind us, that the days of swollen intestines closing off food processing were over. And apparently they are not. The larger issue with this problem is that there is not a lot of medical help available here, so Lynda, being the incredibly “insightful” person she is, made it a point to bring pain killers and stool softeners on the trip. After about 2 hours of intense pain and discomfort, the blockage either broke down and passed or came up, or both. Welcome to the roller coaster from hell. One-minute life is good, and in a split second it can be questioned how much you have left.

Now, instead of freaking out and collapsing into a bowl of emotional jelly, which was my gut reaction, we have both determined that path is not for us. While quite scary and disconcerting there is another angle to look at this incident. The angle we take is a way to make something positive out of something that is as spooky as it gets.

Getting the shit scared out of you reminds you how tenuous your hold on life can be, and that in a moment, your life can be wrested away from any plans you may have had. So we live in the moment, with these reminders to do just that. Planning ahead is fine, but make the plan for the immediate future your priority, your drive.

Life is a short run thing, no matter how long you have. And with that, make the most of what you have while you have it… Surprises, both good and bad come your way every day. So make the best of every moment you have. This is how “cancer” or “can-serve” affects our lives. We make it a better life by the drive this disease gives us.

Lynda may live to be one hundred, I may live to be one hundred, or we may not. We live as if we may not. We live as if today might very well be the last, and with that point of view it makes life more energetic, fun, passionate, scary, exciting. Pick one. Pick them all, but don’t stand around trying to figure out which one to pick… Get busy living, Or get busy dying. We choose the former.

On that note, we have begun building our bucket lists again, working on which adventure should be next, and in that, we have had shifts in our comfort zones, at least I certainly have. Earlier I had said the couple that were backpacking through central America and south America were wilder than us? Maybe not anymore. Although we are not likely to grab a pack and give central America a go, we are not against it either.

Categories: Adventure, Adventure Travel, Backpacking, Camping, Family, Hiking, Living Passionately, Love, Reconnection, Spiritual, Thanksgiving, Uncategorized | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

And the count is 2…

Two days… today, then tomorrow, and we take off to fulfill a bucket list trip..

Belize

I know I know, lots of people have been there, and many chose to live there. but for us? this is almost a year in planning, and it is about to come to fruition. So let me rant about that for a moment. Lynda and I have had some spooky life changing crap slap us about the head and shoulders over the years, in particular, serious cancer scares. The roller coaster was one that I would choose out of every time had I been given that choice. And the thing that has driven us to our current situation was a conversation with my younger sister some time back. Lynda’s diagnosis had been bad enough, but my younger sister had decided it was time for a serious conversation.

“What are you going to do if she doesn’t make it”? was the question. Never once, in the entire time we had been dealing with cancer, had that thought ever crossed my mind. It damn near brought me to my knees. I stumbled… I stuttered. I was at a complete loss. The idea that my wife could die came roaring at me like a freight train from hell. and I was stuck on the track like a deer in the headlights. It was Connie, my first wife who died of pancreatic cancer,  again. It was Mom, who died from lung cancer. It was death walking behind me, about to make another call.

I stammered a response, “I don’t know”… go skiing, go hiking, buy a motor-home and leave life; leave society, and vanish. I knew that if I lost her, my world would go up in smoke, and like the ashes, that is all that would be left to me. So left with that thought, I did something my heart would never let me do… I went outside and I lost it. No one knew, and it was no one’s business. This is where I did something I do very seldom… I went outside and asked a favor. Some call it prayer, but this? No, this was a favor. I have always been under the impression that there were 4 spirits of those gone by that were keeping watch over me.

My first wife, Connie, my mom, my grandmother, and the 4th I could never quite pin down.. and it dawned on me, Lynda’s mom. I asked for a favor, simple enough, give us more time, and in return I will give you a story to watch and to enjoy. Just give us more time…. I don’t ask for anything, I always have believed that you get what you give… which brings me to another story…

Lynda was diagnosed with a “spot” on her shoulder in 2008 and the doc said it looked like a metastasis. We freaked. We looked to alternative treatments and found a doctor in Phoenix Arizona who had a pretty good record of treating cancer. So off we went, spending our life savings and everything we could scrape together for the treatment. While we were in Arizon tight for money, scared to death, and all I could focus on was Lynda and how she was dealing with treatments, I pulled into a 7-11 for gas. (A store like 7-11)  I started pumping gas and flitting from one thought to another, but mostly just hoping for a miracle. Out of nowhere, a really BIG black guy appeared in front of me. I never did see where he came from, just kind of popped up and began to speak. Now, I am not being racist or bigoted, but he had to be one of the darkest skinned man I had ever seen and although he wasn’t tall, he was incredibly stocky, the kind of guy that looked like he could bend iron with his bare hands.

He spoke eloquently, kindly, and told me his story of how he got to where he was in life. The story was like one of many I had heard, bad economy, lost a good job, and down on his luck… but as I looked at this man, I really looked at him. I saw beyond the rough but clean clothing, and saw something I could not believe.

