An Odd Bliss

There are a few moments in my travel life that really feel right, whatever that means, despite all kinds of weirdness that goes along with them.

A moment like this happened a few days ago, when we were driving down a one-lane dirt road in the middle of nowhere, with no cell signal and no campground in mind, just a set of coordinates on a downloaded map and collective hope in all the variables that have to be right for us to plunk ourselves down.

We hadn’t even gotten to the coordinates when I felt that feeling. Excitement about the unknown. Pride in Tracy’s research skills. Confidence in us as a team. We weren’t sure where we were going, much less where we were going to sleep, and that was part of the magic potion.

One big variable was not in our favor. We’d both had our second shingles vaccinations that morning, thinking we’d have all week out in the woods to recover. But the effects hit us right away, and, as we towed our home down that unknown dirt road, we were achy and exhausted. And in a hurry to set up camp so we could just lie down and sleep when the effects hit their peak.

But, yeah, nevertheless, I felt that high I get sometimes, right there on that dirt road. I hope I never forget the moment.

And—once we found this little clearing in the woods and decided on a position for the trailer so we wouldn’t get stuck in the mud, then backed in, set up, hydrated, and rested—then we saw we were in a gem of a place.

We’re in Bald Eagle State Forest, a 200,000-acre old-growth forest in central Pennsylvania. (We haven’t seen any bald eagles here; the place was named for an indigenous chief, I’m guessing the guy who had this land stolen from him.)

These 200,000 acres are a “working forest,” which means in some areas the trees are harvested and the ecosystems are managed. It’s a hands-on state forest, but we haven’t seen any of that.

All we’ve seen is one set of motorcycles on a Sunday drive and one old guy in a beater truck going fishing. And lots and lots of migrating birds. To my delight, a whippoorwill has been singing all night long right by our bed.

When the weather’s been okay, we’ve been walking the long straight road each way, Tracy birding and me working on my gait and endurance.

And my bug-repellant, hat-decorating skills.

I won’t lie and say it’s been all perfect. It’s rained, a lot. Which means cloudy, which means no solar power. And we used all our stored power intentionally, thinking we’d run the generator (because it needs to be run). Turns out the generator battery is dead.

Oh, and we have no cell signal so have to drive out to make reservations and various appointments I have coming up. I’ve had to turn my seat in the truck into a makeshift office so I can access files and take notes and juggle changes to our itinerary, which I’ll fill you in on later. I’ve left plenty of messages, which I can’t get a call back for because I can’t spent all day sitting in the truck looking suspicious in the middle of Amish country. So, calls have been tricky.

But when I say that this feeling of bliss I have here is inexplicable, I mean this: Take a vast, green forest full of songbirds, a honking helping of bad weather, and some serious inconvenience, and you have a changeable potion for a varied and sometimes wonderful travel life.

6 thoughts to “An Odd Bliss”

  1. It sure does look like a gem of a spot. Especially considering you have the place basically to yourselves!

    A generator losing power? Talk about an oxymoron, ha.