A Small Price To Pay

While planning/replanning the second part of my road trip, I was determined not to let one unfortunate event define the entire summer’s adventure. On the drive home I found myself more grateful for Kiah (Eddie Bauer), Jimmie (Action Auto Glass), the staff of Next Adventure, Judy & Ken, Nayerah (Eddie Bauer), Jo, and Karen (Columbia Sportswear) than I was angry at the thieves who robbed me. This isn’t to say I wasn’t upset, I was, but I knew it wouldn’t do any good to dwell on it. As my old manager, Kris, often said: “Acknowledge, and release.” The best thing I could do was to learn from the experience and incorporate that knowledge on future trips.

“Holding a grudge is a symptom of not knowing how you want to spend the gift of the day.” – Mike Maples, Jr.

The one thing I wasn’t going to do was stay angry, or be a victim. I’ve watched enough people over the course of my life who have held on to things instead of letting go; of not forgiving, hard though it may be, and instead, they have become joyless, angry, and bitter. Live is far too short for that. There is nothing to be gained, and so, so much to lose. And the worst thing is the afflicted person is clueless to how other people see them, and how much happiness they have sacrificed. When every day is a bonus day, you can’t afford to waste such a precious gift on resentment or holding a grudge.

My biggest regret of having to alter my plans and return home was not visiting a dear family friend, Marsha, in Idaho. Marsha has known me my entire life and our families go way back. Her father was the only person my grandfather trusted enough to teach my mother how to drive. Marsha was quite the adventurer in her younger days and I’ve always admired her.

Obviously, the first item on the replan agenda was to visit Marsha. Seeing her after Labor Day had advantages to our previously planned get together in late August. The weather would be cooler, there should be less smoke from forest fires, and I would be able to stay a little longer.

But wait, there’s more. My favorite comedian, JP Sears was going to be in Salt Lake City around the time I would now be heading back to Park City from Boise, and tickets were still available! Also, there was an event at the Patagonia Outlet in Salt Lake City during the week I added to the trip, and Denise would be back in town and we might be able to get together. So many things were falling into place. And there were other surprises still yet to come.

As I mentioned in my previous post, it was easy to replace my Patagonia Micro Puff Hoody, something I definitely wanted for late summer/early fall excursions in the mountains. Since it was right before Labor Day, many companies had end-of-summer sales. If I had to pick a time to shop for outdoor equipment, this was it.

I also reached out during my time at home to some of the people, groups, and merchants from PCT Days, as well as other companies whose products were taken during the break-in of my car. Jason, the Event Director for PCT Days sent me a new sticker for the car. Amy at Good To-Go, makers of delicious backpacking meals, sent me a discount code, and Bernadette from the Cascade Locks Tourism Committee put together a care package of items along with a beautiful card which brought a tear to my eye when I received it after the trip was over.

My plans firmed up, and soon it was almost time to hit the road again. Earlier in the year I reserved a timeshare in Park City for the week beginning the Sunday of Labor Day weekend. I wasn’t going to be there for the first two nights, but my two nieces who live in Salt Lake City were able to make good use of the accommodations on Sunday and Labor Day. I delayed leaving a day to help out Ruth parents, on Tuesday morning, after which I made the long drive to Park City.

This was my first visit to Park City and Salt Lake City, and, if all goes well, it won’t be my last. The Wasatch Mountains are beautiful, and there are a myriad of hikes within an hour of both Park City and Salt Lake City. There were hiking and mountain biking opportunities right outside the Marriott Mountainside where I stayed. My original, pre-break-in, plans were to only be there until Sunday morning. Thankfully I was able to arrange to stay another week after my trip to Idaho.

I’ll discuss my time in Park City in greater detail in a future post, but needless to say, I had a fantastic time and would have been sorry to leave, except I was more excited to see Marsha, and I knew I would soon be back.

“Coincidence is not a kosher word” – Rabbinic saying

If you find yourself driving between Boise and Salt Lake City, I highly recommend detouring to the Golden Spike National Historic Site in Promontory, Utah. On May 10, 1869, the Union and Central Pacific Railroads joined their rails at Promontory Summit, creating the nation’s first Transcontinental Railroad. Being a fan of old railroads, this was a ‘must see.’ As “luck” would have it, my arrival at the site coincided with the morning demonstration/reenactment run. What a treat to watch replicas of the Jupiter and the No. 119 steam down the tracks! I felt like a little kid watching the smoke billow from the locomotives and hearing the sound of the engine and whistle. This is something I wouldn’t have experienced on my original itinerary.   The side trip added less than 30 miles to the drive, but the memories were priceless. (https://www.nps.gov/gosp/index.htm)

Golden Spike NHS - 09-09-2018

While having a late lunch near Boise, I saw on Facebook that a friend whom I hadn’t seen since we completed the Backbone Trail in 2016, was also arriving in Boise; in Sarah’s case, for work. What are the odds? Messages were traded and it worked out for us to have dinner together in two nights’ time. Exciting!

So, too, was my time with Marsha. It had been years, nay, decades, since we were able to spend meaningful time together. The weather and air quality were more conducive to hiking in mid-September than it would have been in August, and we had more time to catch up and share under the ‘replanned’ trip than we would otherwise have had. And dinner with Sarah? We had hiked the Backbone Trail in the Santa Monica Mountains together as part of a group, so I knew Sarah was an adventurous and accomplished person, but I didn’t know the half of it until that night.

It was during my time in Boise that I realized, how many things worked out for the better, due to my car being broken into, and, more importantly, what a small price it was to pay for everything I received in return.

“There is good in everything, if only we look for it.” — Laura Ingalls Wilder

This epiphany was reinforced during the rest of the trip. Without my vehicle being robbed, I wouldn’t have had such a wonderful visit in Boise with Marsha, who knows when Sarah and I would have been able to get together, I wouldn’t have seen JP Sears live and in person, I would have missed seeing Denise and finally meeting her huband David, as well as Kiko, and Jim Williams (author of Path of the Puma) at the Patagonia Outlet in Salt Lake City. There wouldn’t have been an extra week exploring the High Uintas.

Cliff Lake 09-20-1018

The surprises weren’t quite over: there was still one more, which occurred on the last day, on the drive home. No s^*%, there I was finishing my Acai Bowl at the food court in the Costco in St. George, Utah, when I looked up and saw a familiar face pushing a shopping cart towards the exit. I waved to David, who was as surprised as I was. He and his wife are living the RV life, and they were in town getting tires and stocking up on groceries. The way the odds were working for me this trip, I should have stopped in Vegas and hit a casino, or at least bought a lottery ticket.

Would I have had such an incredible trip without the car incident? There’s no way of knowing. Would I have been open to new opportunities if I had held on to anger and resentment over what had happened? Probably not.  Am I thrilled at how everything worked out? Absolutely!  Did I gain valuable perspective, which I hope to carry with me for the rest of my life? You bet.

It is cliché to say “you can’t control circumstances; however, you can control your attitude.” But even though it is cliché, it is true. You can complain, be bitter, stay angry, but it won’t change what’s happened. What you can do is focus on how to make the situation better and be grateful for what you do have. And sometimes, just maybe, things will work out in ways you couldn’t begin to imagine.