There was a palpable aura, a glow coming from this guy, it was of angels… I kid you not. and at this point, I had the incredible feeling that here and now, at that moment, I was at a crux of our lives. A turning point, Karma in full focus. Our lives would entirely depend on how I treated this man. I could easily brush him off like I did most panhandlers, and live with the results. Or help, and live with whatever Karma dealt out.

It was if my world was holding its breath to see what I would do. I listened as he spoke, and I watched his eyes. I have heard that the stories that eyes are the window to the soul. And the soul I saw before me was grand. Beautiful comes to mind, an energy that never again I think I will ever see. The light and the energy that emanated from him was calming and energizing in the same moment.

I asked him to wait a moment, went into the store and came out with some money.. about 60 dollars, and that 60 dollars was a lot more than we could afford.. And I handed it to him. His eyes shone, I mean not like a person who just scored some money, but more like the universe clicking into place. What I witnessed was like nothing I have ever seen, it was as if god himself had smiled on us. I think there is a bible verse (and I am not a Christian), but it says something like

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me”
He was profuse in his thanks, and said something that I usually blow off, but this time? This time I think someone else spoke…

“Thank you” and “Bless you”… Not “God bless you”, but “Bless You”. and he walked away.

Now, he very well could have been just another hard luck story, or just another panhandler looking for an easy mark. But I choose to believe otherwise… It is said that angels walk among us, that at times, they present themselves to us, and how we treat them, how we act toward them can be a turning point for our destiny. I look back at that moment, and the impression that was left on me. With that entire incident in mind I think our destiny together, our lives, Lynda and I, was turned from what would have been a loss into something more…

So project years forward, 4 to be exact, and here we are. Lynda is healthy, I am as well, our lives have become what many dream of, what we dreamt of, and are still creating. It has been beyond any expectation I have ever had, and a comfortable feeling of much to come. Belize is a dream born of reaching out and of giving, of a life worth living… So ladies?

My promise, partially fulfilled. A story worth watching… and I promise that as long as you keep an eye out for us..

I will give you a story worth watching. Stay tuned…

Erick and Lynda

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Categories: Adventure, Adventure Travel, Backpacking, Camping, Downhill Skiing, Family, Hiking, Hot Tubbing!, Living Passionately, Love, Reconnection, Religious, RV Travel, Scuba, Ski, Thanksgiving | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

Holidays with the family

The ski season (as early as it has been) has been great. We have taken our time getting our ski legs underneath us, not pushing too hard so that we end up with accidents… Just enough to enjoy a good leg burn and soak in the hot tub at the end of the day… all in all, it has been better than expected.

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We are now in Albuquerque, NM visiting my sister, Daonne, then heading to my other sister’s home in Midland, where Ellen and the girls will put together a Thanksgiving feast! woot woot. It has been a great time just hanging out in New Mexico, but Lynda and I both realize that we do not miss NM that much. Our families? yes, but the Land of Enchantment? Notsomuch. Remember they tested the first nuclear bomb here in NM.

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We both have been reflective of our pasts here in NM. My mom’s place out on the edge of town with a couple of  acres, and further down the road, Lynda’s parents place of about 80 acres. We have funny and happy memories (probably swiss cheese memories) of Roswell and all that unfolded there. When I say “Swiss Cheese” memories, they are memories that often have gaps or holes that we fill with the pleasantness that we choose to remember. I shy away from the shadows of those days, as the holidays for the most part, were family time… True magic of getting together and for a while, putting the “junk in the trunk” and enjoying each others company.

Junk-n-Trunk

They were times of warmth and love spent over the white octagonal table my mom had in the kitchen, or on the bean bag in the living room that in and of itself had many slap happy memories. Including catching my brother with one of his sweet hearts while he was attending New Mexico Military Institute… He had spent a lot of time enticing that young lady to come over to the house, and in walks little brother, who, in the dark, thought it was the babysitter on the bean bag. I walked over, turned on the light, saw who it was, and very nonchalantly turned the light back out and left.

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Giggling the entire time.

My brother; never; in 35 plus years, has ever forgot that episode…(Neither have I!)

Other memories included our family dog, Duke, rolling on that beanbag in complete abandon, or just snuggling with Lynda my girlfriend at the time, who now, decades later, is my wife. That living room, encompassed so many pleasant family episodes, that they often blur together, as the years have flown by. Memories are tricky things, they have a tendency to change through the years, and often, it is hard to discern what really happened versus what the mind believes happened. But all in all, the love, the warmth, that, above all, shines through.

In that mindset, it is here that I wish the younger generation the same warmth, family love, and caring that we shared so many years ago, and still do today. It is a precious gift that is hard to bestow, and often harder to accept. So, to all those that read through this post, please find the time this year to put life aside for a moment, and share the season with your family. That family can be your biological family, your adopted family, your foster family, even your military family… regardless, may this season be one of many happy thoughts and memories.

From our home to yours.

Erick and Lynda Carpenter

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Categories: Family, Living Passionately, Love, Reconnection, Thanksgiving | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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