Over The Hills And Far Away.
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.”
Over the hills and far away… That’s what our destination seemed like on Sunday, April 6th when we packed up Clementine and said our goodbyes to our good friends in Santa Cruz. It wasn’t a bad feeling, but with all of the breakdowns we’ve had on the way, it was a feeling of impending… something. It was surreal. We had gotten comfortable in Santa Cruz, with a pretty good routine. Morning reading, coffee, a walk and a bus ride into town, busking in the afternoons and evenings, dinner, drinks and at last a bus ride home. As always, any comfortable routine is difficult to disrupt.
Bus stopping on the way into Santa Cruz, a daily ritual.
We said our farewells and goodbyes to the family at Bean Creek. We said farewell to some of the wonderful street friends we’ve met in town. We watched Brandon & Caitlin of The Shrugs leave for Vancouver early in the morning. We had breakfast with the Felton lads and took off up North. We’ll be back. Right?
In the five days it took us to get home, I did a lot of self-reflection and a lot of learning. It was pretty quiet as driving goes between Kasey and I – normally we’re having long conversations about anything and everything, but this time it was different. I think we were both reflecting on the trip, what we’ve learned, how far we’ve come, and perhaps the scariest thought, what comes next? Big lifestyle changes were coming our way, we just didn’t know what they would be.
Clementine sitting pretty during a stop in the Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona.
Clementine… Where do I begin? The sweet little stick of butter cruising down the highways of North America put all of her heart into this trip. She struggled, she waned, but she forged on thanks to huge help from the Tait, Graff and Puglia families… There was an abundance of support on the home front that made this trip possible, for which we will be forever grateful. Thank you.
Note:Clementine is running, however she’s cranky. She’s making a LOT of knocking noises. Don’t worry – we’ll figure it out.
Kasey and I during a house concert with the Tait family in Ottawa, Ontario.
As for Kasey and I, well I guess we were ready for whatever came next. Kasey - my little engine that could. She struggled occasionally on this trip, missing home and the friends and family we had left behind. Some days were difficult for us both, but Kasey had a couple of difficult times on the road so far away from home. Somewhere along the way (perhaps California) she really began to shine like the star she is. She was relaxed, smiling, and rolled with the punches that come with living on the road. She’s a strong individual, and I’m prouder than ever to be her partner in crime.
Scopin’ out the covered bridge in Wakefield, QC.
As for myself, I was ready, but unsure of what was coming. I was sure Eugene and Portland would bring us good fortune, but I was unsure of what was going to happen in Kelowna. Would it be home? Would I fall back into the old unhealthy cycles I used to? Or would it be different? Would I be as motivated as I have been on this trip? Would the music change? All of this was beginning to weigh pretty heavily on my mind.
Lake Okanagan from the top of Kelowna’s Knox Mountain.
All of the introspection I did along Highway 1, 101 and I-5 took me only deeper into the dark caverns of my mind. I began to reflect primarily on three things… Who was I? Who am I? and Where am I going? I have been able to divulge answers for the first two, but the third question is truly the most vexing.
SO MANY ANTICS.
I have been struggling with that third question for a long time now. On the road, the answer was obvious. “We’re going to Portland!” or, better yet, “We’re going back home!” Time stood still, and we had very few concerns and stresses along the way. If we weren’t making money, we would move on to the next town. If we were happy somewhere, we would stick around for another day. If Clementine broke down – there was nothing we could do other than figure it out. There were no pesky deadlines, guidelines or time restraints on anything. It was truly an easy-living situation.
Clementine on the racks at Volks Café, Santa Cruz, CA.
As we approached the border at 50 MPH, a comfortable speed Clementine putters at on flat interstate highways, my concerns about that third question grew and grew. I mulled it over in my mind for hours, awake and asleep. As I rested overnight, it still burned through my dreams, like a bed of hot coals waiting to be lit. Where am I going? The answers were elusive and fleeting… But I think I finally came to an answer on our last night on the road, parked on Highway 3 at 2am near Princeton, BC.
Like a shot in the dark, it came to me.
Not my traditional home town of Arnprior, Ontario, Canada… That will always be home to me, but ponder this. Home isn’t anywhere you have to be. It’s not somewhere you feel uncomfortable. It’s not near your job. It’s not near your family. It’s not where you grew up. Home isn’t by the fireside, and most definitely isn’t on the road.
Home is an all-encompassing feeling that you take with you. Home is where your body and your heart go together, hand in hand. Yes, there are elements we all associate with home, such as a partner or a spouse, family, familiar surroundings, or your past. But the only place that really makes it home is your presence – presence of body and of spirit.
At home in Nashville, Tennessee.
There was a time shortly after I transplanted out West when I really struggled. I couldn’t get a job, I couldn’t make things work, I was partying by night and not getting anything done by the day. I missed the East coast – the legendary friends and family that formed who I am today. But there was a separation between my body and spirit. My body was in the West, but my spirit refused to settle. It yearned for feelings and experiences that I thought were only possible back home in Ottawa. I tried to convince myself that my life had changed and I had to adapt. This isn’t totally wrong, but what I missed was right in front of me.
There are elements of our home in every one of us. We are born and raised by our parents/guardians/elders, and the fundamental traits and qualities that make us who we are become instilled in us. We learn these things and modify or relearn as necessary along the way. We then take all of it with us - our memories and experiences, our opinions, our desires and needs, our voices, our fire. When we uproot and move away from those fundamental places in our lives, it is those things that we carry with us, and it is those very things that give us the ability to make home anywhere.
We will always bring elements of where we’ve been to make us at home down the road.
With those desires, beliefs, traits, needs and qualities, we can create home anywhere we want. It becomes a world of possibility, where we can approach the world comfortably and confidently. It creates a utopia for our souls where we can be free to thrive and swell with gratitude, where we can feel and witness happiness on a daily basis. Every day is a new door with infinite reasons to open it.
Every day is a day of greatness and gratitude. We can approach the world on our own ground, comfortable strong.
Truly, home is where you park it.
Thank you for following our adventure. As our adventure continues, we will be posting to this site. The things we learn will be reflected on this wall. All of our gigs and events will be posted on our website right here. Our Facebook will always have all kinds of goofy things like that as well.
With hearts bursting with gratitude and a world of love,