Sometimes I Fly Like an Eagle
In June of 2014 when we began our nomadic experiment and moved our happy selves into our 19′ camper, we thought it was just going to be a year long sabbatical tooling around the countryside in celebration of our 25 years of marriage. Little did we know then, but within six months our home and business would sell. We would craigslist or give away almost everything that didn’t fit in our little turtle shell. We would pull away from our beloved Butterfly Hollow with water in our eyes and a wrenching in our gut but only too soon discover that the freedom of this new lifestyle would open our eyes wider, expand our hearts and somehow give us wings.
We’ve had many friends ask if we miss the hollow or if we would ever go back and visit. During our first year on the road I used to have a reoccurring dream where the two of us would somehow find ourselves back at our rustic bed and breakfast retreat walking through the gardens and among the flowers that we had planted over the years. Suddenly we would hear a car driving up the long gravel drive towards the house and we would run into the farmhouse. We would scurry and try to hide but the furniture was moved from where we had left it and we couldn’t find cover. The front door starts to open as we slide under the cedar log bed that I had built for Sharon and we can see shoes walking towards us. Then a head leans down and says, “Hi David and Sharon, you can come out now”. We try to make up some rambling excuse to the new owner as to why we were there under his bed and eventually I would wake myself up in a sweat. A few moments later I would open my eyes, look out my little camper window and smile wondering what state we are living in tonight.
The dreams ended though after a friend of ours took us for a plane ride last fall. We were volunteering at a camp for children with disabilities in Kentucky and on a sunny afternoon the administrator of the camp took us up in his plane to see the beautiful horse farm and amazing camp from the air. Our friendship with the pilot actually began many years before in Butterfly Hollow when we married him and his beautiful wife. He remembered from one of our bed and breakfast conversations that at one time I had taken flight lessons in my youth and asked if I wanted to take control of the plane as we banked away from the view of the camp. I gulped and said sure as he gave me new coordinates to fly towards. The yoke felt good in my hands. I could see the hills below me rise and fall. The clouds seemed to part as if they were clearing a path for our journey. We descend a little and I felt something familiar with the pastures, roads and foothills below me. A few moments later we clear a ridge top and my heart bursts. We slow the engine down and start a slow circle looking down into our hollow.
“There’s the house” yells Sharon from the back seat. “My wedding over in that hillside gazebo was one of the best days in my life”, comes from my co-pilot. I could see our reflection in the solar panels we had installed on the hillside as we started our second loop around. It all looked so small from here, but at one time it was so big and everything to us. For 18 years it became everything we were. It consumed us. It was all we ever wanted. We make a third pass and the cockpit is quiet. The gardens were still growing. The house we built was still standing tall. The mulberry tree that we harvested countless berries from seemed to wave goodbye as I leveled the wings. Somehow the mile long driveway looked so much smaller as I turned towards our new heading. The hollow slowly began to blend with the rolling hills around it as a new horizon came into view. It was the best way I could have ever imagined to go back. That flight truly confirmed our newly sprouted wings and how our new lifestyle gives us freedom to fly even beyond our dreams.
Just a quick recap of where our wings flapped us to this past year. We started 2016 in St Augustine Florida and then worked our way south to the Everglades and Keys. We volunteered at a campground near Tampa for a month and then in the spring headed up the beautiful Natchez Trace National Park from Mississippi’s gulf coast to the rolling hills of Tennessee. We ventured East to the shores of South Carolina and then headed north to volunteer at a state park in the mountains of Virginia. We sipped wine and hops around the finger lakes of New York. We felt the splash of Niagara falls and then followed the mighty shore line of all five great lakes. The wilderness of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula entranced us. The hidden gorges of Illinois surprised us as the autumn leaves began to change colors once again. We lived on a goat farm in Wisconsin. We camped in national forests. We stayed many nights in vineyards, wineries and Walmart parking lots as we headed south chasing the perfect fall foliage. We had autumn plans to be in Tennessee and then drift through Georgia and on to the gulf coast and spend the holidays on the Atlantic coast of Florida. Turns out we would end up staying in Tennessee long after the leaves fell to the ground so we could help and be caregivers to my Mom who suddenly had to have open heart surgery for an aortic valve replacement. Instead of two weeks we stayed two months.
We’re back in the sunshine state now working at another park for the winter. John Denver’s song “Looking for Space” spins in my thoughts. “On the road of experience, I’m trying to find my own way…. Sometimes I fly like an Eagle….” I’m so grateful for this freedom to travel, work from the road, explore, follow the seasons, meet new friends and roam our amazing country, and even more humbled to be able to tip my wings, bank our camper in a new direction and without worry or a care be at the places and with the people that need us too.
“On the road of experience, I’m trying to find my own way.
Sometimes I wish that I could fly away.
When I think that I’m moving, suddenly things stand still.
I’m afraid cause I think they always will.
And I’m looking for space and to find out who I am, and I’m looking to know and understand.
It’s a sweet, sweet dream, sometimes I’m almost there.
Sometimes I fly like an eagle and sometimes I’m deep in despair.” J. Denver
Hi Guys! Just catching up on your blog – and wow David – you have a way with words! Love how you ended your nightmares and made a lasting peace with your new lifestyle. Can’t wait to share a campfire with you two – soon!
Thank you Kelly! Looking forward to seeing you both next month.
What a beautiful recap of your year. It sounds wonderful. I really want to do the Natchez Trace. Did you camp all along it with no troubles? No bridge problems? I can just imagine you flying over your hollow, seeing your old life from your new one. How we wish we had started as young as you two. Smart cookies you!!
Thank you for jumping in the river with us Sherry and David. Yes, the Natchez was wonderfully slow and we had no problems with our 13′ 3″ rolling roof rolling down the road. Of course if you meander off the trace, you may want to use an app or big rig atlas to help plan your route. We would highly recommend it… and plan to take at least two weeks to meander slow and soak it all in. Looking forward to seeing you both again in the Sunshine State.
That was lovely. Miss you guys.
Thanks Trace. Hope to see yall soon.
So beautiful. I love your writing! I miss the smells of our old farm mist. The pines in the summer and leaves in the fall, snow in the winter. Aw. But wouldn’t change a thing. This is truly an amazing trip!
Thank you Debbie. “smells of old farm mist”… oh yea “Leaves in the fall”…. yep, me too. “Snow in winter”…. Not so much! Don’t miss our old drafty farmhouse, cutting, splitting wood, frozen pipes, wearing four layers of clothes… 🙂
Wonderful post and a marvelous perspective. You two have flown and will continue to fly like Eagles. Once you’ve fledged, you do see life from a different perspective. You have to let go and trust to enjoy the journey. Your post reminds us just how very fortunate we are!!
It really is all about the journey!!! Isn’t it GRAND?!?!!! Can’t wait to see you two soon:o))))
“its all about the journey”… one of your wonderful mantras that we have on our fridge and in our hearts. Thank you for instilling that in us from the beginning.
That is a great way to go back, We have driven by our former houses a few times and walked the property of one of them. It is never the same and you get quite melancholy walking through the memories. I would rather relive the memories in my mind.
So true Jim and Barb. I think I’ll stick to the sky and mind for future visits.
Great read!! I shared your story yesterday with someone who was really struggling getting rid of their home. Love that last pic!!
Thanks Cori. The great eagle picture that you have in your last post may have been a little more fitting to this story 🙂
Lovely recap. This lifestyle can be addictive. We started out thinking we’d do this a year or two and here we are four years later with no end in our immediate future. Happy trails and wishing you many more adventures!
Four years!!! Congratulations. Hoping that our trails cross one day soon.
Wow, David…what a perfect way to let go of Butterfly Hollow. Sometimes it takes a different perspective to allow change to take place.
That is so true Jim and Diana. It’s hard to look at things differently if you stare at it from the same spot everyday.